A Poem by Roger Turner


Where my father went

Years after you died, I crept up the secret driveway.
All was still, the garden overgrown,
the gates of the old garage, closed.

You had another place to be,
a space where you could leave much of yourself behind,
forget the roles that you like anyone were forced to play.

Here, hidden behind another person’s house,
beside a greenhouse in an L-shaped garden,
you no longer had to be anybody’s father,
brother, soul-mate, employee,
or conscientious man with high ideals.

Only your small son went with you,
never my mother or my sisters, only me.
Here you would mend the car,
get your hands black with grease,
and tinker with a dozen metal bits and mechanical pieces.

How hard it was to get your big hands clean again.
The scent of grease seemed impossible to remove.
And my hands still white and innocent,
not being the car-mending type.

And when you died so suddenly,
no more rent was paid,
no one went back to save those tools
or greasy bits of metal, not even once
to open the creaking doors of the secret place
where you were once so happy. 



Roger Turner is the current Chairman of Cheltenham Poetry Society, and co-runs Poetry Cafe Refreshed in Cheltenham. Roger was originally an architect and a garden designer. His greatest claim to fame on the garden design front was to design a garden at the Chelsea Flower Show in the 1980s. He also has an MA in Religious Studies. He is the author of five books, on garden history, garden design and plants. He has had 80 or so poems published in a range of reputable poetry magazines. 

A Poem by Sanjeev Sethi

On Father’s 69th Birthday

        In his hospital room


Everyone has a father  —
but only some fathers
sow the seed
for their sons
to break into song.

Historians chronicle
the cave-in of civilizations.
I can see your decline —
see it with precision and pain.

Father, you want to hold
the space you held.
But, is it my fault,
that your hands
now need me?


First published in Drunk Monkeys


Sanjeev Sethi is published in over 25 countries. He has more than 1200 poems printed or posted in venues around the world. Wrappings in Bespoke was a winner in the second Hedgehog Press Full Fat Collection competition. It’s his fourth book and is scheduled for publication in 2020. Sanjeev lives in Mumbai, India.

Two Poems by Charlie Markwick

In the Bush

It lurks just there in that bush
the one fifty years in the past
in that eonic time-travelling hush.
There’s a rustle. Perhaps it’s a bear?
A nocerinous, for sure, Father said
or perhaps a hipporinoscercow.
I was sure it was all in his head
but I spot them with my grandkids now.

Otto

It’s always been a joke between us all.
‘Did you hear the thunderstorm last night?’
they ask.
Not me.
I sleep like great big oaks, 
fixtures in the landscape.

Except:
with young ones in my care.
I marvel that
a storm has yet to rouse me from my sleep,
but one small mew, a tiny snuffle out of place,
and I’m wide awake and by the child’s side.

A gift, I think.

The best of gifts, as well.
The type of gift that just goes on forever.
For in the dark, with baby in my arms
our skins connecting as he drinks his milk
that golden buzz, the love that bathes us both,
feeds our lucky lives, nourishes our hearts.


Charlie Markwick is a Gloucester-based professional storyteller and poet.
He is poet-in-residence at Gloucester Library. Charlie conducted the street-based interviews on Soundbites Week during the search for Gloucestershire’s Poet Laureate in 2019. His book ‘Orienteering’ is a collection of poems that appear in his current show of the same name. His poetry has been published in the Gloucestershire Poetry Society annual anthology ‘Magic’ (2019) and in ‘Today I feel Hawaii’ – an anthology edited by Brenda Read-Brown. His poems about dementia have been included in a number of newsletters and training resources.

Two Poems by Z. D. Dicks

Vulcan’s Apprentice

Thunder jumps down stairs 
as wood quakes dust
and through walls
dogs tremble at booms 

The lounge door explodes
into a maelstrom of glances 
over shoulder to room
a squinting volcano hisses

I feel her teeth growl
clenched as slabs 
her rock fists impact
and inhabit my breath

Her claws uncurl, lava-arc
cut down as ash
skin ripples mountains 
red, and striped

I respond as ocean
lock fire in embrace
quash roars and bubble 
blood in laughter 

I tame her with a hug
and kiss the earth
that is my daughter’s head


Celebrate 

In a half-lit bedroom
springs depress
and a smile rises
over duvet horizon

Through cindered eyes 
hot tea fog-bellows
clunks on nightstand 
toast mudslides yeast

My son tears at gifts 
sinks hands as rocks
until boxes are hulks
that scatter to abyss 

We eat, as a family
as he unfolds envelopes
runs a finger over map
we see treasure laid out

X marks the spot 



Z. D. Dicks has had poetry accepted by ‘Fly on the Wall Press’, ‘Obsessed with Pipework’, ‘Salzburg Poetry Review’, ‘Sarasvati’, ‘Stride’, ‘Ink, Sweat and Tears’, ‘Three Drops from a Cauldron’, ‘Fresh Air Poetry’, ‘I am not a silent poet’, ‘The Hedgehog Poetry Press’ plus many more. He works tirelessly to promote poetry and is Gloucestershire Poet Laureate, founder of The Gloucestershire Poetry Society and Director of the Gloucester Poetry Festival. 

Two Poems by Maggie Mackay

Bring Back Dad Blues

There he sits in dusk in his favourite chair
and the fiddle comes jigging, jigging,
his fingers drumming Carmina Burana,
baton-hand Beethoven strings,
head nodding in a dream within my dream.

Tobacco tang swirls across his eyes
slipping like melt. Golden Virginia, a gold packet,
crackles to life. There’s a library book open,
waiting to be read. He’s walking, walking to what counts.

Walk to me.
Forty years of seasons and ageing,
and a blackbird’s song.


My Father as a Zephyr

Lightest of all things,
he blows in light of a perpetual spring,
scatters the salty Clyde with early summer breezes,
with seaweed fronds on soft foam,
fruit of our childhood holidays.
His soft stirring smile greets aquamarine.
His wind-song dances on fiddle strings, sotto.
The west wind restores dear ones
with a tease, a coorie-in, a purr.


Previously published by Three Drops from a Cauldron and nominated for The Pushcart Prize, 2017/18



Maggie Mackay loves family history which she incorporates into work in print and online journals. She is a Poetry Masters graduate of The Writing School, Manchester Metropolitan University. She has a poem in the award-winning #MeToo anthology. Others have been nominated for The Forward Prize, Best Single Poem ­­­­­­­­with one commended in the Mothers’ Milk Writing Prize. Her pamphlet ‘The Heart of the Run’ is published by Picaroon Poetry and the booklet ‘Sweet Chestnut’ published by Karen Little in aid of animal welfare. She is a reviewer for https://www.sphinxreview.co.uk/

Maggie with her Father

A Poem by Hilary Robinson


Dad’s note to me, 1984

Here is the note of good healing
that holds the charm of invincibility,
the power to protect a firstborn.

Here is an amulet against dying
on the table, a spell to wake safely
from the anaesthetic.

Here is the note of benign growth,
of no further treatment, the note of
come back to me whole.

Here is the note of seldom expressed love.


Hilary Robinson’s publications include The Interpreter’s House, Obsessed with Pipework, Strix, The Morning Star, Riggwelter, Dream Catcher and
Poetry Birmingham and anthologies including Please Hear What I’m Not Saying (Fly on the Wall Poetry 2018),  A New Manchester Alphabet (Manchester Writing School 2015), Noble Dissent (Beautiful Dragons Press 2017) and The Cotton Grass Appreciation Society. Twelve of her poems are published in the DragonSpawn book, Some Mothers  Do . . . alongside Dr Rachel Davies and the late Tonia Bevins. Her poem, ‘Second Childhood’ was shortlisted in the 2016 York Poetry Competition. Hilary has an MA in Creative Writing from Manchester Metropolitan University.

A Poem by Steven Kedie

Kick Offs at Three

It’s Saturday, just him and me.
We’re on the train, in the chippy.
Mountain of chips, an ocean of gravy.
First timer, he calls me.
Makes a joke about losing my virginity.
He’s not stressed or tense like he’d normally be.
Come on, he says. Let’s go. They kick off at three.

It becomes our thing: Saturdays, just him and me.
No sister, no mum; just half the family.
Spend my days counting down to that train ride, the smell of chippy.
Replay the funny things he says about shite meat pies and piss weak tea.
Everything becomes about those kick offs at three.

We tour the country, him and me.
Away days to Sunderland, south to Torquay.
Bristol for Rovers, Birmingham for their City.
Up and out early for kick offs at three.

Hours spent remembering, him and me.
About the day we scored one but then conceded three.
The day of that last-minute winner from a dodgy penalty.
About him shouting and moaning about what the ref didn’t see.
About all of the Saturdays and the kicks off at three.

Life moves on. I finish school and college, go away to uni.
Where I meet a girl, get a degree
Always trying, but mainly failing, to get home for the kick offs at three.
We travel, try and see everything there is to see.
Return with a ring on her finger, my wife to be.

There’s a wedding, then a baby
Now we are three.
Him, me and the little one.
All together when they kick off at three.


Steven Kedie lives in Manchester with his wife and their two boys. He is the author of the novel Suburb. When not writing, Steven spends his time running, watching football and trying to complete Netflix. The father featured in Kick Offs at Three is not based on his own father, who would happily shut the curtains if the Manchester Derby was taking place in his garden. It is an imaging of some of the father and son relationships Steven has seen at football matches throughout the years.