Two poems by Belinda Rimmer


My father’s old donkey jacket,
cement dusted, jaggy edged.
I can still picture him in it,
collar turned up against the cold,
off to the pub for a few pints
and a game of darts.

As a child, I’d hide inside that jacket,
breathe in the smell of cigar.

On me, the jacket is still ten sizes too big.
I plunge my hands into its pockets,
imagine my father’s hands
pushing up through the lining.
Our tangle of fingers and thumbs.


In father’s wallet,
a lock of my baby hair.
Hidden bits of me.


Tangle was originally published by Picaroon Poetry Issue #6, January 2017.  Good Dadhood thanks Kate Garrett for permission to republish.


Belinda Rimmer has worked as a psychiatric nurse/counsellor with troubled children; taught the creative arts in primary schools and lectured in Performance Arts. Her poems have appeared in various magazines, including, Brittle Star, Artemis, Obsessed with Pipework, Dream Catcher, The Dawntreader and Sarasvati. Some have been published on-line with Writers Against Prejudice, Ground, Open Mouse, Clear Poetry and Picaroon. Belinda also enjoys writing short stories.

Belinda and Dad

Watching by Paul Wooldridge

Her mind is edging closer now
as absentminded fingers grasp
the buttons of my shirt, each one
a comfort in such tiny hands.
Her shallow breath, its slowing pace,
betrays fatigue: her soft defeat.
She looks beyond us, unaware
that we’re intently watching as
her eyelids gently wilt. The day’s
relentless energy subsides
as sleep takes hold and offers us
the hope of one night undisturbed.

Paul Wooldridge’s work has appeared in The New Humanist Magazine, About Larkin (The quarterly magazine for the Philip Larkin Society), The Fat Damsel, The Cannon’s Mouth and The Good Funeral Guide. As well as focusing on fatherhood and the concerns of an average married father of two young girls, he also writes about loss and the passage of time. His aims 
are ‘to create something artful from the banal, finding poignancy in the mundane while balancing pathos with healthy doses of humour’. 

Two Poems by Carole Bromley


They knew about watches and bicycles
and polishing shoes, about drawing a fire
with a sheet of newspaper.

Good at framing pictures
with passe-partout and worming cats
and opening up drains with a lever,

expert at tuning the wireless,
and pulling the TV aerial out
when there was lightning,

knew all about wasps’ nests and beeswax
and how to deal with head-lice
and the best place to bury a hamster.

King Dick at catching spiders
in an upside down glass, button-
hooking a doll’s arms.

Lighting rockets in milk bottles?
No problem. Could tell you what the voices
were singing in the telegraph wires.

They knew about the patients
at the de la Pole Hospital,
why they could never go home

but they did not know what to say
when the boy who said you were beautiful
no longer wanted to know.

South Bank and Eston Rotary Club, 1951

I don’t spot him at first, just Rhett Butler
at the front, next to a chap with big ears
and a down-the-rabbit-hole watch chain,
and some dude with a handlebar moustache,
but he’s there from the neck up in the last row
between Mr Bean and Bart Simpson. My dad.
How long since I knew him, this young man
in specs, black hair thinning, that domed head.

How proud he is to have made it to this ballroom.
He even kept the menu. Oh dad, did you bring me
the mint or one of those Fraises Romanoff?
I must have been keeping myself awake, listening
for the scrape of your handlebars on the wall,
the familiar tic-tic of your dynamo.

Dads and South Bank and Eston Rotary Club, 1951 were first published in A Guided Tour of the Ice House (Smith/Doorstop). 

See also DIY by Carole Bromley

Carole Bromley lives in York and has two collections from Smith/Doorstop, the most recent being The Stonegate Devil which won the York Culture Award 2016. She has a collection of poems for children coming out in June 2017. website

Two poems by Mat Riches

Shed Door

Paint kettles and brushes dried solid
next to bags of nails, extension cords and screwdriver sets.
Pushed to the back and gummed in the works,
mixed in with a video recorder minus its flex.

A silenced orchestra of saws up on hooks, and
strings holding up Olympic rings of masking tape.
Each chisel nestled in its own guard and box;
waiting to chip through, and step up to the plate.

No recordings exist of the swearing and banged fingers;
caught up in the debate betwixt or between
the precision of hand drills, the silence of clamps
or the power tools’ arguments for speed.

I don’t want to open it a single micron
for fear of letting out a millilitre of your breath
stuck in jam-jars of screws, mixed in the marrow
in the bones of a mouse caught in the cobwebs.

Palm Reading

We followed the sweep of his hands,
the one with the missing fingertip.
“There are not enough apprentices.” He said,
as my brother and I helped with
the bricks and mortar of the conservatory,
watching as he chiselled a lock in a door.
“Not enough trades to go around”.

The fingers as strong as arms
from a billion tight corners and hammers.
Neither of us fit to follow,
having chosen the bars or codes
of custodians or marketing;
the swivel chair over the bevelled edge.

Helping people with choice, or
gauging the plumb line of public opinion.
Prediction may be our game and
protection our bread and butter,
but those hands; they built our future.


Mat Riches lives in Beckenham, Kent, but will always have Norfolk in his heart. He is a father to Florence and a husband to Rachael, and by day he is a mild-mannered researcher in the TV industry. He has previously been published in And Other Poems, Ink, Sweat & Tears and Snakeskin Press. He is a recent graduate of The Poetry School’s Lyric iPod course. He is about yea high. Blog: Twitter: @matriches

Always There by Dee Russell-Thomas

Grubby food-stained jumper and baggy jeans amuse and annoy
but he taxis them around anyhow.
Old man jokes and broken spectacles,
he sees through their bravado and banter,
kicks them into touch and bowls another googly.
The irritable impatience and matching bowel rumble in the darkness
as he waits to pick them up from yet another party collection point.
A man of few words; his quiet pride speaks volumes,
rarely revealing the depth of his love
but it remains unconditional, unrivalled and understated.
Dad dancing, bathroom singing and reminiscing of youthful sporting prowess…
“Have I told you of the time I ……?”
His offspring snigger behind his broad back
and those shoulders that once carried weary bodies are now redundant.
He watches them grow up and away, knowing his value will be celebrated
only when they too become embarrassing dads.
All in good time my sons.
All in good time.


Dee Russell-Thomas writes “This is dedicated to my husband, Steve, father of our three sons now 21, 26 and 32 years old. Often the butt of their humour with his flat cap, old fashioned expressions and repetitive story telling of past experiences, he nevertheless spent hours reading to them when they were young, bringing presents back from his overseas trips, and ferrying them to endless football, cricket and rugby matches. As they grow older they are beginning to appreciate him more….and so they should!

Two poems by Janet Dean Knight

Bring Me Something Back

We came to buy a Plaster Saint,
I had forgotten that. He remembers
a Bleeding Christ, pinned to a cross,
a pale green glow-in-the-dark Rosary.

This time, I choose a Sacred Heart.

In her front room, Catholic Gran holds
the Heart, gazes away her thoughts,
closes the door on the painted pine cupboard
where she keeps all Daddy’s gifts.

Home Birth                                    

Evening comes relieving day of its duty.
A wind born on an ocean far away collapses
in the lap of trees.

Labour’s pain, a cotton stitch pulled tight
across her hips, folds her over, soft as a blanket.
Breath suffocates her words –

profanities formed of aspirants and fricatives.
He takes her, drapes her over the birthing bed.
Through a crack in the windows the wind cries;

he hears it as a gentle whine below
the deafening creak of impressed teeth
against her lips. She’ll never scream.

Her heels drum hard against the mattress.
The midwife moves on the edge of silence,
Her apron catching threads along the bed frame.

His hand on the bottle his only strength;
The cold fear striking his chest. What can he say,
With only the begging wind to hear?

Dragged from his whiskey-doze, he wakes
For a child who enters the world sobbing.
Behind the door, the midwife tucks away all tears.

He turns the knob slowly needing time to practise,
She is so new. Her mother, troubled only by pain
Asks ‘how are you feeling?’

Shortlisted in the Bridport Prize 2012

Janet Dean Knight was born in Barnsley and now lives in York. Her poetry has appeared in print in a number of anthologies and magazines, including Skein published by Templar, Ours edited by Maureen Duffy, Hysteria 3 and Ariadne’s Thread, and online in The Morning Star, Message in a Bottle and York Mix.  She was shortlisted in the Bridport Prize in 2012, and commended in the Stanza Poetry Competition in 2015, and in 2016 co-edited and launched The Friargate Anthology, a collection of creative work by York Quakers and their supporters. Janet has recently completed her first novel The Peacemaker.

Abracadabra – by Maggie Mackay

Dad was a maker of magic.
He rose above our wee catastrophes,
mined for shiny coins to treat us
to Knickerbocker Glories at Nardini’s.
Their rainbow layers made us smile,
the ruler length spoon,
the wafer arched like a Spanish fan,
the tall glass waiting for a rose.

On wet afternoons we queued at the Dominion,
Smartie tubes squashed in our pockets.
The curtains swished back – wheesht –
as Pearl and Dean sang out. I slid into velvet.
Lawrence of Arabia, The Lion in Winter,
The Big Screen. My Dad.

 Abracadabra was previously published in Pod Holiday Special, at The Fat Damsel,  August 2016

Maggie Mackay, a Scottish lover of jazz and a good malt, is in her final Masters year at Manchester Metropolitan University. She has work in print and online including The Everyday Poet edited by Deborah Alma, Amaryllis, Bare Fiction, The Fat Damsel, The Interpreter’s House, The Poetry Shed, Prole, I am Not a Silent Poet, Three Drops Press and Indigo Dreams Publishing.