Two poems by Roger Turner

I could close the book now . . .

I could close the book now,
but little hands hold tightly to the pages,
fair hair falls forward, grey-blue eyes
pore over the pictures, and nestling
closely into Dad she listens, wanting
to know what happened to the rabbit.
Soon the reassurance of the good-night kiss,
and tucking up. Then, the dimming of the light
and, please Dad, leave the door half open. 

I could fold the map now,
but on this windswept stile two teenage boots
fidget impatiently while we decide
which route will be the most rewarding.
Bending the brambles back we take a path
that will avoid, I hope, cliffs that need not
be climbed and caves no one need enter.
We notice flowers, rocks and views.
And by the way, Dad, are there any more biscuits? 

I could close the album now,
but at my side she sits, deep in
comparisons and reminiscences
of this one at that age, how that one’s altered,
of places, people, houses, holidays:-
the smiles are all preserved, the sun shone,
and the rest was censored. So we go on:
another mile, another photograph, another story.


In the twilight

I came home on a winter’s evening
and saw in the golden light,
between the sprays of myrtle
and dark-green fingers of Choisya
which half hid the window,
my son seated at the table
my two daughters and my wife.

Behind them, the piano,
above, the silvery lamp,
before them, food and fellowship,
faces innocent and bright,
and I so admired the picture
that I ran in, thinking,
I want to be part of that scene,
that special circle, as if
I had never been there before.

But it was just as usual.
A few laughs, a few smiles
a few bickerings and arguments.
Take your elbows off the table.
Tales of the classroom.
Someone she met in town.
Stories told to distract small people
as the last few mouthfuls were spooned in.
And I quite forgot the picture:
it didn’t seem special after all.


Roger Turner’s poems have appeared in four volumes: The Summer Palace, Six Partitas, An Italian Notebook and Landscape with Flowers, and eighty of his poems have been published in magazines from Cadenza to Weyfarers. He is an architect, a garden designer, the author of five books on garden history, garden design and plants, and gives talks to local societies on related subjects. In his spare time he gardens, plays the piano and takes photographs.  Roger is a former Chairman of Cheltenham Poetry Society.

A poem by Kathryn Alderman

Kathryn’s poem – Moving on, *for Frank – was originally included in the Special Edition. Over the holiday weekend, it met with such approval and delight from her father, that the poem now has its own feature – below – with another photograph of Frank, aged 91 years, reading the poem on Kathryn’s laptop!
‘It’s never too late to become famous”

Moving On

   *for Frank

Before you go —

I give you walks through woods,
the crisp of tiny feet on leaves
in chase of squirrels,

toadstools you said were fairy rings,
how so many wild things
watched us, unseen,

your song of bunnies safe asleep
from Jack Frost and Billy Wind,
and how I should do the same.

I give your tracks in gorse,
golf ball finds,
a sudden flap of crows.

Pools, heath-land streams, and how
you could stand in the middle of it all
and not see a city anywhere.

I give you the beacon
and wary streets remembering
your boots on the beat in all weathers —

and where the family sleeps with flowers,
and voices and faces,
and digging the summer garden.

How you chopped down the old trees,
how your new Japanese Cherries blossomed,
just before you had to leave them.

Kathryn Alderman was an actor before motherhood. She won Canon Poets’ ‘Sonnet or Not’ (2012), was runner-up Gloucestershire Writers’ Network Competition (2012) and now co-directs the competition
Publication includes Amaryllis, Canon’s Mouth, Dear World (Frosted Fire Press, 2014), Salt on the Wind(ElephantsFootprint 2015). Readings: BBC Radio 4; Cheltenham Literary and Poetry Festivals; Poetry Can Bristol, Cheltenham’s Buzzwords; Poetry Café Refreshed and with Cheltenham Poetry Festival’s ‘Festival Players’. Kathryn’s family are herded around Gloucester by enthusiastic Border collie, Isla. Her lovely Dad Frank, aged 91yrs, says being old isn’t great, but it definitely beats the alternative.

Frank Hurlbutt with Cherry BlossomFrank Hurlbutt with Cherry Blossom

Easter Special Edition

See the page at this link Good Dadhood Easter Special Edition for poems celebrating fathers – Dads loved,  Dads missed.

Poems and Poets in the special edition:

Changed – by Sarah J Bryson

Christmas Day 1941 – Angi Holden

Teasmade – Angi Holden

The Great Design – by Roger Turner

29.3.2011 – by Sue Johnson

Snow in a Changed Light – by Nicky Phillips

That Year – by Nicky Phillips

Father’s Day – by Mandy Macdonald

cornered – by Mandy MacDonald

Daddy Gone – by Annie Ellis

What Passes Between – by Sharon Larkin

Two poems by Carl Tomlinson


I left you behind with your just-become Mum
in the screamy stewed air of the ward.

I walked through the white,
through the cold and the wet.
I stood by the side of the road.

Huddled, elated,
befuddled, completed,
I stopped a step longer
and looked out for danger,
felt your tiny curled hand on my shoulder.

Dupuytren’s: your hand in mine

For my Grandfather, Joseph Tomlinson, 1908-1986

The doctor sets my hand down and he says,
“That lump is Dupuytren’s,
a thickening of soft tissue
which can leave the finger bent.”

I’m back with Grandad on Tandle Hill.
Holding his hand, I look down on the farm,
see him swing that four-stone weight,
the one he used for spuds,
with only his little finger!

His hands – great mud-scored tubers –
wrestled pens to form his name
and cuffed me just the once
for scaring fish down at the cut
then lay milk-cold and udder-pink
across his empty chest.

Years later I learnt that the super-strong finger
was stiff with Dupuytren’s.
Today I feel that hand in mine.
and know we’re bound
not by the strength I thought I saw
not by the name he gave to me
but by shared frailty.

Carl Tomlinson lives with his wife on their Oxfordshire smallholding. They have two children at University. He is a businessman, linguist and writer. His poetry explores the intensity of our physical experience of the world and celebrates his love of words. Carl reads his work regularly at open-mic events and is a member of local writing groups

Two poems by David Ashbee

Cricket with my son

Wet grass and mist on the nearby hill
explains the empty playing field.
We drill the earth with stumps, like gardeners
fulfilling the month’s almanac.

My leather-soled working shoes
slip as I run up to bowl
stiff-armed, over the wicket,
the single one at the fire-station end.

Twenty years of not finding time
has twisted my action out of shape.
The ball skids at his feet in a spurt of spray.
“I can’t hit those, Dad. Bowl underarm.”

He scans the grey horizon,
the football pitch’s whitewash.
“A four is past that line.”

I lumber to the nettle clump under the trees,
retrieve the ball, a chilled red clot,
blossom on its flanks like wet confetti.

I predict we’ll bicker over makeshift rules,
who fetches what,
if sixes count on the short side.

He’ll draw stumps when he’s had enough,
or decides I’m just not worth it.
Meanwhile I bowl and chase and puff,
benignly decline his offer to declare

because he’s in charge
or thinks he is
as a gust frustrates his lob.

And I agree his terms,
certain that he’s learning all the time
the real game.


When Father papered the parlour
he set the scene for the rest of our days.
Not only fern-leaves at calculated angles
but a maroon-squiggle border
and three ducks that could never fly away.

Daddy’s Sauce on the table
and during the TV rugby too.
“Don, not in front of the children.”
Eternal father who saved
shillings for the meter, screws in a tin,

I saw you today in an old magazine
when we took up the carpet,
secure in your armchair doing the Pools,
your walking-stick in the umbrella stand,
black brogues by the hearth.

It didn’t really hit me you had gone
until the Father’s Day Parade
when they all turned up in foreign cars
with their shaved heads and ear-studs,
and you weren’t there.

There isn’t a parlour to paper any more,
just one through room with a vinyl floor,
the piano still plays – on a DVD,
and there’s a plasma screen
where your ducks used to be.


Fathers was first published in the collection Loss Adjuster from Bluechrome Press, 2007


David Ashbee has had two two major poetry collections published – Perpetual Waterfalls (Enitharmon) and Loss Adjuster (Bluechrome). He has contributed to five-day residential poetry workshops for over 20 years, leads the monthly Holub poetry and music evenings in Gloucesteeshire, and has read at both Cheltenham Literature Festival and Poetry Festival. He is a regular reviewer for South and has been a guest selector for the magazine.  His work has been broadcast on BBC radio and television.

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’.