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’. 

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!