Three Poems by Frances March



For Alexander

You crafted two shields,
heraldic moments
of armoured knights.

A jewelled broadsword,
argent crosslet
on azure and sable field.

Immersed in castles,
medieval weaponry,
heroic stories

with Grandad,
up to his elbows in arms,
nobles, chivalric foibles.

You journeyed together,
reliving your shared past,
pilgrims on rusty steeds.

Frances March © 2015

Dad’s Cello

For A and B

She stands in the corner
spruced and maple-shined,
waiting for your touch,

light on her strings,
your bow strokes
resonating in her belly.

Melody rises as yesterday’s
dissonance is massaged
to harmony.

Frances March © 2015

The Table

For Dad, 1907-1998

Three ship’s oak panels
re-worked by your patient hands –
our dining table.

Ingrained with our lives’ imprints,
polished over and over.
Sometimes they’d seep out

into tantrums,
sighs, laughs, fears,
solemn looks, goodbyes.

Your place is still here
for smiles and fair comment.
You, Dad, at the head of the table.

Frances March © 2017


Frances is a poet and performer with the Cheltenham Festival Players. Published work includes Poetry Among the Paintings, 2015. She has been commended by The Broadsheet and the Poetry School and currently has a poem published on their blog. A recent poem is also appearing on The Wilson Museum exhibition website. She has an MA in Creative and Critical Writing from The University of Gloucestershire after a career in teaching English.

A Poem by Bob Woodroofe


You could only just edge round the door,
lose yourself in the maze,
the accumulation of ages piled head high,
with narrow corridors between.

Wreaths of blue smoke hung
under the anglepoise lamp
that hovered over the workbench.
In its shaft of light they wafted
with the cough that punched
a hole through the haze.

He was hunched over the workbench
engrossed in his latest creation,
I call it that, creation, because
they weren’t conventional
but they always did the job.

From pieces of metal, wood, plastic
he would fashion whatever was required.
No drawing, he just created it.

In his warren he knew where everything was,
could lay his hands on it, given time for thought.
All those things that lay undisturbed for years
after they disappeared into the maw of his cave
with the words “ Don’t throw that away,
it’ll come in useful sometime”.

The room is empty now, bare boards
rise up, freed from the weight they carried,
contents spread around families,
passed on to future generations.

In front of where the workbench used to be
there is a worn patch on the floorboards
and somewhere hanging in the air
a hint of woodbine.


Born and bred and still living in the Vale of Evesham Bob is scientifically trained and has worked in the engineering, computing and environmental fields. His poems have appeared in many poetry magazines and are performed at various local venues. He is self-published by the Greenwood Press. Inspired by the natural world, the landscape and its ancient mysteries he is intrigued by the crossover between art and science and attempts to bring the magic of nature and its restorative and healing qualities to a wider audience. For further details please go to

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–Worcester   – 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