Two Poems by Aaron Williams

Ba-Boom Ba-Boom 

To say you are a Junior Doctor
would be an overstatement.
To say you are fit to practise
would be irresponsible.
Your bedside manner
leaves a lot to be desired.
You break your Hippocratic Oath
at the drop of a hat.
You hand out prescriptions for Calpol
like it is going out of fashion.
You tell me to take some pills
for the slightest of chills.
You take my temperature
and tell me I am fine
even when the reading said 29℃.
When you check out my heart
you say it goes:
Ba-Boom Ba-Boom Ba-Boom Ba-Boom.
But I’ll cut you some slack.
You may seem like a quack,
but if I insist on a free medical
then I shouldn’t expect expertise
from a Doctor aged three!

Easy Pie 

Frantic mornings can make me grumpy,
got to get you both to nursery.
Get to the car we’re going to be late:
man, this is the time of day I really hate!
I’m seriously considering therapy
to make these mornings a lot less crazy.
But – a saving grace – you are but three,
which means you’re often very funny!
And this morning is no exception,
you always say something to break the tension.
And, as you’re so young,
you often get expressions wrong.
Like this morning, as I struggled to belt you in,
you looked to me with that lovely grin
and declared so happily: 
“Easy pie, daddy!”

Aaron Williams lives ‘in the middle of nowhere’ in mid-Wales. New to writing, Aaron is the father of a young girl and a younger boy who, he says, are exhausting and have changed his life dramatically. He explains “Dadhood sometimes feels like an existential sacrifice; forsaking your own previous selfish priorities in order to protect tiny, uncooperative and vulnerable humans. It is also the best role in the world, that puts a lot into perspective.”

A Poem by Beth McDonough

The Hipster

(for Dad, and his new joint)

O, give me the firesides
of farting old fuckers, whose
crumpet kicks off
with cocoa and jam.

Eighty? He’s mine!
I’ll slot in just fine — take me home.

The Doric for socks?
I don’t give a toss, but I see
that they’re thick, and stuffed
into boots, which are scarily fuzzy
with Nik Wax. So who
is this codger who climbed
Cotopaxi, and is pictured with people
strung out on the Picos?

This rampant old grandpa swings
monkey ring things, high
Tarzans the lengths at the baths.

So soon, he’ll be stripping
off mockings of surgical stockings,
he’s ditching his crutches,
he’s clipping on crampons — 

The Hipster was first published in Seagate III (ed. Andy Jackson, Discovery Press, 2016).

Beth explains that this poem was written about her Dad (86) as he approached his 80th birthday … and a hip replacement.  She adds that, despite having subsequently broken his hip and femur, hillwalking in the Canaries, he probably walks more each day than most of his neighbours! 

Beth McDonough studied Silversmithing at Glasgow School of Art. After an M Litt at Dundee University, she was Writer in Residence at Dundee Contemporary Arts. Her work connects strongly with place, particularly to the Tay, where she swims year-round. Her poetry is published in Gutter, Stand, Magma and elsewhere. In Handfast (with Ruth Aylett) she explored experiences of autism, as Ruth examined dementia. Beth’s solo pamphlet, Lamping for pickled fish, is published by 4Word.

A Poem by Wynn Wheldon

Kicking the Bar

Sometimes my father would come home in time
to run in the park in his old black tracksuit.
More often it was a walk round the block.
With no time it was just kicking the bar.

The first I would do grudgingly: “OK”.
The second I might enjoy – on a good day.
The final I would gladly take with him.
One way: kick. The other: kick. Then home.

Sometimes we were quiet. This didn’t bother us.
Sometimes he’d ask “How was your day?” I’d tell,
but I liked best when he told me about his.
Not enough OKs, never enough good days.

A version of Kicking the Bar was published in
Tiny Disturbances (Acumen Occasional Pamphlet 21, 2012).
It is also the title of Wynn’s biography of his father, published by Unbound in 2016.

 Wynn with his father, the much-admired and fondly remembered broadcaster and BBC executive, 
Sir Huw Wheldon

Wynn Wheldon’s biographies are Kicking the Bar: A Filial Biography of Huw Wheldon (Unbound 2016) and The Fighting Jew: The Life and Times of Daniel Mendoza (Amberley, 2019). His poetry collection, Private Places, was published by Indigo Dreams Publishing in 2015. Other books include The Father and Child Companion and World Famous War Heroes. He reviews books for a number of publications. He lives in London.

A poem by Rachel Burns

Broken Things

Dad works in a telecommunications factory
we are the only family in the street with a telephone.

Ring, ring, ring.
A shuffling of feet
shillings drop into the money jar

a desperate wish echoing in the hall
death comes to call.

People bring Dad broken things, electricals
he takes them apart with a screwdriver on the kitchen table
broken televisions, a wireless, cassette player.

He tries to find the broken heart
with a soldering iron and electric cable.



Rachel Burns was runner-up in the BBC Poetry Proms 2019 competition and her poem was broadcast on radio 3. Her debut poetry pamphlet, a girl in a blue dress is available from the Poetry Book Society and Vane Women Press.

Two poems by Paul Waring


Weekends he escaped to a world away
from ours, crazy-paved corner of garden,
dad-only den; shed air incense of solder,
sawn cedar or pine, heady, glue-thick,
cigarette smoke haze punctured by metal
or wood notes from orchestra of tools.
I see him, stick-thin, still hunched
over thoughts, long after day downs
last dregs of light, intent to crack code
of a repair, design some new gadget
or eavesdrop police channel chatter
on radio scanner. I wanted to be him:
drill with dental precision, perform surgery
on circuit boards – but could only watch,
fetch cuppas and brush up. Wanted to be
his hands, hold them steady in later years,
be his eyes that lost focus, now there
in my reflection; growing reminders of him,
another world that awaits.


Shedbound was first published at The High Window, Dec 2018



In My Father’s Shoes

Some days back from the dead –
             your face a mirror
             reminder of lost youth

Saturdays at five I hear you
             pffting again after
             three draws and one away

Fray Bentos pie, chips and peas for tea
             out dapper-suited with Mum
             to the club     still novice

to Brylcreem     feeling the pinch
             of collar and tie under
             sleeveless v-neck cable knit

Sundays I might find myself
             at the wheel of your Cortina
             stopped whoknowswhere

family seeing off fish and chips
             car reek of vinegar
             fused with fresh-lit Embassy

Dreams where I’m mistaken for you
             in North Wales     holiday faces
             reflected in gift shop windows

a split-second glimpse
             at my awkward gait –
             still unable to fill your shoes



Paul Waring’s poems have been published in print journals, themed anthologies and online magazines. He was awarded second place in the 2019 inaugural Yaffle Prize and commended in the 2019 Welshpool Poetry Competition. Quotidian, his debut pamphlet, was published in by Yaffle Press in July 2019.