Everyone has a father — but only some fathers sow the seed for their sons to break into song.
Historians chronicle the cave-in of civilizations. I can see your decline — see it with precision and pain.
Father, you want to hold the space you held. But, is it my fault, that your hands now need me?
First published in Drunk Monkeys
Sanjeev Sethi is published in over 25 countries. He has more than 1200 poems printed or posted in venues around the world. Wrappings in Bespoke was a winner in the second Hedgehog Press Full Fat Collection competition. It’s his fourth book and is scheduled for publication in 2020. Sanjeev lives in Mumbai, India.
It lurks just there in that bush the one fifty years in the past in that eonic time-travelling hush. There’s a rustle. Perhaps it’s a bear? A nocerinous, for sure, Father said or perhaps a hipporinoscercow. I was sure it was all in his head but I spot them with my grandkids now.
It’s always been a joke between us all. ‘Did you hear the thunderstorm last night?’ they ask. Not me. I sleep like great big oaks, fixtures in the landscape.
Except: with young ones in my care. I marvel that a storm has yet to rouse me from my sleep, but one small mew, a tiny snuffle out of place, and I’m wide awake and by the child’s side.
A gift, I think.
The best of gifts, as well. The type of gift that just goes on forever. For in the dark, with baby in my arms our skins connecting as he drinks his milk that golden buzz, the love that bathes us both, feeds our lucky lives, nourishes our hearts.
Charlie Markwick is a Gloucester-based professional storyteller and poet. He is poet-in-residence at Gloucester Library. Charlie conducted the street-based interviews on Soundbites Week during the search for Gloucestershire’s Poet Laureate in 2019. His book ‘Orienteering’ is a collection of poems that appear in his current show of the same name. His poetry has been published in the Gloucestershire Poetry Society annual anthology ‘Magic’ (2019) and in ‘Today I feel Hawaii’ – an anthology edited by Brenda Read-Brown. His poems about dementia have been included in a number of newsletters and training resources.
Thunder jumps down stairs as wood quakes dust and through walls dogs tremble at booms
The lounge door explodes into a maelstrom of glances over shoulder to room a squinting volcano hisses
I feel her teeth growl clenched as slabs her rock fists impact and inhabit my breath
Her claws uncurl, lava-arc cut down as ash skin ripples mountains red, and striped
I respond as ocean lock fire in embrace quash roars and bubble blood in laughter
I tame her with a hug and kiss the earth that is my daughter’s head
In a half-lit bedroom springs depress and a smile rises over duvet horizon
Through cindered eyes hot tea fog-bellows clunks on nightstand toast mudslides yeast
My son tears at gifts sinks hands as rocks until boxes are hulks that scatter to abyss
We eat, as a family as he unfolds envelopes runs a finger over map we see treasure laid out
X marks the spot
Z. D. Dicks has had poetry accepted by ‘Fly on the Wall Press’, ‘Obsessed with Pipework’, ‘Salzburg Poetry Review’, ‘Sarasvati’, ‘Stride’, ‘Ink, Sweat and Tears’, ‘Three Drops from a Cauldron’, ‘Fresh Air Poetry’, ‘I am not a silent poet’, ‘The Hedgehog Poetry Press’ plus many more. He works tirelessly to promote poetry and is Gloucestershire Poet Laureate, founder of The Gloucestershire Poetry Society and Director of the Gloucester Poetry Festival.
There he sits in dusk in his favourite chair and the fiddle comes jigging, jigging, his fingers drumming Carmina Burana, baton-hand Beethoven strings, head nodding in a dream within my dream.
Tobacco tang swirls across his eyes slipping like melt. Golden Virginia, a gold packet, crackles to life. There’s a library book open, waiting to be read. He’s walking, walking to what counts.
Walk to me. Forty years of seasons and ageing, and a blackbird’s song.
My Father as a Zephyr
Lightest of all things, he blows in light of a perpetual spring, scatters the salty Clyde with early summer breezes, with seaweed fronds on soft foam, fruit of our childhood holidays. His soft stirring smile greets aquamarine. His wind-song dances on fiddle strings, sotto. The west wind restores dear ones with a tease, a coorie-in, a purr.
Previously published by Three Drops from a Cauldron and nominated for The Pushcart Prize, 2017/18
Maggie Mackay loves family history which she incorporates into work in print and online journals. She is a Poetry Masters graduate of The Writing School, Manchester Metropolitan University. She has a poem in the award-winning #MeToo anthology. Others have been nominated for The Forward Prize, Best Single Poem with one commended in the Mothers’ Milk Writing Prize. Her pamphlet ‘The Heart of the Run’ is published by Picaroon Poetry and the booklet ‘Sweet Chestnut’ published by Karen Little in aid of animal welfare. She is a reviewer for https://www.sphinxreview.co.uk/
Here is the note of good healing that holds the charm of invincibility, the power to protect a firstborn.
Here is an amulet against dying on the table, a spell to wake safely from the anaesthetic.
Here is the note of benign growth, of no further treatment, the note of come back to me whole.
Here is the note of seldom expressed love.
Hilary Robinson’s publications include The Interpreter’s House, Obsessed with Pipework, Strix, The Morning Star, Riggwelter, DreamCatcher and Poetry Birmingham and anthologies including Please Hear What I’m Not Saying (Fly on the Wall Poetry 2018), A New ManchesterAlphabet (Manchester Writing School 2015), Noble Dissent (Beautiful Dragons Press 2017) and The Cotton Grass Appreciation Society. Twelve of her poems are published in the DragonSpawn book, Some Mothers Do . . . alongside Dr Rachel Davies and the late Tonia Bevins. Her poem, ‘Second Childhood’ was shortlisted in the 2016 York Poetry Competition. Hilary has an MA in Creative Writing from Manchester Metropolitan University.
It’s Saturday, just him and me. We’re on the train, in the chippy. Mountain of chips, an ocean of gravy. First timer, he calls me. Makes a joke about losing my virginity. He’s not stressed or tense like he’d normally be. Come on, he says. Let’s go. They kick off at three.
It becomes our thing: Saturdays, just him and me. No sister, no mum; just half the family. Spend my days counting down to that train ride, the smell of chippy. Replay the funny things he says about shite meat pies and piss weak tea. Everything becomes about those kick offs at three.
We tour the country, him and me. Away days to Sunderland, south to Torquay. Bristol for Rovers, Birmingham for their City. Up and out early for kick offs at three.
Hours spent remembering, him and me. About the day we scored one but then conceded three. The day of that last-minute winner from a dodgy penalty. About him shouting and moaning about what the ref didn’t see. About all of the Saturdays and the kicks off at three.
Life moves on. I finish school and college, go away to uni. Where I meet a girl, get a degree Always trying, but mainly failing, to get home for the kick offs at three. We travel, try and see everything there is to see. Return with a ring on her finger, my wife to be.
There’s a wedding, then a baby Now we are three. Him, me and the little one. All together when they kick off at three.
Steven Kedie lives in Manchester with his wife and their two boys. He is the author of the novel Suburb. When not writing, Steven spends his time running, watching football and trying to complete Netflix. The father featured in Kick Offs at Three is not based on his own father, who would happily shut the curtains if the Manchester Derby was taking place in his garden. It is an imaging of some of the father and son relationships Steven has seen at football matches throughout the years.
Your sister writes and yes, unwrapping the leather purse and inhaling its sharp sweet fibres,
I remember how your Villa scarf draped claret and blue around the cubbyhole peg.
I remember your slippers, overcoat, a crumpled hanky that fell from its sleeve
all parcelled in tobacco-tang long after you’d smoked your final cigarette.
This purse you made during the war, convalescent from the pneumonia
that almost killed you. You scored and stitched it for your own Dad,
brought it home one weekend. Perhaps he used it straight off, counted coppers onto the bar
and you shared pints, Woodbines, family news, the air a sharp sweet fug as hours slid
away like beer down a glass. Sunday came before you could blink, the purse warm in his inside pocket
and you on Snow Hill’s sandbagged platform, time to spare before the night train’s judder and hiss.
Sheila Jacob lives in North Wales with her husband. She was born and raised in Birmingham and resumed writing poetry in 2013 after a long absence. She is frequently inspired by her working-class ‘50’s childhood. Her poems have been published in a number of U.K. magazines and webzines. Last year she self-published a small collection of poems dedicated to her Dad who died when she was almost fifteen.