I never knew he could fry a chop, I’d only ever seen him pour bacon fat over lacy eggs turning their yellow caps milky white. We sat together watching wars unfold; it didn’t matter that my mind hadn’t mapped the territory, I saw the girl running down the road.
Young days seem long, things happen; in less than a decade he’d gone but every milestone since has been marked by images and conversations I shared with him. And now my brother, whose mind has crumpled, tells the clipboard lady that he worked in the Ambulance Room at the pit. But he didn’t, that was our Dad.
Grandpa’s Garden What kind of ancestor would you like to be?
This is the garden you tended for us, tucked away at the end of an unmade road, nearly in sight of the sea; a green growing of life, after study, science and service, after making your contribution, receiving your OBE.
This is the garden you tended for us; a sun-trap for tea and cakes, where those who like to work water spinach and pick raspberries, and those who like to rest put their feet up on the floral cushions of a reclining plastic deck-chair.
When you stopped for a break between weeding and mowing the lawn, Demi would rest in the shade, planning her beagle adventures, and the friendly robin would land on your chair ready to help with the crumbs.
I come here to sit in my dreams, summer sunshine, fragrant with roses, between the house and the high, sheltering hedge, podding peas and chatting, or idling on the ground.
This is the garden you tended for us, the place beyond where you chose to grow flowers.
Hannah Mackay’s poetry is informed by her healing practice as a shiatsu practitioner. Her interest in embodied creativity includes dance and movement, connection and quiet, stillness and words. Her Grandpa was Clifford Purkis, who retired to Cornwall after a career as a research scientist. She lives in Manchester.
We laugh when people pronounce chorizo wrong, yet we cannot speak Spanish. We communicate in lists of music and TV guides. There’s this rage inside us, but we have passion, though sometimes we bubble over like a pan of boiling water. We appreciate fine food, and fine wine – flowing like the tears you soak up in your shirt, my shoulder to cry on, and a best friend to make me laugh, my dad, who fills my life with love.
My Father from a New Angle
He thought he was the emblem of success: smart suit, cufflinks, expensive watch.
Not to mention the semi-detached house, sports car and nuclear family. This kind of life was something worth aiming for.
And it’s not like the journey there was entirely smooth. Raised by a single mother, with an anger in his belly unable to make it out his mouth.
He is not one to fit into the boxes, falling out of one private school to another, he does not quite have the elocution of his mother
and on weekends he wears claret and blue, sleeves tattooed, and TOWIE is the guilty pleasure
we watch together, but he watches the spinoffs on his own.
Carmina Masoliver is a London poet, founder of She Grrrowls and has been sharing her poetry on both the page and stage for over a decade. Her latest book ‘Circles’ is published by Burning Eye Books (2019). Her dad is a teacher, and also a secret poet and artist at heart.
The precious minutes we spent waiting for the car to come back just for us. The way he held my hand, said he loved me. The break in his voice, his perfect wedding speech.
Those lunchtimes when he’d meet me from the bank, take me for a Chinese, put it on expenses. Made sure I was alright. Me, just married, still his Number One Son.
All the times I stood, breath stopped, a light meter held to my face, my hair, my dress. Heard him mutter about F-stops, exposure, as he twiddled with the settings on his latest camera.
The day he showed me the tickets, pre-Christmas trip to Salzburg, first flight for Mum. How he’d loved the Biggles kit I made her. How he loved her.
Hilary Robinson says she was “lucky to have the best Mum and Dad ever”. Her Dad loved wordplay and encouraged her to read and write from an early age. ‘Times with Dad’ is included in ‘Revelation,’ Hilary’s debut pamphlet with 4Word Press which will be published in June this year.
Tom’s warmest smile is the sun at its prime. He swaggers in his baggy trousers, pipe smoke drifting in whirls as he hums pitch imperfect. His satin smooth fingers tap the beat.
Tom’s a firebrand, risking quicksand; never the doubting kind.
Saturday mornings, the bell sings as he steps into the New Town Bookshop, slips down hushed aisles skims, searches, dreams. Eat your heart out, Bertrand Russell.
Sunday afternoons, seated with quiet son, chatty daughter, sharing rainy matinees, his eyes brim milk-moist, skin mopped dry with a crumpled hankie.
Weekdays, he hugs Gran, strokes Tweed, waves cheerio, twice, brings Nessie wildflowers on a whim; her family man, our gentle man.
Maggie Mackay’s pamphlet ‘The Heart of the Run’ (2018) is published by Picaroon Poetry and her full collection ‘A West Coast Psalter’, Kelsay Books, is available now. In 2020 she was awarded a place in the Poetry Archive’s WordView permanent collection. She reviews poetry pamphlets at https://sphinxreview.co.uk (Happenstance Press) and loves to daydream with a dram.
Those salt and vinegar days and freshly laundered nights pool in my mind, bucketed under ‘holiday memories with Grandpa’ revisited as often as the rain,
as familiar as pavement petrichor worn smooth as pebbles, yet short, sharp, distinct, their postcard length lines make me wish I was there again.
Memories of Grandpa
One gold sleeve garter, the donkeys bray, smell of wild garlic, spritzed with sea spray.
Your Underwood typewriter, Little Wuff stories, whispered voices in Bridlington Priory.
My hand in yours I’ll hold to this day, tucked up in my memory neatly folded away.
Kate Jenkinson is a Northern poet, Manchester Literature Poetry Slam and Squiffy Gnu competition winner and published in Covid and Poetry, Rainbow Poems and Eyeflash Poetry Journal. Kate performs spoken word at open mics whilst working on her pamphlet. She writes about science, nature, relationships and leadership.
your voice soft warm steady and there you are snug book on one hand daughter cradled on the other she is looking at you you point at the page she looks at the page smiles you look at her smile and smile your voice soft warm steady daddy bedtime reading
2. the music chair
guitar tuned you settle to play wee faces watch eager to catch the beat you foot tap riff and the audience shift leaping grinning wiggling clapping live music here and now in this room requests taken no need to turn on radio or ask Alexa here and now it’s daddy our music man.
and you’re both on the floor piles of files and folders teeter ribbons of paper surround you novelty transforms this chore grinning daddy feeds the shredder noise whirs paper paper paper flying floating coating the carpet soft hands clap as spirals of print spout little fingers tangle making bracelets bills secrets accounts turn to snow at the press of a button and oh again again again daddy while laughter soars
This is not a shelf unit
It is a monument to joy shared. Tiny sculptures take pride in this place, shelf on shelf on shelf, such careful constructions. Bigger more intricate each time. Diagrams consulted, eager eyes find delicate pieces, position and press to build lego, that daddy ordered late night online, thinking of this bigger each time.
Finola Scott’s poems are on posters, tapestries, postcards and published widely including New Writing Scotland, The High Window, and Lighthouse. Red Squirrel Press publish her pamphlet Much left Unsaid. See also Finola Scott Poems on Facebook. Finola is delighted to watch her son-in-law having fun becoming a fine father.
It was what he did when we went away for the day, made up sandwiches, egg, cold bacon. If we were being posh – salmon, a little bit of salad, lettuce, tomato, cucumber. It did not matter how far we were going, he took a kettle – a stove – the kitchen sink, everything so that we wouldn’t have to go in somewhere and pay exorbitant prices. We watched the fun, his excitement as he tried to light a Primus stove, in the wind and out in the rain, to make a cup of tea. Get a rug out of the car, spread over the wet grass, determined we would enjoy a picnic, despite dampness creeping up his legs as he handed us our treats.
in this summer brightness I am a pup again with Dad outside the garden shed as he saws to fix a step for me to mount the rocking horse whose head he crafted in the shed at his vice whose eye he painted and whose reins made of ribboned cord hang loose for me the mane an old brown carpet strip I watched him tack with care and did not dare to say I hated how it felt to me like cotton wool in Aspirin shiver and baking in the sun I shiver as if the future had come shadowed and adult he smiles at my impatience holds out his hand and I step up to his step
in the hut are his drawer of sharpened chisels the carefully adjusted planes the line of lasts from father down to me leather wax and thread for him to repair shoes I wear happily strike sparks from segs click click my way into today.
The Hut was first published in Brantwood, Cinnamon Press, 2019
George Colkitto writes for the pleasure of words. Recent publications are two poetry collections from Diehard Press, The Year of the Loch and Waitin tae meet wie the Deil and a pamphlet from Cinnamon Press, Brantwood, that place of Little Green Poems.
In front of the big house, a wall made long ago. Caerbwdi purple sandstone, solid standing greys and blues. Washed with soft green, colour of the moorland mists. In places rough enough to catch, scratch at my black school shoes. In places slick enough to slip on, polished by the slugs and snails. Here, I danced like a prima.
Below, a long narrow patch, spreadeagled to the sun, rows and rows of little fires. Dahlias, on the lam from Mexico, in my grandfather’s glowing garden. Growing fierce, throwing heat, bigheaded and blowsy but stupendous, just the same.
There he would be, hard hands snipping blooms, bending double from the waist, braces strained. Seeing the prima, he would stand, lift up his cap, dishevel his dark hair and from a pocket take his teeth, put them in and smile ceramic. Standing tall as Bendigeidfran offering the prima a bouquet of flames.
Bendigeidfran – A legendary Welsh giant.
Catherine Baker has been published by Prole, Stand, Snakeskin, Atrium and Amaryllis. She was highly commended in the Prole Poet Laureate competition 2020. Catherine’s poems in anthologies include Poetry from Gloucestershire, Ways to Peace and Pandemic Poetry. In the GWN poetry competition she was runner-up in 2018 and highly commended in 2020.
The House-Mothers arrive en masse recounting midday errands and after school plans
Sleep-filled Bengali Fathers have risen to pick up their kids before heading out
to deposit people in various states of comings and goings in various states
of inebriation. A couple of Grand-Fathers in tow with ‘her indoors’ complete the human
presence. The pigeons and crows are having their forensic moment
in the playground still. Everything is primary now; fun gives way underfoot
to tarmac foam speckled with stars with lines to the future. Is life meant for risk?
House-Father searches for his own time of grazed knees and elbows, latched on
to the uniformity of Klee Klamp piping dressed up in limpet kids.
An open door signals school’s end beaks twitch with a half second lift-off
to their own airborne canvas hoping for scraps after the rush.
House-Father remembers running towards his own Mother with an army
of hunger beside him – chirping squealing the only pure echoes of his past.
For my Father, life has ever been a braw bricht moonlit nicht But Lauder was no Burns for the Ayrshire Bard’s picture was a fixture on the shelf within a line of our kin. Though my Father never read poetry Burns was the man like Celtic the team whisky the drink leaving Scotland the means to go down South behind auld enemy lines armed with saltire crosses their brogue voices lilting the bars with songs for the displaced who wandered many a weary feet singing their way home for the sake of a fading time for the sake of Auld Lang Syne.
House-Father and three Work-Mothers go to show little children at school what to do when they grow up and make enough money to stop their own inevitable children dying from malnutrition. One mother is an actuary so can actually predict the future. But the way the world is so certain to end she won’t win. Not that it’s a competition House-Father tells himself sitting with a plate of homemade cupcakes in his rubbery yellow hands. His wife is going to tell the students she is an astronaut for she can see the earth is going to shit so they must recycle cardboard and not eat plastic to stop life coming to a roaring end. She’ll come last. On arrival House-Father is disappointed another Father is there, an opera singer who enjoys dominating the acoustics of the school’s corridors. This annoys House-Father no end as it deflects the children’s attention away from his brilliant presentation on the value of time management in the home. The kids love the cupcakes and enjoy blowing up the Marigold gloves, bouncing them on each other’s heads. He watches them do what they’re not meant to be doing knowing it’s exactly what they should be doing. He’s lost even though he knows it can’t be a game not when you have nothing to show for your troubles.
Peter Raynard is editor of Proletarian Poetry (www.proletarianpoetry.com). His books of poetry are: ‘Precarious’ (Smokestack Books, 2018) and ‘The Combination: a poetic coupling of the Communist Manifesto’ (Culture Matters, 2018). ‘Rumbled’ will be published by Nine Arches Press in 2022.