A Poem by Tom Kelly

Happiness

    for and to Tommy Kelly, 1919-1995 

flies to the surface 
with long-lasting memories, 
playing football in a sepia printed world, 
just me and you. 
I push the ball with my instep,
back and forward the ball slides. 

In the next moment we are having a pint together. 
Now your satisfied look has me breaking the rules 
for all-day smiles. 
We walk home and at the corner 
I see you turn and wave goodbye, 
happiness never dies. 



Tom Kelly’s ninth poetry collection This Small Patch has recently been published and re-printed by Red Squirrel Press who also published his short story collection Behind the Wall. 

Tom says of the poem “Happiness is a snapshot of me and dad together and makes me smile.” 

Tom, aged 7  

Two Poems by Susan Castillo

Shield


In the twilight, I lie against
my father’s chest, breathe smells 
of peppermints and sweat.
 
The chair creaks as we rock back and forth. 
Over his shoulder, I see wicker 
patterned with black squares.
 
He sings of sentimental journeys, 
bids blackbirds bye-bye. I lean my head
against his ribs, feel their thrum,

hear the drumbeat of his heart, 
know I am sheltered, safe
swathed in my father’s arms.



‘Shield’ was published in Susan’s fourth collection, Cloak (Kelsay Press, 2019)



Net

I am three years old.
Outside the house, the old magnolia tree
stretches high into the sky.
Foot on branch,
hand over hand
I climb up toward the clouds,
believe that I can fly,
breathe in the thick perfume
of floating waxy blooms.

From the second floor window
my father looks out,
sees my reckless grin,
blanches, races downstairs,
stands there tall between the roots.

I know he’ll always catch me
if I fall.



‘Net’ was published in Susan’s third collection, The Gun-Runner’s Daughter, (Kelsay Books, 2018)



Susan Castillo Street is Harriet Beecher Stowe Professor Emerita, King’s College London. She has published four collections of poems: The Candlewoman’s Trade, 2003;  Abiding Chemistry, 2015; The Gun-Runner’s Daughter, 2018; and Cloak (2019). Her poetry has appeared in leading journals and anthologies in the UK, the US, South Africa, Mexico, and Luxembourg. Her poem ‘Bird of God’ won first place in the 2018 Pre-Raphaelite Society Competition. 

A Poem by Greg Freeman


Solent


You must have been seven.
I’m in a home-made
Father’s Day T-shirt
that your mother organised,

that I carelessly only wore once,
but look in the photograph
rumpled, bronzed,
happy. You cuddling up to me

on the Solent ferry, returning
from the island, escorted
by yachts engaged in a race.
Now you’re a beautiful, loving

mother of two. That sweltering
summer we only went in the sea
after tea. Enclosed my mother
in our embrace, a year after

my father died. The disco
in the café when you all
got up to dance: the last time
I felt him at my shoulder.  




Greg Freeman is the news and reviews editor for the poetry website Write Out Loud. His 2015 debut pamphlet Trainspotters (Indigo Dreams) includes several poems about his father, who was a former Japanese prisoner of war and put to work on the notorious ‘Death Railway.’ His father died in 1989.

A Poem by Louise Warren


The Cartographer’s Last Day


He knows the place, the crop
between the shallow hills,
at the parting of a cart track
or on a cliff’s narrow ledge.
Each journey has a cost.

Barbed wire, brambles, a horsefly’s sting,
his arms threaded with scarlet,
the juice of sloes, wild damsons, plum,
blood, his white hair invaded by leaves and burrs.
This is his lot.

Once, upended by a stile
and full length upon the grass, he found an orchid.
A tiny slip of a thing, and never said a word.
Others have tried to follow him on his wild scramblings,
searched the fields at dawn but found nothing.

He knows the source,
the lip of a well, buried beneath nettles,
a chapel felled into a wood
where he eats his lunch, back against the wind.
He sees ghosts, but never marks them on his map.

This is a time before satellites,
when people found their way through the world
by marking it, pushing through
waist high in bracken.
He pushes on and down into the valley
where the green covers his head like the sea.



First published in A Child’s Last Picture Book of the Zoo,
Cinnamon Press 2012


Louise Warren was born and grew up in the West Country and now lives in London. Her first collection A Child’s Last Picture of the Zoo won the Cinnamon Press debut poetry competition and was published in 2012. A pamphlet, In the scullery with John Keats, also published by Cinnamon, came out in 2016. Her poems have been widely published in magazines including Ambit, The Butchers Dog, Stand, Poetry Wales and Rialto. In 2018 she won first prize in the Prole Laureate Poetry Competition with her poem The Marshes which appears in her new pamphlet, John Dust, illustrated by the artist John Duffin and published in 2019 by V.Press.

Louise’s father

Louise writes that “He was very much a west countryman and worked as a Surveyor for the Ordnance Survey, a job he loved … his love of the outdoors is evident in this poem.” She has very happy memories of her father, whose birthday was on 17 April. Good Dadhood has pleasure in celebrating it with Louise here today.

A Poem by Jenni Wyn Hyatt


Balancing Act


I still see you now, standing behind the counter
in your shop coat, with your eye on the scales,
deducting a copper or two from the price
for the poor, regaining it from the rich.

I can still see the columns of figures
so neat and accurate in your ledger,
your unfailing grasp, not only of numbers,
but of economics and politics, far
exceeding mine. You were not much older
starting work as a grocer’s delivery boy
than I was going to the Grammar School.
I try to imagine you, your face pale
under your flat cap, your frail body
battling with the bicycle’s heavy frame.

After university I became
a teacher; you both thought it would be easier
than the life of a nurse or a small town grocer.
My ledgers were mark books, attendance registers,
the many pointless records governments demanded,
my customers often recalcitrant.
As time went on I found my satisfaction
in helping students who were disadvantaged
to realise potential they scarcely knew they had –
trying, just like you, Dad, to balance the scales.


Jenni Wyn Hyatt was born in Maesteg but now lives in Derbyshire. She writes serious and humorous poems, also short forms such as haiku. Her father,
Edgar Williams, 1905 – 1965, worked as a grocery assistant, grocery manager
and wages clerk before finally owning his own shop.  



See also Jenni’s poem ‘You walk me on your feet’ which featured in a Special Edition of Good Dadhood in 2020
https://gooddadhood.com/special-edition-ii-2020/


Edgar Williams, 1905 – 1965

Good Dadhood in 2021

Good Dadhood opens for submissions on 1 April, remaining open until 23.59 on 15 May. Full details of how to submit poems appear here https://gooddadhood.com/how-to-submit/

Poems selected will begin to appear on this, the front page of Good Dadhood, from 15 April and will continue weekly or twice weekly until 1 June … ahead of a big celebration for Father’s Day on 20 June.

So please start writing and editing your poems, according to the guidelines here https://gooddadhood.com/how-to-submit/
I’m looking forward to reading your Good Dad poems!


Let’s celebrate Good Dads everywhere!

Three Poems by Alwyn Marriage

As Good Dadhood culminates this Fathers’ Day weekend, the project to celebrate fatherhood closes with a fanfare of poems by Alwyn Marriage.

of hearts and hands

his hands
detached from any form
of domesticity

were never grimed in earth
or sheltering tiny moons of soil
beneath the nails

the softness I remember
was not the flab of soapy water
or chemical residue of washing up

I can’t recall a single scratch
or cut, the mild abrasions earned
by helping in the garden

despite the implications of all that
it’s still his hands that are
imprinted on heart’s memory

hands into which my childhood hand would slip
discovering the warmth, security and strength
he meant when he said God.

Home from home

In the garden there was an apple tree
in whose welcoming arms
I built a house made out of childhood dreams,

old, huge and branched into a thousand rooms.
It might have been a Blenheim or a Cox,
although, of course, I never thought to ask,

but every year it bore a crop of sweet and juicy fruit,
which to my unfailing annual astonishment
always caused a stomach ache if eaten when unripe.

In Spring my tree wore a scented robe
of palest pink and white that shivered in the wind
and scattered confetti on the ground below.

Hidden beneath green leaves it seemed to me
that no one knew my whereabouts or why
I was so late for meals and arrived with dirty nails.

My magic house contained a kitchen, bedroom, hall;
but far more comfortable was the study where I’d sit
for hours, as inaccessible as my father was in his.

Years later, my father dead and all my family
scattered into other homes, I passed the house
again and peered over a fence into the garden

where rooms still nestled in the open arms
of my ancient apple tree, but now looked smaller
and less commodious than when I was a child.

The old preacher

GS

For many years my father
had swayed his congregations,
moving them to tears and laughter,
and inspiring holiness.

When he was old and frail
he sat each day at the piano,
softly singing as he played
the ground-bass of his faith;

simple piety in melody and harmony
still firm despite the gathering gloom,
gems from his tattered hymn book
offered up as a form of prayer.

Earlier version published in Sarasvasti, 2017


Alwyn Marriage’s eleven books include poetry, fiction and non-fiction, and she is widely published in magazines, anthologies and on-line. Formerly a university philosophy lecturer and Director of two literacy and literature NGOs, Alwyn is currently Managing Editor of Oversteps Books and research fellow at Surrey University. She gives regular poetry readings and workshops in Britain and abroad. Her latest poetry collection is In the image: portraits of mediaeval women and her latest novel is The Elder Race. www.marriages.me.uk/alwyn

Alwyn explains that her father was a clergyman and a fine preacher. When he was too old to preach, he continued to write a new sermon every week.

Special Editions 2020


When Good Dadhood first ran, back in 2017, it featured two Special Editions, in addition to the poems appearing on the ‘front page’ of the e-zine.  This year, we had much pleasure in again presenting an Easter Special, showcasing eight poems https://gooddadhood.com/easter-special-edition-2020/.

Now, as the 2020 Good Dadhood period approaches its culmination on Fathers’ Day on Sunday 21 June, it is a delight to present another Special Edition, featuring five wonderful poems from Patricia Ace, Zoe Mitchell, JLM Morton and Jenni Wyn Hyatt. To read their poems, please click on this link: https://gooddadhood.com/special-edition-ii-2020/

Also, please do check back here on Saturday for three poems for Father’s Day from Alwyn Marriage.

Meanwhile, here are two lovely photographs from Patricia Ace and Zoe Mitchell … with their Dads.

______________________________________________________________________________

Patricia and her Dad

Zoe with her Dad

Three Poems by Simon Williams


Aeronauts

The wind is up,
tails are set,
with the long bands twisting,
we launch out to the air field.

The balsa gives
no weight to wind,
less weight than Matt, at seven,
floating over the road.

Tom, like Quixote,
tilts at model planes
with a bright red sword,
the smallest of the group –
like Reepicheep the most honourable.

The wind takes every throw,
strips tails and props
from our stormy games,
sends us crashing down to earth.

Flight fascinates –
light wood in light hands.
Boys will fly too soon
out in the humming air.


Counted Out

When I woke
I’d go to them.
Early-morning;
they were both asleep.

My father brought
me back to bed,
sat with me;
never sang,
never told stories.

He counted –
one to a hundred.
In between
his yawns,
he tried
to stay awake

just long enough
to see me
back to sleep.
My breathing soon
regular as numbers;
I never bettered
eighty seven.

Counted Out was included in Quirks, Oversteps Press, 2006


First Weekend Away
(for Tom)

The strangeness builds on him,
absorbs him and, with it, his expression,
til it’s only his eyes move,
refocusing, flicking the lids down
and coming back blue each time.

I tap the glass and his face awakes;
muscles stretch and pull,
quick as a wink.
He knocks back, in anger,
then bursts to smiles.

The train pulls out.
Inside, he can’t hear the engine;
the coach rolls on like a huge pedal-car.
They wave until their heads are only bright points;
two reflections in a long window.

I think of him, only parted a day
and not for long, can place him anywhere
in this tall house.
At the table, watching TV,
listening to stories.

We think of fear like a darkened room.
I will leave the light on bright,
keep doors a little wider open,
sleep a touch less deep,
in case of a cry, in case of a whimper.

Night is just the join
between two days.
When you wake, all thumbs and thighs,
I’ll watch a little closer
my child, my child.


First Weekend Away (for Tom)  was included in A Place Where Odd Animals Stand, Oversteps Press, 2012



Simon Williams (www.simonwilliams.info) has eight published collections, his latest being a co-authored pamphlet with Susan Taylor, The Weather House (www.indigodreams.co.uk/williams-taylor/4594076848), which has also toured in performance. Simon was elected The Bard of Exeter in 2013, founded the large-format magazine, The Broadsheet, and is currently developing a one-man poetry show, Cosmic Latte. 

A Poem by Catherine Baker


It came slow

Two years of evenings from winter
to summer and around again.
Surrounded in plans, wood shavings,
the smell of glue and cedar thick the air.
Hands hard, slick with varnish.
Pipe clenched between stunning teeth.
It came slow, this dreaming himself free.

He steered it down cow parsley lanes,
pushed it to float in the shallows,
raised the red sail.

Left his children life-jacketed on the shore,
his woman sulking moody in the dunes.
He lifted into blue flax looseness,
the white sky stroking his bony shoulders
breathing up salt sticky spray.
He skimmed, soared the sparkle
as mackerel flared and swooped.
Silver flashes under his feet.


Catherine Baker has been published by Stand, Snakeskin and Amaryllis. She has poems in anthologies such as Poetry from Gloucestershire and Ways to Peace. She was runner up in the Gloucestershire Writers Network poetry competition in 2018, and her poem was read at Cheltenham Literature Festival.