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 Roger Turner


Where my father went

Years after you died, I crept up the secret driveway.
All was still, the garden overgrown,
the gates of the old garage, closed.

You had another place to be,
a space where you could leave much of yourself behind,
forget the roles that you like anyone were forced to play.

Here, hidden behind another person’s house,
beside a greenhouse in an L-shaped garden,
you no longer had to be anybody’s father,
brother, soul-mate, employee,
or conscientious man with high ideals.

Only your small son went with you,
never my mother or my sisters, only me.
Here you would mend the car,
get your hands black with grease,
and tinker with a dozen metal bits and mechanical pieces.

How hard it was to get your big hands clean again.
The scent of grease seemed impossible to remove.
And my hands still white and innocent,
not being the car-mending type.

And when you died so suddenly,
no more rent was paid,
no one went back to save those tools
or greasy bits of metal, not even once
to open the creaking doors of the secret place
where you were once so happy. 



Roger Turner is the current Chairman of Cheltenham Poetry Society, and co-runs Poetry Cafe Refreshed in Cheltenham. Roger was originally an architect and a garden designer. His greatest claim to fame on the garden design front was to design a garden at the Chelsea Flower Show in the 1980s. He also has an MA in Religious Studies. He is the author of five books, on garden history, garden design and plants. He has had 80 or so poems published in a range of reputable poetry magazines. 

Two Poems by Charlie Markwick

In the Bush

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.

Otto

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.

Two Poems by Z. D. Dicks

Vulcan’s Apprentice

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


Celebrate 

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. 

Two Poems by Maggie Mackay

Bring Back Dad Blues

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/

Maggie with her Father

A Poem by Hilary Robinson


Dad’s note to me, 1984

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, Dream Catcher and
Poetry Birmingham and anthologies including Please Hear What I’m Not Saying (Fly on the Wall Poetry 2018),  A New Manchester Alphabet (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.

A Poem by Steven Kedie

Kick Offs at Three

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. 

A Poem by Sheila Jacob

Something To Remember Your Dad By

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.