Two poems by Carl Tomlinson

Birthright

I left you behind with your just-become Mum
in the screamy stewed air of the ward.

I walked through the white,
through the cold and the wet.
I stood by the side of the road.

Huddled, elated,
befuddled, completed,
I stopped a step longer
and looked out for danger,
felt your tiny curled hand on my shoulder.

Dupuytren’s: your hand in mine

For my Grandfather, Joseph Tomlinson, 1908-1986

The doctor sets my hand down and he says,
“That lump is Dupuytren’s,
a thickening of soft tissue
which can leave the finger bent.”

I’m back with Grandad on Tandle Hill.
Holding his hand, I look down on the farm,
see him swing that four-stone weight,
the one he used for spuds,
with only his little finger!

His hands – great mud-scored tubers –
wrestled pens to form his name
and cuffed me just the once
for scaring fish down at the cut
then lay milk-cold and udder-pink
across his empty chest.

Years later I learnt that the super-strong finger
was stiff with Dupuytren’s.
Today I feel that hand in mine.
and know we’re bound
not by the strength I thought I saw
not by the name he gave to me
but by shared frailty.

Carl Tomlinson lives with his wife on their Oxfordshire smallholding. They have two children at University. He is a businessman, linguist and writer. His poetry explores the intensity of our physical experience of the world and celebrates his love of words. Carl reads his work regularly at open-mic events and is a member of local writing groups

Two poems by Mat Riches

Shed Door

Paint kettles and brushes dried solid
next to bags of nails, extension cords and screwdriver sets.
Pushed to the back and gummed in the works,
mixed in with a video recorder minus its flex.

A silenced orchestra of saws up on hooks, and
strings holding up Olympic rings of masking tape.
Each chisel nestled in its own guard and box;
waiting to chip through, and step up to the plate.

No recordings exist of the swearing and banged fingers;
caught up in the debate betwixt or between
the precision of hand drills, the silence of clamps
or the power tools’ arguments for speed.

I don’t want to open it a single micron
for fear of letting out a millilitre of your breath
stuck in jam-jars of screws, mixed in the marrow
in the bones of a mouse caught in the cobwebs.

Palm Reading

We followed the sweep of his hands,
the one with the missing fingertip.
“There are not enough apprentices.” He said,
as my brother and I helped with
the bricks and mortar of the conservatory,
watching as he chiselled a lock in a door.
“Not enough trades to go around”.

The fingers as strong as arms
from a billion tight corners and hammers.
Neither of us fit to follow,
having chosen the bars or codes
of custodians or marketing;
the swivel chair over the bevelled edge.

Helping people with choice, or
gauging the plumb line of public opinion.
Prediction may be our game and
protection our bread and butter,
but those hands; they built our future.

………………..

Mat Riches lives in Beckenham, Kent, but will always have Norfolk in his heart. He is a father to Florence and a husband to Rachael, and by day he is a mild-mannered researcher in the TV industry. He has previously been published in And Other Poems, Ink, Sweat & Tears and Snakeskin Press. He is a recent graduate of The Poetry School’s Lyric iPod course. He is about yea high.
Blog: https://matriches76.wordpress.com Twitter: @matriches

Two poems by Angi Holden

Trust

It was summer then and hot, July perhaps –
the sky bright and cloudless blue,
the tarmac sticky-soft beneath our feet.
And I was young, eight or maybe nine,
my hair not thick, no, never thick,
but densely black and loose about my shoulders.
No wonder then, that separated from their queen
the sun-dazed bees should be confused
and swarming round my head should settle.
‘Be still,’ my father said. ‘Be still and calm
and they’ll not sting.’
Even now I feel their tiny feet against my scalp,
the motor of their hum, the rhythm of their wings;
my father’s fingers firm and sure, gently parting
strands of hair and lifting free each bee.
Even now I hear the soothing cadence of his voice:
‘Be still and calm. Be still and calm.
Be still. Be calm.’


Her Father’s Hands

She remembered his hands, smooth, unwrinkled
even in mottled old age, his nails perfect, square cut.
Hands which had led and taught and steadied,
had planted seeds, cut dahlias and gathered pears,
had warmed nest-fallen chicks, now stilled.

A cousin called to mind her father’s written word,
exquisite letters, balanced on the page:
foreign correspondence airmailed tissue-thin,
documents signed off by rolled-gold Parker pen.

Neighbours recollected clashes with his obstinacy,
polite smiles and quiet condolences masking
memories of bloody-minded tussles: disputed hedges,
the deaf man’s radio turned up a touch too loud.

Weeks later, grieving, she recalled a lover telling her
that rainbows were illusionary. They are, he’d said,
merely a function of angles: from eye, to rain, to sun.
Move, and the drizzle prism splits different rays
from different droplets, creates another mirage.

Back then she’d argued, wanting the colours
to be real, strung across the sky for all to see.
But now she knew her lover had been right.
My rainbow, she thought, is mine alone,
a function of these angles: from eye, to rain, to sun.
Soothed, she recognised this singular view of him,
and slept, cradled by the memory of his hands.

 

Angi Holden is a freelance writer, whose work includes prizewinning adult and children’s poetry, short stories and flash fictions, published in online and print anthologies. She brings a wide range of personal experience to her writing, alongside a passion for lifelong learning, Her family are central to her life and her research into family history is a significant influence on her work. She was the winner of the inaugural Mother’s Milk Books Pamphlet Prize and her pamphlet, Spools of Thread will be published by Mother’s Milk Books in 2017. Twitter: @josephsyard

DIY – by Carole Bromley

Don’t fret about the damp patch
under the window; the baby won’t mind.

She’ll not bother her head
about the lagging in the roof-space.

The bare floorboards that bring
the sound of your footsteps

will do her just fine, that crack
in the ceiling will be her first pattern.

She won’t lose any sleep over
the missing loft ladder,

the crazed toilet bowl, the stubborn cold tap,
that creosote spilling through the fence.

Listen. Already she outgrows her prison,
drums her heels against its walls,

turns turtle, butts her head, blinks,
opens and closes her mouth.

Sit down, pick up your guitar
and sing to her.

First published in A Guided Tour of the Ice House (Smith/Doorstop). 

See also Carole Bromley’s poems ‘Dads’ and ‘South Bank and Eston Rotary Club, 1951’


Carole Bromley
lives in York and has two collections from Smith/Doorstop, the most recent being The Stonegate Devil which won the York Culture Award 2016. Her poem DIY was first published in the collection A Guided Tour of the Ice House. She has a collection of poems for children coming out in June 2017. Websit
e www.carolebromleypoetry.co.uk

Daddy – by Sharon Larkin

slide1

d-c-g-jones-and-s-c-a-jonesHere I am, aged 5, with my Dad kneeling alongside me on a country walk. The photo would have been taken by mother; the camera was his. Later he would buy me my first camera and we would go for long walks with a succession of border collies, him teaching me the names of wild flowers and trees, us trying to learn the names of birds together. Small wonder that, half a century later,  when not writing, I’m outside with my camera.

Sharon Lakin

Introduction

What is this all about?

Here, poets are going to be celebrating fathers – their own, their grandfathers, step-fathers, foster fathers.  Or someone else’s exemplary Dad. Or perhaps you are a Good Dad yourself – or are trying to be – and have already put your positive experiences of fatherhood into a poem, or now feel inspired to do so.

Father, Dad, Daddy, Pater? Tad? Vati? Papa?   Whatever you call him, let’s sing his praises.

To be able to celebrate him, he must be a Good Dad.  And I recognise that not all fathers are good fathers.  But most do their best -and we want praise them for it, in poetry.

Why do this, and why now?

I have known Sylvia Plath’s Daddy for several decades, and shiver with the emotion of it each time I read it. It’s is an extraordinary poem. The last time I read it – at a Cheltenham Poetry Society event – I felt the need to counterbalance it by writing a paean to a positive model of fatherhood.  It was – obviously! – nowhere near the quality of Sylvia’s legendary poem.  How could it be?  I simply felt I needed to get a positive poem, however defective, ‘out there’.

I’ve since remembered several poems I’d written about my own father – who was one of the good ones.  And then I had the idea of starting this site, to go live on 1 January 2017, and inviting poets to submit their own ‘good dad’ poems for inclusion.  I’ll aim to review the site, with a fanfare, following Fathers’ Day, 2017.

Then who knows?  If we have an extraordinary body of poems celebrating extraordinary fathers, perhaps we’ll think about an anthology – either an e-book, or a ‘real’ one!  It depends how things go. No promises.

How to submit your poems

Please submit between one and three poems (less than 40 lines each) in the body of an email, to good.dadhood@gmail.com  .  They don’t have to be new poems.  As long as you own the copyright, they can still appear on this site – acknowledging where they first appeared. Please include a short (100 word max) bio with your submission. I’ll aim to publish (or re-publish) at least two poems per week from 1 January to 18 June … more if quality poems flood in, as I hope they will!

I’ll be Tweeting and Facebooking links to this website as each poem appears.  If more than one poem from your particular submission is accepted for the site, it might be held over to a later date than the first one accepted.  It depends on which poems go well together, or which provide an interesting contrast.  I’ll let you know by email which of your poems have been accepted, with a projected date for publication.

An important note

It’s a great sadness when fathering isn’t that positive.  I can appreciate something of what it means not to have had a good dad … my mother didn’t, and I am less confident that I could start a website celebrating motherhood.  My heart goes out to all children, of whatever age, who are hurting.

There are many outlets for poetry expressing the pain of negative experiences of fatherhood. This isn’t the ideal place to submit poems that can’t represent positive aspects of fatherhood, so such poems are unlikely to be published here. I hope you will find a better outlet than this one, and wish you every success with your writing

Finally …

This is a new venture for me.  Please be tolerant and patient as I learn how to be an editor of an e-zine!  If I do anything that upsets you, it will be  down to inexperience, never malice.

So please start sorting through your ‘good dad’ poems … or writing a new one!  I look forward to reading about some splendid fathers … some heroes … some, more like my own – a kind and gentle man, modest of his achievements but unforgettable, and deserving of a big, loud fanfare!

Welcome!

On 1 January 2017 this Good Dadhood poetry blog goes live. This is where your good poems about good Dads will appear!

Why?

Well last year, Cheltenham Poetry Society, with which I am closely associated, launched a series of events called Poets Dead or Alive. We asked people to come, armed with a couple of poems by the ‘famous poet of the night’, and one or two of their own poems that related in some way to those of the famous, either by subject or style, or by presenting a contrast.  We ran four such evenings over the year, focusing on Edward Thomas, Philip Larkin, Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes.  (This year, we’re calling it Poets Alive … and including the poetry of W H Auden, T S Eliot, Gillian Clarke, D H Lawrence, Billy Collins and W B Yeats.  Let’s see what project(s) this seeds for 2018!)

For the Sylvia Plath night in 2016, I chose to take along her famous poem, Daddy, and as a contrast – a counterweight – a poem I wrote in gratitude for having had a good Dad.  This is the first poem on the blog, not because it’s brilliant (it’s not – and in no way stands comparison with Sylvia’s justifiably lauded poem), but it was what got me thinking how much Dads need a better press – and better poetry. Hence this project.

So this gives us an opportunity to assemble a body of poems in praise of Good Dadhood.  I hope you will contribute.  Your poem(s) might be in gratitude to your own good father … or someone else’s … or it/they might touch on your experience of trying … to be a good dad … and succeeding!

How to submit

Please submit your poems to  good.dadhood@gmail.com
There is no real limit to the number of poems you can submit but make them good ones!  Let’s say, to keep things manageable, that you can submit between one and three poems (less than 40 lines each).  Let’s go for quantity over quantity. Positive is finest. Humour is fine. Overly sentimental and mawkish are possibly going to be less fine … and might not get past the gatekeeper (me!)  Negative almost definitely won’t get through the gate.
Already-published poems are fine as long as you still own the copyright. On submitting, please mention where they first appeared, so we can acknowledge that on the blog.
If you are wondering whether to submit a poem to a magazine or competition, you might think twice about entering it as a candidate poem for the Good Dadhood blog.  Poems appearing here must be considered ‘published’.  However, if you do need subsequently to withdraw a poem from the blog, for whatever reason, please let me know and I’ll remove it from the site as quickly as possible.
Please include a short bio (less than 100 words) which might include a few words about the father in your poem((s).  If you would like to, please feel free to include a photograph of yourself … and, with the necessary permissions … the father in your poem.  Please don’t submit a photograph if you don’t own it or don’t have the owner’s permission for it to be posted on the internet.  Please do assure yourself that you have the permission of every living person in the photograph – and mentioned in the poem – to be represented on the blog. The Good Dadhood project isn’t going to be responsible for any repercussions stemming from not following any of these guidelines!

What next?

I’ll let you know when your poem is (or poems are) going to be posted on the site. Feel free to publicize their appearance on Facebook and/or Twitter.
Good Dadhood poems will continue to be posted on the blog until submission closes on 17 June 2017 – when there will be a big fanfare of celebration  … on the eve of Father’s Day.       
I’ll then do a stock-take of what we have and decide whether to leave it there, or whether an anthology is achievable, and if so, in what form.  No promises about an anthology at this stage; it depends on the quality and quantity of poems we end up with by June.
Finally, not all of us have good experiences of being parented. If your experience of fathers and fatherhood wasn’t positive, I genuinely feel for you. Sadly, it is an imperfect world we inhabit. Not all my experiences of being parented were positive and helpful ones.
But there are good fathers in the world. Good fathers don’t get enough recognition and we want to do them proud with some good poetry … don’t we?
I look forward to reading your poems!
Your friend in poetry …
Sharon Larkin