Three Poems by Angi Holden – a Fanfare Finale for Fathers’ Day

As we celebrate Fathers’ Day today, bringing Good Dadhood to a close for another year, here are three splendid poems by Angi Holden, with a great photo … to finish GD2021 with a flourish!


Is He Your Real Dad?

She understood the question,
its roots in biology and DNA,
though its significance had
always seemed misplaced.

Her friend saw his square face,
his solid jaw so unlike
her elfin features, her high cheekbones.
She saw only the smile which broke
around his lips and lit up his eyes,
the thrown-back head,
heard only the throaty chuckle,
rich as molasses.

Her friend saw his thick black hair,
a contrast to her fly-away blond wisps.
She saw only his laughter when at fourteen
she’d experimented with pink and purple,
his readiness to take on the school,
his refusal to accept her suspension.

Her friend saw his bull neck,
his broad shoulders, so heavy
compared to her slight figure.
She saw only the strong arms,
there to pick her up whenever she fell.

She’d never needed the narrative
of documents, of adoption papers.
He was the only Dad she’d ever known.
Of course he is, she said.

Pacing

The man treads the floorboards, pacing
soft as night across their polished surface,

the head of his newborn son nestled
beneath his chin. The boy breathes deeply,

emitting light grizzles between the rhythm of sucks,
his lips pursed wetly against a bunched fist.

The man pauses on the landing, listens
to his daughter’s muffled snoring from behind

a closed door. He knows without looking
she will be adrift on sea-dreams, surrounded

by rabbits and sheep, a purple elephant
and a ginger kangaroo – a menagerie of plush

in the arc of her bed. He picks his way downstairs,
avoiding the third tread, anxious its distinctive creak

will wake his wife. She needs to sleep, to heal,
to gather strength before the onslaught of a new day.

In the kitchen he runs the cold tap, fills a glass.
He swallows thirstily, feels the refreshing slide

of water down his throat. Standing at the window,
he waits for dawn to break across the horizon,

hears the first notes of the morning blackbird,
watches the precious pulse of his son’s fontanelle.


Saving

In a workshop I’m asked what I’d save
if the house went up in flames.
Life, of course, is already granted
like Desert Island’s Bible and dictionary.
So we’re talking possessions here,
those precious irreplaceables.

My mind searches across the rooms,
a midnight cat-thief assessing worth
or sentimental value, finding little
I’d be unable to live without. Things
I’d be sad to lose certainly, and many
I couldn’t buy again, even if I wanted to.

In the spare bedroom my mind’s eye
lights on a lidded box, pressed cardboard
a few shades darker than manila. If flames
licked round these walls I’d save only what
nestles inside: your Mention in Dispatches,
your medals, your Officer’s peaked hat.



Angi Holden is a retired lecturer, whose published work includes adult and children’s poetry, short stories and flash fictions. Her pamphlet Spools of Thread won the Mother’s Milk Pamphlet Prize. In 2019 she won the Victoria Baths Splash Fiction competition and was placed in the Cheshire Prize for Literature competition.


Angi with her Mum and Dad dressed for the Queen’s Birthday Parade

Three poems by Zoë Sîobhan Howarth-Lowe


The Caesarean


The door was shut.
A window – nine inches square,
strengthened with thin wire grid lines –
provided my father with his only way in.

He watched through pixelated glass
unable see them carve me, his baby, out.
Instead his eyes fixed on my mother’s face,
turned towards him,
her drugged eyes were open, staring.



First Hours


I was delivered by c-section,
then, my mother and I, both fast asleep

were taken to a room full of nurses,
one spotted my father, watching,

half-hidden in a doorway,
she called him in, handed me over,

and he held me,
pressed against his shoulder,

the liquids of birth
still smeared across my face.

He held me, wouldn’t let go,
refused to allow the nurses

to take me to the nursery,
or place me in a cot.

He sat – waiting for my mother
to wake up, wanting me
to be the first thing she saw.



Image on a Brass Lion


I catch a glimpse of us
merged for a moment
on a curve of lion.
The arch of its back
forces our two faces
to swim together.
Two Roman noses,
each with a nub
of bone along the ridge.
Our eyes,
once two separate sets of blue –
mine, periwinkle and watery,
yours, ink on parchment,
are now combined –
and for a second
I see with your eyes,
and I become the father,
gripping his daughter’s hand.


‘Image on a Brass Lion’ previously appeared in Magma, and in my Pamphlet ‘I have grown two hearts’ by Hedgehog Poetry Press.



Zoë has two pamphlets (from Half Moon Books & Hedgehog Press) and her First Collection is forthcoming with Indigo Dreams in 2021. Her work has appeared in various Anthologies and Journals. Her Dad is Ray. He is 75 and a keen Runner & railway enthusiast.
Twitter: @ZSHowarthLowe
Website: http://www.zshowarthlowe.com


Proud Father

Time Together

Zoë and her Dad, Ray

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.

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Patricia and her Dad

Zoe with her Dad

Two Poems by Luke Palmer

Arrival

In the film, Amy Adams is muttering about time
as she masters its inkblots. I’m listening
to your guttural clench, your vocal fry
as each new breath discovers its chord.
Your forehead unknots, lips snatch or O
at something just beyond your range.
Newcomer, it’s unnerving to learn again
the way the world works; all my well-earned
aphorisms hauled out and reinspected
as if they could teach you anything. We’ve got it
all rearward, this pedagogy. What can you gain
from me who’s lost so much? Let’s lie together, listen
to what the world says, learn to speak it back.


Fingernails

Tonight we hold you up late ―
four hands gather yours one by one
to trim your fingernails. Each hilum
radiant against the scissors’ blade

falls to my palm, its snowflake edge
catches every dint and fissure of
a touch I’d thought soft.
Your milk skin is strafed with red

on your cheek, flywing eyelids shut
to this evening’s pruning. Some cut arcs
are smutted with fust, dark
where you’ve learnt of dirt

in miniature. I turn the peelings
like the mutes of some tiny owl
then watch them circle the plughole;
exceptional, new-coined fish. I feel

I’ve picked through something immaculate.
Our world’s too big now; my nostrils, pores,
armpits all cinema-large, our backwaters
grown inhuman, cavernous.

Perhaps that’s what love is, my
great benevolence for smallnesses.
I could fill rooms with hair, eyelashes,
and all the things we trim away.




Luke Palmer’s work has appeared in various places in print and online. His debut pamphlet, Spring in the Hospital (2018) is available from Prole Books and his first YA novel is due in 2021. When not looking after his two brilliant daughters, he can mostly be found in the writing shed or @lcpalmerpoet