Three Poems by Ben Banyard


Big Boy Rugby

Such a little thing
when another boy
rips off one of your Velcro tags
but you run to me sobbing
as though a strip of pride is gone.

I wipe your tears away
on my shoulder
turn you around
gently push you back into the game
where he waits wide-eyed
to stick the tag back on.

Daisy Draws a Picture of Me

Look, Daddy! It’s you!
And it is, as she sees me.
An enormous, shaven, potato-shaped head
dotted with stubble,
eyes further apart than mine
but unquestionably mine; they’re wide
like hers and Jack’s.
The nose is far daintier than mine,
mouth narrower, lips thinner, but smiling.
The body is my favourite part,
much slimmer than decades of good living
have heaped on my belly and waistline.
She’s even drawn a tuft or two of chest hair
sprouting from the neck of my shirt.
We’re both pleased with it.


Swimming in Backwell 

He’s ready well before me, pale little body,
hopping from one foot to the other
as I stash valuables in my shoe.
 
I straighten his goggles, free the ear
bent double under the strap.
I’ve got my noodle, Daddy!
He waves the yellow foam tube at me.
 
Outside, it’s in the high 20s,
fields we drove past on our way here
are parched yellow by the roasting sun.
 
This clammy seventies building is cool,
it stinks of chlorine and feet
but there are no distractions,
no slides, no daft friends showing off.
 
It’s Prince Harry’s wedding day,
the pool’s deserted,
apart from us and a lifeguard.
 
I lower myself down the ladder.
Jack flings himself into the water,
shrieking at the temperature.
 
Come on then, let’s see you swim!
He tucks the noodle under his arms,
doggy-paddles away from me, feet splashing:
spladoosh, spladoosh, spladoosh
like the sound of good-sized pebbles
thrown into a canal from the towpath.
 
He turns and comes back to me,
neck straining and lips buttoned shut
against the water.
 
You did it!
He grins and does a little dance.
Can I do some jumping in now, as a treat?
 
I nod and his cry of delight echoes,
dives into our memories forever.



Ben Banyard lives in Portishead with his wife and nine-year-old twins. His third collection of poetry, Hi-Viz, will be published by YAFFLE later this year. Ben blogs at https://benbanyard.wordpress.com 

Two Poems by David Callin


Always


My father sang Always
as though he was handling
something delicate,

something his large hard hands,
agricultural,
might easily break,

so he sang gently,
wooing the song politely
out of its whorled shell.

His pitch was imperfect,
his ear was fallible,
his tenor less than certain,

and sometimes the tune skittered
like an ungainly beast
on too smooth a surface,

but he sang on, holding
that tune so carefully –
a humdrum melody

something like a psalm,
an efflorescence
of the working day.

My Father’s VE Night
(or ‘Victory in Salop’)


My father later denied
ever having told me
that on his VE night
he had pushed his bicycle home
all the way from Telford
back to the farm – he’d been
conscripted to the land,
digging there for Britain –
without ever quite managing
to get on and ride the thing.

Drink had been taken,
which does not sound like him –
I only ever saw
the occasional Mackesons
and the dutiful toasts at weddings –
but on this of all nights,
why would he not? I like
the image of him walking
his bike and himself back home,

like someone trying to reason
with a stiff and skittish horse,
or helping a wounded comrade,
a la Guns of Navarone,
who was saying go on, just leave me,
but would he? No, not likely.
Not a chance, old lad.
We’ll get you back to Blighty.

And I’m sure he told me that.
I’m almost sure he did.




David Callin, from The Isle of Man, explains that his father was a farmer and describes his own childhood on the farm as idyllic – for him and his sister, at least. Probably rather less so for their hard-working parents. His poem Always was previously published in Snakeskin and features in his first collection, also entitled Always, published by Dreich in 2020.

Two Poems by Rodney Wood


Defence of Houses


My father hidden in the tree
filled with sun and joy and love
My father dancing as the sun dances
with a bag of money and steel composing rules
My father carries before him
a glass of beer and there’s a bodkin in his top pocket
My father is neither a poet
or rich or important, instead he is everything
My father wearing a doublet
of fine lace, smokes a pipe and cheap cigarettes

My father sweating as he
delivers delicate blows with a wooden mallet
My father an untreated knot
and that’s him walking down the street in his white coat
My father slow as stars
working in the light, Saturday is sweets and wrestling
My father can be what he wants
now he’s left nothing behind
My father an organic porous
and fibrous structural tissue, so easy to recycle, to forget.


Military Organization and Administration


He spent his life at a brick built factory in Aldershot
The Wellington Works. Left home at after a fry-up
in the morning, while I was asleep, and came home 12 hours later.

I caught the bus to school at a stop in the Works shadow.
It looked forbidding, magical, a palace where men clutched
little brown paper bags and stamped their cigarettes before entering

through the little shed at the corner and its blue door
to the principality of Gale & Polden Ltd, Naval
& Military Printers & Publishers, by Appointment, founded in 1866.

I only went there once, in 1962. I was 9 years old.
Dad took me though the little blue door where a man
with a brown coat and flat cap smiled at me from behind a counter.

“This is where you clock in and leave your matches.
They do the printing here.” Machines on a bare concrete floor
stretching into the distance. Clanking, bangs, rattles and the smell of oil.

He showed me a giant wheel of paper, a revolving
drum of words, a machine where sheets were a blur
and yet came together as a broadsheet which men in blue skimmed.

“Hello Roy”, they shouted as we passed hand in hand.
We went upstairs to his glass lined office. He showed
me newspaper articles in neat rows on his desk and gave me a magazine.

“I was working on this all last week. The Lady. Glossy.”
Even then I knew all that belonged in the past
while I did my lessons and try to make it all right again.


Rodney explains that his father worked as a printer for Gale & Polden Ltd, Naval & Military Printers & Publishers, for over 30 years and the titles of the poems come from pamphlets they published, between the years 1890 and 1957.



Rodney Wood is the Stanza rep for Woking and his poems have been widely published. His father didn’t like talking about his sporting achievements, his single life (he married at 45) or the war. His father died in 2002 leaving behind cigarettes and medals.

Two Poems by Neil Elder



Things


Just like that cardigan you wore,
it shaped itself to your very being.
How is it that an old thing can carry
so much of a person?
The handle, worn smooth as stone,
somehow warm where your strong hands
held fast.
This spade, the remnants
of the dirt you lifted,
holds something of you.

I say your name quietly;
in dark purple blooms
not named by any botanist.



The theme is …


This is where I duck out;
the moon’s too big for just one person.

Give me a tiny moonstone to write about,
or better still, a moon shaped stone
that fits upon my palm.

Like the stone I took away from the shore
the day I gave an urn of ashes to the sea:
a trade that, like the tide,
keeps returning you to me.




Neil Elder’s full collection The Space Between Us won the Cinnamon Press Debut Prize, and his Codes of Conduct won their pamphlet prize. This year he has a pamphlet Like This appearing with 4Words Press. He occasionally blogs at https://neilelderpoetry.wordpress.com/ 

A Poem by Janet Dean


Watching World in Action With My Dad


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.

George Dean on his way to work in The Ambulance Room of Grimethorpe Colliery, early 1970s




Janet Dean was born in Barnsley and lives in York. Her poetry has been shortlisted for the Bridport Prize, commended in The Poetry Society Stanza competition and featured in the Northern Poetry Library’s Poem of the North. Her poems have been published by Valley Press, Templar, Paper Swans, Strix, The Morning Star, among others. She writes fiction as Janet Dean Knight, her debut historical novel The Peacemaker, set in Yorkshire mining communities, was longlisted for the Mslexia Novel Prize in 2017 and published in 2019 by Top Hat Books.

Two Poems by Carmina Masoliver


Dad


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.

A Poem by Hilary Robinson


Times with Dad

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.

A Poem by Maggie Mackay


Ode to my Dad


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.

Maggie’s Dad, Tom

Two Poems by George Colkitto


Day Trips with Dad

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.

The Hut                                     


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.

George’s Mum and Dad, 1957

Three Poems by Peter Raynard

School Daze

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.


Rabbie

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.


Careers Day

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.