A Poem by Beth McDonough

The Hipster

(for Dad, and his new joint)

O, give me the firesides
of farting old fuckers, whose
crumpet kicks off
with cocoa and jam.

Eighty? He’s mine!
I’ll slot in just fine — take me home.

The Doric for socks?
I don’t give a toss, but I see
that they’re thick, and stuffed
into boots, which are scarily fuzzy
with Nik Wax. So who
is this codger who climbed
Cotopaxi, and is pictured with people
strung out on the Picos?

This rampant old grandpa swings
monkey ring things, high
Tarzans the lengths at the baths.

So soon, he’ll be stripping
off mockings of surgical stockings,
he’s ditching his crutches,
he’s clipping on crampons — 

The Hipster was first published in Seagate III (ed. Andy Jackson, Discovery Press, 2016).

Beth explains that this poem was written about her Dad (86) as he approached his 80th birthday … and a hip replacement.  She adds that, despite having subsequently broken his hip and femur, hillwalking in the Canaries, he probably walks more each day than most of his neighbours! 

Beth McDonough studied Silversmithing at Glasgow School of Art. After an M Litt at Dundee University, she was Writer in Residence at Dundee Contemporary Arts. Her work connects strongly with place, particularly to the Tay, where she swims year-round. Her poetry is published in Gutter, Stand, Magma and elsewhere. In Handfast (with Ruth Aylett) she explored experiences of autism, as Ruth examined dementia. Beth’s solo pamphlet, Lamping for pickled fish, is published by 4Word.

A Poem by Wynn Wheldon

Kicking the Bar

Sometimes my father would come home in time
to run in the park in his old black tracksuit.
More often it was a walk round the block.
With no time it was just kicking the bar.

The first I would do grudgingly: “OK”.
The second I might enjoy – on a good day.
The final I would gladly take with him.
One way: kick. The other: kick. Then home.

Sometimes we were quiet. This didn’t bother us.
Sometimes he’d ask “How was your day?” I’d tell,
but I liked best when he told me about his.
Not enough OKs, never enough good days.

A version of Kicking the Bar was published in
Tiny Disturbances (Acumen Occasional Pamphlet 21, 2012).
It is also the title of Wynn’s biography of his father, published by Unbound in 2016.

 Wynn with his father, the much-admired and fondly remembered broadcaster and BBC executive, 
Sir Huw Wheldon

Wynn Wheldon’s biographies are Kicking the Bar: A Filial Biography of Huw Wheldon (Unbound 2016) and The Fighting Jew: The Life and Times of Daniel Mendoza (Amberley, 2019). His poetry collection, Private Places, was published by Indigo Dreams Publishing in 2015. Other books include The Father and Child Companion and World Famous War Heroes. He reviews books for a number of publications. He lives in London.

A poem by Rachel Burns

Broken Things

Dad works in a telecommunications factory
we are the only family in the street with a telephone.

Ring, ring, ring.
A shuffling of feet
shillings drop into the money jar

a desperate wish echoing in the hall
death comes to call.

People bring Dad broken things, electricals
he takes them apart with a screwdriver on the kitchen table
broken televisions, a wireless, cassette player.

He tries to find the broken heart
with a soldering iron and electric cable.



Rachel Burns was runner-up in the BBC Poetry Proms 2019 competition and her poem was broadcast on radio 3. Her debut poetry pamphlet, a girl in a blue dress is available from the Poetry Book Society and Vane Women Press.

Two poems by Paul Waring


Weekends he escaped to a world away
from ours, crazy-paved corner of garden,
dad-only den; shed air incense of solder,
sawn cedar or pine, heady, glue-thick,
cigarette smoke haze punctured by metal
or wood notes from orchestra of tools.
I see him, stick-thin, still hunched
over thoughts, long after day downs
last dregs of light, intent to crack code
of a repair, design some new gadget
or eavesdrop police channel chatter
on radio scanner. I wanted to be him:
drill with dental precision, perform surgery
on circuit boards – but could only watch,
fetch cuppas and brush up. Wanted to be
his hands, hold them steady in later years,
be his eyes that lost focus, now there
in my reflection; growing reminders of him,
another world that awaits.


Shedbound was first published at The High Window, Dec 2018



In My Father’s Shoes

Some days back from the dead –
             your face a mirror
             reminder of lost youth

Saturdays at five I hear you
             pffting again after
             three draws and one away

Fray Bentos pie, chips and peas for tea
             out dapper-suited with Mum
             to the club     still novice

to Brylcreem     feeling the pinch
             of collar and tie under
             sleeveless v-neck cable knit

Sundays I might find myself
             at the wheel of your Cortina
             stopped whoknowswhere

family seeing off fish and chips
             car reek of vinegar
             fused with fresh-lit Embassy

Dreams where I’m mistaken for you
             in North Wales     holiday faces
             reflected in gift shop windows

a split-second glimpse
             at my awkward gait –
             still unable to fill your shoes



Paul Waring’s poems have been published in print journals, themed anthologies and online magazines. He was awarded second place in the 2019 inaugural Yaffle Prize and commended in the 2019 Welshpool Poetry Competition. Quotidian, his debut pamphlet, was published in by Yaffle Press in July 2019. https://waringwords.blog

Another Chapter of Good Dadhood

It’s 2020 … and this seems like a good year to start another chapter of the Good Dadhood story. The submission period will run from 4 March to 14 June 2020, with a big fanfare on social media on Father’s Day, 21 June.

So, please do start writing or polishing up your poems celebrating fatherhood, and email them to gooddadhood@gmail.com

I’ll be reading all the poems submitted, and will upload those chosen onto this website once or twice a week between now and the middle of June.

Please submit one, two or a maximum of three poems in a Word attachment to your email, using Times Roman 12 point font, single-line spaced.  Poems should be less than 40 lines in length, including title and line breaks.  If your poem is in a non-standard format, please include a jpeg version, as an attachment to your email.

Let’s go for quality over quantity. Positive is finest. Humour is fine. Overly sentimental poems are probably going to be less fine … and might not get past the gatekeeper (me!)  Negativity 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 site.

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 ezine.  Poems appearing here must be considered ‘published’.  However, if you do need subsequently to withdraw a poem from the Good Dadhood, for whatever reason, please email to let me know and I’ll remove it from the site as quickly as possible.

Please include a short bio (100 words or less) which might include a few words about the father in your poem(s).

I can’t wait to read more poems in honour of Good Dads!


Update – August 2017

It’s been a little quiet around here since Good Dadhood closed for submissions in June but that doesn’t mean nothing is happening behind the scenes!  I’m hoping to be able to share some more news about the future of the project before too long.  Meanwhile, one or two poems have hit my radar since June that I think are splendid Good Dadhood poems, and which deserve a wider audience, so with the poets’ permission, I’ll be adding them to a new page called More Good Dads.  The first such poem – the lovely ‘To Lauren’ by Gill Wyatt – can be found on the new page:  Poem by Gill Wyatt  Check back for further additions … and for that news!

Good Dadhood … in the Library

There has been a Good Dadhood display in Cheltenham Children’s Library since Friday 16 June – ahead of Father’s Day on 18 June.

Version 2

Poems in the display are:

DIY by Carole Bromley
Nurture by Stephen Daniels  
No Stabilisers Today by Finola Scott
Daddy by Sharon Larkin 

Nurture by Stephen Daniels was previously published in Eunoia Review.

A version of  No Stabilisers Today by Finola Scott was previously published on Silver Birches, 2016

Version 4

There was also window display over the weekend, and a poster at nearby Smokey Joe’s cafe.  
Thanks to Rebecca Silence of Cheltenham Library for arranging the displays 


and also to Jan (above) in the Children’s Library for her warm welcome when I turned up this morning with my camera! She enthused that it was great to have such positive poems in the Children’s Library, in celebration of Father’s Day.


Happy Father’s Day to All Good Dads

Well we made it!

The Good Dadhood project (2017) reaches its conclusion today, Sunday 18 June  – Father’s Day – with a fine body of poems in honour of Fatherhood … by a fine body of poets.

Some stats:

Poems published: 76
Poets contributing: 41

Thank you to each one …

Kathryn Alderman
David Ashbee
Carole Bromley
Kevin Brooke
Sarah J Bryson
Helen Burke
Martyn Crucefix
Stephen Daniels
Janet Dean Knight
Annie Ellis
Jennie Farley
Angela France
Chris Hardy
Angi Holden
Tamara Jennette
Sue Johnson
Sharon Larkin
Sarah Leavesley
Mandy Macdonald
Maggie Mackay
Laura McKee
Frances March
Rufus Mufasa
Terry O’Connor
Matthew Paul
Jeff Phelps
Nicky Phillips
Mat Riches
Belinda Rimmer
Dee Russell-Thomas
Finola Scott
Rebecca Sillence
Jayne Stanton
Matthew Stewart
Carl Tomlinson
Roger Turner
Chris Willis
Bob Woodroofe
Paul Wooldridge
Aaron Wright
Dorothy Yamamoto

Photos: 14

Visitors to Good Dadhood: approx 2000

Number of views: approx 4000

Number of countries viewing: 45

Top 10 countries viewing:
UK, US, Canada, Spain, Ireland, Australia, India, China, Germany, France


The Good Dadhood project has received encouraging feedback along the way, for example:

• I’ve loved Good Dadhood … both being involved and reading the many and varied contributions.

• … lovely project …. So refreshing to read celebrations of fathers and snapshots of their positive influences . An antidote to darker works where the focus is on blame and hurt.

• Thank you … for giving voice to love.

• … thank you for Good Dadhood … It’s been excellent!


It’s been a pleasure …

Meanwhile if a publisher out there would like to consider publishing the poems as an anthology, perhaps linked to a family-centred charity, please do get in touch. Or if a fellow poet with publishing experience would be willing to collaborate with me to publish a Good Dadhood Anthology 2017, please do get in touch.  I’d welcome the ‘learning experience’ but it’s not a venture I’d want to tackle single-handed.  Two parents would be great for this baby!

Thank you again to all contributors and readers of Good Dadhood.

Enjoy Father’s Day!





A Poem by Belinda Rimmer




Belinda Rimmer has worked as a psychiatric nurse/counsellor with troubled children; taught the creative arts in primary schools and lectured in Performance Arts. Her poems have appeared in various magazines, including, Brittle Star, Artemis, Obsessed with Pipework, Dream Catcher, The Dawntreader and Sarasvati. Some have been published on-line with Writers Against Prejudice, Ground, Open Mouse, Clear Poetry and Picaroon. Belinda also enjoys writing short stories.

Dad’s Dibber by Sharon Larkin


Short and squat, a man in a cap,
rolled-up shirtsleeves, old trousers
encrusted with blood and bone,
boots dusted with powdered lime.

He bends double over the latest row
marked out with stake and string
to keep it straight, wields his dibber –
really a sawn-off fork handle –

swivels it into the tidy tilth
to make a little hole for a seed potato.
Later he’ll earth up the row
to encourage growth.

I watch, asking questions ‘what, why, what for?’
in the manner of a five year old –
each answer given
after measured thought:

“It’s a fertiliser. It keeps soil sweet.
Because straight is better than crooked.
Because each one I plant needs a little nest
to encourage it to grow up strong.

Because good Dads love their children”.


This poem came out of a workshop at Cheltenham Poetry Society’s Annual Awayday (writing retreat) in May.  The workshop, led by David Ashbee, used wood and wooden objects as prompts.  As I was writing my poems, I remembered my father’s dibber – hence this poem.  Thanks to Dave – and Dad – for the inspiration.


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