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.


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 ( 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.

Two Poems by Rachael Clyne

Mr Shopping Trolley

Stuffed with newspapers
lifted from transport seats and bins,
dad was a shopping trolley.

His tailor’s fingers itched 
for snip of shears
and swish of a papercut.

Earpiece strapped to TV, snug
in his deafness bubble, until
pointlessly yelling, we waved in his face.

His control suite was stocked with
paper, scissors, biros, paperclips,
bulldog clips and Sellotape dispenser.

He sliced, spliced, stapled
and bunched his evenings away
with random clippings.

Health risks of eating fungi.
The Odd History of Putney Sewers,
Cure for Arthritis Found.

Each point circled, crossed,
in red, black and/or blue. Sellotape,
his glue of choice, was applied

to the base of kitchen units,
fastened batons across doorways,
as a DIY cockroach deterrent.

Instead of cheques to help with bills
paper tokens came by post: Somerset’s
Last Coalmine
, The Power of Vitamin K.

My inheritance –  a pile
of twelve stuffed bin bags,
ready for refuse collection.

Magic Suit              

I wanted to know if they’d left his teeth in.
I never saw him without teeth.
They offered me a sherry. I went in.

Low hum of air conditioning,
two carnations on his chest,
his face pillow-smooth.

I couldn’t look at his hands
his elegant fingers and the crooked
one from the accident before I was born.

          I touched his arm.

Eighty-five, a good innings, said the nurse,
giving me his hearing aids, glasses, 
his fake Rolex, still ticking,

his clothes in a black bin bag.
As she handed me his credit cards
I knew there’d be debts to clear.

Southport Tailor’s Magic Suit
read the clipping; he kept scores of copies.
One jacket to fit all sizes was his claim.

He hinted it was something to do with
the way he cut the shoulders, but fearful
of being ripped off,

          its secret dies with him.

Magic Suit was first published in Girl Golem (4word, 2018)

Rachael’s father, Nat


Rachael Clyne’s pamphlet Girl Golem, published by 4Word in 2018 includes poems about her father Nat, who migrated from Russia as a toddler and became a ladies’ tailor. Rachael explains, “Deaf since his teens, Nat was a character.” 

Rachael’s collection, Singing at the Bone Tree, which won the Geoff Stevens Memorial Poetry Prize in 2013 and was published by Indigo Dreams in 2014, concerns our broken relationship with nature.

Two Poems by Susan Castillo


In the twilight, I lie against
my father’s chest, breathe smells 
of peppermints and sweat.
The chair creaks as we rock back and forth. 
Over his shoulder, I see wicker 
patterned with black squares.
He sings of sentimental journeys, 
bids blackbirds bye-bye. I lean my head
against his ribs, feel their thrum,

hear the drumbeat of his heart, 
know I am sheltered, safe
swathed in my father’s arms.

‘Shield’ was published in Susan’s fourth collection, Cloak (Kelsay Press, 2019)


I am three years old.
Outside the house, the old magnolia tree
stretches high into the sky.
Foot on branch,
hand over hand
I climb up toward the clouds,
believe that I can fly,
breathe in the thick perfume
of floating waxy blooms.

From the second floor window
my father looks out,
sees my reckless grin,
blanches, races downstairs,
stands there tall between the roots.

I know he’ll always catch me
if I fall.

‘Net’ was published in Susan’s third collection, The Gun-Runner’s Daughter, (Kelsay Books, 2018)

Susan Castillo Street is Harriet Beecher Stowe Professor Emerita, King’s College London. She has published four collections of poems: The Candlewoman’s Trade, 2003;  Abiding Chemistry, 2015; The Gun-Runner’s Daughter, 2018; and Cloak (2019). Her poetry has appeared in leading journals and anthologies in the UK, the US, South Africa, Mexico, and Luxembourg. Her poem ‘Bird of God’ won first place in the 2018 Pre-Raphaelite Society Competition. 

A Poem by Louise Warren

The Cartographer’s Last Day

He knows the place, the crop
between the shallow hills,
at the parting of a cart track
or on a cliff’s narrow ledge.
Each journey has a cost.

Barbed wire, brambles, a horsefly’s sting,
his arms threaded with scarlet,
the juice of sloes, wild damsons, plum,
blood, his white hair invaded by leaves and burrs.
This is his lot.

Once, upended by a stile
and full length upon the grass, he found an orchid.
A tiny slip of a thing, and never said a word.
Others have tried to follow him on his wild scramblings,
searched the fields at dawn but found nothing.

He knows the source,
the lip of a well, buried beneath nettles,
a chapel felled into a wood
where he eats his lunch, back against the wind.
He sees ghosts, but never marks them on his map.

This is a time before satellites,
when people found their way through the world
by marking it, pushing through
waist high in bracken.
He pushes on and down into the valley
where the green covers his head like the sea.

First published in A Child’s Last Picture Book of the Zoo,
Cinnamon Press 2012

Louise Warren was born and grew up in the West Country and now lives in London. Her first collection A Child’s Last Picture of the Zoo won the Cinnamon Press debut poetry competition and was published in 2012. A pamphlet, In the scullery with John Keats, also published by Cinnamon, came out in 2016. Her poems have been widely published in magazines including Ambit, The Butchers Dog, Stand, Poetry Wales and Rialto. In 2018 she won first prize in the Prole Laureate Poetry Competition with her poem The Marshes which appears in her new pamphlet, John Dust, illustrated by the artist John Duffin and published in 2019 by V.Press.

Louise’s father

Louise writes that “He was very much a west countryman and worked as a Surveyor for the Ordnance Survey, a job he loved … his love of the outdoors is evident in this poem.” She has very happy memories of her father, whose birthday was on 17 April. Good Dadhood has pleasure in celebrating it with Louise here today.

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


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.

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

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:

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


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.
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 ( has eight published collections, his latest being a co-authored pamphlet with Susan Taylor, The Weather House (, 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 Catherine Baker

It came slow

Two years of evenings from winter
to summer and around again.
Surrounded in plans, wood shavings,
the smell of glue and cedar thick the air.
Hands hard, slick with varnish.
Pipe clenched between stunning teeth.
It came slow, this dreaming himself free.

He steered it down cow parsley lanes,
pushed it to float in the shallows,
raised the red sail.

Left his children life-jacketed on the shore,
his woman sulking moody in the dunes.
He lifted into blue flax looseness,
the white sky stroking his bony shoulders
breathing up salt sticky spray.
He skimmed, soared the sparkle
as mackerel flared and swooped.
Silver flashes under his feet.

Catherine Baker has been published by Stand, Snakeskin and Amaryllis. She has poems in anthologies such as Poetry from Gloucestershire and Ways to Peace. She was runner up in the Gloucestershire Writers Network poetry competition in 2018, and her poem was read at Cheltenham Literature Festival.

Three Poems by Susan Taylor

Two poems for my father, Harold Taylor

Easy does it

He worked with the soil
and with water
as well as wind and fire,
as an ordinary Lincolnshire farmer does,
the lift and the literal grind
of milling the grain
for hundreds
of head of stock.

It was a calling as natural
as his calling the cattle and sheep.
I was happy to walk
in the tread of his steps,
to gentle the beasts out of my way
when I fed them
at their mangers.
So, our life together was spent.

I remember him
walking the tilth with a hopper
strapped to him,
sewing out grass seeds
like an infinity sign on the air,
and scything
with the sweep and swoosh,
same rhythm as a man from way back.

Hand milking, morning and evening,
his voice rising
from the cowshed;
his baritone voice, just singing
in the comfort and shelter of cows.
The live warm milk eased out
for our table
and doting tortoiseshell cats.

And the lily shed;
my concern,
as a farm hand
stood with murring calves,
while he poured their essential share
into buckets,
a smooth stream
out of the churn.

Note from the poet: My calf rearing shed was called the lily shed because, when we took on the farm at a bitterly cold Lincolnshire Easter-time, we stored my mother’s Madonna lilies in there, before the weather was suitable to transplant them into the new garden.

Snow on the Dark Peak

He hardly ever wore gloves,
but I’ve raised a memory trace
of the time I held his hand
on a walk in thick snowfall.

He was wearing driving gloves,
the kind with string backs.
My connection to him,
awkward; the feel of pallid kid,

instead of the usual warmth
of his weathered brown palm.
So my first memory of his hands
is that climb on Kinder Scout

and my last memory of them
is seeing cold fingers threaded
each upon each, like lily buds
breaking over the end of his life.


for Simon

Picture me on a beach with our children –
your children in newly liberated skins,
ready to play with you. Darling,

while you were away
we have run wild.

We have learnt to sculpt you out of sand.
Hold still – we are working on a way
to breathe the bones into you.

Easy Does It and Snow on the Dark Peak are both from Susan Taylor’s collection, A Small Wave for Your Form, published by Oversteps Books. Sandman was published in The Complete Bearded Stranger, Susan’s collection from Taxvs Press.

Susan Taylor began writing in her teens in the idyllic setting of her family farm in the Lincolnshire Wolds – Tennyson country. An ex-shepherd, she admits to having become something of a ‘turncoat’ now, with much sympathy for the plight of the wild wolf. She has eight published poetry collections, including ‘Temporal Bones’, published by Oversteps Books in 2106. Susan is a keen performer of her poetry and has developed and toured many collaborative poetry shows, including ‘La Loba – Enchanting the Wolf’ and ‘The Weather House’, which appeared as an Indigo Dreams Poetry Pamphlet in 2017.

A Poem by Sanjeev Sethi

On Father’s 69th Birthday

        In his hospital room

Everyone has a father  —
but only some fathers
sow the seed
for their sons
to break into song.

Historians chronicle
the cave-in of civilizations.
I can see your decline —
see it with precision and pain.

Father, you want to hold
the space you held.
But, is it my fault,
that your hands
now need me?

First published in Drunk Monkeys

Sanjeev Sethi is published in over 25 countries. He has more than 1200 poems printed or posted in venues around the world. Wrappings in Bespoke was a winner in the second Hedgehog Press Full Fat Collection competition. It’s his fourth book and is scheduled for publication in 2020. Sanjeev lives in Mumbai, India.