Two Poems by Z. D. Dicks

Vulcan’s Apprentice

Thunder jumps down stairs 
as wood quakes dust
and through walls
dogs tremble at booms 

The lounge door explodes
into a maelstrom of glances 
over shoulder to room
a squinting volcano hisses

I feel her teeth growl
clenched as slabs 
her rock fists impact
and inhabit my breath

Her claws uncurl, lava-arc
cut down as ash
skin ripples mountains 
red, and striped

I respond as ocean
lock fire in embrace
quash roars and bubble 
blood in laughter 

I tame her with a hug
and kiss the earth
that is my daughter’s head


In a half-lit bedroom
springs depress
and a smile rises
over duvet horizon

Through cindered eyes 
hot tea fog-bellows
clunks on nightstand 
toast mudslides yeast

My son tears at gifts 
sinks hands as rocks
until boxes are hulks
that scatter to abyss 

We eat, as a family
as he unfolds envelopes
runs a finger over map
we see treasure laid out

X marks the spot 

Z. D. Dicks has had poetry accepted by ‘Fly on the Wall Press’, ‘Obsessed with Pipework’, ‘Salzburg Poetry Review’, ‘Sarasvati’, ‘Stride’, ‘Ink, Sweat and Tears’, ‘Three Drops from a Cauldron’, ‘Fresh Air Poetry’, ‘I am not a silent poet’, ‘The Hedgehog Poetry Press’ plus many more. He works tirelessly to promote poetry and is Gloucestershire Poet Laureate, founder of The Gloucestershire Poetry Society and Director of the Gloucester Poetry Festival. 

Two Poems by Maggie Mackay

Bring Back Dad Blues

There he sits in dusk in his favourite chair
and the fiddle comes jigging, jigging,
his fingers drumming Carmina Burana,
baton-hand Beethoven strings,
head nodding in a dream within my dream.

Tobacco tang swirls across his eyes
slipping like melt. Golden Virginia, a gold packet,
crackles to life. There’s a library book open,
waiting to be read. He’s walking, walking to what counts.

Walk to me.
Forty years of seasons and ageing,
and a blackbird’s song.

My Father as a Zephyr

Lightest of all things,
he blows in light of a perpetual spring,
scatters the salty Clyde with early summer breezes,
with seaweed fronds on soft foam,
fruit of our childhood holidays.
His soft stirring smile greets aquamarine.
His wind-song dances on fiddle strings, sotto.
The west wind restores dear ones
with a tease, a coorie-in, a purr.

Previously published by Three Drops from a Cauldron and nominated for The Pushcart Prize, 2017/18

Maggie Mackay loves family history which she incorporates into work in print and online journals. She is a Poetry Masters graduate of The Writing School, Manchester Metropolitan University. She has a poem in the award-winning #MeToo anthology. Others have been nominated for The Forward Prize, Best Single Poem ­­­­­­­­with one commended in the Mothers’ Milk Writing Prize. Her pamphlet ‘The Heart of the Run’ is published by Picaroon Poetry and the booklet ‘Sweet Chestnut’ published by Karen Little in aid of animal welfare. She is a reviewer for

Maggie with her Father

A Poem by Sheila Jacob

Something To Remember Your Dad By

Your sister writes and yes,
unwrapping the leather purse
and inhaling its sharp sweet fibres,

I remember how your Villa scarf
draped claret and blue
around the cubbyhole peg.

I remember your slippers,
overcoat, a crumpled hanky
that fell from its sleeve

all parcelled in tobacco-tang
long after you’d smoked
your final cigarette.

This purse you made
during the war, convalescent
from the pneumonia

that almost killed you.
You scored and stitched it
for your own Dad,

brought it home one weekend.
Perhaps he used it straight off,
counted coppers onto the bar

and you shared pints,
Woodbines, family news, the air
a sharp sweet fug as hours slid

away like beer down a glass.
Sunday came before you could blink,
the purse warm in his inside pocket

and you on Snow Hill’s
sandbagged platform, time to spare
before the night train’s judder and hiss.

Sheila Jacob lives in North Wales with her husband. She was born and raised in Birmingham and resumed writing poetry in 2013 after a long absence. She is frequently inspired by her working-class ‘50’s childhood. Her poems have been published in a number of U.K. magazines and webzines. Last year she self-published a small collection of poems dedicated to her Dad who died when she was almost fifteen.

Two Poems by Aaron Williams

Ba-Boom Ba-Boom 

To say you are a Junior Doctor
would be an overstatement.
To say you are fit to practise
would be irresponsible.
Your bedside manner
leaves a lot to be desired.
You break your Hippocratic Oath
at the drop of a hat.
You hand out prescriptions for Calpol
like it is going out of fashion.
You tell me to take some pills
for the slightest of chills.
You take my temperature
and tell me I am fine
even when the reading said 29℃.
When you check out my heart
you say it goes:
Ba-Boom Ba-Boom Ba-Boom Ba-Boom.
But I’ll cut you some slack.
You may seem like a quack,
but if I insist on a free medical
then I shouldn’t expect expertise
from a Doctor aged three!

Easy Pie 

Frantic mornings can make me grumpy,
got to get you both to nursery.
Get to the car we’re going to be late:
man, this is the time of day I really hate!
I’m seriously considering therapy
to make these mornings a lot less crazy.
But – a saving grace – you are but three,
which means you’re often very funny!
And this morning is no exception,
you always say something to break the tension.
And, as you’re so young,
you often get expressions wrong.
Like this morning, as I struggled to belt you in,
you looked to me with that lovely grin
and declared so happily: 
“Easy pie, daddy!”

Aaron Williams lives ‘in the middle of nowhere’ in mid-Wales. New to writing, Aaron is the father of a young girl and a younger boy who, he says, are exhausting and have changed his life dramatically. He explains “Dadhood sometimes feels like an existential sacrifice; forsaking your own previous selfish priorities in order to protect tiny, uncooperative and vulnerable humans. It is also the best role in the world, that puts a lot into perspective.”

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.

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

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!