This page is specially for poems celebrating fathers – Dads loved, Dads no longer with us, Dads who are missed.
Changed – by Sarah J Bryson
Behind the yellow lit hospital
the daylight leaches from the sky.
Inside she’ll see her father
with a morphine pump,
a stark sheet against his skin, and overhead,
an anglepoise lamp turned to the wall
and she’ll wait, with the others,
watching his respiration stumble to a halt
knowing how everything
will be changed after he’s gone.
After he’s gone, she stands to leave
and at the door looks back.
He lies alone on an island of reflected light.
She wades across the gulf to reach him
to lean down and kiss
his five o’clock-shadowed, unresponsive cheek.
Then she goes. He would not want a fuss.
Sarah J Bryson is a part-time poet, and part-time nurse. She takes a photograph or ten on most days of the week. She runs occasional poetry workshops, and has been involved in a research project taking the arts into residential care. Her poetry has been placed in competitions and published in anthologies, journals and on line.
Two Poems by Angi Holden
Christmas Day 1941
They take turns in the raft,
share air-dropped sardines and bottled water,
talk of families gathered around rationed tables
and try not to think of circling sharks
or the possibility of Kawasaki.
Some are burned: the pilot who steered
the Catalina away from his crew,
the navigator caught in blazing fuel.
Others have flesh torn by bullets,
flayed by shrapnel and broken glass.
They sing softly through the night,
welcome that other sun with hymn and prayer.
They are the lucky few,
the ones who make it home.
Amongst them a young air-gunner, just twenty one,
whose hand, raised to indicate chest pain,
shows up on x-ray a fragment of shell
embedded in the wrist.
Deeper still those other wounds:
a gentle man nursing an aversion to Geisha,
Bonsai, the crested waves of Hokusai,
the soft pink of cherry blossom.
Angi explains “My father was a ‘goldfish’, meaning he was an airman who survived a crash at sea. This is his story”. Christmas Day 1941 was first published in the Beautiful Dragons anthology on Oceans.
It spat and gurgled for a month, six weeks
at most. Gathered dust till Easter. By April
it was packed away, put up the loft, in case.
Clearing out, we found it stashed behind a trunk.
Remembered only his whistle from the kitchen,
the chink of cup on saucer, the click of spoons,
the pad of slippered feet on stairs.
His daily gift of tea, just as she liked it:
lightly milked, a taste of sugar.
Angi Holden is a freelance writer, whose work includes prizewinning adult and children’s poetry, short stories and flash fictions, published in online and print anthologies. She brings a wide range of personal experience to her writing, alongside a passion for lifelong learning, Her family are central to her life and her research into family history is a significant influence on her work. She was the winner of the inaugural Mother’s Milk Books Pamphlet Prize and her pamphlet, Spools of Thread will be published by Mother’s Milk Books in 2017.
A Poem by Roger Turner
The Great Design
There is a plan, my father said, a great
big scheme of things, more wonderful, more skill-
fully thought out with stars and filled with light
than the wide, over-arching sky: – though I’ll
admit those weren’t his words precisely, but
that’s what his actions and his life implied.
Some things will seem to go quite wrong, and yet
(listen carefully) someone takes a pride
in making sure all things work out for good.
There once was a beginning; there will be
an end. There will be summer, harvest, food,
clothes, rainbows and rain, friends and family.
….But when you died, aged only forty-nine,
….tell me, was that part of the great design?
Roger Turner’s poems have appeared in four volumes: The Summer Palace, Six Partitas, An Italian Notebook and Landscape with Flowers, and eighty of his poems have been published in magazines from Cadenza to Weyfarers. He is an architect,
a garden designer, the author of five books on garden history, garden design and plants, and gives talks to local societies on related subjects. In his spare time he gardens, plays the piano and takes photographs. Roger is a former Chairman of Cheltenham Poetry Society.
A Poem by Sue Johnson
29.3.2001 – Worcester
I will remember
the flooded fields seen from the train
and how a shaft of sudden sunlight
made the reflections dance
and lit the distant hills.
I will remember
hiding from showers in tiny shops
emerging with arms laden,
the friendliness of the woman in the cafe
and the taste of coffee and hot rolls.
I will remember
how you loved the daffodils and anemones
in the Cathedral gardens. We talked
about the flowers and, for today, left unspoken
the fears about your failing sight.
I will remember
how you took photos of the exotic hats
all ready for Ascot and we laughed
because the snooty shop assistant
thought you were a rich American.
I will remember
the trendy shop that sold the sort of clothes
you hated me to wear when I was sixteen
and how you insisted on buying me
a blue tie dyed t-shirt with stars on.
I don’t want to remember
the lump in my throat as we said goodbye.
I kissed you and watched you walk away
then stood weeping on the bridge
as your train left the station.
Sue Johnson is a poet, short story writer and novelist. Since 1st January 2013 she has written a poem every day. She is inspired by the Worcestershire countryside near her home. Sue is a Writing Magazine Creative Writing Tutor and also runs her own brand of writing workshops. For more information see www.writers-toolkit.co.uk
Two Poems by Nicky Phillips –
Snow in a changed light
indulge in the wealth of recall.
Father’s day – by Mandy Macdonald
The bed is high, and I am too little to reach it
but I know he is lying there.
I am frightened to enter the room
which smells of pain and French polish, the summer heat
eating what light there is in the chocolate dark.
I know the bed is white, too, but no light comes from it.
I do not know why
I have suddenly left my close examination of the daisies
in the garden’s desiccated lawn
to stand at the door in the sword of sunlight that clangs
across the veranda, slices into the room,
savaging through the white-brown curtain that floats from the door.
As I turn from the brilliance to the dark inside
cobweb lace brushes me, ghosts across my face.
. …………………..In the room
an absence is forming
that I will know for ever.
cornered – by Mandy Macdonald
………….of a bereaved
by the fireplace
in the specially adapted chair
………….easy to get out of
………….if you’ve a mind to it
but where is there
what he has made
………………………all around him
landscapes in needlepoint
……………& pretty gilt frames
no patriarch now
he shifts in pain
Mandy Macdonald is an Australian writer living in Aberdeen. Her poetry has appeared in print and online in the anthologies Aiblins: New Sottish Political Poetry (Luath, 2016), Outlook Variable and Extraordinary Forms (Grey Hen Press), Poetry Scotland, The Fat Damsel, The Stare’s Nest, I am not a silent poet, and elsewhere. She is proud to belong to the honourable company of those the journalist Oliver Thring has memorably called ‘deranged poetesses’ (#derangedpoetess). She writes in the strong hope that poetry can change the world, even just a little. The rest of the time, she sings.
Daddy Gone – by Annie Ellis
He died when I was four and a half.
Mother said he’d gone away
for a long while.
She kept taking me down to his garden.
There was a large stone there
with his name on.
I never asked why.
I know he loved me.
He must have been a good dad.
I’m sure we had some great times together,
if only I could remember.
Annie Ellis has been writing poetry for about four years. She has had two poems published in two anthologies and one highly commended in a Cheltenham Writers’ Circle competition. She is a keen participant in workshops and frequently performs at open mics. She has read at Cheltenham Poetry Festival and Winchcombe Festival. Annie also writes stories, lyrics and scripts, and one of her short plays was performed in the Stroud Theatre Festival 2016. In her spare time, Annie enjoys horse riding.
What Passes Between – by Sharon Larkin
In memory of D C G Jones
I don’t visit your plot
but plod to the bank of the Isbourne,
identify flowers and trees the way you taught me,
name animals as Adam did.
Autumns arrive and I prick my thumbs
at the same hedgerows
where brambles bloodied yours.
It is our covenant.
Or I cross the border, back into summer,
drowse in lanes that drugged you with honeysuckle,
laze in those same meadows
that blurred your boots with buttercup dust,
Or paddle in the Ithon below The Briddell,
hear curlew warble, lark trill.
Here’s where something still
passes between us.
Sharon Larkin’s work has been published in anthologies (Cinnamon, Eyewear, Indigo Dreams); magazines (e.g. Prole, Obsessed with Pipework, Here Comes Everyone) and e-zines (including Ink, Sweat & Tears, Clear Poetry, The Stare’s Nest). She jointly runs Cheltenham Poetry Café – Refreshed, is Chair of Cheltenham’s Arts Council and Poetry Society and is founder/editor of the Good Dadhood poetry project. She has an MA in creative writing and a passion for Welsh language, literature and history. Website: https://sharonlarkinjones.com/