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 Kate Jenkinson



When Grandpa Built Sandcastles


Those salt and vinegar days
and freshly laundered nights
pool in my mind, bucketed under
‘holiday memories with Grandpa’
revisited as often as the rain, 

as familiar as pavement petrichor
worn smooth as pebbles,
yet short, sharp, distinct,
their postcard length lines
make me wish I was there again.


Memories of Grandpa 


One gold sleeve garter,
the donkeys bray,
smell of wild garlic,
spritzed with sea spray.

Your Underwood typewriter,
Little Wuff stories,
whispered voices in
Bridlington Priory.

My hand in yours
I’ll hold to this day,
tucked up in my memory
neatly folded away.




Kate Jenkinson is a Northern poet, Manchester Literature Poetry Slam and Squiffy Gnu competition winner and published in Covid and Poetry, Rainbow Poems and Eyeflash Poetry Journal. Kate performs spoken word at open mics whilst working on her pamphlet. She writes about science, nature, relationships and leadership.  


Kate with her Grandpa

Kate’s Nana and Grandpa


Kate Jenkinson

Three Poems by Finola Scott


Repurposing furniture

1. the story chair

your voice  soft warm steady
and there you are   snug
book on one hand 
daughter cradled on the other
she is looking at you   you point
at the page   she looks
at the page  smiles   you look
at her smile     and smile
your voice soft warm steady
daddy bedtime reading 

2. the music chair

guitar tuned  you settle to play
wee faces watch  eager to catch the beat
you foot tap riff  and the audience shift
leaping grinning wiggling clapping
live music here and now in this room
requests taken
no need to turn on radio  or ask Alexa 
here and now  it’s daddy our music man.


Shredding

and you’re both on the floor
piles of files and folders teeter
ribbons of paper surround you
novelty  transforms this chore
grinning daddy feeds the shredder
noise  whirs  paper   paper   paper
flying  floating  coating the carpet
soft hands clap as spirals of print spout
little fingers tangle making bracelets
bills secrets accounts turn to snow 
at the press of a button
and oh again  again  again daddy
while laughter soars

This is not a shelf unit

It is a monument to joy shared.
Tiny sculptures take pride in this place, 
shelf on shelf on shelf,
such careful constructions. 
Bigger more intricate each time.
Diagrams consulted, eager eyes 
find delicate pieces, position and press
to build lego, that daddy ordered
late night online, thinking of this
bigger each time.


Finola Scott’s poems are on posters, tapestries, postcards and published widely including New Writing Scotland, The High Window, and Lighthouse. Red Squirrel Press publish her pamphlet Much left Unsaid. See also Finola Scott Poems on Facebook. Finola is delighted to watch her son-in-law having fun becoming a fine father. 


Finola Scott

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

A Poem by Catherine Baker


Prima

In front of the big house, 
a wall made long ago. 
Caerbwdi purple sandstone,
solid standing greys and blues.
Washed with soft green,
colour of the moorland mists.
In places rough enough to catch, 
scratch at my black school shoes. 
In places slick enough to slip on, 
polished by the slugs and snails.
Here, I danced like a prima.

Below, a long narrow patch, 
spreadeagled to the sun, 
rows and rows of little fires. 
Dahlias, on the lam from Mexico, 
in my grandfather’s glowing garden.
Growing fierce, throwing heat, 
bigheaded and blowsy 
but stupendous,
just the same.

There he would be, hard hands 
snipping blooms, bending double 
from the waist, braces strained.
Seeing the prima, he would stand, 
lift up his cap, dishevel his dark hair 
and from a pocket take his teeth,
put them in and smile ceramic. 
Standing tall as Bendigeidfran 
offering the prima a bouquet
of flames.


Bendigeidfran – A legendary Welsh giant.



Catherine Baker has been published by Prole, Stand, Snakeskin, Atrium and Amaryllis. She was highly commended in the Prole Poet Laureate competition 2020. Catherine’s poems in anthologies include Poetry from Gloucestershire, Ways to Peace and Pandemic Poetry. In the GWN poetry competition she was runner-up in 2018 and highly commended in 2020.

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.

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


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.

A Poem by Tom Kelly

Happiness

    for and to Tommy Kelly, 1919-1995 

flies to the surface 
with long-lasting memories, 
playing football in a sepia printed world, 
just me and you. 
I push the ball with my instep,
back and forward the ball slides. 

In the next moment we are having a pint together. 
Now your satisfied look has me breaking the rules 
for all-day smiles. 
We walk home and at the corner 
I see you turn and wave goodbye, 
happiness never dies. 



Tom Kelly’s ninth poetry collection This Small Patch has recently been published and re-printed by Red Squirrel Press who also published his short story collection Behind the Wall. 

Tom says of the poem “Happiness is a snapshot of me and dad together and makes me smile.” 

Tom, aged 7  

Two Poems by Susan Castillo

Shield


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)



Net

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 Greg Freeman


Solent


You must have been seven.
I’m in a home-made
Father’s Day T-shirt
that your mother organised,

that I carelessly only wore once,
but look in the photograph
rumpled, bronzed,
happy. You cuddling up to me

on the Solent ferry, returning
from the island, escorted
by yachts engaged in a race.
Now you’re a beautiful, loving

mother of two. That sweltering
summer we only went in the sea
after tea. Enclosed my mother
in our embrace, a year after

my father died. The disco
in the café when you all
got up to dance: the last time
I felt him at my shoulder.  




Greg Freeman is the news and reviews editor for the poetry website Write Out Loud. His 2015 debut pamphlet Trainspotters (Indigo Dreams) includes several poems about his father, who was a former Japanese prisoner of war and put to work on the notorious ‘Death Railway.’ His father died in 1989.