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.

A Poem by Kevin Reid

When not at work

you played The Stones on a red Dansette.
Your rooster strut and pose just like Mick Jagger,
chequered shirt loose around your shoulders.

When you upgraded to a Philips stereo,
you pushed back the three piece suite,
took my hands and birled to Mantovani.

While mum prepared dinner, you performed
magic tricks, made pennies disappear and
recovered them from behind my ear.

You made me a ring from an old shilling.
Told me it was illegal to deface the crown.
I was awestruck.

You carved me a sword out of soft wood.
Rab MacMillan broke it. You repaired it
with a matchstick and Araldite precision.

You made sure I learned the words to Four Green Fields;
the rebel record you smuggled from Belfast. I felt safe
when you and papa got red faced with the troubles in Ireland.

You taught me how to dig out weeds, how to reach
beneath the roots so they wouldn’t snap,
told me off if they did.


Kevin Reid is a dad, who travels and works between Scotland and Greece. His poetry can be read in various online and printed journals including Prole, The Interpreter’s House, Ink Sweat and Tears and Under the Radar. A mini pamphlet Burdlife (Tapsalteerie) was published in 2017 and his latest pamphlet Androgyny (4word) was published in May 2018. A new pamphlet will be published by 4word in 2020.

Two Poems by Luke Palmer

Arrival

In the film, Amy Adams is muttering about time
as she masters its inkblots. I’m listening
to your guttural clench, your vocal fry
as each new breath discovers its chord.
Your forehead unknots, lips snatch or O
at something just beyond your range.
Newcomer, it’s unnerving to learn again
the way the world works; all my well-earned
aphorisms hauled out and reinspected
as if they could teach you anything. We’ve got it
all rearward, this pedagogy. What can you gain
from me who’s lost so much? Let’s lie together, listen
to what the world says, learn to speak it back.


Fingernails

Tonight we hold you up late ―
four hands gather yours one by one
to trim your fingernails. Each hilum
radiant against the scissors’ blade

falls to my palm, its snowflake edge
catches every dint and fissure of
a touch I’d thought soft.
Your milk skin is strafed with red

on your cheek, flywing eyelids shut
to this evening’s pruning. Some cut arcs
are smutted with fust, dark
where you’ve learnt of dirt

in miniature. I turn the peelings
like the mutes of some tiny owl
then watch them circle the plughole;
exceptional, new-coined fish. I feel

I’ve picked through something immaculate.
Our world’s too big now; my nostrils, pores,
armpits all cinema-large, our backwaters
grown inhuman, cavernous.

Perhaps that’s what love is, my
great benevolence for smallnesses.
I could fill rooms with hair, eyelashes,
and all the things we trim away.




Luke Palmer’s work has appeared in various places in print and online. His debut pamphlet, Spring in the Hospital (2018) is available from Prole Books and his first YA novel is due in 2021. When not looking after his two brilliant daughters, he can mostly be found in the writing shed or @lcpalmerpoet 

A Poem by Veronica Aaronson

Cold Calling

I dream about my father.  He’s young,
the goalkeeper for his regiment again, but
the pitch is pitted, covered in debris, 
like a war zone.

I wake mindful that today anything could 
happen, babies will be born, people will die.  
I ring and tell him how much I appreciated 
the fires he lit before I was out of bed, 
all the school shoes he polished, the bacon 
and eggs he cooked, the football matches
he took me to, how he managed to find 
the exact balance between rules and freedoms 
for me to flourish.

Silence is all he can muster – the opposition have
scored  before he’d realised the ball was in play. 
Finally, he gathers himself.  He clears the ball to 
the other end of the pitch:  Isn’t it terrible news 
about Charles and Di?  Poor old Parker-Bowles.  
He was in my regiment, you know.



Veronica Aaronson is the co-founder and one of the organisers of the Teignmouth Poetry Festival.  Her work has been published widely in literary journals, online and in anthologies and she has won and been placed in several competitions. Her first collectionNothing About the Birds Is Ordinary This Morning was published by Indigo Dreams in 2018 and has been put forward for the 2020 Laurel Prize. 
https://www.indigodreams.co.uk/veronica-aaronson/4594449130

Three Poems by Sarah L. Dixon

I will request peace and quiet (like Dad)

My Dad used to request
peace and quiet for Christmas.
We would laugh, sigh and ask,
What do you really want, Dad?

He would settle for less:
Extra-strong mints,
a bottle of Brut,
a chamois leather.

Now, stepping nearer to children
and chaotic Christmases,
I know what I’ll request and get:
a reply of childhood sighs,
end up with Extra-strong mints,
Charlie
and a chamois leather.

Now we have all left home,
Dad loves the absence of peace and quiet
on Christmas Day,
his growing family around him.

The Lakes, 1990

Short-haired,
I was always mistaken
for a lad in Maryport.

Madonna songs leap from the jukebox
in The Brown Cow, Cockermouth.
A roast for four and pints of squash.
Dad pays and we wait for his usual question:

Can I pester you for the mustard?

Said in such an English way, we laugh.

We trawl the cattle market boot-sale,
breathe the stench of scared cows.
The stalls flaunt Stephen King books,
roasting tins and pepper grinders.

We pass Wordsworth’s House
and the place we saw a factory fall,
stomp to the car park
in Peter Storm cagoules.
Unyielding leather walking boots pinch the skin
where my second pair of socks have worn through.

Sunday, Petrol Day

We know Dad has gone to fill Emma, our car.
Our noses press against the bay window
our heels are bouncing in expectation.

We have laid out two daisy-patterned bowls
ready for caramel, sliced thinly
and a dozen chocolate globes, crisp inside.

Dad always buys one Cadbury’s Fudge
and a pack of Maltesers.
We happily share them.



Sarah L Dixon is based in Huddersfield and sometimes tours as The Quiet Compere. She has most recently been accepted for Lighthouse, Pennine Platform, International Times and Strix #6. Her first book, ‘The sky is cracked’, was released by Half Moon Press in November 2017 and her book ‘Adding wax patterns to Wednesday’ was released by Three Drops Press in November 2018. Sarah’s inspiration comes from ale, dancing around her front room to 90s Indie, being by and in water and adventures with her son, Frank (9).

Two Poems by Sarah James

The Nook and the Knack

Once my dad would have
looked out at my back garden,
sighed and grabbed his tools:
mowing, weeding, pruning,
smoothing rough edges.

The ivy’s spread started
with my shed. A light touch,
at first. One leaf, and then another,
until the string of hearts grew
clasping, clinging, binding.

Its hold rotted the timber,
collapsing the felt roof,
but the structure remained intact.
A green patchwork
created its own shelter.

Decades later, it’s still growing,
still homing woodlice, beetles and spiders:
sturdy against the rain,
glistening with sunlight
and entwining new flowers.

This year, an ivy heart
has reached the nook in our fir tree,
where I sit snug between sunlit
russet branches, nursing
my troubled thoughts.

The wrinkled bark reminds me
of Dad’s weathered skin,
the crook between his thumb and finger,
his firm grasp planting a sapling
or steadying a nail for his hammer.

The knack of tools and fixing
worked into every muscle,
his fingers grip as tightly as before,
only slower, less determinedly.
I’m not sure if he’s come

to admire a little wildness,
or no longer has the strength
to tackle it.

Our Time

Handed on now Dad’s reached seventy,
his clock takes its place at the top of our stairs.

Its system of pendulum, weights and cogs
beyond me, the ticking’s an agitation I can’t quite

white-noise. I’ll wind the piece as shown.
Not because I need the dial’s numbers

or the hands’ circling to pace my days.
But because it’s Dad’s time, his giving it

to me: the unending tic of its tock
spells the words we feel but can’t speak.

                             

                

Sarah James is a prize-winning poet, fiction writer, journalist and photographer. Her collections include plenty-fish (Nine Arches Press), shortlisted in the International Rubery Book Awards, and The Magnetic Diaries (Knives Forks and Spoons Press) highly commended in the Forward Prizes. Although she hasn’t inherited her father’s love of gardening or clocks, she enjoys time outside, walking, cycling and exploring nature. Her website is at www.sarah-james.co.uk.

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.”