A Poem by Hannah Mackay

Grandpa’s Garden
What kind of ancestor would you like to be?

This is the garden you tended for us,
tucked away at the end of an unmade road,
nearly in sight of the sea;
a green growing of life,
after study, science and service,
after making your contribution,
receiving your OBE.

This is the garden you tended for us;
a sun-trap for tea and cakes,
where those who like to work
water spinach and pick raspberries,
and those who like to rest
put their feet up on the floral cushions
of a reclining plastic deck-chair.

When you stopped for a break
between weeding and mowing the lawn,
Demi would rest in the shade,
planning her beagle adventures,
and the friendly robin would land on your chair
ready to help with the crumbs.

I come here to sit in my dreams,
summer sunshine, fragrant with roses,
between the house and the high, sheltering hedge,
podding peas and chatting, or idling on the ground.

This is the garden you tended for us,
the place beyond
where you chose to grow flowers.

Hannah Mackay’s poetry is informed by her healing practice as a shiatsu practitioner. Her interest in embodied creativity includes dance and movement, connection and quiet, stillness and words. Her Grandpa was Clifford Purkis, who retired to Cornwall after a career as a research scientist. She lives in Manchester.

Two Poems by Carmina Masoliver


We laugh when people pronounce chorizo wrong,
yet we cannot speak Spanish. We communicate
in lists of music and TV guides. There’s this rage inside us,
but we have passion, though sometimes we bubble over
like a pan of boiling water. We appreciate fine food,
and fine wine – flowing like the tears you soak up in your shirt,
my shoulder to cry on, and a best friend to make me laugh,
my dad, who fills my life with love.

My Father from a New Angle

He thought he was the emblem of success:
smart suit, cufflinks, expensive watch.

Not to mention the semi-detached house, sports car
and nuclear family. This kind of life was something worth aiming for.

And it’s not like the journey there was entirely smooth.
Raised by a single mother, with an anger in his belly unable to make it out his mouth.

He is not one to fit into the boxes, falling out of one private school to another,
he does not quite have the elocution of his mother

and on weekends he wears claret and blue,
sleeves tattooed, and TOWIE is the guilty pleasure

we watch together, but he watches the spinoffs on his own.

Carmina Masoliver is a London poet, founder of She Grrrowls and has been sharing her poetry on both the page and stage for over a decade. Her latest book ‘Circles’ is published by Burning Eye Books (2019). Her dad is a teacher, and also a secret poet and artist at heart.

A Poem by Hilary Robinson

Times with Dad

The precious minutes we spent
waiting for the car to come back
just for us. The way he held my hand,
said he loved me. The break in his voice,
his perfect wedding speech.

Those lunchtimes when he’d meet me
from the bank, take me for a Chinese,
put it on expenses. Made sure
I was alright. Me, just married,
still his Number One Son.

All the times I stood, breath stopped,
a light meter held to my face, my hair,
my dress. Heard him mutter about F-stops,
exposure, as he twiddled with the settings
on his latest camera.

The day he showed me the tickets,
pre-Christmas trip to Salzburg,
first flight for Mum. How he’d loved
the Biggles kit I made her.
How he loved her.

Hilary Robinson says she was “lucky to have the best Mum and Dad ever”. Her Dad loved wordplay and encouraged her to read and write from an early age. ‘Times with Dad’ is included in ‘Revelation,’ Hilary’s debut pamphlet with 4Word Press which will be published in June this year.

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.


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

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


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.


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 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.