When Good Dadhood first ran, back in 2017, it featured two Special Editions, in addition to the poems featured on the ‘front page’ of the e-zine. This year, we had much pleasure in again presenting an Easter Special, showcasing eight poems https://gooddadhood.com/easter-special-edition-2020/. Now, as the 2020 Good Dadhood period draws towards its culmination on Fathers’ Day on Sunday 21 June, we are delighted to present another Special Edition, featuring five wonderful poems – and two delightful photographs – from Patricia Ace, Zoe Mitchell, JLM Morton and Jenni Wyn Hyatt. Good Dadhood knows you’ll enjoy them!
Happy Fathers’ Day!
Two Poems by Patricia Ace
My father takes small steps up the darkening lane,
leaving the light and smoke of the pub,
the shouts of his mates, for an empty house
and the smell of paint. The radio’s crackling static.
On the bed a row of tiny clothes laid out,
my mother calls a layette. Sleepsuits, vests.
Tonight my mother sleeps somewhere else,
dreamless, heavy as a felled tree.
The first night since their marriage spent apart.
He halts between high hedges, listens to the rustle
of small warm mammals, breathes in honeysuckle.
He cannot understand how this day has come.
He will visit her in the morning, as Neil and Buzz
complete their translunar coast,
and tell her men have walked on the moon,
even bounced in the Sea of Tranquility.
He will visit her in the morning, stand sheepish
as she feeds me, not knowing where to look or
what to say as she slips her pinkie
in my mouth, burps me over her shoulder.
And then he’ll drive her home to the little rented semi,
holding the wheel at ten to two, steady, for once
knowing where he’s going; flecks of white emulsion
making constellations on his hands.
Published in Fabulous Beast (Freight Books, 2013)
How Things Work
I always found you in the shed, penned in
by dark smells – creosote, sawdust and oil.
Spread on the bench the parts of an engine
you were putting together, making it whole.
Dad, remember how the porcelain jug
slipped from my grasp at the tap, how I gulped
Can you fix it? from the clasp of your hug?
But some things, I learned, just cannot be helped.
Today I find you dozing in your chair,
the stiff bags of your lungs hoarding each breath.
The innards of a clock splay on the floor.
How Things Work, the book which gave you faith,
lies open at your feet but yields no clue
to this repair. I wish I could fix you.
Published in Fabulous Beast (Freight Books, 2013)
Patricia Ace is the author of the poetry collections First Blood, Fabulous Beast and In Defiance of Short Days. Her poems have been published widely in a number of magazines and anthologies and have found success in many international poetry competitions. A new collection, The Lido at Night, comes out from Red Squirrel later in 2020.
Patricia describes her Dad as a tall, handsome Welshman with a sharp intelligence, dry wit and gentlemanly nature. He managed to combine a successful career with being a family man and displayed an indefatigable curiosity in many things, leading Patricia to christen him ‘Daddy Interest’.
A Poem by Zoe Mitchell
We weren’t a church family but on Sunday, my Dad
would impart his version of an evening sermon
on the decks. Stevie Nicks uttered husky incantations,
whirling her shawl as she drew invisible sigils in the air.
Then Debbie Harry spat rage into a cracked bottle
of bleach and turned it back on the world, threefold.
Dad would say she wasn’t the first. As delicate and practised
as any ritual, he would blow the dust off another vinyl.
We learned how lynched people became strange fruit
and Aretha demanded respect as she pulled out all her pain
and revealed herself a queen. Such cunning in the rich octaves
these women travelled that when I was younger, I didn’t know
there were other ways to sing than to belt out a tune
from the base of my belly, filling my lungs with enough air
for immolation. Above all, Dad revered Bonnie Raitt,
ranked her up there with BB and Jimi. He would say, look Zoe –
she’s a redhead like you, as if he was passing on a secret.
Later, I brought offerings – the soft understanding
of The Bangles, the trials of Natalie Merchant,
the sorcery of Kim Gordon. Lessons had been conjured
from songs until I could spin my own black circles.
A few years ago, I bought Dad ‘Foreverly’ by Norah Jones
and he played it so often his carers thought he’d lost his mind.
He laughed that off, enchanted – heartbreak and guitars, stories
and harmonies – in our family, these are the most sincere prayers.
At his funeral, I knew I shouldn’t choose a song about romance
when people expect high heaven and solemn duty. I didn’t care.
I am still my father’s daughter.
Ella Fitzgerald’s tender voice filled that sterile crematorium
with a love that carried no pinch of regret. I hear all the Sundays
of my childhood cued up like a treasured album and I want
the whole world to see: they can’t take that away from me.
Zoe Mitchell’s debut collection, Hag, was published by Indigo Dreams Publishing in 2019 and her work has been featured in magazines including The Rialto, The London Magazine and The Moth. She graduated from the University of Chichester with an MA in Creative Writing and was awarded a Distinction and the Kate Betts Memorial Prize. She is currently studying for a PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Chichester, examining witches in women’s poetry.
Zoe describes her Dad, Harry Mitchell, as a daft man with a kind heart who loved books and music and inspired a life-long appreciation for both. She considers this his greatest gift to her.
A Poem by JLM Morton
The male line’s strength was mythical.
Uncle’s broken arm upon the dock – oblivious.
A naval father’s leg lost on the sea.
What’s gone is gone.
Then him, in nylon trunks,
tugging the drowning man
from Bedruthan’s rip: a legend in goose fat
who swam the Channel – drunk.
All wood smoke and wrestling,
cracked waxed jacket gone at the seams,
vandyking through the happy hours.
Only ever had the money in his pocket.
Hardy. Made of disco gold and stone,
he swung us through his legs,
let us steal his cigarettes,
let us put his brogues back in the chamois bag
and click the wardrobe shut.
When all was said and done.
It took eleven weeks for him to die.
His clear blue eyes, a boy again,
falling back in line.
JLM Morton is a widely published poet and hybrid writer interested in the interplay between language, musicality and visual culture. Poet in Residence at Waterland, Associate Producer for Paper Nations (Bath Spa Uni), she’s currently working on Dialect, a new initiative to support writers in rural Gloucestershire www.jlmmorton.com
A Poem by Jenni Wyn Hyatt
You walk me on your feet
For my father, Edgar Williams, 13 October 1905 to 21 January 1965
When I was young you held me by the hands
and stood me on your feet and walked around.
Though never strong, you coped with our demands
For nature walks and cricket on waste ground.
You worked long days but still found time to grow
neat rows of veg and help us tend our plots.
You pointed, painted, made our house a home
and shared with us your love of armchair sports.
We loved to buy new pipes for you to smoke;
we could not know that they would cause your death
at fifty-nine. Years later, you still walk
me on your feet; you’re in my every breath.
You are the spur for everything I do;
each small success I dedicate to you.
First published in the collection ‘Perhaps One Day‘ (2017)
Jenni Wyn Hyatt was born in Maesteg, South Wales, but now lives in Derbyshire. A retired English teacher, she did not start to write poetry until she was in her late sixties. Her subjects include childhood memories, nature, injustice and war and she also writes humorous poems. Her beloved father died when she was twenty-two and often features in her poems. She has published two collections, ‘Perhaps One Day’ (2017) and ‘Striped Scarves and Coal Dust’ (2019).