As the Good Dadhood reaches its conclusion – for 2017 at least – and we look forward to celebrating fathers on 18 June, Father’s Day, this May Special Edition includes a number of poems that I haven’t managed to schedule for the ‘main page’.
Thank you to the poets who have submitted these poems – and those in the Easter Special Edition – as well as the ones on the ‘main page’. Your support for the Good Dadhood project is much appreciated.
Keep checking back from time to time for news on what comes next!
Grandad by Rebecca Sillence……………
You knew me before I could even count to ninety
Telling me tales of the wolf inside the cupboard
Waltzing across the room, my feet on top your shoes
Sitting on the turtle footstool as you chatted
I grew to know your sense of humour
But was always left to wonder
Quite what was fiction… and what was true
Pattering round on tiptoe in the kitchen
You’d lift me up to see the sea
Pretending that I was helping with the dishes
As I dropped bubbles on the floor
Music replaced our conversation
In those awkward teenage years
Sitting side by side at the piano
Taking turns to play a tune
I love to listen to your memories
And war time escapades
Bringing to life the faded photographs
And unfamiliar names
I can tell to you my stories now
As you doze off in the chair
Though time has made us both grow older
It can’t touch the memories that we share
Rebecca Sillence works at Cheltenham library (Gloucestershire, UK) and is a published local history author and an amateur poet. Rebecca wrote this poem for her Grandad on his 90th birthday. She remembers with great fondness her childhood trips to Weston Super Mare to visit him. Rebecca confirms that he still lives there with several of his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren in one of the Victorian houses high on the hill with views out across the sea.
Daddy’s Shoes by Tamara Jennette
… in memory of my daddy, Lowell A. Brannen
Daddy had a wooden box
filled with brushes and oils,
with all the things he needed
to keep his shoes unsoiled.
Daddy’s shoes always shined.
Great care of them he took!
He kept them nicely polished
with no scratches overlooked.
He took great pride and care,
in his shoes of brown leather.
He walked many miles in them
and through much trying weather.
The road that he would walk
was one many could not bear.
Tragedy would come his way
much greater than seemed fair.
He suffered loss so deep
and disappointments plenty.
A beating to his confidence,
my daddy took so many.
He had scars upon his body
from his head down to his feet.
But scars upon my Daddy’s shoes
you would never see.
Now looking back I wonder,
when the polish was applied…
Was he thinking of his own scars
and things that scratched his pride?
Did this ritual he went through
of much precious time and care,
somehow help him come to terms
with the shoes that he must wear?
Did something in that wooden box
help him sort and buff away
scratches from the rocky road
along his life’s highway?
I wish he were still here today.
We would shine our shoes and talk.
I would tell him that I was so proud
of his shoes and how he walked.
I never stopped to consider
the cross my daddy bore
and I never stopped to try on
the shoes that he wore.
I didn’t understand back then
his shoes or how his road
must have hurt his feet at times,
though no pain did he show.
…”I miss you so much daddy
and each day it seems I find,
more memories that I cherish
polished up and always shined.”
Tamara Jennette lives in Cleveland Tennessee. Her father, Lowell A. Brannen, an ordained minister, died in 2015 due to complications with a liver transplant. Tamara explains that when she was 3 years old, her father, mother, and brother (7 years old at the time) were driving home from a church service one night and were struck head-on by a drunk driver. Her mother died instantly and her father was pronounced dead at the hospital but they were able to revive him. He was in a coma for about a week. Once he was aware of what happened, he was devastated. He was also crippled. He couldn’t walk, and there were other physical complications. But he underwent intense physical therapy and within a year, he was walking with a cane and able to care for Tamara and her brother again. In time, he remarried, began preaching again and was able to walk without the cane. He was a fighter and an inspiration to all. He never gave up. He never cried in front the children or felt sorry for himself. He never complained or showed bitterness or anger….not even towards the drunk driver. He taught that to forgive is better than to hate. The picture shows Tamara and her father after his recovery.
The Distance – by Aaron Wright
“What’s that dad?”
asks my oldest
as we look towards the horizon
“It’s the distance” I reply
Our eyes drink up rolling hills
crowned with a view
fit for royalty
“Can we go there?”
speaks my youngest
“To the distance daddy!”
chorus my two children
How can I resist?
“Of course! Let’s go!”
we’re going into the distance
we are pioneers
carving a path
to new horizons
we drive afar
riding undulating ribbons
of black and grey
Here are rows of turbines
wokka wokkaing their way windwards
shooting the breeze
We stand at the foot
of a white windmill
awestruck at its majesty
For some a blight, for us delight
the landscape shudders
paying it respect
as electricity tumbles from its heart
Many years later
my children will tell of that time
when anything was possible
and if you wanted to go into the distance
Aaron Wright was born in London and has lived in the North-East for the past 20 years. He works for The Sunderland Autism Outreach Team and runs the OWL writers group based at Newcastle Central Library. He performs regularly at spoken events and likes to spend time with his children and their three gerbils.
In the photo: Aaron is on left, his dad on the right, and Aaron’s two children in the middle.
A memory – By Terry O’Connor
Its curtains aside, an old sash window
frames the immense dark sky,
profligacy of stars strewn on velvet
and one more solid than the rest,
its faintly orange light crossing the gulf
to shine on a small blue planet
and a small tired house,
bound in by road and railway,
where a small, tired man,
bound in by work and history,
holds a small tired child.
“D’you see the bright one? That’s Jupiter”.
Too soon you were gone,
before my own sons knew you.
But I showed them Jupiter.
Terry O’Connor is a retired academic, husband, gardener, dad, scientist, intermittent poet and lover of wild and windy places. He lives in Yorkshire and is inordinately fond of cats and chocolate. Terry’s blog: https://osteoconnor.wordpress.com
Uncle John – by Rufus Mufasa
He taught me
to braid sweetgrass
that my finger tips
now write poetry
in my daughter’s heavenly
highlights and captivating curls.
He taught me
that we are a circle with a shared language
of gracious gratitude with
rules for the Honourable Harvest
and I don’t want to lose this
but everything for sale here is dead.
no longer bring
all the medicine
Teach our children to forage
furiously and understand reciprocity
and there will always be
an abundance of gifts.
Let them show you mystical symbols and
do not tarnish their innate respect for ravens and
their need to smell the flowers just because.
I now teach my daughters
to braid sweetgrass.
It is the best thing
I can do
to remind us
the world is meant to be.
Rufus Mufasa is a performance art poet who uses ‘musical mindfulness and conscious content to connect us to the contemporary and our ancestry, infusing a chaos of cultures, through jazz, rhythm and bass, reggae, hip hop, soul and poetry’. Rufus’ passion is contagious, her style unique, and her heart, she says, ‘could quite possibly change the world’. Her art has taken her to New York and Europe; and she recently headlined at Helsinki’s Literature Festival. Longlisted for the Outspoken Poetry Prize 2017 and Poetry Rivals 2016.
Rufus says ‘Uncle John was my best friend and one of the most beautiful souls to teach me about the world. He taught me so much about nature on our long walks, and taught me so much about politics sitting in his coal shed, an exquisite storyteller about the tales from the mines. He had this amazing ability to not see age and could talk to absolutely anyone – men, women and children. I always loved writing and would sit at his dining table with my collection of pens and paper, and I can still feel his hand on my shoulder and hear his delicious, deep voice telling me “You’ve got beautiful handwriting Ruthie” with proud sincerity. Happy Fathers Day Uncle John! Sul Y Tadau Hapus!
In the photo: Uncle John (back, right); the poet as a child (front, second from the left)
Trapped – by Chris Willis
We share so many memories,
You and I.
Of sandcastles and ice-cream
Under bright blue sky.
Holidays at Butlins,
You taught me to swim.
We raced on the beach
And you let me win.
You taught me to skate,
Now that was great fun,
Especially as you spent
More time on your bum!
You taught me to ride
My first two wheeled bike,
It was blue, with a bell,
You knew what I liked.
You taught me good manners
And patience, and care.
How to live wisely
In a world that’s not fair.
Now life’s gone full circle
And I give back all that care,
While you sit, looking frail
Trapped behind that blank stare.
I wrap my arms round you
As you once did to me,
Holding back tears
I didn’t want you to see.
Hold on for longer
I know you can stay,
And make some more memories
to remember some day.