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.

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.

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.

A Poem by Beth McDonough

The Hipster

(for Dad, and his new joint)

O, give me the firesides
of farting old fuckers, whose
crumpet kicks off
with cocoa and jam.

Eighty? He’s mine!
I’ll slot in just fine — take me home.

The Doric for socks?
I don’t give a toss, but I see
that they’re thick, and stuffed
into boots, which are scarily fuzzy
with Nik Wax. So who
is this codger who climbed
Cotopaxi, and is pictured with people
strung out on the Picos?

This rampant old grandpa swings
monkey ring things, high
Tarzans the lengths at the baths.

So soon, he’ll be stripping
off mockings of surgical stockings,
he’s ditching his crutches,
he’s clipping on crampons — 

The Hipster was first published in Seagate III (ed. Andy Jackson, Discovery Press, 2016).

Beth explains that this poem was written about her Dad (86) as he approached his 80th birthday … and a hip replacement.  She adds that, despite having subsequently broken his hip and femur, hillwalking in the Canaries, he probably walks more each day than most of his neighbours! 

Beth McDonough studied Silversmithing at Glasgow School of Art. After an M Litt at Dundee University, she was Writer in Residence at Dundee Contemporary Arts. Her work connects strongly with place, particularly to the Tay, where she swims year-round. Her poetry is published in Gutter, Stand, Magma and elsewhere. In Handfast (with Ruth Aylett) she explored experiences of autism, as Ruth examined dementia. Beth’s solo pamphlet, Lamping for pickled fish, is published by 4Word.