A Poem by Roger Turner

Where my father went

Years after you died, I crept up the secret driveway.
All was still, the garden overgrown,
the gates of the old garage, closed.

You had another place to be,
a space where you could leave much of yourself behind,
forget the roles that you like anyone were forced to play.

Here, hidden behind another person’s house,
beside a greenhouse in an L-shaped garden,
you no longer had to be anybody’s father,
brother, soul-mate, employee,
or conscientious man with high ideals.

Only your small son went with you,
never my mother or my sisters, only me.
Here you would mend the car,
get your hands black with grease,
and tinker with a dozen metal bits and mechanical pieces.

How hard it was to get your big hands clean again.
The scent of grease seemed impossible to remove.
And my hands still white and innocent,
not being the car-mending type.

And when you died so suddenly,
no more rent was paid,
no one went back to save those tools
or greasy bits of metal, not even once
to open the creaking doors of the secret place
where you were once so happy. 

Roger Turner is the current Chairman of Cheltenham Poetry Society, and co-runs Poetry Cafe Refreshed in Cheltenham. Roger was originally an architect and a garden designer. His greatest claim to fame on the garden design front was to design a garden at the Chelsea Flower Show in the 1980s. He also has an MA in Religious Studies. He is the author of five books, on garden history, garden design and plants. He has had 80 or so poems published in a range of reputable poetry magazines. 

Two poems by Roger Turner

I could close the book now . . .

I could close the book now,
but little hands hold tightly to the pages,
fair hair falls forward, grey-blue eyes
pore over the pictures, and nestling
closely into Dad she listens, wanting
to know what happened to the rabbit.
Soon the reassurance of the good-night kiss,
and tucking up. Then, the dimming of the light
and, please Dad, leave the door half open. 

I could fold the map now,
but on this windswept stile two teenage boots
fidget impatiently while we decide
which route will be the most rewarding.
Bending the brambles back we take a path
that will avoid, I hope, cliffs that need not
be climbed and caves no one need enter.
We notice flowers, rocks and views.
And by the way, Dad, are there any more biscuits? 

I could close the album now,
but at my side she sits, deep in
comparisons and reminiscences
of this one at that age, how that one’s altered,
of places, people, houses, holidays:-
the smiles are all preserved, the sun shone,
and the rest was censored. So we go on:
another mile, another photograph, another story.


In the twilight

I came home on a winter’s evening
and saw in the golden light,
between the sprays of myrtle
and dark-green fingers of Choisya
which half hid the window,
my son seated at the table
my two daughters and my wife.

Behind them, the piano,
above, the silvery lamp,
before them, food and fellowship,
faces innocent and bright,
and I so admired the picture
that I ran in, thinking,
I want to be part of that scene,
that special circle, as if
I had never been there before.

But it was just as usual.
A few laughs, a few smiles
a few bickerings and arguments.
Take your elbows off the table.
Tales of the classroom.
Someone she met in town.
Stories told to distract small people
as the last few mouthfuls were spooned in.
And I quite forgot the picture:
it didn’t seem special after all.


Roger Turner’s poems have appeared in four volumes: The Summer Palace, Six Partitas, An Italian Notebook and Landscape with Flowers, and eighty of his poems have been published in magazines from Cadenza to Weyfarers. He is an architect, a garden designer, the author of five books on garden history, garden design and plants, and gives talks to local societies on related subjects. In his spare time he gardens, plays the piano and takes photographs.  Roger is a former Chairman of Cheltenham Poetry Society.

Easter Special Edition

See the page at this link Good Dadhood Easter Special Edition for poems celebrating fathers – Dads loved,  Dads missed.

Poems and Poets in the special edition:

Changed – by Sarah J Bryson

Christmas Day 1941 – Angi Holden

Teasmade – Angi Holden

The Great Design – by Roger Turner

29.3.2011–Worcester   – by Sue Johnson

Snow in a Changed Light – by Nicky Phillips

That Year – by Nicky Phillips

Father’s Day – by Mandy Macdonald

cornered – by Mandy Macdonald

Daddy Gone – by Annie Ellis

What Passes Between – by Sharon Larkin