Two Poems by Rodney Wood

Defence of Houses

My father hidden in the tree
filled with sun and joy and love
My father dancing as the sun dances
with a bag of money and steel composing rules
My father carries before him
a glass of beer and there’s a bodkin in his top pocket
My father is neither a poet
or rich or important, instead he is everything
My father wearing a doublet
of fine lace, smokes a pipe and cheap cigarettes

My father sweating as he
delivers delicate blows with a wooden mallet
My father an untreated knot
and that’s him walking down the street in his white coat
My father slow as stars
working in the light, Saturday is sweets and wrestling
My father can be what he wants
now he’s left nothing behind
My father an organic porous
and fibrous structural tissue, so easy to recycle, to forget.

Military Organization and Administration

He spent his life at a brick built factory in Aldershot
The Wellington Works. Left home at after a fry-up
in the morning, while I was asleep, and came home 12 hours later.

I caught the bus to school at a stop in the Works shadow.
It looked forbidding, magical, a palace where men clutched
little brown paper bags and stamped their cigarettes before entering

through the little shed at the corner and its blue door
to the principality of Gale & Polden Ltd, Naval
& Military Printers & Publishers, by Appointment, founded in 1866.

I only went there once, in 1962. I was 9 years old.
Dad took me though the little blue door where a man
with a brown coat and flat cap smiled at me from behind a counter.

“This is where you clock in and leave your matches.
They do the printing here.” Machines on a bare concrete floor
stretching into the distance. Clanking, bangs, rattles and the smell of oil.

He showed me a giant wheel of paper, a revolving
drum of words, a machine where sheets were a blur
and yet came together as a broadsheet which men in blue skimmed.

“Hello Roy”, they shouted as we passed hand in hand.
We went upstairs to his glass lined office. He showed
me newspaper articles in neat rows on his desk and gave me a magazine.

“I was working on this all last week. The Lady. Glossy.”
Even then I knew all that belonged in the past
while I did my lessons and try to make it all right again.

Rodney explains that his father worked as a printer for Gale & Polden Ltd, Naval & Military Printers & Publishers, for over 30 years and the titles of the poems come from pamphlets they published, between the years 1890 and 1957.

Rodney Wood is the Stanza rep for Woking and his poems have been widely published. His father didn’t like talking about his sporting achievements, his single life (he married at 45) or the war. His father died in 2002 leaving behind cigarettes and medals.