June 11, 2015

Spot Loves his Dad

King of bedtime stories, Spot’s dad really is a top dog. An affectionate outdoorsy type who’s always chasing after the kids and often to be found covered in mud, Eric Hill’s canine creation enjoys flying kites and feeding the ducks. If your top pop resembles Spot’s father, Joseph O’Connor’s touching poem about fatherhood, from new book Sons + Fathers will strike a chord.

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First School Disco

Yesterday, at his birth, I could hold him in
one hand.
Fervent, his stare at the monochrome new.
On the nights he didn’t sleep, I knelt by
his crib,
Lulling lines from old songs I didn’t know
I remembered.

A night owl, curious, enthralled by blue
shadows,
Chuckling at angels
He glimpsed in the curtains.
The embers of a fireplace,
Towards which he stretched
his hands,
As he rolled on the rug after bath-time.

Ireland was changing.
We brought him home from London,
Through the wintry land of England.
Christmas when we came.
Drinkers on the ferry
Singing ‘Fairytale of New York’
As the lights of Dun Laoghaire,
My boyhood town,
Appeared in the beer-steamed windows.

I blinked. Eleven years
Went past in a lullaby.
My son beside me now
As we drive through the dusk,
Reads names from redundant posters
Of presidential candidates,
As they dampen on the passing lampposts.

Quiet in the car.
Wipers moving rain.
The names he utters gently
Like a necklace he’s assembling
From beads he once found in an old
box of toys.

At the school, he combs his hair,
Checks his Man United shirt,
Greets his teachers with a nod,
Looks nervous, excited.
‘Dad, will you stay?
You can, if you want.
It’s only six to seven.
We’ll be finished in an hour.’
Maybe better to leave.
The truth is, I can’t.

Here come the glittered girls. And here the
hearty boys,
Pucking one another as the disco begins,
On the night of my first born child’s first dance.
Jedward doing ‘Fight For Your Right To Party’.
Lady Gaga’s manifesto: ‘Want Your
Bad Romance’.

I’d always thought I wouldn’t mind,
Would wear his growing lightly,
Shrugging off the milestones,
Consoling his mother.
But it’s me who feels the ache
In the shadows of my joy,
Flicker-lit by strobe and by knowing
where we are.
Wishing I could hold him, one last time.
Or wishing I could join him
On air guitar.

This Father’s Day make your number one dad feel like he’s top of your chart by taking our pop quiz and discovering which literary papa is most like your old man – and most importantly, which book will really be a hit with him! Just visit the Penguin UK Books Facebook page to take the quiz.

Father's Day button

Sons + FathersSons & Fathers, (Cornerstone Publishing) is available now. For more bookish suggestions for your dad this Father’s Day, check out our selection of top titles on the Penguin website.

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