A Summer Father

sketch by Evelyn Ethel Houghton



My father’s poetry, originally published in 1945, has just been re-issued by Flagon Press, U.K., under the title ‘Flowers in the Minefield’, James Crowden the editor and researcher. James knows the West of England where my father lived and has drawn on his knowledge of the area to do his research. He also received a lot of help from my half-sister, Janet Coward, eldest daughter by John’s second wife Beryl, who lives in Blandford, Dorset. James hopes that ‘Flowers in the Minefields’ will go some way towards belatedly shedding light on the talents of Second World War poets. He says, ‘They fought a very different but just as bitter war.’

When my father, Major John Jarmain, died in the Battle of Normandy on June 26, 1944, I was six years old. A book of his poetry was published in 1945 and I read the poems again and again over the years in an attempt to know the man behind the words. More than six decades later, my own poems reflect a portrait of my absent father and my war-marred childhood. A Summer Father moves from the child’s longing for a father, to the adult’s revulsion from war, to knowledge and, finally, acceptance of death and grief.


war was the longest poem
I ever lived:
words blew apart
in my mind
the letters settling
in torn ditches
flying through
broken windows
to rest
on tilted beds
or sliding down
un-walled floors
the epic writes itself
on barrage balloons
that fly across
night skies

war cemeteries
are stanzas carved
over red roses
while silent hands
point guns, bayonets
and I am pinioned
to a falling bomb
written into a ballad
that will explode
in another child

a poem from A Summer Father

© Joanna M. Weston          Frontenac House   $8.00 from Joanna

ISBN: 1-897181-05-1                                Buy This Book

4 Responses to A Summer Father

  1. Sue Ellis says:

    It’s a memorable poem, Joanna. I’m sorry about your Dad.

    Sue E.

  2. Michael A. Burris says:

    It is a great poem. I particularly liked the verse: ‘words blew apart in my mind.’ Very graphic and very moving. Life is no different for those in Syria and other war-fronts. When will it all end?

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