Poets love patterns and surprise


Poets love patterns and surprise
and every morning I get both
a rigid routine and a shock
I wake at 6 and think some thoughts
excitement rising all the while
(I woke up! I get to live another day!)
then pee and poo and clean my teeth
and meditate and sort the cat
I celebrate rules and rituals
and habits and patterns and clocks
On to the deck  in pyjamas and bare feet
to a sky bursting with mystery
like a child with a secret
that won’t be a secret for long
then I do tai chi in the same old place
a world that is new every day
is it frosty is it misty is it rainy is it fine
does the air cling and kiss today
or push my hands and slip away
does it whip me from the south
is it black, is it white, is it thick, is it thin
does it spin, does it spit icy teeth
does the air breathe Antarctica Geneva or Fiji
Surprise! Surprise! It’s a brand new day.
Right, so I do tai chi, now there’s a word
today will I do it fast or slow, high or low
will I dance it or chop it or ooze it today?
and then
when I’m done
I stop
I open my arms I swallow the sky
and I enunciate
in purest selfishness
Good morning world! I am still with you!
or once in a while
Good morning world.
What can I do for you today?

poem and photo by Rachel McAlpine cc by 2.0


This poem is part of an out-of-control all-encompassing book of read-aloud poems about my boot camp for the bonus years and the terrible task of being old.
 Don’t expect anything fancy: I do like fancy poems but with this monster I’m in a hurry, I’m 78, and this is the bit I wrote this morning. 

Grumpy hermit


Talking to a grumpy hermit
is a training and a test.

They toggle their manners
off and on to probe your zest.

 They have the right to be silent.
They have the right to reject. 

Perhaps it is wrong to circulate.
Perhaps they are correct.

poem and photo by rachel mcalpine cc-by-4.0

Flaunt it

A washing line with shorts and long braids.
Washing my hair. So there.

I love my hair
because it’s there
not much
as such
but I’m not bare
up there

like you
and I won’t share.
It isn’t fair
and I don’t care
it’s mine
so there!

Photo and poem by rachel mcalpine cc-by-4.0

I saw this remarkable clothes-line last week, and today, out popped a spiteful, Dr Seussy sort of poem.

How to die

Punting on the River Avon, Christchurch, New Zealand

1. Be strong, be fit.

 2. Take your medicine.

 3. Love every love, every leaf in your life
even more than before. 

4. Complete your life work. Almost.
(Leave some for others to do.) 

5. Say welcome and goodbye
day by day, with lips and eyes.

6. Be gracious
to the lady bringing tea

7. Wait for your children
to arrive.

8. Stop the medication when you’re ready
and your dear ones all agree.

9. Insist on one last picnic
by the river, with beer.

10. Die when it’s time
and you’re tired.

poem by rachel mcalpine, photo of the River Avon in Christchurch New Zealand by Robert Cutts, both cc-by-2.0