Squinting at death


I am squinting at death
but death pixillates
into cubes
of bright.

I am looking for death
but death hides
his white eyes and bitten nails
behind my shopping list.

I am listening for death
but death’s voice is muffled
by a toddler trying
to say her cousin’s name.

pic & poem by rachel mcalpine cc-by-2.0

The game of one cat, one kitten


We’re going to play
the game of one cat one kitten
(says Ruby).

You’ll need to be
a lot of characters,
because Gloria won’t understand.

You’ll have to be my Mum.
I’ll say, can I learn how to cook?
And you’ll teach me.

And I’ll run away
because the Mum’s food is yukky
— we won’t say gross.

You pretend to lie on the road
and be a kitten.
I find you and make you my pet.

The more time you spend writing this down,
the less time we have
to play the game.


Rachel McAlpine
Game invented by Ruby, aged 4 or 5

For goodness sake


For goodness sake (says Ruby)
I know how to spell AND.
You don’t have to write it
in fancy writing.

For goodness sake,
I know how to spell A.
It’s just one letter.
That’s how we spell it at school.

Marie said, “What’s that tattoo
and can I have one too?”
and I said,
For goodness sake, no!

It’s already ruined.
I washed it and it’s blurry.
For goodness sake,


Rachel McAlpine

Poem uttered by Ruby, aged 6