Sheila and the Honourable Member 1.


Now’s a good time to republish this sequence of poems about a Member of Parliament, his wife Sheila, and the other woman, the lady with purple carpets. I wrote them 40 years ago, swept up in the second wave of feminism. Today the power imbalance between the genders in the stressful environment of parliament has changed … not much. 

This is me, Sheila, talking

this is me (Sheila) talking
I have seen fingers
crack in the ring
like girdle scones

this is me (Sheila) here
this is me this is me
I have seen women settle like
junket, I have seen water curdle

listen this is me
this is Sheila this is me
I am a person
who knows things

I have a small brown voice
here it is in my handbag
south southwest southeast
little voice is restless

these are my hands the skin
is lifting drifting freckling
covers the blood lumping
inside the bones are grinding
these are my hands crackling

I am not ready to die

listen to me it is always
nearly too late
this is me (Sheila) talking
this is me

Rachel McAlpine 1977

If you appreciate these rip-roaring, pretty vulgar poems, please share.

Photo of an older woman's hands
Our hands talk. Let our voices also speak.

Sheila and the Honourable Member 2.


Old poems, never more relevant than today #MeToo

Who’s Who?

does the honourable Member remember a night
when he wanted to lie outside?
he was drunk of course but still

sometimes I enter a hole in my
belly head first

does he remember the time before I slipped
out of the second person the time
when any time was question time in the house?

we are married but we live de facto
I am a habit and a fact I know
I am dull but I seem to be stuck

I am glad he has found the lady with purple carpets
the metropolitan lady who knows who is who
and who is nobody at all she

is never mentioned but I know
for every public man there is a lady
with purple carpets or a parade

I am sad for her lonely weekends
I would like to say I am not greedy
I have learned to share

he has filed her Tuesday to Thursday
I am Happy Weekend Wife
Backbone of the Nation

voice in the belly has no bones
did I say that already?
I know I am dull

Rachel McAlpine (1978)

This is the second poem from an old sequence, Sheila and the Honourable Member. They are totally relevant in the era of #MeToo. I wish that wasn’t true.

The first poem is THIS IS ME, SHEILA, TALKING