Sheila and the Honourable Member 6.

cover of book: STAY AT THE DINNER PARTY

In Luck

The Honourable Member is in luck
everyone knows it is tough
to live four days a week
without a person

the Honourable Member used to screw
the typists. this is the casual
normal rule of thumb

now he can withdraw
to the lady with purple carpets
who knows the way to the top

oh how the Honourable Member grieved
over his lonely friend who cruised
for comfort

[I censored a verse just in case]

you nameless others
in your fragile enclaves
you who sneer at wives
spare an embrace
for the overtly married

Rachel McAlpine 1977


Those were hideous times for anyone gay, let alone a gay politician. It wasn’t until 1986 that The New Zealand Homosexual Law Reform Act was passed, legalising consensual sex between men aged 16 and older. Sheila even in her personal pain has room for compassion.

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Sheila and the Honourable Member 2.

cover of book: STAY AT THE DINNER PARTY

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