Writing a book

Old Box Brownie snapshot of three girls and their dolls.
Old Box Brownie snapshot of three girls and their dolls.
Sisters Jill, Deirdre and Rachel Taylor with dolls on the steps of the Akaroa Vicarage around 1945. Not grown-up yet.

I am writing a book.
It will take some time.
The book has a title: Flatlantis
and another: Tropical Ice.

The poems will grow like pack-ice.
They will flow like sweat.
They will be easy to read.
They will be hard to write.

When the book is published
I will be a grown-up.
How will that feel?


A new long poem coming up in bits and pieces: Long Song of the Unyoung

I’ve begun a whole book in loose verse about ageing, and I debated whether to post it on this blog (which, after all, is dedicated to my poems) or on my regular blog, Write Into Life. The other contender won, for two reasons:

  • because I want this book to be read like easy prose, and it may appeal to people who don’t usually read poetry
  • because Write Into Life uses a plan that permits audio files, and I want to read the poems aloud to you.

If you follow Write Into Life you’ll catch every piece of this read-aloud poem as I post it. I’ll keep posting poems here, but most of my energy goes into the book at present. I’ll be back, but for today’s poem, visit Write Into Life!


Photo of an unpruned Iceberg rose bush outside a Wellington cottage
The beauty of the unpruned poem or rose bush

Long Song of the Unyoung
is an unpruned rose bush
scrappy and vivid and wild.

I should have saved that insight
for the work in question
but I have squandered it on you.

Then again, unpruned bushes
do squander beauty
so squandering is perfectly in line

Photo and poem by Rachel McAlpine CC BY 2.0. That means, go ahead and share them both, as long as you attribute them to me.



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.