You fall down a hole in the street.
As you are falling, at great speed
for what feels like hundreds
of thousands of miles, you get bored
so decide to catch up
with some bits and bobs
and engage in activities
you don't normally have the time for.
First, you file your nails.
Then you come up with an above-par excuse
for not attending a summer wedding
to which you've been invited.
You give wolf-whistling a go
and practice raising one eyebrow
like Dr. Frank N. Furter
in The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
But still an air of listlessness hangs
about your person. Eventually, you give in
and cease fighting your most dominant urge,
which is to yodel.
Although you've never told anyone,
you've always had a 'thing' for yodelling.
You've always had a 'thing' for goats too,
but that was something altogether different
and not an aspect of your psyche
you wish to entertain, in what might be
your last moments of life, and so you
At some point the falling turns into running.
You are in a meadow and you have four legs.
after James Tate
I arrived at the service station at night.
The toilet attendant ushered me over to the cafeteria, where everyone
was crowded around a small boy.
“He has it,” they said. “He has the secret.”
“I've always wanted the secret,” I said.
“Shh,” they said. “Everyone's always wanted the secret, now shut up
The boy was poised to make a speech on a little stool, the kind, you
would imagine, he pushed up to the sink at home, to brush his teeth.
As he cleared his throat, about to commence, my mobile phone rang.
The ring tone was the Rocky theme tune.
The boy dismounted and began punching the air, jogging around,
shouting, “Yo, Adrian, I did it!”
He then proceeded to box his way out of the restaurant, into the car
park, down the slip lane and onto the motorway, where he was duly run
over by a heavy goods vehicle.
I'm sad to say that he took his secret with him.
You can visit his shrine at Leigh Delamere services, between Junctions
17 (Swindon A420) and 18 (Chippenham A350).
People say that after dark you can hear the secret in the sound of the
wheels on tarmac. But if you hear it, you mustn't tell anyone.
Vik Shirley's chapbook, Corpses (Sublunary Editions), was published in March. Her collection, The Continued Closure of the Blue Door (HVTN), is out in Autumn. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Rialto,Magma & Perverse. She is studying for a PhD in Dark Humour & the Surreal at the University of Birmingham