Poems: Vik Shirley

Illo for Vik Shirley's poems.

I never intended to get into breeding

It had never appealed to me much at all.
But it was when, due to a sudden change
in circumstance, I started breeding turkeys,
the idea dawned on me: if I were to breed
a human and a turkey then it would be possible
to have the best of both worlds: a wattle and hands;
feathers and a large brain. I then realised
that I could probably cut out the turkey side of things
altogether and just breed humans. Better still,
I could, for the most part, do this by myself,
without needing to use other humans.
Being female, I already had the equipment.
I would, however, need a male to kick-start
the project and, given the turkey-like mannerisms
I’d picked up over recent months, I knew
acquiring one wasn’t going to be easy.

The plan

was to transfer a mountain of gravel
from one side of the yard to the other.
No-one was told why. But that’s what we’d been hired to do.
Who were we to ask questions? My colleagues
appeared to be a broad spectrum of stupid.
But one of them, Joseff, although burly,
had a sweet singing voice, so I stuck with him
and kept feeding him requests throughout the day.
He had just reached the end of a particularly beautiful rendition
of Minnie Riperton’s ‘Loving You’, when he turned to me
and whispered: “Can you see what I see?” I was perturbed,
as he sounded different, somehow: smarter,
like a completely different person. “No, what?” I replied.
That was when he pointed to a colourful little bird
sat on the gravel pit to the west. “That’s Mama Leadbetter,
she’s running the show here. Joshua, I’m an undercover cop.
The plan is to take some photos and catch her in action.
Then we can send the Leadbetter family down for life,
clean up this town once and for all.” I said how it was strange,
as she really did look exactly like a little bird, and he just smiled,
shook his head, ruffled my hair and said: “You’re a good guy,
Joshua, a good guy. C’mon, buddy, let’s get to work.”
Vik Shirley is a poet from Bristol. Her poems have appeared in magazines such as Zarf, Stride and Shearsman and her work is featured in the Dostoevsky Wannabe Cities: Bristol pamphlet. A poem of hers was commended in the Verve Poetry Competition 2018 and was published in the associated city poems anthology, It All Radiates Outwards. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University.

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