Adrian Wiggins


How you learn

         First you learn to argue,
then you learn what you believe,
it’s best dissociated like that,
a foreign policy wonk
having a sly wank in the corner office
between sessions of the on-site
in-service seminar series (“China’s
Soft Power” — it’s catered — he’s about
to present).
         He’s unwinding
a position held for years — a captious
and unhappy wife — at the kitchen
counter he looks across at her
and begins: “I know
where you went last night”
and so-on.
         He thinks
of his PA, her efficient rebuffs, the run
in her stocking. He worries
he’ll make the jump to consulting
too late.
         Today the figurative art
in the foyer creeps him out, taps
a sirocco of longing he can’t apprehend,
but might in the next break.
         It’s indecent, he thinks,
hurries on home
for the simplicity of a small town
police procedural; the clipped hedges,
the bloodless death of a jilted
hairdresser, who knew too much
(the vicar’s fraud on the parish)
who walked home alone
after clubs closed, alone along
the canal towpath, below
the bridge.
         That’s how you learn.



Adrian Wiggins lives in Newtown, Sydney. His writing has recently appeared in Meanjin, Snorkel, Cordite and Heat. In 1997 he co-founded Cordite. In 2010 he founded Read more of his work at

Of ‘How you learn’ Wiggins notes that this work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-ShareAlike license (