Poems

The Cycle Diaries

‘Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquillity.’  ~ William Wordsworth

I moved to Dartmoor and began exploring various trails by mountain bike, which evolved into the idea of writing an existential poem aiming to capture a sense of the authentic unearthed via an experience of unbridled joy.  Each canto represents a ride written on location that I typed up when I got home.  I allowed myself to correct certain errors for clarification, but otherwise each canto (or ride) is written exactly as it was in my notebook.  In some ways, I liken The Cycle Diaries to Jack Kerouac’s ‘Mexico City Blues,’ though I do not consider it to be a product of spontaneous prose, rather a poem intended to be written in direct response to an authentic sense of being.

Below are the opening three cantos, written 6, 14 and 17 July 2019.

Summer

Canto I

Young girl on a horse,
I slow down
after passing the village fete
I reach the edge of the wood
check the RockShox
80/20 in favour of the hare –
following the online advice
and we’ll see how it goes.
Warmth of the sun
pierces through shadows
from the over-looking trees
as the track winds its ascent,
I’m feeling annoyed
but as I near the top,
I see a gate –
one from the video, great,
this must be it!
The tannoy has given way
to woodland sounds
rabbits and squirrels
scurry along
birds chirp
amid the swaying breeze,
sweat pours from pushing
up the hill, now,
the fun begins!
Gliding down a wide track –
loose rocks, twigs
littered with leaves
I turn down a narrow
technical descent
new bike, first ride,
twice my feet are
required to stop me sliding –
I intended to do this
descent at a later date!
No matter, I reach the
main path again.

Canto II

Why the hurry?
There is no need to hurry.
Tall fescue
and buttercups
bask in the shade
overlooking fritillaries
gliding above dandelions
looking up to the sun.
The breeze,
covered in mud,
soaked in sweat,
a bird of prey in the distance
silence weaves through the wind
stillness
after the rush,
jumps, bumps,
through streams,
through mud,
splattered on my face,
all over my body
oh, how I love the jumps!
Another stream
a rush so quick
has no room for thoughts –
this is what
hills are for.
The smell of cut grass
hovers over the motion
upon bumpy stones,
reach the junction,
no cars,
steepish descent
winding down the wood,
startle a squirrel
as I turn the corner,
he’s off the track,
though quite safe,
he turns this way and that
as I ride on
down a dry, steep track –
more jumps, though careful!
There are low-lying
branches here!
Down the steps,
over the bridge,
aftermath of the rangers,
a speedier route,
more jumps and turns
until I reach a meadow,
a bird hops in front
am I on his path?
Are we on the same path?
He disappears into the hedge,
I set the bike down,
a casualty squashed against
the frame – poor wood ant.
I brush away the sand
and look across the tall grass
to green woodland,
silence, birdsong, the breeze
and the river
for company.

Canto III

Lead me to forgetting
is the only freedom
I ask of you
persisting up hills
uneven, many obstacles,
an infinity of secrets
concealed among shades
of another season
varying hues
cover deadwood
among the grass,
the odd footprint,
among blissful isolation,
before a fork in the road,
which way to turn?
As light pierces
through standing armies
gazing over the fallen,
I follow the silence
as the sweat begins
to pour,
when to return?
A quick descent
over uncharted territory
apprehension,
exhilaration,
I am not sure
if I have the
suspension right!
I reach the bridleway
adjacent to the river,
back to flat land,
surrounded by trees,
I head on to Fingle,
passing dog walkers,
hunger leads me to stop
at a suitable looking
rock by the river.
I sit and notice a lone fish,
looking upwards, motionless,
it takes its place
among the rocks.

Leaves fall
into the sound
of the river,
they too, look up,
resting upon moss-covered rocks.
Ants busy themselves
underneath brambles
visited by bees,
a small mouse
scurries along broken bark
disappearing into a splintered stump
surrounded by holly
glancing beyond ivy
into infinite green disappearing
up a gradient
dotted with crooked branches,
directly above,
I can see clouds.

© Christopher Sharp

2015, The Fields

Confession,
abolition,
renewal,
uncertain processes
among dreams
lost
in perpetual night
waken
to a magnificent sunrise
over endless green fields.
The sound of the river
travels through distant forests,
shadows pointing
towards a road
facing mountains
reaching beyond the clouds,
descending the vastness
of skies overlooking
great stillness amid
a palette of infinite
hues ever changing,
a light
pierces deep within
to unlock hidden doors
opening on new vistas,
bright
in solitude
nestled between
wooded hills
beneath a chorus
of optimism
in full voice
among the trees,
reflections
of emptying
towards serenity
gaze upon
every colour;
if only for a moment
a brief,
beautiful moment,
walking eternal fields
completely free.

© Christopher Sharp

2013, The Butterfly

Butterfly, lying still upon the ground
Colours of a spirit meek as profound
I wonder, did you see normality
While flying over grey reality?

Your wings bid farewell to their flutter
Their colours a swan song as you exit the shroud
Away from this affluence which surrounds
Return to the whole elusive yet all around

Your stillness embodies a symbol of heaven
As from the earth you emerge into flight
Like a soul so pure and free but what becomes
Of your colours as you fall towards the night?

My search for answers brings forth storms
Raging through the underworld’s myths and illusions
Phantasmagoria’s shadows leave me forlorn
As I try to make sense of the dark’s intrusion

Bright colours of the world fall out of my dreams
As your soul departs through the seams of your wings
Butterfly, were you pilot or passenger
When obfuscated as a rainbow glider?

© Christopher Sharp

(click here for audio version)

2011, The Desert

I was walking in a desert where I passed many people, possibly nomads like myself but I couldn’t be sure.  I also recall some tall figures stood motionless, wearing large masks like that of a native tribe perhaps holding spears as well.  They did not appear aggressive to me despite looking intimidating and it was unclear what they were doing in this place – their endeavours as shrouded as my own.  I could see a slight hilly incline bearing to my right in the direction I was heading.  It was night and the desert appeared to be of a circular or semi-circular shape with red-brown coloured sand.  While walking, my attention became drawn towards a strange symbol etched in the ground, the appearance of which I can only vaguely recall but it was unmistakably there.  Somehow, whether through being told or by intuition, I came to know that this was a mark of the prophet Mohammed and it seemed to reveal that Islam held the highest knowledge of God.  The desert had a perimeter, which before times (that is, before such knowledge existed), one could pass through to other lands easily (and back again) but once knowledge of God had been attained, the perimeter became like a kind of force-field, which made it all but impossible to leave the desert.

© Christopher Sharp

2010, Yin Yang

The painting stood tall
And to a slight
Forty-five degree
Angle upon the floor.
It was entirely black
But for two rectangular
Shapes, which had been
Spray painted with unfeasible
Thickness across part of it.
In front were stood three
Decidedly unimpressed looking
People.
The first was a former course
Colleague (who used to work with
Spray paint as I recall), alongside his
Wife and a third person whose precise
Identity escapes me completely (although
I seem to remember he was male).
Why it was those particular people
Standing there at that time I do not know.
I was feeling very defensive, as if braced
For yet another bad crit and, sure enough,
My former colleague’s wife began laying
Into me.
I immediately retorted only for my
Defensiveness to be stopped in its
Tracks by my former colleague’s
Words:

“You’ve single-handedly
Revolutionised modernism
And postmodernism with
A little bit of dramaism.”

I was dumbstruck, a most
Unexpected response!
His wife said no more but
Her attitude towards me
Changed somewhat, now
Looking at her partner
With a notable expression
Of agreeance as he uttered
Those words, while the
Other person remained
Silent.

© Christopher Sharp

2010, Secret of Oz

A Japanese Man,
Looking angry.
I began talking
Somewhat piously
(as I recall)
Not my usual manner
When articulating
My artistic aspirations
On the contrary,
I have a rather shy demeanour.
The man became rather animated:
“Trust me, I’ve worked
On the inside and,
Believe me,
If something is a successful product
It is simply down to it being
The most successful con!”

I had nothing to say
But still I walked on.

© Christopher Sharp

2010, Heart Frames the Cosmos

There were two images in
Dawkins’ book: ‘The God –
Delusion’.  
Both identical images
of a young, attractive woman
lying within a cone-like object,
concealing the lower half of her body.
She was laid on her side and looked
peaceful and was clasping a flower
of some sort as I recall. She was
fairly light skinned – clear and
beautiful with straight brunette
hair.
The image to the left was from the
unconscious – slightly raw and more
‘real’ looking, whereas the right-hand
image looked quite digital and
manufactured.
The conclusion drawn within
this book was that science could
explain all phenomena as a
result of this for the first image
was from inside the person’s
head and the second was drawn
by somebody on LSD, thus these
images are programmed and we
do not in any way act
spontaneously, which would
be indicative of our possessing
a Soul.

© Christopher Sharp

2010, Thinkin’ all Pomo in the AM

Everything is simulated
Via the simulated
Repeatedly simulated
Via the simulated
To form a whole through which
Everything becomes disconnected
Via the Connected.

© Christopher Sharp

2009, Novus Ordo Seclorum

The revolution failed.  The main instigator, of the lower echelons, idealistic in every way; believer in the potential of the nowhere man and the common good, looks up towards the goblin brothers of the aristocracy:

“CHANGE ONLY OCCURS WHEN WE DECIDE!”

Forlorn, the man walks away now aware of his place in the world and the reality of all the history that went before him.  A fool, like all the others, he simply went home, switched on the TV, read the paper and was drawn ever-increasingly into the apathetic world of a gentrified, mass consumer culture, before eventually losing his mind.

© Christopher Sharp

Beat Page

Pride is that terrible affliction
Where there was once
Intrigue
Respect
Even desire born from mystique
NOW
Only indifference and condescension
As the defensiveness it
Perpetuates
Gradually lowers
Your IQ and EQ
Reducing you to the depressing
Reality you so FEAR and use it as
Defence against – to hide the
FACT
That you are really a fraud but you long not
To
Believe it – and for others not to see
It – and
It may have worked but for
Pride, your so-called ally to
Your infallibility
Betraying you into exile and
Obscurity.

© Christopher Sharp