Richard Sharland has been writing poetry since 1970 and organised events and readings in the early 1980s. A few poems were printed in pamphlets at that time, but he was not published until 2014 when he brought out his first collection. ‘Emerging From Anaesthesia’ is dedicated to his late wife, Jan; it includes poems written throughout their lives together, from 1975 to 2011, and digital images created subsequently. Several of the poems set out here are included in that collection, others are more recent. ‘Emerging From Anaesthesia’ can be obtained direct from Richard or Terre Verte for £15.00 (includes p&p).

 

List of titles

Consett

True North

4 Now

Excalibur

Booglarised on Bodmin Moor

At Occazinny

Desire

Found Pome, Crossword 27/12

At Cocklawburn

The Last Chance Saloon

 

 

 

Consett

 

Walk the drover’s road,

the one that walks northwest

toward the wall, following a line

of roman mesh which

tried to net these hills.

 

Go when the frost sings on the glass

of the sky, breath freezes;

go when your feet snap brittle snow

expanding the silence.

 

The bare flank of a town

will cross your bows

like a black dreadnought

stilled on rolling white

 

Its stacks once supported growths

of gray, white and brick red;

its decks were dusted pink

with the powdered blood of iron.

 

The day I shot the billy, I hoisted

a friend by slack hooves and peeled him.

One slit opened his innards

and showed the world his engine room

silenced but still steaming

as it spilled forward glistening.

 

There was never before so much vacancy

as faced me in that cavern

between his narrow ribs.

 

True North

 

The sill’s whin edges

lean north, sphinx like;

as the straight road fades east

into low cloud and rain.

Here’s the march,

empire meeting wilderness,

lines of bronzed bog,

peat-water sky flatlining

North.

 

Close to the stars, flocked

and sparse, living etched.

Here love is like flint and

asphodel, all myrtle, husk

and lanolin; clouds of vapour

always scudding.

Mercury lives low,

and the needle so steady and

True.

 

4 Now

 

There’s the yellow globe o’ the moon

setting right over the rooftops

across the street.

 

It is 10 to 4 in the morning 4th February,

its fiery golden bead is lodged

in a narrow gap between the curtains.

Something woke me right now

to see its eye looking into the room

at me. I got up and went for a piss,

then looked out at the frost on the street

and the stars. Tiny crystal glinting, the

perfect stillness of everything,

frozen at 4 degrees below.

 

The alignment – la luna right on the rooftop,

the crack in the curtain, my eye –

made me write all this down.

Like the transit of Venus, a perfect moment

pointless and moving on majestically

slow-motion in the ball room

dancing dynamo of night wondrous

and angel-headed as the

huge atlas of the world is

to an open-eyed child

in their own early morning.

 

 

Excalibur

 

Mountain slopes into wind, a horn

leaning a crackled sabre on curved sky, a sweep

of corrugated blade, blooded at dawn;

 

climbers fold their tents, leaving sleep

and ashes on the turf where their dreams

so quickly slain, are already buried deep.

 

Rose light softens their silhouetted

knotting against the sun as it climbs

their aspirations, awaiting kinesis;

 

as day is loosed, their scramble tilts

at scree, the polished hillside flung like flame,

a sword from the valley embedding its hilt.

 

So another quest stretches up the pass

in sharp brief outline, as quickly the mist

blurs the distant point, stabbing at stars.

 

 

Booglarised on Bodmin Moor

(After Don Van Vliet)

 

Magnet pulls on the line deep in the ground

Draw the cloud cover down over the moor

Day almost lost in the sudden rain, sheeting.

From dark, pelting: below, above, past.

 

Sun emerges moments later, changes

Zoom after each other, tempest’s light

Spark the flint, pregnant with thunder, greeting:

“You can hold, once it start”

 

Now it is bright again, glistening light on wet

Which beads, smells, glows. Reach out your

Hand and touch the bracken stones, circle

Has it, stood silent centuries, stooped, pointing.

 

Bottom where the shadows end, moon rises

Or sets, more storm racing east, illuminated

Top, run for cover, ancient footsteps, panting:

“Neither got it, sun zoom spark”

 

Sun sets on the interlocking hurlers, nocturnes

Zoom in underground, aurora, see the sea,

Spark distance gold, edge of darkness reeling

“You can hold, once it start”

 

” I don’t care who you are, what size you are.

It’s gonna magnetise you, drawn day,

Neither got it, sun zoom spark.”

 

 

At Occazinney

(for Rich Lloyd)

 

 

So the road and I arrived at Occazinney

( land to the west of the rising sun ).

It was in the mogshade, nearly midsummer

and I saw the half moon go halfway up

the blue, cloud flecks painted onto the supple sky.

I saw the buttercups getting yellower

across the fields, as far as my eye would take me,

it was after a long journey, winding

here and there, in the cities and their streets, over

oceans, between walls and their people,

their dalliances, suffering, the eager sharpness

of lives, the long losses, hopes and

disappointments, all their gifts and voyages.

 

It is downhill now, between the banked trees

foxgloves and campions blush the hedgerows

pink; I walk in the middle of the lane,

where nobody walks any more.

The queens of the May have all been decked

in their blossom, cream, now it begins to fall

like snow. The spuggies are fledged.

And everything past is remembered.

 

Only the future’s enigma eludes

and eludes, as it steps beside me, into me,

stride by magical stride; and the sleeping blue dark

overtakes, the shadows of the moonlight

still as memories in this place of stones.

 

 

Desire

 

 

The day quivers, is green

between walls made of stone;

anticipation builds in the dam.

 

Soon our limbs will tangle deliciously

in the sluices. Taken by the flood,

we will know the unknowable,

momentarily.

 

 

 

Found Pome in Crossword, 27 December

 

 

Very hot band.

Unhappy fall guy kidnapping primate,

shot person is a bloomer

spending a penny, hugging woman

on throne, admitted

to the smallest room.

 

Somewhat discreet in shade,

nowhere to be seen, I seat building

after pay increase – almost getting

nothing. Doctor of poetry.

A classical hero with clothes

for yellow top.

 

Soft, inhale dope, the mad dog

unites a trio of redheads, furious

with enmity, nail-biting

until exhausted. Europeans taking

siestas, one on deck doffing cap,

beginning to climb.

 

Encapsulating native gas ring

blocked by end of pipe bruiser,

chewed thistle, roll criminal,

loose, untreated idiots identifying

the house sparrow : ancient

individual breaking leg.

 

Fastener held by Greek character,

the wrong duck on land. Port

where British don’t work

with Irish infestation.

 

 
At Cocklawburn

 
Beyond where harebells nod fragile

in the blue breeze, and sandy aprons of dunes

drop down to the strand between tufts of maram,

the cracked ribs of golden stone finger

out to where the waves break and foam:

it begins and ends here in the tidepools.

 

The dust of you scattered where they ebb

and fill beneath a pure blue sky that

opened sheathes of cloud as we walked.

Your fragments lay on the saltwater, drifted

on the midsummer wind, shimmered down

to settle with the sealife in the rock pools,

anemones, urchins, tiny crabs and crayfish

who live in a world now still, then deep,

at one with their daily tidal turbulence.

 

The breakers come in line by line, sets

softly splintering at rocks and dividing

into ripples, eddies, wavelets. The pools

are overrun and over flow, the flower

grain essence of you, eddying too, mingling,

dispersed into returning; our tears, you

atoms from stars, our source, the briney.

 

You are even more at one with sand and surf

than when you played here as a child. Sea

reclaiming your gone body, your presence in

the cool wind on my face, the thoughts

that thud in my ribcage, wrenching : always,

every beach, each whiff or glimpse of saltwater,

will float you back, one buoyant memory

after another – seal, kelp, kite and submarine,

in rocks and sand, amongst the flowers.

 

 

 AT THE LAST CHANCE SALOON

(Dylan Thomas centenary & 2014 IPCC report)

 

 

If earth’s oestrus is over, we decline,

and then, for sure, a dying of the light;

if not, it’s time for rage, rage one last time.

 

Wise men know and follow evolution’s line

and they’ll accept the coming of the night –

if earth’s oestrus is over, we decline.

 

Good men live true their lives, have seen the signs,

gentle persuasion undoes the doubters’ sight –

if not, it’s time for rage, rage one last time.

 

Wild men run to the woods, live in their minds,

shrug their shoulders, no point in the fight –

if earth’s oestrus is over, we decline.

 

Grave men pondering their last chance to shine

ask, is hope enough for their children’s right –

if not, it’s time for rage, rage one last time.

 

And you, my father, I ask you what is mine –

to choose the path, to know the future’s might:

if earth’s oestrus is over, we decline;

if not, it’s time for rage, rage one last time.