Remount

A lesson learned when I was young: always
Climb straight back on each time you take a fall.
Had it drummed in on sweating, circling days
(With ‘heels down’, ‘elbows in’ and ‘sit up tall’).
They taught me well, those steely souls who forced
Me to get up, brush myself off, remount
And carry on each time I was unhorsed
And tasted dust (more times than I can count).
But now the saddle seems too high; the aches
And pains of years conspire to confound
A hell-for-leather comeback from mistakes
And wrecks, leave me afoot, tied to the ground.
I have a choice: to stand here at the rail
And watch; or try again, and dare to fail.

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Sonnet: Do or die

I love the bike: the ride, the road, the air
Have been my life so long I can’t recall
A time I didn’t do this thing. What bare
And sterile days those must have been; so small
In scope, so tame and desk-soft: indoors skin
That never felt the rain’s lash, glowed like flame
From eight hours out in August. Can’t begin
To picture him, that stranger with my name.
So what should I do now, when every day
Brings ten fresh invitations to that dance
We all must do; how long until I lay
The losing card in this rigged game of chance?
I’ve reached a crossroads; asking whether I
Still need it all enough to want to die.

From the train

The train bursts from the city, racing down
Towards the warm coast. Every mile that flies
By, blurred in grimy glass, helps exorcise
The weary ghosts that stalk me in that town:
Of lives I might have lived; what could have been
Were I a different man, or had not seen

The blood and filth that stain the golden crown.
Was it my curse or cure to realise
My own way ran through woods, beneath wide skies
In open fields, by winding lanes? I’ve thrown
That switch now, taken my own track: I’ll stay
True to it, follow it to come what may.

Work jag

Days pass. I am forgetting all I knew
About myself. What certainties I’d gained,
Such habits that had once seemed so ingrained,
Are lost and sanded out.
                                                            So much to do,
So many varied parts a man must play;
His gaze is ever outward.
                                                            Till one day
He looks within and sees the life that grew
And blossomed in him overthrown, disdained
As fanciful and foolish. All is grey
And blurred. And though I have retained
A face I faintly recognise, my true
Self seems to shrug, and slowly walk away.