Life’s a tough business

Alice asks  Why is there more craving than
loving ?  Gertrude takes all day to answer
You see Alice   life is a tough business
it is not easy to dance a clean dream
Think for example how hard it is to
hold our head up
                       in wet windy weather
Alice recalls a willow in a wide
place on the bank of a fast flowing stream
You cannot burn water    it means cleanness
A climate is not an ordeal unless
we make it so    just as a broken heart can-
not be mended with wax    The secret dear
Alice is to make no more mistakes than
yesterday  Yes
                     love is its own reward

John Lyons


The golden age

It was a time when pale blue skies gave way
to summer      Swallows and swifts arrived
to celebrate the new season    and ev’ry-
where smelt of cut grass and of lavender
At night the skies were clear   
                                  and stars became
countable   These were gentler days and no-
one thought of distance or pain or loss al-
though life went on and communities pulled
together and people supported each
other through adversity and cared for
the weakest or those most troubled  It was
a good time to be human and to share
and share alike   It was a time when love
was deeply felt
                  in ev’ry warm embrace

John Lyons

Love was our evensong

Days now are less bitter but make no bones
Wind-winnowed cherry and petals drifting
in the thin air   dust in the gutter and
the absence of birdsong   a lone fox bask-
ing in the sunlight    flowers   white and yellow
daffodils    their stems cut  bleeding   weeping
Such a gift we brought you
                                      bouquets of pain
You say that after the bells have rested
they will ring once again   and peals of re-
joicing will be heard in town and country
and all will be well   But these are just words
I say that our sorrows are secular
Love was our evensong   a final gasp
moist lips   a tired melody
                                      a cracked voice

John Lyons

Roses are red

When I was a child I wrote as a child
Roses are red violets are blue  Be good
to me and I’ll be good to you   You may
laugh when I recite this rhyme   but back
in the day when snow would fall thickly in
December    and Christmas
                               would bring books and
tangerines and a tartan necktie   I
wore my heart on my sleeve   O where are the
snows of yesteryear ?  What news of Wendy
and Susan and Elizabeth too ?   Our
Patsy -who works in construction-  says home
is where you lay your hard hat and steel-capped
boots    It has to be built day by day   brick
by brick   set firm
                      with the right mix of love

John Lyons

Edited version of earlier post

A beautiful beam of light


Tell me Alice, what is the difference
between right away and a pearl? A pearl
is milk white and right away is at once:
this is a good explanation indeed
Happily very happily Alice
embroidered linens and Gertrude threaded
strands of silken words
                      through page after page
Neither woman felt interdiminished
For Guillaume Apollinaire crystal tears
were shed. Pin ware, fancy teeth, stout caesar.
Wet syllables in the rue de Fleurus
Picasso painted sobs for the deceased,
Alice pickled plums while Gertrude admired
a beautiful beam
                  of light in the room

John Lyons

Revised version

Solace – Molly Rosenberg




WB dominated my thoughts,
His ‘Bee loud glade‘
Buzzed through my mind,
Bringing such longing ,
To go far away to that
Special place.


WB still dominating my thoughts,
Another century indeed,
Now I have my own,
‘Bee loud glade’

No plane, no car, no sea to sail,
Just an open door to,
A special place,
Where the bees buzz,
In the lavender,
Landing on the Lilly pads,
In the cool greenness,
They sate their thirst.

We truly have had our
Wings clipped,
Our horizons
The world holds
Its breath,
Yet there is a
Solace and a
Quenching to be had,
If only we can find
Our own ‘Bee loud glade.

Molly Rosenberg

Molly’s beautiful lyric is inspired by W B Yeats’

Pablo Neruda – Sonnet 44


You’ll be aware that I do and don’t love you
since there are two modes to life,
the word is a wing of silence,
and there’s a cold side to fire.

I love you in beginning to love you
to reengage in what is infinite
and so as never to stop loving you:
that’s why I still don’t love you.

I do and don’t love you as though I held
in my hands the keys to happiness
and an uncertain fate of unhappiness.

My love has two lives with which to love you,
that’s why I do love you when I don’t
and why I do love you when I do too.

Pablo Neruda

From One Hundred Love Sonnets

Translation by John Lyons

In praise of petunias


The violet, white and pink flowers
of the petunia      a hardy plant from
     the tobacco species

The roots of its name derive
from the tupi-guarani
language of Brazil in which
     pety signifies tobacco

It reached Europe
in the mid-16th century
whence petun an old
     French word for tobacco

Its unassuming beauty
rises up through the light
into the air  :  its powerful
scent was believed
     to ward off evil spirits

Though petunia flowers are
symbols of anger and resentment
they are also a symbol of comfort
     and feeling good with someone

John Lyons


The Tower

                  St Leonard’s Tower, West Malling

The Tower

Hot sun

Tinging the grey rag-stone

With gold.

Standing proud against,

A blue, blue

Perfect sky.

The sound of thrushes

In the surrounding parched trees,

Two buzzards wheel overhead.

Ancient stones

Laid down long ago,

By men from history

Gundulph or Odo of Bayeaux,

The detail is lost,

In the realms of time.

Casting its shadow

Over the valley

Of long lost hop fields,

And orchards now depleted

Of their succulent fruit.

Molly Rosenberg

For other poems by Molly Rosenberg search “Molly”

Love that sets the path

Light that reaches back
to the origin of light
the original species
of light from which
all emanates

Has time ever stood still ?
Has movement ever ceased ?
The universe that expands
within our minds
within our hearts
all energy recycled
all growth turned
to advantage

So too love
in all its leisure
and our internal life
governed by purpose
and by attraction
by what we call desire
the passion that fires up
the humbled penitent soul
to action

Love that reaches back
into all our yesterdays
Love that sets the path
for all our days to come

John Lyons