We never forget

Autumn equinox    the sun heading south
cue copper and gold leaves falling gently
downhill into winter    Tell me where are
the snows of yesteryear     the woolly gloves
and scarves I wore as a child   Tell me where
or in what land is Flora
                          who once graced
the Promenade des Anglais    her broad-brimmed
hat shading her Slavic eyes from the sun
or the beautiful Héloise whose heart
pined for sweet Abélard    pray where is she?
Down by Freedom Tower,  Patsy and I
shed a crystal tear for Apollinaire
In the house that Jack built we forgive but
never forget
                    the living or the dead

John Lyons

A beautiful beam of light

Stein-Gertrude

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

Off to Provence

St Trophime Cloisters

           St Trophime Cloisters, Arles

In the house that Jack built we’re all taking
a break     travelling down to Arles to visit
Vincent and Melody and the ghost of
Gauguin    In the late dry summer we will
sample the bouillabaisse and drink the wine,
we’ll dance with strangers
                      and forget our names
On the banks of the Rhône we’ll strip off to
bathe  :  and in the wheat fields
                                 we will count crows
Grace to be alive to enjoy such glor-
ious sunshine and to live off the fat
of the land    Patsy says I should pack my
brushes    but I remind her why I am
not a painter even though I dabble
from time to time:
                      but no, I’m really not

John Lyons

Solace – Molly Rosenberg

glade

SOLACE

1971

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

2022

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
Narrowed.
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’ https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/43281/the-lake-isle-of-innisfree

Pablo Neruda – Sonnet 44


Neruda

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

petunia

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
                  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”

Rosario Castellanos – Presence

Some day I’ll know. This body that has been
my refuge, my prison, my hospital, is my grave.

Whatever I have clustered around an anxiety,
a pain, a memory,
will desert in search of water, a leaf,
the original spore, even inert matter and stone.

This knot that I was (inseparable
from anger, betrayals, hopes,
sudden insight, abandonments,
hungers, cries of fear and helplessness,
joy glowing in the deep darkness,
and words, and love and love and loves)
the years will sever it.

No one will see the destruction. Nobody
will take up the unfinished page.

Among this handful of disperse
acts, scattered to chance, not one
will be set aside as a precious pearl.
And yet, brother, lover, child,
friend, ancestor,
there’s no solitude, there’s no death,
though I may forget and I may be done.

Man, where you are, where you live,
we all remain.

Rosario Castellanos

(Translation by John Lyons)

Rosario Castellanos – Valium 10

Rosario_Castellanos

Rosario Castellanos, John Lyons (40 x 40, oil on canvas)

Valium 10


Sometimes (and don’t try
to play it down,
saying it doesn’t happen often)
your measuring stick breaks.
your lose your compass
and then you don’t understand a thing.

The day becomes a series
of incoherent acts, of duties
that you carry out through inertia and out of habit.

And you live it. And you give instructions
to whoever it concerns. And you teach the same
the class to students registered or not alike.
And at night you draft the text that the press
will devour the following day.
And you keep an eye (oh but only from above)
on the running of the house, the perfect
coordination of multiple programs
—because the oldest son is all dressed up
to go as escort to a fifteen year old’s debutante do
and the youngest wants to play soccer and the middle one
has a poster of Che next to his record player.

And you review the expenses and together,
with the cook, reflect on the cost
of living and the ars magna combinatoria
from which the possible daily menu emerges.

And you even have the will to take off your makeup,
and apply your face cream and even to read
a few lines before turning out the light.

And now, in the darkness, on the brink of sleep,
you realise what’s been lost:
the most valuable diamond, the nautical
chart, the book
with a hundred basic questions (and their corresponding
answers) for a basic
conversation, even with the Sphinx.

And you have the distressing feeling
that an error crept into the crossword
That makes it unsolvable.

And you spell out the name Chaos. And you can’t
sleep unless you open
the bottle and swallow one of the pills
in which the chemically pure world order
has been condensed.

Rosario Castellanos

(translation by John Lyons)


Valium 10 is one of the most famous poems by the brilliant Mexican poet, Rosario Castellanos (1925-1974).

Adélia Prado – Marriage

There’re women who say:
My husband, if he wants to fish, let him fish,
but let him clean the fish.
Not me. At any time of the night I get up,
Help with descaling, slitting open, filleting and salting.
It’s so good, just the two of us alone in the kitchen,
from time to time our elbows bump,
he says things like “this one was tricky customer”
“he flashed his silver tail in the air”
and he makes the gesture with his hand.
The silence of when we first met
flows through the kitchen like a deep river.
Finally, the fish on the platter,
we go to bed.
Silver things blossom:
we are bride and groom.

Adélia Prado

From , Terra de Santa Cruz (1981)

Translation by John Lyons


Casamento

Há mulheres que dizem:
Meu marido, se quiser pescar, que pesque,
mas que limpe os peixes.
Eu não. A qualquer hora da noite me levanto,
Ajudo a escamar, abrir, retalhar e salgar.
É tão bom, só a gente sozinhos na cozinha,
de vez em quando os cotovelos se esbarram,
ele fala coisas como “este foi difícil”
“prateou no ar dando rabanadas”
e faz o gesto com a mão.
O silêncio de quando nos vimos a primeira vez
atravessa a cozinha como um rio profundo.
Por fim, os peixes na travessa,
vamos dormir.
Coisas prateadas espocam:
somos noivo e noiva.

Terra de Santa Cruz (1981)