Observations

Observations

The shapes of silence
an empty doorway

an open window
at which no one is seen

the shadow of an oak tree
that does not stir

the trail of space
that a cat leaves

behind it as it ambles
across a garden

or wanders along
an abandoned path

alongside the railway
or a blackbird

or perhaps a crow
pecking at recently

ploughed soil
or as the day

dissolves into night
a pine forest engulfed

in darkness
the air tinder dry

and a sense
of expectation

of a tale
about to be told

John Lyons

Optical illusion

Optical illusion

The greatest of all illusions
           is the sky in all its manifestations
it simply doesn’t exist :
           that space where it rains or snows
or blows up a storm or brings us
           a wide blue summer’s day
does not exist though so often
           our hopes are pinned upon it

there is light and there is dark
           and there is the air and beneath it
the earth of the imagination
           the very substance of our lives
that we tread daily
           while raising our godforsaken eyes
up to the heavens for some sign
           even though every orientation
we could ever need is always here
           within the flesh of our hearts

John Lyons

Hall Place gardens

Hall Place gardens

Here where I walk
           remembering
knowing that words
           are not love
but that words may sustain
           the memory of love
or the presence of love
           as the custodians
of our thoughts
           and of our feelings

and so here in these gardens
           with you I walk remembering
and at the same time
           I lay down fresh memories :
here are the marigolds
           of my childhood
and the weeping willows
           the oaks and the sycamores
the ducks and the geese
           and the swans
all descendants
           of those days and the lawns
where I once picnicked
           under the shade of an elm

John Lyons

Landscape with man

I met Alejandro Oliveros in March 1977 in Caracas, Venezuela. A poet of great kindness, Alejandro was an ardent adherent to the poetics of Ezra Pound, and despite the tropical climate, his mode of dress was a kind of homage to Pound. The poem below, from Espacios (1974) owes much to Pound’s imagism.

Landscape with man

In the grounds of the park
A gardener collects leaves and trash
With his broom. Tired. Weathered
Face his hands hardened.

To one side between the leaning trees
The river runs. Narrow. Bone dry.

The man advances a few steps
Observes the clouds
Against the pink summer sky.

Uneven shapes hint at
The neighbouring mountains. Crops
and fields turn yellow.

Night descends. The gardener gathers
His tools and walks off. The wind blows.

Alejandro Oliveros
(trans. John Lyons)

 

Cosmology

Cosmology

Summer blooms have mostly faded
           but the bushes are heavy
with red and orange berries
           and down by the railway track
the cuttings are filled
           with canes of ripe blackberry
that most ubiquitous of humble fruits
           but so sweet to taste

And so I think of the complexity
           of time and the relentless speed of light
from which all life comes
           and the constancy of mass and energy
and in spite of it all the simplicities
           the slownesses that are somehow
built into the necessary equation
           the cycles of gestation that demand
patience as though in some way
           the universe wishes to put a brake
on its unstoppable expansion
           creating pockets of moments
to be enjoyed in tranquility
           a sensitive universe
quite clearly in love with itself
           or with its children at least

John Lyons

The kiss

The kiss

It’s about what endures
           and what does not
Sensations are momentary
           feelings persist and grow
over time though
           that is not to say that
one is of greater value
           than the other

a kiss cannot last for ever
           no more than a rose
but the love engendered
           need never die

Dissenters or not
           we are all pilgrims
survivors of the plague our bones
            bound for Bunhill Fields
no Rodin to set us in stone
           for all eternity

For a moment
           he pulls her in
and plants a kiss
           on her lips
Would he do it if each act
           were not precious ?

John Lyons

Sunday evening

Sunday evening

Complacencies
dreams a little

too easy on the tongue
drinking coffee

or biting into a sweet
juicy orange

catastrophe kept at bay
by building sandbags

out of books
and the ancient sacrifice

of knowledge
the hush hush

of toxic literary gossip
Night settles

over the wide river
and all is apparently

at peace as the lights
are dimmed

here by the Tower
where blood once ruled

stone has the upper hand
the flesh finally laid to rest

John Lyons