Fit for poetry


                     Flowers, John Lyons (oil on wood)

Dagwood dogwood
these are but names
conferred over time

We know it by its fruit
by its berries
by its blossom
by its simple
untoothed leaves

The larvae of butterflies
and the engrailed
and emperor moths
feed on it
quail devour its red seeds
a tea made from its bark
can treat pain and fevers

From dogwood
to dogberries
to skull tree
these are but words
fit for poetry

John Lyons

The mirror’s daily challenge

The face the skin the eyes
       the receding hairline
it’s not what it used to be 
       : the mirror’s daily challenge

Olson called it a civil war

       the unique appearance
that fades into sameness
       distinctive features lost
over the years so that familiar
       perhaps cherished blemishes
are now disguised under
       the general depredation
of time and exposure
       to relentless sunshine

so that you’re no longer

       who you thought you were
a stranger gazes back at you
       from the flawless silver
and you wonder who
       let this guy into your life

John Lyons

it’s meaningless

General Sherman, NYC

                      General Sherman, NYC

So the weather takes a dip
       the wind retrieves its bite
tears at the fresh spring leaves
       gusts under the eaves
drives the rain hard
       against the skylight
displacing the Saharan dust
       that blew up days ago

Last night I counted the doors
       featured in an Antonioni movie
Sometimes it’s meaningless
       to watch films or to eat
or to drink coffee
       out of a paper cup

This morning
       I’m reading Frank’s poems
wondering about how many
       daydreams I will see today
whether any of them
       will notice my lavender lips
will talk to me
       will listen to me

Tonight promises to be
       a clear sky with stars :
nobody owns them
       as far as I know
though I am tempted
       to add the word yet

John Lyons

Surely among an old man’s memories

Surely among an old man’s memories
there should be recollections

of the long nights of love he spent
in his younger days when the world

was new and the stars had lost
none of their brilliance

and the streams teamed with trout
and the roses seemed never to die

when he would wake to sweetness
to gentleness to light – content

at every turn of his dreams
the solid architecture of his life

built upon the unerring
beauty of her heart

John Lyons

Strictly for the birds

Stippled freckled
flecked dappled
such is the skin
with which I’ve lived
all these years
and proudly so

and age has brought
fresh blotches blemishes
that I prefer to call
the spoils of experience
spring chicken no longer
now more akin
to the speckled hen

in another creation
I might have been
a handsome spotted thrush
with over one hundred
melodic phrases
to my name: but who am I
to speculate as to
what might have been

John Lyons

Green pastures

Landshape 2

                    Landshape 2, John Lyons (70 x 50 cm, oil on canvas)

A painter poet
struggles to convey
the lie of the land
in which certain shapes
dominate and others
are pushed
into the background

I know that I have been here
but can’t remember when
I have dreamt of snow
on the hills and triangles
that rose up beyond the lakes
I have walked for miles
as I slept and passed
through so many doors

What I searched for
was breath and pulse
a warmth and a gentleness
a softness of being
a firmness of ground
beneath my feet
green pastures

John Lyons

Of briar and hawthorn


Of briar and hawthorn
       of lily of the valley
and swathes of bluebell
       early morning walks
through field and woodland
       back in the day
when I counted
       the days

March winds
       and April showers
and now May is upon us
       with every promise
that was meant
       to be kept

The high sun tans my face
       I wake early eager to breathe
the blossom-laden air
      eager to take to the hills
or down to the stream
       where kingfishers appear
when least

Days when the full moon
       illuminates our nights
as birds sleep their peace
       and love is our thing
and we never tire nor feel
       a shred of discontent
as the hours
       pass us by

John Lyons

The canvas fights back


                 The correction, John Lyons (70 x 50 cm, oil on canvas)

It’s not quite a marriage
       but certainly a relationship
and sometimes the canvas
       has attitude and fights back
and there’s a tussle
       as to who knows best
it’s all about the shapes
       and colours applied

Don’t forget it says
       I have to live with
whatever you throw
       in my face whereas
you can just walk out
       abandon me
to my own devices
       pick up somewhere else

Of course there are
       always corrections
minor or major adjustments
       that need to be made
a rescue mission of sorts
       in a bid to save face
there’s an art to it
       and sometimes it succeeds
and sometimes it fails
       just like love so get over it

John Lyons



          Mayflower, John Lyons (oil on wood)

Virginal flower
       for the month of May
the pilgrim flower
       that sails through
our days our lives
       the simplicity and purity
the blue of innocence
       the incandescent candour
of petals that will
       like us all
one day

eternal cycle rising
       out of the earth
only to return
       to its place of birth
mineral resurrection
       driven by the powers
of creation
       beauty in the eye
and in the heart
       undying love

John Lyons

Perplexed landshape


                      Landshape, John Lyons (70 x 50 cm, oil on canvas)

There are elements here
that may or may not
pertain to a landscape

The canvas itself is struggling
to know where it’s headed
though some of the shapes
are clearly defined

The sky’s a basin inverted
over time and distance
and there are doors and paths
behind which the unknown
skulks carefully secluded

Of course the composition’s
not finished — may well
never be finished
it all depends on finding
a happy resolution

John Lyons

Revised from yesterday’s version