Time lives and dies

Under a blue sky     today     at lunchtime I will eat
gently charred chicken    cooked over hot coals
I will count my summer swallows and sip
at a cold beer
                    Yesterday is so much dead meat
My eyes are focused on the future       the path
through the final thorns       leading all the way to
the finishing line      whatever that might be
         How strange
                    to have no ambition      other than
for the prospects of what might unfold with
every breath       Time lives and dies with us
so too does love           and all things cherished
I will not gather dandelions    nor count each
wayward butterfly that flutters into my life
the nectar I have garnered
                                 sustains my soul

John Lyons

Everything turns into writing

I read you.    I get it.      Everything turns into writing.
Sat with my steaming hot coffee on a cold October day
in Bowling Green park
                                 planning to finish it
before I hit the subway. I’d crossed on the ferry
from Staten Island with Elaine and we had just
said our goodbyes.         I never did see her again
yet here she is once more in my wanting words like
some affable familiar ghost whose memory
has travelled with me all these years even though
most of the time she was never even in my mind.
In a moment’s distraction
                         I’d spilt some of the coffee
on the salt and pepper overcoat I was wearing
How strange to be haunted      by a cute face and
by certain gentle innocent words spoken over
                                  forty-five years ago

John Lyons

In all the simple daily things

In all the simple daily things there’s an unwritten code
a coffee and a kiss       and a few words of silence
as the sun rises and you slowly adjust your serene
and angelic soul
                         to the circumstances around you
You look at me and for a moment        I’m your bauble
your creation in which you see    as in a mirror
the burnished reflection of your love
                                                  It’s 7 a.m.
and it seems as though the world’s clockwork
mechanism has yet to be restarted          How strange
just to lie there side by side looking into your
beautiful eyes with       for a moment       no notion of time
or duty or agenda or any urgent obligation      other
than to be there for each other and nothing more
knowing that there is no knowledge
                                               greater than love

John Lyons

Midnight memory – another sonnet

A child might ask “Does the sky ever run out of rain
and if so, where does it go to get more?”      and I think
does time ever run out of time       and how might that
happen, and if it did, what then?
                                              Streaks of sunlight
on the lawn and people are charring their summer meats
over hot coals and the dog is chewing at an old bone
and somewhere a speaker is churning out the popular
hymns of all our yesterdays          and Jack in the house
that he built thinks of the cow with the crumpled horn
and how strange
                    it is for you to be gone and simply be nowhere
like a never-ending silence          that descends upon the planet
and he tries to recall the features of your face       the sad eyes
the hair      the shape of your mouth but the dust is creeping in
deep piles of it heaped around
                                              your faithless midnight memory

John Lyons

Sometimes I think. . .

Sometimes I think I’m just too clever for words
I read poems by Ted Berrigan       by Frank O’Hara
by Charles Olson  by Guillaume Apollinaire      and the big earth 
floats on under the blue sky       till one day Patsy says
“But they’re all guys.      
                                    How come you don’t read
the girls?”     So I dip into Emily and Lorine and Alice
And Anne and even give Elizabeth a run around
the block, but sooner or later
                                        it’s back to the boys
Sometimes on a Wednesday      when it’s not raining
I’ll put the books down      and take a hike into the city
I love to watch the river flow      and ponder its destiny
I’ll stay there until the sun sets and the stars appear
I count them as friends     :    they’ve stayed with me
all my life, kept the faith,
                             peppered my dreams with light

John Lyons

How strange – a sonnet

How strange to be gone       the earth floating
through space and you are little more than
a memory      around which the dust is gently
settling     How strange to be silent      how ghostly weird  
to be not a word     not a breath      not a sigh      not a
sign of life       although somewhere under this blue sky
you continue to exist       How strange to be gone
and the way  you went       like a thief in the night      
upon which the stars shuddered      when they learnt       
of your coldness      How strange to be gone     when
everything else remains       the streets      the river
the theatres    the markets   the pubs     the office
where you once worked       and all those  places where

we once made love our own      How strange

John Lyons


The day blossoms
        sun searing the grass
crisping the summer leaves
        the future is streets ahead
all that fruit will fall
        so many salads
will be devoured
        April May and June
are but memories
        and even as we love
our bodies turn to dust
        fragments of time
dissolve into thin air
        nothing but chaff
on the granary floor
        nothing but chaff

An offensive
        that’s what’s required
a counterattack
        to recoup lost ground
take back the freedom
        to fail or to succeed
unclench the fist and
        release seven white doves
as a sign of signs to come
        as a sign of days to come

John Lyons

Love that moves the sun

Love that moves the sun
         and the other stars
Dante and Einstein
         poets of the cosmos
the articulate cosmos
         in which we live and love

Light that is energy
         that may be expressed
in mass and which is
         never lost
Light feeds and moves
         and caresses love

Nothing on the face
         of the earth that is
not moved by light
         Dante’s Paradiso
which formulated
         the light-love equation
Beatrice retrieved
         because no love is lost

Silence and stillness

         are figments of
the imagination
         the music of the spheres
not metaphor but reality
         noise that is articulation
is all around us
         the Big Bang caught
in the net of our most
         powerful telescopes
energies lapping
         on the shores
of deepest space
         on Brighton beach

All that is is expression
         the word from light
the illuminated text
         the poetry of birdsong
her beating heart
         her breath
the smacking of her lips
         however soft her footfall
or discreet her ecstasy
         love that is thought
and word and deed
         and light all in motion
all emotion nothing silent
         nothing still
nothing ever
         ever nothing

John Lyons

Poetry will absolve me

It is daybreak. The city that never sleeps
has been sleeping. My dream was of trains
moving silently through the night. I must
wake the city and feed it with poetry.
I must get the world moving. I must dry
its tears and dress it with poetry. From
the Capital of Pain, Paul Éluard will assist me
with his hymns to freedom and to courage.

It is daybreak and I will never forget the beauty
of your eyes as you looked into my eyes.
Birds are singing sotto voce and a blue
silk skyline is unfolding as the city stirs.
It’s no disgrace to have loved you nor to love
you still : poetry will absolve me.

John Lyons

A kind body

A kind body
not a beauty
but a loveliness
there is a difference

Being in truth
and seeing so
feeling so
ageing alongside
the earth

Summer’s come
and gone and winter’s
bearing down
and still the breath
still the hope
and the belief

the fingers
that she lifts that she
runs through her hair
the beacon of her smile
in times of storm
or when the rain drips
as the clock runs down
and all you have is her kiss
and all you need is her kiss
and enough is enough

John Lyons