Keeping it simple

Keeping it simple

As a child
         in the woods and parks
the games we played
         the endless hours
and such a simple life
         hunting for chestnuts
or mushrooms in the early
         morning dew :
cycling down to Sevenoaks
         cakes for a penny
at the end of the day
         the sun on our faces
and never a care
         in the world

Up at the crack of dawn
         energies unabated
earth to be turned
         plants to be lifted
trees to be pruned
         tomatoes to be watered
grass to be cut
         and never a care
in the world

John Lyons

An answer to some questions

An answer to some questions

What dream came with you
         what dream lies before you
what words have paved
         your path through the years
what promises made
         what promises unbroken
what flowers bestowed
         and which ones withheld
what questions answered
         and which ones remain
Will love live at last
         forever and a day

Lives written
         not in the stars
but in the intimacy
         of the moment
Her hair her lips her eyes
         the air displaced by her beauty
her bold stride through the day
         the decision within her words
her gestures that dispense
         hope and consolation and love
         to the very core

What of the rose ?
         The rose withers and dies
its beauty is brief
         and it leaves no trace
Others hold the key
         to lasting beauty
others the key to truth

She lives in the moment
         that transcends the moment
little is left to be desired
         other than to be
her companion

John Lyons

The brigantine


The brigantine

She is wise as she is beautiful
         a level-headed beauty
to turn men’s heads
         and history upon her heels
: disparate fragments
         that have accreted to her
though she has learned
         above all else
to value focus – But what is it
         that she hopes to achieve ?

Yes – all is measure
         trochee and spondee
dactyl and anapest
         iambus more than any
To be or not ?
         Now or not, so to speak ?

Her father laid bricks
         one upon another
to cement a life
         to construct a clay niche
on the shores of New Jersey
         Atlantic County
where the sea sometime rages
         and tears at the land
clawing back what was once
         its undisputed dominion

A brigantine once set forth
         on the ungodly ocean
proud masts and wide sails
         to brave the white foam
to flee from the breakers
         to transform the treachery
of the storm
         into destiny and distance

         in time and space—
years lived in the shade
         of an unwieldy sword
bombarded by fractured starlight
         whence they came
to a place of safety

Dignity from fabrics
         made to measure
assembled and sewn
         with needle and thread
pride in the flotsam jetsam
         of flimsy summer dresses
and dances in long braids of hair
         the fine colour of quartz

It is enough to live
         among ordinary men and women
to aspire to humility
         to wear the badge of modesty
and to tread the musical path
         measurement being
a sinuous melodic journey
         in space and in time

A mind that can contain
         the rich proportions of harmony
that can turn inert steel and stone
         into warm breath and instill words
with the pulse of eternity—
         laws of creation that outflank
the very laws of creation
         Who determines
the sparrow’s stature
         or whoever dreamed
the soft-fleshed pleats
         of the unfolding rose ?
Thoughts that might live forever
         words perfectly preserved
within a hoard of words
         Love teaches love
love endows the world
         with desire and tender possession
and poetry frees us from the banality
         of the immoderately mundane
from the downbeat humdrum
         of material mummification

Life is a fluted instrument
         to be played upon
it begs improvisation
         and joyous innovation
it abhors the safety of sainted replication
         and fields of dainty daffodils
in the grounds of stately homes
         Life opts for the wild side
for the beauteous being
         that will not be reproved
She who has a mind of her own
         whose body shapes a compendium
of pleasurable emotions
         with a soul of intelligence that flies
an independent articulate flag
         Death and failure
are all in the mind
         : the air trembles at her beauty
that tugs at the core
         of all who behold her

Though my words
         may seem extravagant
I merely inform a truth—
         so much a rarity
in this misbegotten world of confusion
         indeed I could go on
and on and on
         but today I simply won’t

John Lyons

Ancient woodland

Ancient woodland

The humble bluebells are out in force
         in the ancient woodlands by Shooters Hill
along with primrose and lesser celandine
         wood anemone and yellow rattle and violets
and the delicate umbels of bear garlic

Underfoot the ground is soft
         from the covering of leaf litter
and as the sun rises a strong
         dank smell hangs in the air
amid the dense shadows

Hazel and beech and alder
         and oak laden with acorns
and here and there
         how the mighty have fallen
trunks decomposing
         the wood damp or dry as dust
covered in mould and fungi
         and lichen and overrun by ivy

Here is a hotbed of life and death
         teeming with centipede and spider
and all manner of creature
         each caught up in its own cycle
now feeding now nutrient
         but free – mercifully free –
from the arbitrary hand
         of human intervention

Here under the dense canopy
         each species has its origin
here all reach for the light
         here the very fittest survive
if only a little longer
         here all die and are reborn
here is a lesson for us all

John Lyons


A Saturday soliloquy

A Saturday soliloquy

Who writes of the unfurling
         of fresh green leaves
of cherry blossom
         of daffodils and tulips
arrayed in all their glory
         writes of the force of life
that runs through nature
         and of the elemental energy
that drives our world
         through its cycles
of loss and abundance
         of growth and decay
of moments won and lost
         of hope and all its challenges
the warmth of flesh upon flesh
         and the coldness of the boneyard

         the joining of dots
the ABC of life
         the synthesis of light
the triggers of desire
         one body that longs for another
birth and creation
         the genesis of words :
in the beginning the word
         the coupling of words
the procreation of words
         the notation of sentiments
of feelings that demand expression
         because we are nothing
without our words
         we are empty gestures
unless clothed
         in meaningful sounds
our silences – our very silences –
         teem with unspoken words

Into the intimacy
         of your inner ear
I will pour my words of love – my love – 
          as I stroke your hair
and I will raise
         a monument of affection
to your gentle beauty
         that freshly unfolds before me
I will drive my whispered words
         deep into your heart
my arms tight around you
         and not a single sigh
will escape
         my ardent attention

John Lyons

The snares of love

The snares of love

These are the snares of love
         the all-knowing eyes
those deep brown pools of light
         the lusciously soft red lips
that flicker and curl
         with every enticing smile
that quiver and purr with emotion
         the tongue darting back and forth
the teeth against which the tongue
         dashes time and time again
shaping the sweet sounds of love
         the elegant ears that peep
from beneath the flowing strands
         of her honeyed hair
the long white neck upon which
         her balletic beauty is poised
the voluptuous breasts
         the curve of her hips
the sturdy legs upon which
         she strides through her world
the cut and thrust of her hands
         that punctuate all the passion
she feels : her self
         nothing more nothing less

John Lyons

Musing on school days

Musing on school days

This is the great conundrum
         that we are cinders
ash and dust
         from a paradise of stars

We take comfort from beauty
         but beauty passes
just as rose petals fade :
         age erupts on the skin
the muscles lose their tone
         sight grows dim
and though we struggle
         the slope slips downwards
always and away
         to the wild open sea

An old man in a tattered coat
         carries a sturdy ash cane
totters past the old schoolroom
         where first lessons were learnt
—chalk on slate
         and raffia mats

Young hearts and minds
         now fill the space
their euphoria echoes
         through the air
and in the playgrounds
         their hop and skip proclaims
the innnocent assumption
         that they will live for ever

In my hand I have held
         sharp fragments of flint
and wondered at the lives of those
         who shaped these tools
The hardness of that stone
         and the softness of love
immutable stone in the warm hand
         of enduring love

John Lyons