Habits of thought
         habit of action
first false friends
an harmonious
for what we share
         of the power
and beauty
         of the human
         not to say

         of the earth
voluble clay
         warm breath
that binds one
         to another
and one thing
         to another
so that
         all that can
         without losing
its charm or

         less to define
more to embody
         sense and
the natural law
         of flesh
that spark of beauty
         in the eye
the innocence
         when innocent
the centered soul
         of unselectedness

John Lyons



All that can be conveyed
         from one mind to another
the medium of thought
         that weaves a world
of the imagining
         that can capture
the living breath
         within a block of marble
that can compose a melody
         in defiance of the nightingale
that can confront
         the hollow masks of night
with dreams that do not
         quaver at first light

stalled the decadence
         of beauty by acts
of immortality
         here where the willow weeps
here among the leaves
         that conceal the fruit
life that is ripe
         for the picking

words as an agency
         of love and adoration
the roar of the clear green waters
         that flow through our history
She raises a hand
         a finger to her lips
to hush all praise

time thirsts
         for these moments
it cannot sustain
         even as it disdains
the shattered hours
         of memories
shrouded in sad shadows

the wind is mute
         it has no message
just as bees are tied
         to their labours
and every garden dies
         every rose pales
and only the body’s beauty
         survives in sacramental flesh
in faith and hope
         and love

John Lyons

Viola tricolor and more

Viola tricolor and more

For those who dote
         for those who fly the flag
of indolence
         of love-in-idleness
soft-petalled potions
         that deliver time’s comeuppance
instruments that calm
         the organs of inflammation
And so salute
         the pansy’s purple patience
if from the earth
         back down to earth
the phytochemicals
         upon which love broods
love breeds
         before all is ash

Cyclotides and peptides
         beneath moontides :
come lay in my bed
         flowers that tease the eye
and ease the heart
         antioxidant and edible
subtle colours
         to enliven the palate
even as they decorate
         the salted summer salad plate

Take a last look at lilacs
         soak in the naked fragrance
the body unlaced that quivers
         in the east wind :
here innocence is married
          to the rugged nights
of aimless desire
         in which soft blooms
are crushed
         in an iron embrace

John Lyons


A walk in the park

A walk in the park

That we live in kindred spheres
         or shall we say parallel worlds
the world of beauty in diversity
          Nature pulling out all the stops
to impress us with its strength
         and its intrinsic delicacy
This world teems with survivors
         of every species
with plants and animals and birds
         that refuse to lie down
and give up the ghost :
         the parrots high up in the beech
removed from their native
         environment screech
above the sonorous cacophony
         to make themselves heard
to and fro they dart
         spreading the gorgeous plumes
of their tail feathers in flight
         kings of the pile
commanders of an air space
         they have made their own

The grass is soft under foot
         and lurking in the distance
moving stealthily behind bushes
         the glimpse of a fox
taking in the lie of the land
         a head count of the geese
and the ducks
         and their tiny fledglings
on the banks of the river
         the fox nursing its appetite
biding its time
         which we know will come soon
under the cover of dark

This is a cohesive radiant
         wilderness illuminated
by sharp blades of light
         drenched in shadows by night
when subtly the tables are turned
         and the gentle game is changed
The patient disposition
         of days and nights
in which the maple weaves
         its red loom and the red rose
silently amasses all the minerals
         it requires to send forth its bloom

John Lyons

when finally we go to sleep to sleep

when finally
we go to sleep to sleep

when finally
         we go to sleep to sleep
we will know
         that we have grown old
we will shudder
         as the snow
melts from branches
         and bury ourselves
beneath warm blankets
         to bide our time

when finally
         we go to sleep to sleep
we will know
         that some dreams
can be spent
         once and for all
and may never return
         we will remember then
the days and nights
         when nakedness
signified a constellation
         of delights
and a consummation
         of every caprice

when finally
         we go to sleep to sleep
we will regret nothing
         not a sparrow not a starling
not a rose nor the icy scent
         of lavender
on fresh laundered sheets
         having had the thrill
of our fill
         our fill
of the thrill

when finally
         we go to sleep to sleep
we will be content
         that we gave love our all
that we covered every base
         that not a single rosebud
was left unculled
         not a single bale
remained unmade
         and not a single kiss
went astray

John Lyons

On just such a day

On just such a day

So the rain fell
         and the river rose
and ducks swam freely
         in the road

The sun that day
         was an afterthought
almost forgotten
         behind the dense cloud

A young child
         in a pushchair
waved his arms for joy
         when he saw the ducks

There was lilac blossom
         in the gardens
I spotted a red-breasted robin
         scavenging for food

and across the river
         I could see the park
with its monument
         to those who fell

in Spain in defence
         of the Republic :
so many memorials
         to so many fallen

in so many wars
         That night the moon
shone full – exemplary
         in the black sky littered

with its tiny pinpricks
         of silver starlight
and the wind changed
         blew up from the south

Anything might happen
         -or so I thought- in this world
where so often the easiest lessons
         are so hard to learn

John Lyons

Shaping the calculated chaos

Whatever else it is, poetry is a work of art, emphasis on the word work. The poem below is a reworked version of the poem posted earlier this morning. I have said before that all these poems I post are part of a work in progress, they are all work that will be reworked into a larger scheme which will also take some work if it is to work as a poem. Poetry is a work of work in which the tools of the writer are words and feelings and experience and observation and readings from the cultural context which includes the work of other poets and of other writers: in other words, it is a discipline, which is work. The reading of poetry is also work, and I am grateful to all those readers who give their time to work through the poems I put up each day. Today’s reworking was inspired by the work of Louis Zukosky, the great American objectivist poet.

the calculated

At daybreak
warm sun
invites us
to rise
to reassemble
the world

Empty eyes
longing for
the countable
above love’s

Early hours
her blithe body
beneath sheets
her breath
her stillness
her silence

of memory
of time
and place

to feel
to focus
sweet briar
hedgerow elms
a dog barking
amid shrill birdsong
fresh-blown roses
washed in dew
by the frolicking

of children
off to school
and distance
from a train
and a plane

and then
there is

John Lyons