Year end

Year end

Renewal of the bones
           and the flesh
reaffirmation of prime causes
           what moves the soul
the tender fabric of which
           you are made
source of your moral blood
           purpose of universe

Know yourself artfully
           in dance
in the melody of your movements
           your mind a place of kindness
a sanctuary for the misbegotten
           value the power
of your breathing word
           admire the methodology of the rose
in its simple delight at being
           a glorious petalled presence
and standard bearer
           for impeccable beauty

John Lyons

The death of history

The death of history

We need to know our day
           feel our way through it
until we come to the night
           there is no passion in the moon
it is what we bring with us
           or fail to bring
the precision of love
           that knows its season
and the order of its duties
            We could stare at the moon
forever and accomplish nothing
           it’s in the decanted hours
of the day that our fortunes
           will be made
our bodies dispersed
           through field and city
chasing the arc
           of our ambition
but life is not repetition
           it is advancement
through cobalt blue
           and copper residues
to each his or her north star
           Love composes us
it’s what we’re made of
           and what we chiefly make
busied as we are in the hive
           of our affections

Aphrodite gone to ground
           Venus alone in her bed
night of wind and rain
           and the soil of secret growth
in which a rose suddenly unfolds
           an assertion of beauty
on a scale that taunts the planets
           what Homer saw in his blindness
that drove him to sing of love
           as being above all things
and the only symmetry
           worth fighting for
love synonymous —after all—
            with the death of history

John Lyons

Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay

Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay

I remember the brash light
           streaming through
the branches of the lime trees
           the crisp air that felt
almost too good
           in the lungs
the soft sunshine that spread
           a silver sheen
across the endless River Plate

I remember the slow motion
           of the people who seemed
to be in no hurry
           veterans of history
content to treat time
           with contempt
In many ways
           it was like a film set
in which nothing happens
           or is always about to happen
or has just happened
           and we missed it

I remember the silhouettes
           of the lighthouse and the ruins
of the convent of San Francisco
           when darkness fell—
the chill stillness of the night
           broken by the sound
of distant laughter
           an echo from a different age

And I remember other things
           I’d rather forget

John Lyons

Generation

Generation

Father mother
           daughter son
each in his
           or her season
proper to them
           root of the earth
composed of universe
           filtered through fields
of emerald green
           living on the edge of life
that cradle to grave
           precipice

time domesticated
           if only for a time
life to be led not endured
           all abstraction torn down
love an act of touch
           of reaching out
with the sympathetic soul
           the heart of one’s self
to another
           thoughtful
we are after all
           if only for a while
breathing bones
           the tissue of mineral
sexed so as to spring
           from the land
from cultivated soil
           our mouths crammed
with culture
           of one sort or another

Yes she is my flower
           my chosen one
whom I raise to my lips
           whose body I draw
close to mine
           whose head rests
on my breast
           one day we will all
be raw rock
           but until that time
before the shadows descend
           we are bound to love
take comfort
           from the brilliance of flesh
love that is
           both cause and effect

John Lyons

Love song

Love song

a man and a woman
           is not a dream
is not a figment
           bound by stars
it is a love path
           that brooks
no betrayal
           is honest
as the day is long
           a man and a woman
is not an appetite
           hunger soon passes
thirst too
           love never

there may be
           a fragrant mutuality
a bonding of pheromones
           there may even be
a web of enigma
           such that the lustre
is never lost
           the mystery
of attraction
           never actually resolved
to the point
           of disillusionment

a man and a woman
           is a distance halved
courage and fidelity
           a raiment of truth
that no dance can undo
           desire that does not
weaken with time
           but stands strong
in the mind of both
           a man and a woman
is an ability to measure
           footsteps and survive
the burial of voices
           days and nights
and sea land and air
           make a man and a woman
only the treachery
           of their own hand
can unmake them
           God help them

An image of childhood

An image of childhood

perhaps not words
           but a mind built
from sensations
           from feelings
from silent experiences
           from gestures
from acts of kindness
           of gentleness and affection
an innocence valued
           speechless and yet
expressive
           brief light

brief summer
           all that may be forgotten
but never is
           the quiet pulse of trust
of belief in others
           belief in another
simple numbers
           one two and three
a home with a small garden
           perhaps trees to climb
roses in a bed
           centre of the lawn
the summer light
           caught on the fruit
peach and plum
           and apple and cherry
a mind shaped
           by emotion
if words at all
           words that caress
affirmation
           in lieu of challenges

a wholeness
           in which identities
are prized
           above knowledge
voices nurtured
           language suffused
with understanding
           and love
no fear of eternity
           no fear

John Lyons

Respite

Respite

Out onto the quiet streets
           clear pale blue sky
and lower temperatures
           the winter respite
during which
           crocuses have appeared
on the edges of the woodland
           trees covered in dense ivy

A moment for reflection for time
           with the solitude of the self
that restless inner voice
           full of temperament
and belief and hope
           the thoughtful mind
that moves through
           the transparent air
through the barometric
           pressures of time
and space and place
           a sense of movement
through the stillness
           of the constructed world
unconsciously conscious
           a human shadow
unseen unheard full of
           compassion for this world
of particles that would
           split the atom

John Lyons

Upbringing

Upbringing

Body
           air
forms
           and images

born between
           mountains
by a bay
           in the west
looking out
           across the sea
at a point where
           the river enters

grew up
           between gorse
and heather
           the taste
of wild honey
           on her lips

midnight
           held no fears
but the aching
           dawn was
by all accounts
           unbearable
the sun that
           scrutinized
her every
           movement

happiness
           seen as so many
blades of coarse grass
           there where
the withering wind
           blew in bringing
chill winter clouds
           the night fires
kindled under
           hopeless stars
a name
           and no more

John Lyons

The way it goes

The way it goes

Words make us
           they are the flesh
of our hopes
           our dreams
our expectations
           nothing exists
without articulation
           not the sea
not the shore
           not the salmon
rising in the river
           nor the red rose
that blooms
           in your garden
and each day
           each moment
is the creation
           of that moment
and the love
           we make
we remake
           time and time
again because
           life is always
one step ahead
           of history
and so I long
           for your kiss
as though
           I had never
been kissed
           before : long
for the soft curve
           of your body
within my grasp

we never tire of roses
           much less of love
life is eternal
           composition
love its one true
           expression
words merely
           the medium

John Lyons

The essential poem

The essential poem

The essential poem
           one that relates
the clouds and the trees
           to an earth that would
otherwise be barren
           the words that enter
into the very dynamics
           of what it is to exist
and to be breathingly alive
           attuned to the beauties
of light that plays
           on the calm sea surface
or the breeze that ruffles
           the leaves of the forest

words that make sense
           words that draw colours
together and moves shapes
           into a moving composition
in which the subtle harmonies
           outlast the darkest thunder

the lover chooses words
           out of desire out of hunger
for the opulence of flesh
           upon willing flesh
and a kind of fulfillment
           that makes sense of the horizon
and the movement of planets
           of wheat raised from the soil
that feeds the necessitous soul :
           the essential poem is a song
condensed from loving energies
           informed by lip and finger
a tactile clairvoyance that knows
           from the softness of her breast
that life without love
           is utter desolation

John Lyons