For the sake of words

For the sake of words

to achieve what is possible
           in words and in actions
a little light in the darkness
           a little sense out of the tangle of words
it is madness not to be drawn to beauty
           and wilful cowardice
not to be drawn to the truth
           there are many ways in which to see
but most important when seeing
           is that it be an act of love

to see through the wiles of winter
           to know that summer will come again
that the cool winds will fade
           that the energy of sunlight
will once again ruddy my complexion
           the slothful mind will stir from the dust
that tone of light
           full of remembrance

from a pile of burning leaves smoke rising
           pear apple peach and plum in abundance
the infinite kindness of his hands
           that drew roses up from the soil into the light
the appetite for beauty never died nor for love
           see how the evening cools as the sun goes down
the silent air full of the hum of mosquitoes
           words that appear to glide along a sentence
cuckoo song and a full moon
           a fitting end to the day

John Lyons

A man and a woman

A man and a woman

a man and a woman
           of one mind
and in that mind
           a small share of history
a common thread
           of days and nights
how darkness envelops
           the room where they sleep
the room in which
           they will wake
the blackness shrinking
           time and space
so that they are transformed
           into a beacon of love
but one which burns unseen
           through the dark age
of the night :
           storms may blow
harsh winds beat
           against the window panes
rain or snow
           however inclement the weather
they will lie there
           a man and a woman
of one mind
            and when day breaks
they may go
           their separate ways
tackle their separate tasks
           work their way
through their separate day
           until night returns
and they with it
           back to the home
a man and a woman
           of one mind

John Lyons

Observation

Observation

The marvel is
           that this dead world
that we have all around us
           will suddenly spring to life
Yesterday I shivered
           under a frosty sky
Out on a Hampstead street
           I heard the caw of a magpie
and looking up watched
           as it abandoned its nest
high up in the bare branches :
           it flew south-south-east
heading for the city centre
           Too early for any eggs
to have been laid
           perhaps it had merely
paid a call to ensure
           that every twig and blade 
was in order in preparation
           for the new clutch
I thought too
           of the homing instinct
that such birds have
           such a powerful tool
in the preservation
           of the species
and how birds
           in their own way
are such masters
           of time and space

John Lyons

Nakedness

Nakedness

Only the human species
           knows what it is
to be naked
           to get naked
to have knowledge
           of one’s body
or of another’s
            : an intimacy
of thought and feeling
           so common and yet so private
the making of love
           just as a world is made
a love-creation
            the rich cluster of charms
in the human body
           congress the primeval process
a love-life fed with language
           with words and whispers
into her slumbering ear
           and in loving we bear
the ultimate witness
           to ourselves
gestures pared back
           to the essential
so as to reach the intrinsic truth
           buried within us
to fall in love
           is to rise up

John Lyons

Point and counterpoint

Point and counterpoint

Through the mind’s eye
           a world captured and contained
the beating blood of memory
           of sunrise and sunset
blue skies and tempestuous seas
           it’s all there
every perception
           every failure to perceive
a mind sometimes lost
           within the space of its own space
genuflections before Venus
           scorn for the purple moon
the dreary rise and fall
           of the tides

so many worlds within the world
           all held together by love’s syntax
such that a feather
           could knock me down
sweet solace of love
           beyond the lace
the nakedness of another world
           into which I am ushered
the single mind
           of perishable beauty
a tongue that mimics my murmurs
           with gleeful abandon

I carry this world within my head
           I carry this love within my heart
I am my own dishevelled destiny
           a floating consciousness
within which roses and nightingales
           and swallows and peonies
clamour for my attention
           the inventing head
and that never-ending voice
           the voice of all felt things
of every affirmation
           and every doubt
love of all love
           that longs to feel
her burnt breath on my cheek
           to light a taper
within the cathedral of her soul
           to be her celebrant for all time
to ride the muscle
           of that turbulent sea
point and counterpoint
           to her eternal sighs

John Lyons

A world filtered

A world filtered

a world filtered
           through so many minds
a world expressed
           by so many tongues
an inflected beauty
           caught at moments
down the ages
           the rise and fall
of the wind
           rain or shine
the seasons
           that blow hot and cold
the face of the earth
           constantly renewed
a blackbird seen
           through a poet’s window
the long shadow
           of the once proud rose
put to the sword
           now drooping in the dust

everywhere
           the thrust of time is felt
urging us on and holding us back
           the lucidity of its to and fro
the soft patter of seconds
           that whiles away our days
the frail tissue of memories
           all that we hold dear
all that we love
           all that we cannot live without
the beauty of a sunset
           that slips below the horizon
and at night the incandescence
           of Venus above a watery moon

Look then to a love
           that transcends it all
press her flesh to your flesh
           obliterating all but the moment
poetry is the sacrament of praise
           love her and praise her forever

John Lyons

Pigeons

Pigeons

a flock of white and grey pigeons
           perhaps thirty or more
flying in low circles back and forth
           over a piece of open ground
close to the railway line
           and as they veer into the sunlight
the white pigeons
           are suddenly illuminated
and for an instant their wings
           are the wings of angels
bearers of the holy spirit
           testimony to the beauty
of creation on this frosty
           afternoon

and all around me
           are signs and signatures
the greeting in an infant’s eyes
           two lovers on a park bench kissing
a desiccated rose that has struggled
           through the winter months
to remain attached to its stem
           the pace of life that goes on and on
and the hope I harbour
           that she will never let me down

John Lyons