Less is more

Less is more

The mind
           the years
the memories
           stirred

out of dust
           thought
at the speed
           of light

as the synapse
           snaps
electrifying
           love

where
           have I been
all my life
           time shared

times shared
           though we
cannot agree on
           the coordinates

what of the moon
           what of Venus
all my days
           all my nights

John Lyons

Occasional

Occasional

You never know
           when a poem might happen
it doesn’t take much
           the sun may suddenly appear
through the dull grey of the day
           and lift your spirits
above the parapet
           ready to take the risk
of being shot down
           it may be a text
from the woman you love
           which reads simply

I LOVE YOU

out of the blue
           just as you were going
about your daily
           minding your own
and you think to yourself
           someday I’m going
to get that girl
           to put it in writing
it’s that simple
           blood simple

John Lyons

Untitled Willem De Kooning

De Kooning.jpg
Untitled, Willem de Kooning (1958)

Untitled Willem de Kooning

Do you see what I see
           notes for a landscape
a shore and a beach
           and a river and a sky
a path to enlightenment
           a horizon viewed
from a cliff top
           waves perceptible
in the brushstrokes
           mimicking the tensions
in the earth’s crust
           and in all our relationships
abstract cartography
           of the soul

it took a human body
           to paint this
to select the colours
           and to control the brush
it took human energy
           to express this to execute this
rather than accept
           the docility of a pacified
environment in which nature
           sits tamely on a canvas

I came here scriptless
           Willem and I searched high
and low for love
           I am an accident of birth
whatever is concealed
           in this composition
will be revealed in due course
           at its heart is the illumination
of sunlight and a brightness
           that never fades
the joy we associate
           with the loving application
of human vitality
           everywhere apparent
the long sinews
           of genitive muscle

it could be a walk
           on a Sunday afternoon
or a three-penny opera
           in which we all appear
and notice a perfectly positioned
           pinmark in each of the corners
no abstract could ever be
           so inexhaustibly
calculated which is why
           I am not a painter

John Lyons


Painting observed on 10 February 2017 during a visit to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice. Click here for an appraisal of this work.

A quiet house

A quiet house

A quiet house
and from a window
barren black trees waiting to bud
no coral or turquoise sky
just the dull grey of lingering winter

Yesterday by the railway cutting
a pigeon tossing dead leaves aside
one by one with its beak
scavenging for food under the mulch

But beauty conserved in the mind
the thought of love
that is not a perfection
much more a process
a necessary moving towards another
in which kindness and understanding
are unlimited in the give and take
of adjustment or accommodation
fingers that run through printed silk
the blue midnight of a summer shared
Life is the fugitive
and we pursue it with a passion
: to hold her and know the intimacy
of her breast and to have seen her
in times of joy and ecstasy and in sorrow
each kiss a blessing each word
a consolation

Love is neither a posture nor a demand
it sets no agenda and comes at no price
as long as it is true and mindful
Her hands reach out to me mine to her
and in that grasp
in that physical understanding
our affections are enshrined
our hearts set on a course
against the destructive surge of time
and for ourselves we needs must make
a quiet paradise in the house of our heaven

John Lyons

Love in Venice

Love in Venice

One day we will remember
           that unblemished time
when we strolled
           along these canals
peered into the calm waters
           drenched
with darkness and light
           our shadows
our reflections
           dissolving as we went

What lasts forever
           if not your beauty
your ageless smile
           bright flesh of starlight
golden threads of hair
           beneath a dark
fur-trimmed hood

Hand in hand
           the hours passed
the days and nights
           in a simplicity of love
and the unrest
           of love’s wild lips

John Lyons

Second ode

Second ode

In the dark drift of night
           you are there beside me :
we have survived the many
           moon-marked phases of our love

and many a sober truth
           has been told
many a subtle confidence
           exchanged

Not a single day
           can be detained
much less a year
           and we who have risen up

from the soil are bound
           by its inexorable rule
and yet we lie together
           adrift in the dark night

substantial in our affections
           a love deeper than the silence
of winter roses and of a beauty
           more enduring

John Lyons

Ode

Ode

I am old
           or at least
older than I was :
           wisdom and virtue
have eluded me
           all my life

my talents
           such as they are
have amounted
           to naught

my body weak
           my throat parched
how the memory
           of her kind words
on her moist lips
           and of her un-
seasoned love
           hangs heavy
in my heart

John Lyons