Jackdaw

Jackdaw

What is relentless
           is the pushing forward of time
See how the colours of summer
           have faded and how already
there are anticipations
           of autumn as the days draw in

the jackdaw at my window
           has laid its eggs
its nestlings have fledged
           six hungry mouths to be fed
so that they are big and strong
           before winter sets in

John Lyons

By the river

By the river

Where shall we dig in
here by the river
by the Tower
by the Bridge
the land and the tidal river
two worlds
taste the salt in the air
sight smell touch taste
sounds of the river
weaving in and out
of our lives
soul of the city
the gift of silence
of speech
that place where minds meet
where love is voiced
and unvoiced
the verse that gives shape
to it all
sense where sense
makes sense
where night falls
effortlessly
where day rises
in your eyes

John Lyons

Lilies

Lilies

The flowers I brought you
green tight-lipped lilies

will slowly open over the coming days
Then their unblemished beauty

will be revealed in all its glory
and for a while the flowers

will hold pride of place
and be the centre of attention

when you enter the room
until one day before you know

their heads begin to droop
and the leaves curl

and one by one
the petals start to fall

John Lyons

Absence

Absent sister

There are those who deny it Mary
           that our roots go back
to the stars
           the earth’s roots too
and that we grow out of it
           and that to return to it
is no shame
           neither is it a defeat
but part of a process

Yesterday they were telling stories
           of when you were a young girl
of your innocence and also
           of your love of life
and the strength of your sweet
           innocent personality
the ease with which
           you related to everyone
they were telling stories
           and we all laughed
and remembered you
           with such affection
and I thought that though
           you have gone down
into the earth
           you are still part of us
and that only a part of you
           has gone and even then
gone is not the right word
           since you are still here
in our hearts and in our minds
           and have nowhere else to go

John Lyons

Chorus

Chorus

At dawn
           a single bird
a single song
           not a repetitive refrain
but a complex narrative
           impenetrable to me
though clear I assume
           to its audience
perhaps a cipher
           or a shorthand
an expression
           of the beauty life
and the mysteries
           that it contains
the diversity of this
           variously voiced
universe constantly
           seeking attention

John Lyons

Throwaways

Throwaways

All that endures
all that does not

frail blossom
of the blackberry

turned away from
turned towards

errors of action
and inaction

if there is a song
in you then sing

if there is silence
then keep your peace

we are whom we
discover ourselves

to be
but it takes time

in this day’s sun
there’s always room

for more love
before night falls

John Lyons

Plums

Plums

The pleasure of a plum
           ripe for the plucking
ripe for the eating
           and the moment
of biting into the soft
           sweet flesh
in August
           and a crop of plenty
jam today
           and jam tomorrow
but the moist
           fruit on the palate
in that moment
           the precise reality
of it
           as though I was
born to it
           and the memory
of the sloping garden
           the tree laden
and the shade beneath it
           the child I was then
before I knew
           what a woman
really was
           but knew my tables
and could do my sums
           and had no idea
but for the present
           wiping away
the dripping juice with

           the back of my hand

John Lyons

Topographies

Topographies

What made you think
your world would
never change
and when it changed
what made you wish
it had forever
remained the same

at sunrise the spherical
drops of dew
that cling to the grass
refract the light
creating the illusion
of a field of diamonds
such a rich sight
for any eye

this street is
a never-ending text
written and rewritten
in the mind
here the dust
of our forefathers
dropped out of sight

no fire is ever
truly extinguished
it burns on
in the mind
cinders and ash
and the stuff
of human dreams

John Lyons

Blackberry and apple

Blackberry and apple

I noticed that the blackberries
on the canes in the garden
are almost ripe for picking

Blackberry and apple pie
was one of my favourites
when I was a boy

In those days I knew
nothing of poetry
but I was an expert
when it came to judging
blackberry and apple pies

I understand that I am
the world in which I walk
can debate whether
it is nobler or not but would
honestly kill for a decent
blackberry and apple pie

John Lyons

A breath of fresh air

A breath of fresh air

It’s as though the wind
           has a mind of its own
blowing in one direction
           then another
sometimes gusting
           as it is today
rustling the leaves
           of the bushes and trees
at other times
           scarcely felt at all

Some nights it howls
           or whistles under the eaves
as though it really
           has to make itself heard
I know it’s just weather
           but it is a presence after all

There have been days
           when it has blown
so sternly in my face
           that I have had to lean
into it and hope that
           it would soon pass

Yet on other occasions
           it has egged me on
swept me forward
           almost off my feet
into the arms
           of the girl I love

John Lyons