Up by Kensal Green

Up by Kensal Green

Last night a pure white swan
           floating on the black waters
of the Grand Union Canal
           up at the top of Ladbroke Grove
as I crossed the bridge :
           and visible on the other side
out of the corner of my eye
           one of the grand side-gates
to Kensal Green cemetery
           where Harold Pinter lies still

and I remembered the many
           glasses of Chablis we once shared
and the power of his mind
           the power of his handshake
the power of his friendship
           and the frailty of all lives

John Lyons

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The power of poetry

The power of poetry

The energies of meaning
           that power the poetry
in which sounds and sense
           vie for our attention
in which nouns acquire
           the emphatic thrust
of verbs of action
           love and rose
and time and tide
           all tied to the kinetics
that accumulate past
           significances
and propel them
           into the future
a horse for a kingdom
           by any other name
and whether it is nobler
           that the rich should steal
relentlessly from the poor
           poetry that wades in
to lift the smokescreen
           to tell it as it is :
to announce and to denounce
           the felonies of greed and avarice
and the hard-heartedness that
           would demean our neighbours

What molecules of water
           perceived within
the heaving ocean !
           On a sunswept day
years ago I have seen
           trout leaping
in the crystal waters
           of an Irish river
affirming in so doing
           the endless bounty of life
and so of love and all the words
           that bind us

John Lyons

A reminder

A reminder

All night the wind
           raging against
the constructs
           of man and nature
tiles lifted from roofs
           branches torn from trees
and then at dawn
           a sudden calm
hostilities at an end
           just a warning
now back to business
           as usual

John Lyons

 

Venice : an observation

Venice : an observation

Ostentation is one thing
           beauty another
and underlying it all
            there is or is not love
For a moment
           put to one side
the glorious mosaics
           the painted ceilings
and take to the streets
           that flank the canals
wealth is personally perishable
           insofar as it does not
survive one’s own
           generation
it transcends nothing
           it merely remains
acquiring the sad dust
           of monumental history
where tourists tread
           in their ungainly droves
Possession and power
           are one thing
but it is love alone
           that drives bodies
to meet and lips
           to touch

John Lyons

Oral pleasures

Oral pleasures

The pleasure in certain words
           words acquired along the way
or as a child in school
           words that roll off the palate
but leave a delicate aftertaste
           that contain within them
all the ingredients of thought
           and feeling and calm reflection

no millefeuille pastry tastier
           than these little bundles
of compacted sound
           with their tripping vowels
and thunderous consonants
           words such as seldom
so seldom used nowadays
           and yet such a rare delight
on the sensitive tongue
           of a sensitive mind

John Lyons

Let things remain

Let things remain

Let things remain as they are
           is a vain hope since change
is of the essence as is time
           and the seasons of life
through which we move
           as long as there is breath
what I know I cannot unknow
           but I can add to my stock
of knowledge and refine
           my questions as I go
I have outgrown
           the old catechisms
in which I as schooled
           just as one step follows another
in this restless world
           in which all things change

Creation is change
           is newness by increments
in fits and starts
           And though beauty lasts
it evolves into greater depth
           enriched by age and experience
as does love that is firm
           and true

John Lyons

Summertimes

Summertimes

In my mind still
           the tall trees on either side
of the stream and the weir
           over which the waters rushed
and on the bank
           where the stream widened
there were pebbles and small rocks
           that we raised above our heads
and threw with all our might
           into the clear waters
to see who could make
           the greatest splash
It was hard thirsty work
           under the bright sky
and upstream from us
           your father stood in his boots
in the shallows casting flies
           that he had tied himself

Those were the days
           when you taught me to whistle
with two fingers in my mouth
           bending my tongue
also to clasp my hands together
           as though in prayer
and to blow through my thumbs
           into the hollow to make an owl call
The innocent days of childhood
           long gone and you too gone
though there still
           in my heart and mind

John Lyons