Pièce de resistance

Pièce de resistance

How we bring beauty
     into our lives
these tulips
     yellow and purple
with their long green
     leaves and stems
a beauty grown
     out of the the earth
brought into the home
     to embellish the day
and as the days pass
     their beauty will
slowly fade
     and they will be
returned to the earth :
     the pursuit of beauty
may be forever but
     only love can resist
the passing of time
     only love

John Lyons

The hovering hawk

The hovering hawk

In your reading
           you come across a phrase
that captures
           your imagination
that pleases you
           how the body is light
how in its youth
           it dances and sways
to life’s rhythms
           and as you mature
you become aware
           that you are the fruit
of your own making
           you lift a finger
you get on with it
           you make your bed
and you lie in it
           a hawk hovering
above a field of barley
           has seen something
I would not have seen
           and so it hangs in the air
for a purpose
           and I hold the idea of it
in my head
            and in these words

John Lyons

On Crayford Marshes

On Crayford Marshes

Amid the marshes tall pylons stand
           in fields where sheep graze :
adjacent to these pastures
           a field filled with giant bulrushes
more than you could hope to count
           The risk of flooding
has saved the land
           from development

Here is home
           to black-tailed godwit
to snipe and teal and dunlin
           to little grebe and redshanks
to lapwings and herons
           here too proud kingfishers
have established their domain
           and on the banks
of the channels and gulleys
           water voles abound

John Lyons

 

The bare bones

The bare bones

There is dark matter
           and there is the beauty
of flesh on the bare bones
           the one sustains the other
We call fish the flower
           of the sea and judge all else
by the rose standard
           Spring is upon us
and notice how the birds
           have changed their tune

There is nothing abstract
           about life or poetry
and all things point
           to an origin and to an end
the process is what lies
           in between : displacement
and the acquisition
           of a certain knowledge

And talk of timeless
           means for the time being
the bird in the hand
           the bare bones of love
dark matter
           for the time being

John Lyons

 

Subterfuge

Subterfuge

Perhaps to live abroad
           is to wear
a perpetual disguise
           to be a passenger
in an alien identity :
           but then there is the soul
that deep sense of self
           that brooks no deception
that stares out deeper
           than any mirror
that looks into the heart
           and knows why the rose
has been forsaken
           for the begonia
the acorn
           for the coconut palm

John Lyons

Make much of love

Make much of love

Failure is commonplace
           and most of us fail
mostly
           though we may enjoy
minor or temporary success
           from time to time

We know where it will all end
           under leaves and grass
under snow when the weather is inclement
           or when the wind and the rain
rattle the eaves
           where we once lived

Love is the cornerstone
           it is the common thread
more beautiful in its day
           than any rose :
it is the root
           of all life all human life

Defy the slings and arrows
           defy the thorns
and make much of it
           indeed make the most of it

John Lyons


There is an absolutely exquisite poem in the Collected Poems of Charles OlsonOnly the Red Fox, Only the Crowthat should be read by all who love poetry.


 

Herringbone poem

Herringbone poem

Tweel twill tweed—
           think of the jacket
I once wore
           the rough comfort
of its wool weave
           think of herringbone
and a school of fish darting
           through clear
coastal waters
           the pulse of life
expressed in a single
           powerful flex
of the muscle :
           that the fish swim
in a grid should come
           as no surprise
the distance between them
           the same
as the jump length
           of their prey

John Lyons

Impossible question

Impossible question

 Was it all for this
       that the fairest river
blent its murmurs
       to my cradle songs
that alder and oak
       and sycamore shades
sent forth a voice
       that flowed ceaselessly
along my dreams
       made music
and composed my thoughts
       giving me thus
amid the fret
       of human dwellings
a frank foretaste
       of calm
and of the love
       that was to come ?

John Lyons

Cosmology

Cosmology

Stars in the crucible
       of endless space
the forge of our souls
       our image and likeness
the realities
       of which we dream
fashioned from distant
       yet homely energies
earth time
       space time
all so disparate
       and yet so cohesive

Tenderness
       from the fiery furnace
the capacity to love
       latent in every atom
that reaches out
       for another
living communities
       of the palpitating heart
held warmly
       in the mind

John Lyons

 

Mexican night

Mexican night

That distant night in Mexico
           the main square in Mérida
where I sat alone
           on a bench
in the intense heat
           and at my feet
a carpet of tiny spiders
           the bustle and the silence
the clack clack clack of a classroom
           full of young women
learning to type
           in the silence 

And the day before

           down by the bus station
a thousand or more birds
           on the wires
all waiting to depart
           just as I was
the memory still warm
           waiting to depart

John Lyons