Your guess is as good

Your guess is as good

Generations of the imagination
           manifest in physical expression
or in the parallel world
           developed intimately in the mind
when time was less of a burden
           figures of speech or drawn
on the surface of rocks
           to provide a narrative
of human consciousness
           the eye the ear
the hand the mouth
           light in the darkness
sound in the silence
           choice and shape
all to create
           the necessary voice

A rose is a syllable
           its beauty caught
in the web of language
           but think of this :
who was it and where
           did a human being
first sit down and speculate
           on the meaning
of the surrounding world
           who was the first to dream
and to project
           and who was it that decided
that the passage of life
           was worth recording
who brought that necessary focus
           to bear on the fine detail
the nuances of emotion
           the dynamics of desire
and all relationships
           and how did the pain
of loneliness
           ever begin to plague the heart
and to what do we owe
           the gift of love ?

John Lyons


The language of creation

The language of creation

From the Big Bang
           the creation of mathematics
one thing after another
           yes and no
on and off
           fusion and fission
a universe seeded
           with galaxies
that live and die
           just like us
that consume energy
           as they light up the void
around them
           that give birth to beauty
the thoughtless rose
           the terrifying tiger
your name and mine
           and words words words
that Shakespeare fashioned
           into the dramas of us all
: the cosmos has a tongue
           and we speak its language
for better or worse
           here and now

John Lyons

Words alone

Words alone

Although I’m the writer
           I know that sometimes
the words says themselves
           and I have no control
they spill out of me
           with an energy
and a will of their own
           and I read them
subsequently to try
           to understand what
they’re getting at
           and sometimes I succeed
but mostly I fail
           it really is that hit and miss

Other times
           I’m a harvester
I plough through fields
           of words culling
here and there
           a word or phrase
that strikes my fancy
           and some of these words
have pedigree or form
           a rose a tiger a grain of salt
a labyrinth shaped
           by blocks of prose

I remember the blossom
           blowing across the lawns
of my youth
           the fruit that hung heavy
on the branch
           and clear summer nights
seeded with stars
           that never slept

John Lyons

The power of one word


The power of one word

I have a mental picture
           of the poet Frank O’Hara sitting
in his apartment
           on a glorious New York summer’s day
He’s wearing a crisp
           white shirt and new sneakers
and is nervously tapping his fingers
           on his desk in time
to a phrase from Rachmaninoff
           that has been running
through his head
           ever since he woke

Through an open window
           he can also hear the city making
its usual dusty cacophony
           he also has an eye on the clock
: the friend who is giving him
           the ride to the beach is late
and he has so been
           looking forward to the trip

Just then the doorbell rings
           and at once
he is overcome
           by the sudden surge of love
in his heart and struggles
           to get to his feet
fearing he might drown
           in the emotion

John Lyons

Love’s destinations

Love’s destinations

Let’s not talk
of method

or madness
let’s just be

you and I
boy and girl

who moved
along love’s

London to Paris

Berlin to Budapest
Venice to Vienna

let’s not talk
of beginnings

or of ends
but of ever

and a day
and of the special

breath that never
left us

that held us

body and soul
for all time

John Lyons

Time’s petty pace

Heredia_partil view
Stained glass, (oil on canvas)

Time’s petty pace

Tomorrow and tomorrow
           etched in the mind
the word that appeared nightly
           above that building
on the corner
           of Mariahilferstrasse

Neon strips
           letter by letter
illuminating the word
           until complete
and so it remains
           for a minute or so
before vanishing
           into the dense darkness
of the Hapsburg capital
           only to repeat

At times
           thick white cloud
hangs from the horns
           of the moon

Tomorrow and tomorrow
           time creeps its petty pace
until first light of day
           and the deed is done

John Lyons

Watchers of the skies

Watchers of the skies

Watchers of the skies
           we look for planetary movements
that may herald better times
           bringing peace and consolation
to our loveless lives
           and so alleviate the turmoil
in our thankless day to day
           a benevolent moon
to announce
           the entrance of joy
into our favoured house
           our hopes in the ascendant
and a firmament filled
           with the sweet conjunction
of heavenly bodies
           aligned in perfect harmony

John Lyons

The lie of the land

The lie of the land

How silence may be
           the absence of all sound
or the absence of words
           a moment of peace or of tension
of loving or longing
           perhaps thoughtful
perhaps empty and endless
           the topographies of silence
how silent the beauty
           of the rose or of the heather
when it is in full bloom
           in the hills outside Dingle

And so to footsteps
           words that follow
in the footsteps of others
           paths of meaning
stepping from one word
           to another
stepping stones
           along life’s trails
my father’s words
           my mother’s
words for no reason
           other than
that they need to be spoken
           or to be withheld
as befit the silence
           they inhabit

I play on words
           I play with words
I make believe words
           in this make-believe world
this world of words
           and love too
is a make-believe word
            its syntax follows
the lie of the land
           the lay of the heart

John Lyons

The wisdom of owls

The wisdom of owls

O for the wisdom of owls
           who keep their counsel
minding no other business
           than their own and
silent but for the heavy slap
           of their wings on the night air
silent except for the times
           when their nests are under threat
silent except for the times
           when they choose to sing

John Lyons

In time’s sad passing

In time’s sad passing

Drove from Bray
           down to Wicklow
a thick coat of snow
           lying across the land
heaped high on the sides
           of the road and in smaller piles
perched precariously
           on the branches of trees

Winter had turned this part
           of the emerald isle white
so that the sheep
           in the rolling hills
were hard to distinguish
           from the ground they trod

I knew that my aunt
           whom I’d left hours earlier
in a hospital bed in Tralee
           would be gone before
the next spring came
           and the landscape
reappeared in full bloom
           I thought of the thin veins
on her hands and her forehead
           visible through the pale skin
and I recalled the shallow breath
           that softened her voice
so that she seemed already
           to have become half shadow
and yet her sharp blues eyes
           were as full of life as ever

John Lyons