After the storm

After the storm

The optical illusion
           of the rainbow
after the storm
           where the sky
leans into the land
           and all of us so generous
in our will to believe
           that somewhere
beyond the horizon
           lies more gold than
we could ever count
           we who live and die
feeding on the air
           that fills our lungs

Let the rains fall
           they will not last
forever and light
           always rules the day
My mind sits behind
           the hollow of my eyes
and there the words
           are formed that celebrate
life’s mysterious beauty
           I count my days
just as I count my steps
           they bring me closer
to you and to all
           that I want
the time we spend together
           a small fortune

John Lyons

Beyond the new moon

moon
Moon, John Lyons

Beyond the new moon

Beyond the new moon
           falling
oak leaves and acorns :
           a child in her mother’s arms
smiled at me and beyond that smile
           a life I will never see

As the sun rose
           I heard pigeons calling
one to another
           but not to me
Temperatures have dipped
           not quite enough
to form a frost
           but that will come too
and the long summer days
           will be forgotten

We’re into the last
           of blue September skies
and beyond these
           who knows what winds
will blow
           or when

I want to winter in the warmth
           of her arms
out of harm’s way
           These words
these falling leaves have left me
           utterly defenceless
Words set in white space
           in convivial silence
that’s poetry
           that’s all I have

John Lyons

What goes around

red patch
Red patch, John Lyons (oil on canvas)

What goes around

I was a child here
           played here
gathered conkers
           in the woods here
did battle with
           my friends here
won so many games here
           and ran across the fields
till I was blue
           in the face

life is always as
           it promises to be
unexpected
           and the seasons
teach us inevitably
           that what goes around
comes around 
           and so it does here

John Lyons

Ramping it up

forbidden
Brown on yellow, John Lyons (oil on canvas)

Ramping it up

After a good night’s sleep
           I wake slowly
creep into my day
           one of light work
and gentle exercise
           always watching my diet
weight loss being
           the principle here

poets are no different
           from anyone else
and keeping the body
           in shape is essential
enough of this free verse
           I want to have a figure
as tight as a sonnet
           and as trim as a bird

John Lyons

Bermondsey dust

Bermondsey dust

Last night
           a full fat
orange moon
           low in the east
and today
           a broad blue sky
and the leaves
           slowly
being stripped
           of their colour
autumn rust
           but that moon
fat and generous
           its face pocked
with craters
           and age is nothing
is irrelevant
           so much will
outlive me
           why should I
worry
           I have a roof
over my head
           and somebody
loves me
           tonight I shall
clean my shoes
           and shake off 
the dust that has settled
           on the leather
Bermondsey dust
           that is mingled
with the dust
           of all those poets
that have gone
           before me

John Lyons

 

All the world

St Leonard's Shoreditch
St Leonard’s, Shoreditch

All the world

All from
      the same earth
clay formed
      in our image
and likeness
      the willows
the swans
      the geese waddling
by the river’s edge
      the church where 
actors are buried
      in the yard

all from
      the same stage
time-honoured
      in the fading
tombstones
      these too were lovers
were sons
      and daughters
players all from
      the same earth
the damp grass littered
      with autumn leaves
all from
      the same earth

John Lyons


There has been a church on this site since medieval times. It is situated near the site of The Theatre, England’s first purpose-built playhouse, built in Shoreditch in 1576, and is the burial place of several Elizabethan actors.

Roasting chestnuts

Roasting chestnuts

As I step off the bus
      I notice on the verge
of the woods
      the spiky cupules
swollen with fruit
      hanging in abundance
on the sweet chestnut
      and I remember
the days of picking
      in other autumns
long long ago
      the fields I crossed
as I made my way to school
      my shoes damp with the dew
and later in the day
      the nuts roasted
on the open coals
      salted and shared
by the family
      by the fireside

John Lyons

Spring cleaning

Spring cleaning

Last night the wind
           so fierce
and rain lashing
           at my windows
woke me
           in the early hours
a storm from the west
           shaking the trees
tearing at the leaves
           and water seeping in
through the skylight
           and this morning
the branches still
           agitated waving
wildly and the birds
           curiously silent
foxes gone to ground
           a rehearsal
for harsher days to come
           out with the old
a spring cleaning
           held every autumn
to renew the face
           of the earth

John Lyons