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

Birth of it all

Birth of it all

The simplest of words
           yes and no
and their first articulation
           who first thought
who first uttered
           and where
on which African plain
           who saw a flowing stream
and called it river
           and shared the sound
with another with others
           shaped between tongue
and teeth all manner
           of expressions

a world carried
           in the head
and voiced at will
           the mapping of all things
mobile and fixed
           and who felt that love
and sadness
           were things too
palpable as stone
           present in the light
and in the darkness
           and how speech
flourished
           a field of a thousand
flowers
           and incorporated
all that the senses
           could apprehend
language that gave
           birth to the earth

John Lyons

Taking pride

Taking pride

Take pride
           in the simplest
of things
           do what must be done
well
           strip your life back
to what matters
           to who matters
and be aware
           of the whys
and the wherefores
           of what is to be done

Respect those
           who have gone before
but do not allow yourself
           to be shackled to the past
the only respect
           that the dead deserve
is that they loved
           generously
and were true to the truth
           the moral questions
never fade
           never alter
the truth is
           non-negotiable
as is beauty
           as it love

John Lyons

I turn a blind eye

I turn a blind eye

I turn a blind eye
to your beauty
but cut roses
to bring to you

my fingers dripping
with the blood
from the wounds
in the flesh

that the thorns
tore but I turn
a blind eye
to all that

your lips your smile
the light in your eyes
the softness of your skin
the tone of your voice

the consummate calm
of each gesture
as you move
through your day

and the love
the love
I turn a blind eye
to your beauty

John Lyons