Black stone upon a white stone

Black stone upon a white stone

I’ll die in Paris when it’s pouring with rain
On a day whose memory I cherish.
I’ll die in Paris (it makes no odds to me),
On maybe a Thursday like today, in autumn.

Yes, a Thursday because today, Thursday
O what dull verse. . . my upper arms won’t respond,
And never like today have I about-faced
To see myself all alone, the years I’ve known.

César Vallejo has died, beaten by
One and all, though he did them no harm.
They beat him hard with a stick
Hard too with a rope: his upper arms;
The Thursdays; the rain and loneliness;
The journeys, all bear witness. . .

César Vallejo (1892-1938)

Translation by John Lyons


A poem by any other name

A poem by any other name

I see the gulls circling
in the grey sky
above the copse on the hill
their wide wings fully stretched
they glide effortlessly
round and round and round
but settle nowhere

To see them so far inland
creates a sense of foreboding
signalling perhaps a sudden change
in the weather or a storm at sea :
in these parts they are interlopers
harmless enough but not welcome

We are at the year end
when the season of joy peters out
and we must ready ourselves
for the long haul into spring
with the threat of ice and snow
or any other natural disaster

What life teaches us is to resist
to be open to change but not
to allow it to defeat us
to cling to hope
and where there’s love
to value and nurture it
so that it never dies :
there is nothing else

John Lyons

A belated Christmas card

A belated Christmas card

I’ve seen the tree
           in the Rockerfeller Plaza
mine is smaller
and its decorations
           are sparse
but it is green
           as Christmas should be
and it can grow
           in the imagination
since it has roots
           and needs to be watered
and fed like any living

My blood is a refined red
           adding colour to my festive
           and there are fluffy white clouds
trailing in the distance
           under a flickering sun

I wish I had thought
           of the phrase
the lipstick of life
           but I didn’t
nevertheless I saw you
           the last time you took it
from you bag
           and applied it to your lips
           and when you’d finished
you looked so divine
           I thought I might kiss you
forever but I did not
           because I didn’t want
to disturb
           your perfect beauty

John Lyons

You do the maths

You do the maths

Number lies at the heart
           of a countable universe
Three white dogs
           playing tag in the park
seen with my own two eyes
           Even infinity is infinitely
countable and galaxies
           have fingers that point
to other constellations
           and every planet
is a matter of arithmetic
           just as every sparrow
in the field and every hair
           on every head
and every gullible fool
           who ever fell in love

John Lyons

A live worm

A live worm

After the rain
           I see a large thrush
tugging at a patch of grass
           to extract a live worm
that the moisture has driven
           to the surface

So one life feeds another
           and I move about the world
with my eyes open
          harbouring what Olson called
the root curiosity
           and there’s so much to see
so much with which
           to nourish the senses

I walk rhythmically
           but constantly on the lookout
for what has changed
           for what is the same
and for all the differences
           It rains often here
but no two rains
           are ever the same
no two birds
           no two clouds
no two paths
           no two stars

and the perplexed mind settles
           for what sustenance it can get
as it moves on through the days
           through the nights
And in the end my hopes
           my dreams my fears
are of no consequence
           provided there is love

John Lyons

The above text has been modified from an earlier post



           modified leaves
that surround a flower’s
           reproductive parts
Brightly coloured
           seductively shaped
organic lingerie
           worn under the cover
of protective scales
           until the time is ripe
at which point
           the scales fall away
and all is revealed
to the desired

Bluebells growing

Bluebells growing

Bluebells growing
in the quiet dust
the heavy scent
of ferns rising up
from the forest loam

and at night
a shallow moon
now that the solstice
has passed

Soon the scarlet roses
will come into bloom
and the air will carry
their fragrance
far and wide

Youth is ending
but age is a blessing
and love is the radiance
that fills this earth
with grace and there is
no greater mystery

John Lyons

My nativity

My nativity

What we celebrate
           is the ability to draw breath
consciously and to utter
           words in praise
of the beauty of life
           and the dignity of the self
in all that matters
           and in which love
is the bedrock
           of justice and peace

Though I may twist and turn
           in the early hours
asking myself when will it end
           I never really want it to stop
I mean the pulse
           that drives my blood
to write these words
           and to delight in acts
of knowingly being
           I’m so much more
than the sum of my particulars
           behind which I may be said
on occasions to hide
           but the warm vapours 
rise from my mouth
           as I step out
into this frosty morning
           anxious to salute
the first questions of the day
           But let me tell you this first :
I am completely allowable and equal
           to every act of love
if only you know
           where to find me

John Lyons


In praise of Wallace

In praise of Wallace

Some say that he’s no poet
           but what do they know
he is succinct and always
           to the point
and shadows run freely
           through his verse
and the heavens are a backdrop
           to the endless mountains
Men and women live
           in his lines and he observes
more than a blackbird
           will ever see

He hears the strumming
           of a poor pale guitar
but he is generous
           in his appraisal
because he knows
           that things are as they are
and so he gives them a voice
           and poetry is the subject
of his poetry
           and his life’s summation
the flesh the bone
           the dirt the stone

In Margravine
           where the squirrels romp
and crows fill the air
           with their raucous song
and the tombs sink deeper
           into the earth while nature
flourishes all around
           and young lovers walks by
without batting an eye
           and not so much as a sigh

John Lyons

A question of words

A question of words

Of course the universe
           is anything but silent
and yet nature
           has contrived
on this earth at least
           to create spaces and moments
of absolute peace and quiet
           places of solitude
in which the mind may graze
           on its own feelings
and be thankful for the lack
           of intrusion or interference

And the question always arises
           why words why the voice
why the web of language
           that seems to hold our world
together and without which
           we might cease to exist
such as we are : verbal creatures
           who build lives around clusters
of utterances some superficial
           other binding to the core
in which we tell our truth
           and shame the devil we know
and make vows upon which our very lives
           our very loves depend

John Lyons