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

C.M.R In Memoriam

When you no longer love me

                           [In Memoriam C.M.R. 1928-1994][i]

When you no longer love me
and there’s nothing left for us to harm
because there’s nothing left living
worthy of our trust

When you have left
                                   and I have left
and the musicians have gone
and the doors have been closed
and the locks have been bolted
and the candles extinguished
though the wicks smoulder on

When you no longer love me
When in the social round your eyes
on meeting mine no longer say
« Be patient my dear
             you know my heart
                          belongs to you »  

When you no longer love me
and I no longer fear you

When in the next phase
of your incessant search
                              you love another
and bare your feet
             beneath the shadow
                           of another’s sceptre
and I cheerfully dismiss
the loneliness and the bitterness
I myself will have forgotten
when you who once loved me
no longer love me

We will say
               something has been lost
Not much
                   It’s never much

Though something essential
               a cult
                          a language
                                       a ritual
will have been lost
        when you no longer love me


[i] Translated and adapted by John Lyons, from a poem written by a dear friend, Carlos Martínez Rivas.

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
           much
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
           creature

My blood is a refined red
           adding colour to my festive
persona
           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
intimately
           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

Pollination

Pollination

Petals
           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
           finally
to the desired
           pollinator