Magnetic alignment

floweroffrost
Flower of frost 

Magnetic alignment

The beauty of frail
            flowers of frost
on the window pane
            fine filigree of ice
that will soon melt
            under the morning sun
And I think of love
            of compassed perfection
magnetic alignment
            in which the eyes have it
a tongue-tied love
            that exceeds the night
subsists on the light of stars
            values truth and sincerity
holds the body sacred
            knowing that the flesh
source of all life
            never lies

To lie in the lee of love
            sheltered from time
from the depredation
            of thwarted dreams
that lives in shared decision
            set upon a common path
a sole direction
            that trades not in power
but in tokens of gentleness
            As the wind ruffles
the fresh leaves of trees in spring
            so love stirs the heart’s fibres
its voice never fades
            never fails

John Lyons

How it goes

mood
Mood, John Lyons (oil on canvas)

How it goes

A poet works
            with eyes and ears
listening and watching for
            whatever is worthy of note
and for the silence
            that sustains it all

A poet sees and tells
            such as it is
the lie of the land
            the clocks that tick
the hand that leans
            out of the boat
to trail fingers
            in the smooth sea

A poet wipes the salt
            from his lips
before he kisses
            the love of his life
He preserves
            her beauty in lines
that will reach
            beyond
the outer edges
            of time

But a poet must not
            be betrayed :
to do so is to break
            the universe in two

John Lyons

The numbers game

The numbers game

Birth is an instance
            a number after which the ball rolls
one of six but eight in total
            lived at seven but celebrated
three on the twelfth month
            The numbers and what
they amount to
            hours days years
children born
            flights across the Atlantic
How many times in love
            and who now
would want to be
            by my side

I painted her portrait

            decent enough
before she ran off
            with another
Age will not alter
            the lines on that face
and the beauty of her eyes
            will always remain

Poetry too

            measured by numbers
and yet it may halt
            the onslaught of time
so that Lesbia’s beloved sparrow
            will live forever
and Caesar’s resounding victories
            be ever sung

John Lyons


Note: the Roman poet, Gaius Valerius Catullus (c. 84 – c. 54 BC), wrote a lament for the death of his lover’s pet sparrow.

Morning song

Morning song

Is there
            any quality in life
greater than
            human gentleness
the voice
            the hands
the eyes
            the lips
the consoling gesture
            the soft breath
of lovers
            who take their pleasure
together
            time and time again
faithful
            as the day is long

John Lyons

 

A sense of gratitude

A sense of gratitude

A change in the weather
            drives the gulls inland
once again
            twenty or thirty of them
soaring in wide circles
            above the rooftops

High pressure and the trees
            almost perfectly still
while I sit and read
            and watch and meditate
on the way things are
            thinking and feeling
my way
            through the morning

Reject no one
            and debase nothing
Zukofsky wrote
            : wise words
And I turn my eyes
            to explore the face of the sky

We made a pact
            in Southwark Tavern
to which I hoped
            she would adhere
but those were days
            in which the sun shone
no sign of cloud or rain
            no threat of thunder

Luck has a way of turning
            as we know
though love built on luck
            never lasts
and our love was always
            unequal

Beyond desire our drives
            were different
but for a while we shared
            the very best of ourselves
and for those days
            for that part of the journey
for those happy times
            I give thanks

John Lyons

 

The glory

The glory

The glory of what it is to live
            without pride or prejudice
but to fill the lungs with living air
            to be energised by all
that existence has to offer
            to give and receive love
in every shade
            and to forgive others
as we are bound
            to forgive ourselves

Composed not just
            from the dust of stars
but from their light
            which we transform
into daily life
            the meeting of body
and mind and the web
            of words and associations
that we create within
            the intimacy of our souls
the periodic table
            of all we value
of times and places
            and names and melodies
and kisses never to be
            forgotten

John Lyons

I dream you from afar – Jules Supervielle

supervielleJules Supervielle (1884-1960) was born into a French-Basque family living in Uruguay. Aged ten, he was sent to Paris, where he completed his education at the Sorbonne. For the rest of his life, he divided his time between Uruguay and France. He was friends with André Gide, Paul Valéry and Jacques Rivière, and in 1923, he met the Austrian poet, Rainer Maria Rilke, a crucial influence on his later work. The poem below is from Oublieuse mémoire, published in 1949.


I dream you from afar

I dream you from afar, and, close by, it’s all the same,
But always you remain precise, without response,
Under my calm eyes you become music,
As with the glance, I catch you by ear.

You know how to be in me as though before my eyes,
So much your heart is tendered, melodious,
And I hear you pounding at my secret temples
As you flow into me and so disappear.

Translation by John Lyons

Je vous rêve de loin

Je vous rêve de loin, et, de près, c’est pareil,
Mais toujours vous restez précise, sans réplique,
Sous mes tranquilles yeux vous devenez musique,
Comme par le regard, je vous vois par l’oreille.

Vous savez être en moi comme devant mes yeux,
Tant vous avez le cœur offert, mélodieux,
Et je vous entend battre à mes tempes secrètes
Lorsque vous vous coulez en moi pour disparaître.