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.

Self-portrait

my life
Self-portrait, John Lyons (oil on canvas)

Self-portrait

And so my life evolves
            in momentary flames
of passion and of loss
            of belief and disbelief
the warm colours of love
            the frosty colours
of abandonment
            my image strung up
on the walls
            of a civilised cave

These are the true forms
            these the accurate renderings
of a somewhat chaotic existence
            captured the texture of my life
It is my breath that has filled
            this unfinished canvas
and I fully intend to paint
            myself out of every corner
that I have through my choices
            and my good
and bad decisions
            created

What does it represent
            what does it all mean
you might ask
            and I answer
everything
            every tiny detail
It is for the observer to unravel
            the intimate timeline
to arrive
            at the heart of the matter
the broken heart
            and to piece it all together

John Lyons

 

White wilderness

White wilderness

The tracery of bare trees
against the pale winter sky
and snowflakes falling gently
settling gently on the grass
and on the roads
turning life for a moment
into a white wilderness

To survive these cold months
on a wing and prayer
days of penitence
and dissolving bones
an image of the goddess
splintering the mind
the heart that she betrayed
remembering fitfully
the accuracy of her indifference

Those roots that lie
on the surface amid the ferns
the open nerves of our prehistory
The earth is a large town
though at times it appears
to be deserted and its empty trails
run back and forth to no purpose
There is no blame to be attached
to the failure to love but deceit
brings sadness and endless regret

John Lyons

Umbilical moon

Umbilical moon

Perfectly framed
            through my window
when I wake
            the moon high above the woodland
a warm creamy disk of reflected light
            a familiar point of reference
for dreams and for the exercise
            of the imagination

Under this mysterious moon
            I have sung and danced
and played and fallen in love
            It is an old friend
that never lets me down
            It speaks of processes
far beyond the human span
            of distances and intimacies
that reach deep
            into the rhythms of our blood
and into the endless tides
            of our life

John Lyons