Her body his love

Her body his love

Love not an open wound
           nor a bruised heart
nor a broken promise
           Words that heal
supplicant gestures
           a kiss soon repairs

How supple the mind
           that moves into the light
unpicking the tainted silence
           that stains the rose

my hands are tied
           but in my eyes
her naked beauty
           never fades

Say that all thoughts
           lead back to her
that her tears
           are petals
Though he refuses
           to concede defeat
her lips await a song
           her body his love

John Lyons

 

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The brave man

new growth
New growth, John Lyons (oil on wood)

The brave man

And so to live
the warm antiquity of self
in a world grown cold
green eyes that look
to the sky

and in the night
fresh stars appear
– the wine is good
and love is always
a prospect
to look forward to

That brave man
looks and learns
and is not afraid
to relinquish the past
to distance himself
from all that is false
or faint-hearted

John Lyons


This revised poem is based on a reading of two poems by Wallace Stevens, ‘The Brave Man” and “A Fading of the Sun” from an early seminal collection, Ideas of Order (1936). The accompanying painting is an old camembert lid splattered with leftover colours so as not to waste.

Fragments of time

Fragments of time

Through our veins
           the blood of stars
from which all warmth
           from which all passion
from which all life
           from which all love

her hand within mine
           is universe touching
universe
           flesh upon flesh
feeding upon
           eternal energies

these words
           are star script
temporal equations
           of eternal expression
the earth populated
           with fragments of time
that burn to coalesce
           to embody a single soul

Orpheus descends
           through her open eyes
into the heart
           of her love

John Lyons

Ruskin Park, Lambeth

lady's bedstraw
Lady’s bedstraw (Galium verum)

Ruskin Park, Lambeth

The stillness
           the silence
the magic of sunlight
           harvested
in the flowering orchard
           – quince and medlar
apple and pear
           a medley of berries

and in the meadow
           greater knapweed
ragged robin
           lady’s bedstraw
and ox-eye daisy
           all flourish

A barnacle duck
           slips lazily into the pond
when it hears my step
           on the grassy path
is lost
           among the tall reeds
in the stillness
           in the silence

The days of dragonfly
           will soon be upon us
winter a distant memory
           love in the air

John Lyons

 

Starlight

Starlight

All this beauty
           from stars
the lips
           the hair
the fullness
           of her female form

her hips
           the elegant feet
all this beauty
           from the stars
and in her eyes
           starlight

John Lyons

Long-tailed tits

Long-tailed-tit

Long-tailed tits

If you go down to Highgate Wood
           there are sparrow-hawks
on the prowl and crows and magpies
           looking for easy pickings –
so the long-tailed tits
           can take no chances

In the fork of a tree
           or the thick of a hawthorn bush
they build a nest shaped in the form
           of an old-fashioned flexible purse
with a narrow entrance
           to one side near the top

It’s made from a mesh
           of tiny moss leaves
bound by spider silk
           and covered with flakes of lichen
to provide camouflage
           against predators

The interior they line with hundreds
           upon hundreds of downy feathers
to insulate and create a warm cradle
            for the clutch to come –
and for weeks
           they live in fear
until the brood has found its feet
           and found its wings

John Lyons


Version en français

long-tailed tit nest

Les mésanges à longue queue

Si vous descendez à Highgate Wood
           il y a des éperviers à l’affût
et des corbeaux et des pies
           à la recherche de cueillettes faciles –
donc les mésanges à longue queue
           ne peuvent prendre aucun risque

Dans la fourchette d’un arbre
           ou bien au milieu d’un buisson d’aubépine
ils construisent un nid en forme
           d’une bourse souple à l’ancienne
avec une entrée étroite
           d’un côté près du sommet

Il est fabriqué à partir d’un filet
           de minuscules feuilles de mousse
liées par la soie d’araignée
           et recouvertes de flocons de lichen
pour se camoufler
           contre les prédateurs

L’intérieur ils tapissent
           avec des centaines
de plumes duveteuses pour isoler
           et créer un berceau chaud
pour la portée d’oisillon à venir –
           et pendant des semaines
ils vivent dans la peur
           jusqu’à ce que la couvée ait
trouvé ses pieds
           ait trouvé ses ailes

That mirror moment

That mirror moment

Hard cold cruelty
           of the mirror
true friend of time
           harshest critic
inflexible judgment
           how thin
how destructive
           your silver lining
as you throw back
           in our faces
every wrinkle
           every line
every error
           of excess

and how you prowl the world
           lurking
in every unexpected corner
           ready to pounce
in halls and bathrooms
           hotels and restaurants
to confront and unnerve us
           when masks have dropped
and we are left alone
           with little more
than our intimate
           loveless reality

John Lyons