A Southwark story

A Southwark story

I have picked a path
           through the day
and now that the sun is setting
           I sit here wallowing
in the afterglow
           light softly fading
as time settles down
           for the night

Within what memories
           I have lived these hours past
of moments and places
           and feelings that can never
be relinquished
           down by the silent river
or along those dusty streets
           where nothing ever changes
where nothing will ever
           be the same again

John Lyons

Rule of thumb

early days 3
Early days, John Lyons (oil on canvas)

Rule of thumb

Sometimes
           when preparing
a canvas
           it’s best
just to allow
           the basic geometries
of energy and colour
           to take over
not to overthink
           the composition

In this canvas
           the paint has been
thinly applied
           at first with a brush
before being marshalled
           by the palette knife

The blank page
           and the blank canvas
have so much in common :
           the rule is simple
don’t hang back
           if it doesn’t work out start again
but don’t get uptight
           Sometimes she loves you
sometimes she does not
           Get over it

John Lyons

 

Under fresh canvas 

cloudy day
Cloudy day, John Lyons (oil on canvas)

Under fresh canvas 

Remove the safety net
           when you tread the high wire
said Parmigianino
           paint fearlessly
peer through the mist
           capture what lies behind
what lies beneath :
           your heart as mirror
to the soul you establish
           on canvas

John Lyons


Reposted with a corrected text and a sharper photo of canvas. 

Face off

Face off

How to face the mirror
           each day
and know what has
           and what hasn’t been done
With a razor
           I cut away the shadow
leaving the skin
           clean as a whistle

I notice around the eyes
           a few lines are forming
and another deeper one
           bisects my forehead
when I frown
           I try not to frown
but life as you know
           can be a little testing
at times
           so I write
and I paint without
           any particular talent
and one day drips
           into another
and every morning
           it’s the same old face
confronting me
           in the mirror

John Lyons

 

The material spirit

The material spirit

One to another
           separate
but each seen
           in the other’s eyes
the face read
           observed
listened to
           each expression
traced and mined
           for signs of love

for its affirmation
           recognition of feelings
of commitment
           the delicate need
to be one and both
           more than the convergence
of skin and breath
           a shared form or way of life

within the big picture
           the smallest of gestures
that accumulate
           that act upon love
absolute and lyrical
           innocent and just
measured in startime
           bathed in beauty
lustrous truth
           of the material spirit

John Lyons


Revised text

Monday canvas

sunny day
Sunny day, John Lyons (oil on canvas)

Monday canvas

Air moves in arabesques
           time in hot pursuit
a centrifugal force that runs
           through the blood
Possibilities are endless
           in this life-phase
in the rising fall of love-tides
           in which doors are binary
windows looking glasses
           dreams itinerant

Swirls of colour
           on the canvas
but soon the leaves
           will settle
Today the sun rose
           higher than ever
it stopped the fox
           in its tracks
it changed the tune
           of every bird
as its warm breath
           passed over the land

Breakers on the seashore
           ruffle the pebbles
and suck at the sand :
           there’s always more work
to be done and more love
           to be made

John Lyons


Revised text

Immaculate beginnings

Immaculate beginnings

Amid the chaos
           amid the brash cacophony
an essential silence
           at the centre of our being
in those moments
           when the self is nursed
by the natural world
           by observation
of all those rhythms
           that echo those of our blood
the play of light on water
           the movement of tall trees
that dance in the breeze
           To them we owe life’s breath
and the beauty of autumn umbers
           Every artistic gesture
dating back to the origins of time
           is an act of love
the essence of the universe
           is invention

John Lyons

 

Turns of phrase

Turns of phrase

A turn of the head
           a turn of phrase
your turn my turn
           a turn of the screw
you know this love thing
           can be torture

she inherited
           her mother’s furs
the mink in her eyes
           turned many a head
a photoelectric smile
           her nicely turned ankles
danced on life’s stage
           if love is not what you
bargained for beware
           we accept no returns

light leaps
           through the galaxy
it feeds our every gesture
           thoughts come in a flash
and a kiss is a meeting
           of minds
honesty and generosity
           are the guarantee
of good returns
           on your love

John Lyons

 

Walt Whitman – a vignette

Walt Whitman – a vignette

And then I go down
           and loaf along the Harlem river
— just had a good spell
           of this recreation

The sun sufficiently veiled
           a soft south breeze
the river full of small or large
           tapered shell boats
darting up and down—some singly
           now and then long ones
with six or eight young men
           practicing

Two fine yachts lie
           anchored
off the shore
           I linger long
enjoying the sundown
           the glow
the streaked sky
           the heights
the distances
           the shadows


Adapted from Walt Whitman’s ‘Hot Weather New York’ in Specimen Days

 

Gridlock

gridlock.jpg
Gridlock, John Lyons (oil on canvas)

Gridlock

I am a free companion
           love is a dream once had
never forgotten
           I wince at the bite of dogs
I was forged in the stars
           the stars will break me

I eat sea flakes
           and drink from the clouds
To be in any form
           what is that ?
Birds train all their lives
           to sing the same song
I hear their chorus
           I vow that one day
it will all make sense
           In the silence life is
what rises to the surface
           We held hands for three years
until she went
           her separate way

John Lyons