My lucky stars

My lucky stars

Dark night
           of the winter sky
a half-moon
           a chill wind
foxes slinking away
           in the distance

I look up
           and count the stars
my lucky stars
           as long as
I can
           count them
they’re all

John Lyons


For the angels among us

For the angels among us

Angels more common
           than one would think
they move among us
           silently and their silence
is their message :
           the aura of innocence
lambs that gambol
           and skip and small
children who love
           blue skies and open fields
in which to romp
           laughter on their lips

To attempt to describe them
           would be foolish
for they are better known
           by their actions
pure and unselfish
           Wherever there is love
the angels are present
           they are the filters
through which our words
           pass when we wish
to praise the beauty of life
           in all its truth

John Lyons

Eagle over the Hudson River

Eagle over the Hudson River

Sometimes in the fiercest driving storm
           of wind and rain or hail or snow
a great eagle will appear over the river
           now soaring with steady
and now thrashing wings
           always confronting the gale
or perhaps cleaving into it
           or at times literally sitting upon it

It’s like reading some first-class
           natural tragedy or epic
or hearing martial trumpets
           : the splendid bird
enjoys the hubbub
           is adjusted and equal to it
finishes it so artistically
           his pinions just oscillating
the position of head and neck
           his resistless varied flight
now a swirl
           now an upward rush
the black clouds driving
           and down below
the angry wash
           the hiss of rain
the wind’s piping
           the bird tacking or jibing

and now for a moment
           abandoning himself to the gale
racing with it at such speed
           and now resuming control
he comes up against it
           lord of the situation and the storm
lord in the midst of it
           of power and savage joy

Walt Whitman

From Specimen Days (1882), adapted by John Lyons


Winters past

Winters past

Back in the day of chilblains
           when all things froze
when my hands
           shook with the cold
The swirl and flicker of snow
           around the street lamps
the softness
           of our footfalls
as we trudged
           through the streets

Back in the days
           of innocence
before experience
           and knowledge blew away
the mystery of life
           the life that lay
before me
           the life that lies
before me
           the life in which
nothing but love
           makes any sense

This is what I struggle

           to say
I the lover I struggle
           to be

John Lyons


The life we build

The life we build

The life we build
in our memory
moments of love
the days that will
stay with us forever
the simplicity
of being together
the hours and days
and the words
laid down
as a record

as we know
is not complex
it goes straight
to the heart
and all things
are less than love

John Lyons

A hint of wild nature

A hint of wild nature

As I was crossing the Delaware to-day
           I saw a large flock of wild geese
right overhead not very high up
           ranged in V-shape
in relief against the noon clouds
           of light smoke-colour

Had a capital
           though momentary
view of them
           and then of their course
on and on southeast
           till gradually fading

Strange thoughts
           melted into me
seeing these creatures
           cleaving the sky
the spacious airy realm
           even the prevailing
smoke-gray colour everywhere
           no sun shining
the waters below
           the rapid flight of the birds
appearing just for a minute
           revealing to me such a hint
of the whole spread of Nature
           with her eternal
unsophisticated freshness
           her never-visited recesses
of sea and sky
           and shore
and then disappearing
           in the distance

Walt Whitman


Adapted by John Lyons from Specimen Days (1882)

Magpie takes a dip

Magpie takes a dip

On a cold winter morning
the magpie bathes
in the garden bird bath

Three times I saw it
jump into the icy water
and flutter its wings
so as to wet itself
all over

and each time it jumped out
and sat shivering on the wall
fluttering it wings
in order to shake off the excess
before repeating the exercise

a plump black and white magpie
time carelessly beating in its breast
and who knows what
running through its mind
full of the joys of life

John Lyons