Crossing the Pont des Arts

Pont_des_Arts
Le Pont des Arts, Paris

Crossing the Pont des Arts

You wouldn’t think it
           but it takes real guts
to love someone
           I read Frank O’Hara
and he talks of coffee
           in the morning
and how all the tears
           in America cannot
dampen the joy
           of sharing life’s
simple pleasures with
           the person you love

Frank once walked alone
           across the Pont des Arts
and when he reached
           the other side there was
no one there waiting
           for him and he was
distraught despite the fact
           it was only a bridge

John Lyons

The three of us

The three of us

My two kingfishers still haunt the pond—
           today at noon in the bright sun and breeze
and perfect temperature
           I’m sitting here by one of the gurgling brooks
dipping a French water-pen in the limpid crystal
           and using it to write these lines
again watching the feathered couple
           as they fly and sport athwart the water
so close
           almost touching into its surface

Indeed there seems to be three of us—
           for nearly an hour
I indolently observe and accompany them
           as they dart and turn
and take their airy gambols
           sometimes far up the creek
disappearing for a few moments
           and then sure enough returning
to perform most of their flight
           within sight of me
as if they knew I appreciated and absorbed
           their vitality their spirituality their faithfulness
and the rapid vanishing delicate lines
           of moving yet quiet electricity they draw for me
across the spread of the grass
           the trees and the blue sky
while the brook babbles on and on
           and the shadows of the boughs
dapple in the sunshine around me
           and the cool west-by-nor’-west wind
faintly soughs
           in the thick bushes and tree tops

Walt Whitman

(adapted from Specimen Days by John Lyons)

 

Endgame

Endgame

The patter of rain after days
           of unbroken sunshine
grey skies and a hush
           across the world
birdsong silenced
           and the foxes snug
in their burrows
           As shadows shelter
beneath oak and ash
           I marshal my dreams
and plan for a future
           without her

John Lyons

Yes culture too is breath

Yes culture too is breath

Yes culture too is breath
           and all breath comes
from the stars
           and we know
that when the breath cools
           it’s time to move on

She will withhold her kisses
           and in her eyes there will be
disdain and she will glance
           away into the future 
toward the life she has planned
           for your absence

Passion is our birthright
           and we are born
to hold one another
           in our arms
and our words are there
           to console in times of grief
to support in times of distress
           and to express the love
that never dies when it is
           true love

John Lyons

Natural philosophy

Natural philosophy

On the footpath
           in the garden yesterday
a butterfly settled
           its wings raised
so that only
           the dark underside showed

At first I had mistaken it
           for a leaf
but though there was
           a gentle breeze
the butterfly did not move
           not even the slightest tremor :
it stood its ground
           for ten minutes or more
and I wondered whether
           this was not an extravagance
to idle away
           such a stretch of time
given the brevity
           of its life

But there perhaps
           was the lesson it was
unwittingly there
           to deliver to me
and to you dear reader
           without a care in the world

John Lyons

The intermittences of the heart – Marcel Proust

“For the intermittences of the heart are closely linked to the troubles of memory. Without doubt, it is the existence of our body, to us akin to a jar in which our spiritual nature is enclosed, that leads us to suppose that all our inner wealth, our past joys, all our sorrows, are perpetually in our possession.” (translation by John Lyons)

A thought for the day, taken from Marcel Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu. Proust’s monumental exercise in voluntary memory, in which he seeks to reclaim the narrative of his past life. The work is permeated with episodes of involuntary memory, some ecstatically joyful, others full of the pain of loss and lost love.

Disjecta Membra

What are our memories
           but living thoughts
and feelings
           our minds a ragbag
of experiences
           of hopes and dashed
expectations
           of moments of tenderness
set against the shifting veil
           of darkness and light
and that never-ending tussle
           between precision
perfection
           and sheer chaos

John Lyons 

A certain idea of order

A certain idea of order

There is unity
           and there is particularity
a universe put together
           from a handful of building blocks
There is the sky and the sea
           and swallows come and go
filling our latitude with
           their grace and beauty
without ever overstaying
           their welcome

And she who sings in the dark
           whose voice is heard in my soul
whose unembittered gestures trace
           patterns of affection in my life
a summer without end
           a body drawn from the dust of stars
whole and intemperate in her passion
           the sound of love present
in every articulation
           she strides daily into my life

John Lyons

New dawn

dawn2
New dawn, John Lyons (oil on canvas)

New dawn

What is striking
           are the bare spaces
the bare sky the bare streets
           the bare park hidden behind
the thick summer foliage
           These are times
of tenderness and grief
           times in which to care
scrupulously
           for the body
and let the devil
           take the soul

Company that is comfort
           has given way to avoidance
and now more than ever
           distance separates us
and love’s versatile touch
           is so out of reach

Yours was a name
           I once loved
but in that name
           a space has grown
larger than any
           I have ever known
it tells me that though
           you are still here
you are long gone
           long gone

John Lyons

Pure white petals

magnolia

Pure white petals

Lying in the dust
           the pure white petals
of the magnolia
           are tossed
this way and that
           as they catch the breeze

The tree
           with its naked branches
stands forlorn :
           its blooms were ahead
of their time and now
           their time has passed

Life has its debris
           and beauty its span
perhaps love too
           but come spring
the magnolia
           will bloom again—
as for love tell me please
           when will love return ?

John Lyons

At midnight – the moon hour

At midnight – the moon hour

There should be a straight line
           between you and me
but that is not the case
           between us lies the ocean and land
with mountains and deep valleys
           and cascades of water that pour
into streams and rivers
           and there are vast plains
and semi-deserts
           and all manner of obstacles
are strewn across our paths
           yours to me and mine to you

A body is to be cradled
           in the body of another
under the starlight
           that invades the earth
at midnight – the moon hour
           when the forest leaves
turn to silver and chill winds
           rattle the bones
of dying trees

Here we lie naked
           innocent nimble names
noted in love’s ledger
           a legend still moist
with aching breath
           determined never to die

John Lyons