Melt in the mouth

Melt in the mouth

What is the difference
           between a fig
and an apple
           she asks
in colour and texture
           in shape and size
in taste and in culture
           in climate and location
what is the difference
           between an apple
and a fig and why
           should we care ?

So much in common
           so what is the difference
the differences
           that separate
           from another ?

Once in a while
           we have the answer
or many or none
           once in a while
the differences
           are reconciled
the withered fig
           and the dried apple
a thing of the past
           food for parables

One is creamy
           and one is tart
and there are so many
           culinary implications
at breakfast at supper
           at dinner at lunch
and difference is a matter
           of mathematics
soft to the touch
           melt in the mouth
juice on the lips
           the milky flesh
squat in the palm
           of his hand

A chair in which to breathe

Breathless, John Lyons (oil on wood)

A chair in which to breathe

An open window means
           a stiff breeze is blowing
means knowing you’re alive
           means painted flowers
will never fade
           means the books
in their cases are there
           to be read

and when love
           becomes a stranger
it might rain
           and the summer
may end prematurely
           and the birds will fly south
while honey is harvested
           and the wax is turned
to candles that burn
           at the midnight hour

and dreams
           may lose their way
and the days
           may accumulate
until there is nothing left but time
           and an empty chair
where she once counted
           her fingers and toes

John Lyons

A loving tongue

A loving tongue

She saw that breakfast
           could be a loving tongue
and that eggs and salmon
           and coffee were all welcome
at the table and that silence
           was often a favoured guest
and that imitation
           was the enemy of delight

Freshness in a jar
           or honey poured
from a spoon
           it should all be a matter
of choice determined
           by one or the other

The porcelain egg cups
           were from Cannes
and decorated
           in the Provençal style
with pretty blueberries
           and the only custom
at this hour was
           the kindness of leisure
or perhaps vice versa
           because the heart neglects
           no detail is too small
or too insignificant
           where love is present

So while everything changes
           the language remains the same
and each moment is
           an affectionate occasion

John Lyons

A piano is a universe

A piano is a universe

Time is a piano
           that you play
at certain speeds
           it has a signature
and a key
           to unlock its silence

Maple and mahogany and spruce
           take time to grow
in the forest
           just as moonlight
takes time to arrive
           on a summer’s evening
adding a subtle sheen
           to the polished wood

Time is furniture
           at our disposal
a stool on which to perch
           arms outstretched
paper from which
           to read the notes
fingers that caress
           the keys to produce
timeless melodies
           A baby too takes time
and families make
           a concerted effort
to sing in unison :
           not a speck of dirt
nor a misplaced pin
           should defile the beauty
of the instrument
           A piano is a universe
all of it own
           and pianists too
take time to grow and
           a moonlight sonata lends
food for thought
           to the music of love

John Lyons

Previous posted, revised

Stars gliding through space

Simplicity, John Lyons (oil on wood)

Stars gliding through space

A light blue and a dark blue
and a faded pink
what do they make ?

An arrangement of shapes
suggestive of other shapes
an odd kind of ornament

There were swans on the Serpentine
on Monday resplendent in the sunlight
their plumage a deep titanium white

Swans are never careless
they know exactly what they are doing
at all times without fail

Most flowers have their season
but once they are cut
their days are numbered

So what is the lesson?
That some things last
and others do not ?

It’s hard to believe that the stars
are gliding through space
they seem so fixed in the heavens

Lovers who would be guided by their stars
can very often lose their path
they must trim their sails to the cosmic wind

John Lyons

Away from tailordom and fashion’s clothes

Away from tailordom and fashion’s clothes

Away then to loosen
           to unstring the divine bow
so tense so long
           Away from curtain
carpet        sofa        book
           from society
from city house
and modern improvements and luxuries
           away to the primitive winding
wooded creek with its
           untrimmed bushes and turfy banks
away from ligatures
           tight boots
           and the whole cast-iron
civilized life
           from entourage of artificial store
machine      studio      office       parlor
           from tailordom and fashion’s clothes
from any clothes perhaps
           the summer heats advancing
there in those watery
           shaded solitudes

Away soul
           let me talk in perfect freedom
negligently        confidentially
           for one day and night at least
returning to the naked source
           —life of us all—
to the breast of the great silent
           savage all-accepting Mother

           how many of us are so sodden
have wandered so far away
           that return is almost impossible

Walt Whitman, from Specimen Days (1882)

Edited by John Lyons

Settled Sunday dust


Settled Sunday dust

The rain drawled
           all night long
my eyes are open now
           but I’m still sleepy
there is a dampness
           in the air and everything
I see from my window
           is a little greener

Out on the street
           I hear a loud male
Mexican voice
           speaking Spanish
though this is not Mexico
           far from it but nowadays
I suppose anywhere
           can be anywhere
with a little imagination :
           around the corner
from Trotsky’s house
           I had one of the best meals
of my life
           that was years ago
and a lot of dust
           has settled since

A trip to Mexico and beyond
           that was the ticket
I travelled with a straw hat
           and a pair of eyes and ears
and I remember it all
           as though it were yesterday
the past only exists for the living
           and no love passes
it lives on and on
           for ever and ever
as the saying goes

John Lyons

When times are hard

Looking glass, John Lyons (oil on wood and paper)

When times are hard

A table means
           necessary places
means presence
           and necessary absence
in times of war
           in times of peace
a table means steadiness
           a strong line in life
a surface upon which
           plates and glasses
and knives and spoons
           and silver-plated forks
look their best :
           sometimes there is jam
and sometimes cream
           and sometimes milk
and sometimes honey
           and sometimes bread
or toast in a rack
           or scones or cake
and a pot of tea
           with cups and saucers
a sugar bowl
           and yellow daffodils
in a porcelain vase
           casting their light
on the crisp white linen cloth
           and sometimes
people come together
           to commemorate a life
and to celebrate
           their love

John Lyons


An odor from a star

An odor from a star

Sunday evening fades
           by an open window
summer has danced
           the day long
and it’s time to read
           the words in my heart
to spell out the compendium
           that I am of dreams and how
at this point in time
           it would be wrong
for rain to fall
           through my universe

Imagine that there are lilacs
           here on the page
and that their heady aroma
           hangs heavy in the air
imagine a room teeming
           with the scent of roses
and that a proud thorn has drawn
           a trickle of my blood

I call every atom of myself

           my own and yet how
to distinguish them
           from all others
that have made the journey
           to this day ?

Atoms are blue and countable
           if we put our hands together
: with needle and thread
           she sewed the tender buttons
onto the soft fragrant silk
           a shadow bent
in the silence of her words
           of her love

John Lyons

Some of the above words were drawn from the poem below by Wallace Stevens

Carnet de Voyage

An odor from a star
Comes to my fancy, slight,
Tenderly spiced and gay,
As if a seraph’s hand
Unloosed the fragrant silks
Of some sultana, bright
In her soft sky. And pure
It is, and excellent,
As if a seraph’s blue
Fell, as a shadow falls,
And his warm body shed
Sweet exhalations, void
Of our despised decay.

Wallace Stevens, Uncollected Poems