Time all out of joint


Time all out of joint

Take a lucky dip
           into memory
see what you get
           the Brooklyn Bridge
and the tide of time
           streaming below
unconscionable heat
           sucking the juice
out of the air
           dust of moth wing
on your brow
           as you pound
the aimless
           crumbling streets

O daughter of sunlight
           where were you conceived
where were you born
           where were you raised
what violence drove you
           to abandon all hope
striving to survive
           on the pique of your beauty
blunted the cutting edge
           of your intelligence

The play’s the thing
           but time’s all out of joint
your birth stars are receding
           in the outer regions
of outer space
           your matter-of-fact fantasies
have waned and life
           is the only truth left to tell
and it is a sorry tale at that
           all caution thrown to the wind
along with love leaving a senseless trail
           of unmitigated disasters

John Lyons

I love the stillness

I love the stillness

I love the stillness
           of these early summer mornings
when the sun is up
           but most of the world is still asleep
already the sky is blue
           and the air warm
I water the plants and flowers
           in the garden and soak in the silence

Yesterday was a fine day
           full of satisfaction
and I was happy to note
           the achievement of others
By the railway line I noticed
           the canes of blackberry
coming into their own
           this year should be a bumper crop

Yesterday was truly a fine day
           but today could outshine it
I have my expectations
           It’s good to be alive
to be drawing breath
           in these troubled time
to have contact
           with friends and family
and to know that love
           is never far away
and to be thankful
           for all the old loves
and the new loves that give
           so much meaning to my life

John Lyons

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 through 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 salt tears
           are petals
Though he refuses
           to concede defeat
her lips await a song
           her body his love

John Lyons

Apart from love

Apart from love

I read Frank O’Hara
           who never made it
to the twenty-first century
           but I imagine
he would have loved it
           and all the people in it
all the artists and musicians
           and poets and writers
busy inventing it
           just as they always did
in centuries gone by
           time immemorial

Listen to Duke Ellington
           and you can appreciate
Frank O’Hara’s ear
           or to Rachmaninoff
and you get a real sense
           of O’Hara’s nimble fingers
shuffling along the keyboard
           or slip into the gallery
to cast a cold eye over
           a Rauschenberg or a Pollock
and it will tell you something
           of what it was like
to see the world through
           O’Hara’s blue-tinted eyes

and then in a poem
           he uses the phrase
apart from love
           and you realise that
that line is a great divide
           a real line in the sand

that apart from love
           to Frank at least
nothing else really mattered
           not culture not wealth
not status not ambition
           not age not youth
nothing really matter
           apart from love
his poetics
           in a nutshell
and I guess
           I just have to agree

John Lyons

A lesson to be learned

A lesson to be learned

As a child
           I learned to tie knots
tight knots
           that never came undone
my boots
           were never loose
my shoes
           snug as a glove on my feet
I felt proud
           to have mastered the skill

and yet nowadays
           my laces are forever
coming undone
           I walk the streets constantly
stopping and stooping
           every now and then
to retie what should never
           have come undone

John Lyons


A feather in her cap

A feather in her cap

Needs needs needs
           needs needs
fervent lovers
           and austere scholars
poetry and peaches
           what makes for
a satisfying life
           for a soft purr

roses in bloom
           the buzz of bees
collecting pollen
           a swallow or two
a lake in which to swim
           or a boat in which to row
the long summer days stretched
           into slow dawns

a short walk to heaven
           she bends at the knee
she swallows a fig
           chews on a celery stick
is entirely at home
           in her flesh
love is a feather
           in her cap

John Lyons

On a dark night on a sunny day

On a dark night on a sunny day

A cluster of words
           and how words cling
           on a dark night
on a sunny day
           so that in the sense of it all
words have their locations
           just like everything else

And Gertrude asks
What is a hinge ?
           and amiably answers
it’s a location
           just as love is

our lives hinge necessarily
           on and around those we love
and there are many other hinges
           just as our lives move in all directions
and many clothes hang in many wardrobes
           and if we keep our eyes peeled
we notice that there are clusters
           all around us
separations and segregations
           one quorum at breakfast
another at supper
           another at lunch

and we mind what happens
           to those we love
just as we mind the time
           and naturally the moment
and make the happiest of arrangements
           and life is a kind of exercise
and sometimes we get better at it
           and sometimes we don’t
and in order for our sanity to survive
           we first forgive ourselves
for all our frail imperfections and then
           we forgive others for theirs
and pray that they
           will respond in kind

John Lyons

Heart of the matter

Heart of the matter

A window
           into your heart
what vapours
           what steam
what frost
           what ice

the world
           never far away
the light
           and the darkness
dreams ushered in
           under moonlight

I am dumbed
           in disbelief
we walk the same earth
           breathe the same air
and yet we’re set on journeys
           driving us worlds apart

John Lyons

To refresh the future

To refresh the future

The first idea
           comes in a moment
from the desire
           to create
nothing else
           so alters the shape
of the world

A life of invention
           truth in the deed
the poem or the canvas
           or notes on a musical
           or observe the likeness
of clouds overhead
           or expound
on the innermost thoughts
           of a lost soul

Reject the stale moonlight
           and stars beyond the pale
who comes and goes in a life
           this is what concerns us
who remains and who abandons

The first idea
           is to refresh the future
without recourse
           to primitive astronomies
a life that rises above the surface
           venerable and articulate
and complete
           in constant pursuit
of her authentic breath
           a palpable love

John Lyons

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