Stream of life

Lake District, John Lyons (30 x 25 cm, oil on canvas)

Cold dry oils
       pigments stripped
from the earth
       daubed on canvas
to record all memory
       of time – here
where great sheets of ice
       once polished and denuded the land
here where barren trees
       now stand in their bleak midwinter

Generations have walked these paths
       have journeyed from star to star
from seed to seed
       an endless stream of life
If you close your eyes
       you can hear the whispers
of those who went before you
       those who fell in bloody wars
and those who lost their lives
       to love or to other distempers
of the heart – last night a moon
       full and intense enough
to burn a hole in the dark sky
       as if to confirm
that the worst is over

       that spring in all its beauty
will come soon and with it hope
       and with it love

John Lyons


The wisdom of magpies

moon surface
                                                     Moon surface, photo by John Lyons 

Magpies – the smartest birds
       on the block
feed on beetles and flies
       and caterpillars
and spiders and worms
       and leatherjackets

In winter
       they turn vegetarian
feast on plant material
       such as wild fruits
berries and grains
      Magpies are never crossed
in love – far too smart
       for that

John Lyons

Stéphane Mallarmé – the sapphire of silence

Poorly equipped
the poet enters
the world
rides a wooden

an all-weather
walker he explores
ancient woodlands
and hikes across
endless fields

the stars render
time meaningless
just the beat
of his heart
and the pace
of his footfall

his ancestors
are words
words and music
and his home
is the sapphire
of silence
in which his soul
savours love

life is light
and colour
and all the world
feeds on life
patience is
a natural virtue
which the poet
along with sparrows
along with magpies
he admires
their point of view
the purity
of their speech

spiders play
on strings
melodies rich
to the poet’s ear
crude vowels
and consonants
struggle to express
the beauty around us

John Lyons

The looking glass

The deep green
       of woodland ivy
       of life and death
and the holly
       rich with red
winter berries
       and mistletoe
with its plump
       unctuous fruit
such significance
       within a universe
so alive with death
       as though each
were interchangeable
       in the glass

Her lips now pale
       with age
her song now silent
       now a thing
of the past
       We are voice
and we are memory
       but our voices
grow silent over time
       and our memories
fade beyond the sunset
       Love for today
for tomorrow
       it may be gone

John Lyons

Love and peace

An octet of magpies
       sitting high up
in a neighbour’s tree
       I say sitting
but in fact they keep
       jostling for position
perhaps to determine
       who plays first violin

At the rear of the garden
       the foxes are making their moves
overnight there was a light frost
       but it didn’t last

The foxes are lounging
       on the shed roof perhaps
recalling those long gone
       summer days
and their friendly skirmishes
       with the magpies

High winds are forecast
       but on this Christmas morning
there is a stillness
       a contemplative silence
and love in my heart
       love and peace

John Lyons

Corrected text!

The picture of health

green door

This is a picture of health
       the green door of fresh pastures
the field of possibilities
       where sparrows and crows feed
where daisies and dandelions
       flourish in summer months
meadows bisected by clear streams
       sunlight devoured by every leaf
and blade of grass and life busy
       about its task of refreshing life

lovers and families come here
       to stroll and to remember
their purpose indeed their obligation
       to disperse shadows and sadness
to raise every crestfallen heart
       to apply the warm human touch
to every aspect of their life
       not to ask whether it is nobler
but to bear testimony
       to the truth in all its beauty

John Lyons

What never dies

Our frailties
       humble flowers
in the meadows
       and happiness
an art a skill
       that enables us
to live for
       another day

To be is better
       than not to be
words words words
       to fill a theatrical
space in time
       to know all
that defies entropy
       peace and love

John Lyons

Purple moon

purple moon

Patterned purple moon
               mood from a slice of wood
the once living fibres
               caught in colour
so as to project its emotion
               its intricate intimacy
circuitously perfected
               with life’s stamp
Here it is offering
               gift in the moment
of revelation
               a pause for thought
a focal point
               for feeling

Under today’s drab sky
               on the horizon
trees shrouded in mist
               a winter blowing
neither hot nor cold
               evening will come
a torrid sky
               with a purple moon

We will hold hands
               perhaps kiss
perhaps make love
              put the past behind us
swaddle ourselves
               in a shared dream
The stars are there
               to be counted
by their very nature
               they are all lucky

John Lyons

A benediction

Earth – rich
       mineral loam
out of which
       all roots feed.

Light and air.
       Deep seep
of clear waters.
       Seed of love
from which
       all life.

Her lips unsoiled
       her kiss –
a silence
       a benediction.

John Lyons