Love in the air

A world tinged with gold
on this winter morning

two robins bounce
up and down

on the garden wall
I know what’s on their minds

Not a single fox about
not a magpie to be seen

just a gentle breeze
sifting through

the dry russet leaves
The worst is over

the best yet to come
—love in the air

John Lyons

Un monde teinté d’or
ce matin d’hiver

deux merles 

sur le mur du jardin
Je sais ce qu’ils pensent

Pas un seul renard
pas une pie à voir

juste une brise douce
qui remue

les feuilles rousses sèches
Le pire est passé

le meilleur encore à venir
—l’amour dans l’air

John Lyons


Shared nights – Paul Éluard

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

You rise the water unfolds
You lie down the water ripples out

You are the water diverted from its abysses
You are the earth that takes root
And upon which everything is established

You blow bubbles of silence in the desert of noise
You sing nocturnal hymns on strings of the rainbow,
You are everywhere you abolish all roads

You sacrifice time
To the eternal youth of the exact flame
That shrouds nature by reproducing it

Woman you bring into the world a body always the same

You are resemblance

Paul Éluard, from Nuits partagées (1935)

Translation by John Lyons

Tu te lèves l’eau se déplie
Tu te couches l’eau s’épanouit

Tu es l’eau détournée de ses abîmes
Tu es la terre qui prend racine
Et sur laquelle tout s’établit

Tu fais des bulles de silence dans le désert des bruits
Tu chantes des hymnes nocturnes sur les cordes de l’arc-en-ciel,
Tu es partout tu abolis toutes les routes

Tu sacrifies le temps
À l’éternelle jeunesse de la flamme exacte
Qui voile la nature en la reproduisant

Femme tu mets au monde un corps toujours pareil
Le tien

Tu es la ressemblance.

Paul Éluard

A word in your ear


What’s in
       a snail ?
a name
       a shape
a notion
       of speed
an inner


such perfect
a plump
       tasty pod
filled with
       damp desire

an aristocrat

       among others
in its blue robe
       its horned crown
sitting upon
       a bloody throne

John Lyons

Faded flowers


Faded flowers, John Lyons (25 x 30 cm, oil on canvas)

These are the raw months
       of north winds
of incessant rain and snow
       trees stripped to their bones
faded all but a few 
       of the flowers 
of friendship
       when skeins of ducks
fly west
       in tattered v-shapes
while other flocks
       simply flee the country

and in my heart stillness
       a longing for sunshine
to warm the cold stones
       to soften the edges
of the brutal horizon
       I watch foxes dance
within circles of magpies
       their days one long string
of unbridled entertainments
       : these are the raw months
a time to dig trenches and wait
       for these times to pass

John Lyons

Corrected text

The way of the world


Doors are
at the heart
of the matter
art’s space
a condensation
of time
of coordinates
Doors of perception
art poetry
keys to known
and unknown

or paths
to or from
what lies beyond
what brought us
to this point
what expectations
are held

How many doors
in my life ?
When one closes
another opens
or so we hope

Love is a door

into another’s
heart and or
a door open

to another’s heart
: this is the way
of the world
not how it ends
but how it begins

John Lyons

Newly revised

Paul Éluard – Portable woman

Of solemn effect in solitude

Earthly derision woman
When her heart’s elsewhere

If what I love’s granted to me
I’m saved

If what I love’s taken away
I’m lost

I dislike my dreams but I tell them
And like other people’s when they reveal them to me

Paul Éluard, Les mains libres (1937)

Drawing by Man Ray


D’un effet solennel dans la solitude

Terrestre dérision la femme
Quand son cœur est ailleurs

Si ce que j’aime m’est accordé
Je suis sauvé

Si ce que j’aime se retranche
Je suis perdu

Je n’aime pas mes rêves mais je les raconte
Et j’aime ceux des autres quand on me les montre

Lips gorged on oxygen

Ink in print
       words draw
our attention to letters
       to lines
to shapes
       on the page

India ink
       on white vellum
the supple document
       of her skin
upon which
       I trace the syllables
love and now
       and forever

some inkling she has
       of the messages
my fingertips drum
       on her bones
signals that urgently
       alert her breath
as love pulses
       through her veins
and desire thrusts her
       into battle
and her pale lips
       gorge on oxygen

John Lyons

Riddles of energy

Cosmos, a detail, John Lyons (oil on canvas)

How did the light
       that you and I once were
at the origins
       of the universe
become the energies
       and the colours
of who we are
       today ?

Shapes and textures
       within a cosmos
yet to take shape
       the thermodynamics
of our love
       spelt out in equations
the riddles of energy
       and mass subsumed
in a kiss exchanged
       at the speed of light

John Lyons

On the night shift

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

On the night shift
       my mind is slower
more in tune
       with the stars

Look how long it took
       for the universe
to shape our world
       for the sea to separate
from the land
       for human life
to evolve
       for you and I to meet
to walk hand in hand
       across Tower Bridge

On the night shift
       my breathing is slower
I have been known
       to doze the hours away
to dream that you
       are still there
by my side and that
       time will in time
repair every injury
       to my soul

John Lyons

Resolution in the face

Prince of Denmark, John Lyons (25 x 30 cm, oil on canvas)

Love sleeps cosy
in my heart
a bright star
in a warm firmament

I wake to the chirrup
of thrush and sparrow
magpies in their Bourbon
regalia have yet to appear

In my dream
I was flying back to you
to a nest we had built
together lovingly

Though rain has fallen
it did not dampen my spirit
whatever life throws my way
I am ready and willing to play

John Lyons