Fit for poetry

carnation

                     Flowers, John Lyons (oil on wood)

Dagwood dogwood
whipple-tree
these are but names
conferred over time

We know it by its fruit
by its berries
by its blossom
by its simple
untoothed leaves

The larvae of butterflies
and the engrailed
and emperor moths
feed on it
quail devour its red seeds
a tea made from its bark
can treat pain and fevers

From dogwood
to dogberries
to skull tree
these are but words
fit for poetry

John Lyons

The mirror’s daily challenge

The face the skin the eyes
       the receding hairline
it’s not what it used to be 
       : the mirror’s daily challenge

Olson called it a civil war

       the unique appearance
that fades into sameness
       distinctive features lost
over the years so that familiar
       perhaps cherished blemishes
are now disguised under
       the general depredation
of time and exposure
       to relentless sunshine

so that you’re no longer

       who you thought you were
a stranger gazes back at you
       from the flawless silver
and you wonder who
       let this guy into your life

John Lyons

it’s meaningless

General Sherman, NYC

                      General Sherman, NYC

So the weather takes a dip
       the wind retrieves its bite
tears at the fresh spring leaves
       gusts under the eaves
drives the rain hard
       against the skylight
displacing the Saharan dust
       that blew up days ago

Last night I counted the doors
       featured in an Antonioni movie
Sometimes it’s meaningless
       to watch films or to eat
or to drink coffee
       out of a paper cup

This morning
       I’m reading Frank’s poems
wondering about how many
       daydreams I will see today
whether any of them
       will notice my lavender lips
will talk to me
       will listen to me

Tonight promises to be
       a clear sky with stars :
nobody owns them
       as far as I know
though I am tempted
       to add the word yet

John Lyons

Surely among an old man’s memories

Surely among an old man’s memories
there should be recollections

of the long nights of love he spent
in his younger days when the world

was new and the stars had lost
none of their brilliance

and the streams teamed with trout
and the roses seemed never to die

when he would wake to sweetness
to gentleness to light – content

at every turn of his dreams
the solid architecture of his life

built upon the unerring
beauty of her heart

John Lyons

Strictly for the birds

Stippled freckled
flecked dappled
such is the skin
with which I’ve lived
all these years
and proudly so

and age has brought
fresh blotches blemishes
that I prefer to call
the spoils of experience
spring chicken no longer
now more akin
to the speckled hen

in another creation
I might have been
a handsome spotted thrush
with over one hundred
melodic phrases
to my name: but who am I
to speculate as to
what might have been

John Lyons

Green pastures

Landshape 2

                    Landshape 2, John Lyons (70 x 50 cm, oil on canvas)

A painter poet
struggles to convey
the lie of the land
in which certain shapes
dominate and others
are pushed
into the background

I know that I have been here
but can’t remember when
I have dreamt of snow
on the hills and triangles
that rose up beyond the lakes
I have walked for miles
as I slept and passed
through so many doors

What I searched for
was breath and pulse
a warmth and a gentleness
a softness of being
a firmness of ground
beneath my feet
green pastures

John Lyons