The innocence of age


On my walk through the park
       I notice that the shadows
of the trees themselves have aged
       I inspect the corrugated bark
the deep lines on trunk and branch
       how time never passes without
leaving an indelible mark
       on all things and I marvel at
the wisdom of oak and sycamore
       so closely adherent
to the monastic virtue
       of stability

If all things pass some do so
       at a slower pace than others
so I am content to discount
       my dog years and I gaze
defiantly into the mirror—
      what is beautiful is perhaps
an acquired taste : I adore
       the innocence and energy
of young children who skip
       along the paths of their childhood

I know that in time age will
       bend their shadows too
that ash and elm will outlive them
       that their dreams for a while
will touch the golden moon
       until gravity brings them down
to the level earth but that their hearts
       will never be still

John Lyons

Life’s sweet nectar

A red admiral flies
       among the tall poppies
their bright blooms
       dancing in the breeze
the butterfly flits
       from flower to flower
as though counting those
       that have survived
the night sipping
       at the sweet nectar of life

This is not Flanders
       but the memory
is never lost
       At night the petals
are folded away
       tightly closed
within the bud
       but the morning light
brings resurrection
       as each living flower
bares its open soul
       to the sun

John Lyons

The beauty of colour

           Burnt Sienna, John Lyons (40 x 40 cm, oil on canvas)

The beauty of colour
of shade and hue
of darkness and light
an uncluttered space
across which the eye
may travel at leisure
take in the air and allow
the mind to wander
with a ripple of emotion

Into this space
a stake has been driven
a subtle ivory black
buried in the canvas
that remains to be

Almost anything
could occur at this moment
as other gestures as yet unseen
queue to enter the picture
and yet restraint is called for
so as not to overwhelm
this peaceful terrain with a mass
of unwarranted marks
There is still work to be done
but in art as in life as in love
more is often less and less
if often more so let’s wait
and see

John Lyons

The radiance of sunlight

Say that our bodies are beautiful
in the radiance of sunlight
our flesh still warm with the love
we bring to the day
how the regal flow of blood
sets our cheeks aglow
and how we are insatiable for life

As the flower’s beauty is inseparable
from the sum of its parts
each particle plays its part in our being

our intelligence a beacon
amid the arcane mysteries
of cosmos and creation :
how age degrades all things bar love
so that we have nothing to fear
from the edge of the night
nor the silence of daybreak
as long as there is breath on our lips

John Lyons

Corrected text

Where the blood flows

             Reproduction, John Lyons (40 x 40 cm, oil on canvas)

Where the blood flows
       where the flesh is warm
where darkness never
       defeats the light and yet
where the light retains
       dark mysteries of how
life will pan out and how
       love diminishes all pain

Nothing is ever abstract
       every gesture has meaning
every shape and colour
      an intentional composition
a cotton canvas from threads
       plucked from the earth
stretched on a wood frame
       all things deeply rooted
in life and raised up
       by the power of light

Figments of my imagination
       following the intuitions
I scarcely understand
       as I make my way
through life as I stumble
       on through love

John Lyons

The art of love


              Reparations, John Lyons (40 x 40 cm, oil on canvas)

This then is life
       a canvas gone astray
in which the colours
       simply did not work
an abstract landscape
       buried beneath
buff titanium
       just the edges remaining
a few outlines
       to facilitate
a reconstruction
       the right tone of pink
a warmer shade of blue
       and a mingling of green
upon yellow yellow
       upon green

Art is not necessarily
       a one-day event
it can be expeditionary
       a reconnaissance
of unknown terrains
       best to leave markers
in case steps need
       to be retraced

This then is love
       in which feelings
congregate and one
       explores another
and confidences
       are exchanged
and it all begins
       to resemble the way
we pictured it
       in our hearts

John Lyons

One swallow doesn’t make. . .

Swifts and swallows
have yet to appear
in these cloudless skies
from which rain clouds
have been banished

A hot muggy morning
and I think of the distances –
swallows from South Africa
swifts from south of the Sahara
year after year they travel
back and forth to vacation
in these British Isles

One swift one swallow
what does it amount to ?
could you call that
a summer ?

John Lyons

Lear and his daughters

30 x 24_King Lear
                     King Lear, John Lyons (24 x 30 cm, oil on canvas)

A method to the madness
         an underlying grid a pattern
an old canvas pitted with pigment
         swathed in buff titanium
upon which a trellis of cadmium red
         and finally gentle strokes of the brush
to deposit patches of burnt umber
         ashes to ash applied

Out of the earth Lear and his daughters
         and the love that each has or has not
a stage for the passage of time
         for a shift in the power of prevailing winds
Choices choices as the blood circulates
        as the words vanish along with their breath
into thin air : the play is always the thing
         the capture of colour under the fading light

When I was a boy I would have sold
         my kingdom for a horse for a pony
to carry me off into the sunset
         Now age has mottled my skin
and confined me to local horizons
         under a heavy head of silver hair
I gather my dust and count
         the few blessings that remain
: on my lips the tempestuous taste of real love
         as in Spitalfields where the final curtain fell

John Lyons

Out of Eden

             Out of Eden, John Lyons (40 x 40 cm, oil on canvas)

Out of Eden
       there flowed two rivers
through fields of corn
       and barley and rye
and people gathered on the banks
       their eyes fixed upon
the shifting waters
       and the sunlight
that danced on the surface
       : this is where
our ancestors learned
       the shape of love
and where they chose
       their colours

John Lyons

Eden – a work in progress

        Eden – a work in progress, John Lyons (40 x 40 cm, oil on canvas)

Here is land
       laid on canvas
an Eden
       of the imagination
out of which
       two rivers flow

Shapes formed
       from strokes
of the brush
       using colours
out of the earth
       here is light
and time
       to contemplate

the distance
       we have come
since our birth
       all that we have seen
all that we have felt
       all that we have been

The oils have yet to dry
       and when they do
some will be toned down
       others will be intensified
here is Eden
       a work in progress
like us all
       all who love

John Lyons