The flesh and bone of it

This is the flesh and bone of it
whether to be or not to be
the doubts and the indecisions
that make a mockery of time

Fine sand shifting in the clear waters
the gentle roll of waves on the shore
and in the distance an empty eternity
that constantly reminds us of how far

we have travelled and how far
we have to go and the slow dawning
of knowledge that tells us that love
is an answer but not the answer

that something deeper needs to occur
before even love can find a safe haven
I watch the boats that ferry passengers
from place to place from one arena

to another and with them they carry
their secret hopes and fears
their dreams and their ambitions
and I wonder where their true loves lie

John Lyons

Love on the ocean edge

We sat on the volcanic shore
watched the cool blue sea
turn over and over
felt the sun fierce on our flesh
saw the children cavorting
in the warm water

Nature has its own passion
it shapes the land
and offers us a compendium
of time and space and energy
We who are part of it
can become lost in it
We who long for love
and so easily lose it

John Lyons

The sparrowhawk

Broad wings and short head
the yellow-eyed sparrowhawk
is a determined spitfire
with a straight unerring flight

Observe the deep wingbeats
the short flat glides
with closed tail

Its song is more akin
to the screech
of the small rodents
it hunts without mercy

It knows instinctively
what it wants out of life

John Lyons

Love dust

Grey sky and enigmatic sea 
       the colour of molten lead
What will lift the day
       into another dimension
What fresh flowers will bloom
       beneath this sullen sun

Cats stray from roof to roof dragging
       the empty hours behind them
: here but for the sparrow hawks
       there is bird silence

Each place has its own truth
       its own sounds and textures
and in the skies at night a brilliant
       brotherhood of unique stars

Who can fail to dream
       when they observe them
who can fail to long for endless love
       when all the rest is dust ?

John Lyons

Lovelessness

Funchal

What shall I call it
the enigmatic ocean –
white ships sailing
upon it like lost souls
dwarfed in its immensity

It has no meaning
it has no purpose
other than to be –
to curl its briny lips
upon distant shores

Like the moon and stars
it stirs the imagination
and feeds our dreams
but after seventy years
of days and nights
I have no answers
except to say that I know
where love lies and
where it does not

John Lyons

Looking out across the ocean

Say that the ocean is infinite
that it has no beginning
that it has no end
a thin grey line stretches out
on the horizon beyond which
I see nothing

at night it sleeps beneath
the stars and the moon
it moves gently and deeply
and yet has nowhere to go

and in that it bears the shape
of all eternities
imagine a love that stretched out
in all directions
one that had no beginning and no end
one within which love thrived
and in which the fish and the dolphins
and all manner of creatures
brushed against the lovers
and envied their words and their kisses

Say that every instant in its moment
is infinite and endless so that
it embraces an ocean of time

I study the flat surface teased
by a soft breeze so that it ripples
like the skin of a woman
whom I caress with infinite tenderness
The ocean has no lips
it has no words to express
all that it feels
it simply is as I simply am
as love simply is

John Lyons

Madeiran serenade

That night as you slept
       by the ocean’s edge
bright stars appeared
       in the black sky

New constellations formed
       and shone over your head
– they chased away
       the dark shadows
that have haunted your dreams
       for years

In your silence
       you slept like an angel
your wings folded beneath you
       your breath slow and peaceful
your heart at one with the world :
       and I thought how wonderful
for you and I to be alive
       at this time in this place

John Lyons

Terms of endearment

A tower set
in the countryside
from the top of which
the old poet looks out
surveys the rolling hills
the patches of dense thicket

Above him the air moves
aimless clouds
in shifting formations
and a silence all around him
and deeper still within

No advantage
from this vantage point
the steps ascended
will need to be reversed
to bring him down to earth

And in the steps there are years
there are recollections of all the times
the roses bloomed and the scent
of lavender and lilac caught him
off guard and it was summer
once again

how at moments the past
becomes transparent and all is seen
as though yesterday
and all the accumulations
of personal knowledge
are there to behold
as real as the geraniums
on the sill

memory is in the nature of things
just as all is recorded for all time
and its presence is constant
in the faculty of love so that
under the spun sky no kiss
no term of endearment
is ever lost

John Lyons

Starstruck – a fragment

Out of the cocoon
       of the warm womb
the child emerges
       first breath
first tears
       first lesson in life

out of the earth
       all that lives and breathes
the mother of invention
       earth the mother-ship
drifting through space
       fuelled by the stars

where do you get
       all your energy she asked
in silence he raised his eyes
       to the heavens

John Lyons

The second coming

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

I make minor adjustments
       to yesterday’s canvas
a thin additional strip
       of cobalt blue
and an enlargement
       of the buff titanium patch

Remnants of the underpainting
       are clearly visible
and I am deciding whether or not
       to eliminate them although
they’re a part of the painting’s history
       or should I say archaeology

Whatever –
       the painting is still there
lurking in a corner of my study
       and I gaze at it from time to time
looking for small pointers
       listening for signs that might
in some manner enrich it
       before I let it loose

John Lyons