The descent of angels

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

Above the treetops
       on the horizon
the early birds are
       stretching their wings
practising aerodynamics
       gliding back and forth
as they get a feel
       for the new day

Soon they will be off
       to their feeding grounds
but for now they’re celebrating
       the fact that they have
come through the night –
       they know that there is
food in abundance during
       these summer months
that none of them
       will go hungry

There is a reason
     why we associate
angels with wings and
       though their presence
is mysterious we know too
       that they continually
move among us : sparrows
       are their distant cousins

John Lyons

In calm waters

The thing you are after
       may lie around the next corner
: chance is a fine thing
       down to your last fly
when suddenly you feel a bite
       on the end of the line
a blue sky strewn with thin cloud
       and the sun slowly sinking in the west
and the fish tugs and the rod bends
       and you know that the tussle is on

That we should have what we require
       to get through our days so that the body
is sustained and the soul can breathe
       and there is time to nurse all
that is dear to the heart and that love
       should no longer be a stranger

John Lyons

Enduring love

Out of the darkness
the new day emerges
a stretch of wide water
to cross before nightfall

in the absence of rain
I listen to the rush of blood
pulsing through my veins
and remind myself

that we are in the time of fruit
of tall silent shadows and
so fortunate to be pampered
by nature’s full bounty

Out of the darkness
beauty’s warm flesh emerges
refreshed and ready to renew
its promise of enduring love

John Lyons

Poem for a slow day

What can I say ?
       I hear the gentle mutter
of rain falling
       this grey morning
and a lone pigeon cooing
       somewhere off in the distance
and the sound of a train
       moving down the line

: otherwise the air is still
       not a breath of breeze
a moment all but frozen in time
       a day struggling to get going

John Lyons

Temper and belief

Temper and belief
       as if to say –
the mutability
       of mass and energy
the purpose of human shadows
       the arc of time marked
by the rise and fall of poppies
       the summer rites of butterflies
the miniscule expansion
       of my personal universe
rubbing shoulders
       with all the necessary angels
life the colour of sky and sea
       the full weight of these particles
that press around me

Green will soon turn to gold
       dense clouds will gather
in chromatic clusters
       in some past life
I will chance upon love
       and savour those moments
that will always be
       that will never return

John Lyons

Shakespeare’s Globe


A globule – 
       a small dark cloud
of gas and dust
       seen against the background
of a luminous nebula
       or more simply
a viscous drop of fat
       ball-shaped hence the globe

Falstaff’s belly shifted from Curtain Road
       in Shoreditch to Southwark
all the world within the confines
       love and jealousy and murderous
ambition alongside scholarly indecision
       tears running down their cheeks
of joy and laughter
       of pain and despair
full of the pomp and circumstance
       of life lived out on the boards
the bard with a silver tongue
       who filled that word that name
that astronomical sphere
       with drama with poetry
with all the magical dust
       of human life

John Lyons

I will go to the ocean

I will go to the ocean
feel the breath of it on my face
and breathe in unison with it

and the sun will rise
with all its fierce energy
and will scorch the sand

which I call sea-dust
and I will tread gingerly on it
so that my feet scarcely suffer

and I’ll admire the frigate birds
that ply the waves just off-shore
how patiently they fish for shadows

and at night I’ll count the stars
that have tracked me
and all I ever loved since birth

John Lyons

Deadly nightshade


Isn’t it all an illusion
       the shapes and colours
the proportions
       the perspectives
the assumptions we bring
       to the drawing table ?

What tricks of the trade
       have been employed
what realities have been
       abstracted and brushed over
to be replaced by sheer pigments
       of the imagination ?

John Lyons

Seen on the radio

Summer Couch
Willem de Kooning, Summer Couch, 1943

You get the picture
it’s a shut-in weekend
pale drizzle out on the streets
and Frank is home relaxing

after a hard few days
at the museum office
and he’s listening
to Grieg and to Prokofiev

to relieve those feeling-
sorry-for-oneself feelings
and he’s dreaming
of the painting

Dutch Willem de Kooning
has promised him
and because he’s Dutch
it has an orange bed in it
and Frank muses that it’s
more than the ear can hold

John Lyons