Sonata in oils

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

The painting is the puzzle
the painting is the journey

the painting is the gateway
a way in and a way out

the painting is a process
inchoate incomplete

perhaps never to be
finitely finished but simply

jettisoned out through the door
and into the outer world

John Lyons


Declaration of independence

Everything is there
       in the poems
and in the paintings
       and in the small
wooden sculptures
       and in my silence

I have nothing more
       to say on the subject
no clever definitions
       no neat explanations

I am fascinated by
       the stealthy growth of trees
and by the secret destinations
       of swallows and angels
I prefer to be in love
       rather than not
but sorry to say I have
       nothing else to add

John Lyons

Love’s artery

           Inferno, John Lyons (paper collage)

Let’s describe this

       as a cauldron of colour
light and energy
       bubbling away
soft pinks and blood reds
       with dark clouds
gathering at the rear
       the ragged edges
of torn paper laid
       on a bed of white card
one day collaged
       upon another and so
the picture builds up
       could be a fiery heaven
or an icy hell
       a state of mind
or simply an outburst
       of activity

But where
       you may ask
are the people ?
       where is there
anything familiar ?
       it’s all feeling
but feeling for what ?
       a life consumed
as a smokeless fuel
       moments of anger
moments of passion
       arterial moments of love

John Lyons

This welcome rain

This welcome rain
       for which the earth
has so long thirsted
       the dust it will dissolve
and drain away
       leaving the streets
refreshed and the grass
       greener and the trees
in the ancient woodland
       majestically resplendent

Each day is a page turned
       in this life-script
and sometimes I marvel
       at the distance I have travelled
since I sang as a child
       and gathered chestnuts
in autumns past
       and such a long time
in which to grow old
       in my young heart

A frame a time frame
       in which to fit
a pretty picture
       cheekbones and long
flowing sable hair
       and hazel eyes
a breathless beauty
       and however much love
a man and woman can live
       and never tire

John Lyons

The lie of the land

         The lie of the land, John Lyons (9 x 13 cm collage)

This is what it’s like

       to be caught
in the warp and weft
       of being
the fabric of our existence

We have needs
       beyond our means
dreams that may be
and we fear above all
       the loss of love

Our lives are filled
       with equipment and devices –
so many things we no longer
       know how to do for ourselves
our homes have become
       territories which we guard
with our lives
       we have become investments
and pander to so many idols
       blinding ourselves
to the work of angels
       who move constantly among us

Perfection is there
       in the webs of spiders
in nature’s silk
       in the beauty of roses
or the soaring flight
       of sparrowhawks

But there are no vacancies
       in the natural world
and none need apply
       creation has its work to do
its solar systems to build
       while we are tasked
with something quite simple
       merely to love and
to allow ourselves
       to be loved

John Lyons

Gateway to love

        Gateway to love, John Lyons (40 x 40 cm, oil on canvas)

Sometimes the best poetry
       for the moment is composed
of silence : just as sparrows
       do not sing all day long
a pause a respite a lull
       is always welcome
rather than
       a glut or an excess

Broad margins
       of white space
a huge empty sky
       blue by all accounts
waves of transparent air
       shifting imperceptibly
a kind of nothingness
       of fulfilment

What I want to tell you
       is. . .
but it can wait
       just allow me to be
the one beside you
       basking in your beauty
loving you wordlessly without
       so much as a sigh

John Lyons

Once in a while

Once in a while
a story within a story
a life within a life
with leaves falling
and wet pavements
and early morning mists
and the memory of chestnuts
roasted over an open fire
and how long it takes
to be a year
with so much hope

Once in a while
all is well with the world
and things fall into place
and the time is ripe
and nobody notices
the passing hours
and here is a bridge
crossing the river Seine
where on a summer’s day
we paused
and held each other
in a gentle embrace

Once in a while
there is not much further
to go before nightfall
and contentment is the order
of the day and we are pleased
with ourselves
and what we have achieved
the pleasures we have taken
the short and the long
and not a chance missed
and love is as endless
as a piece of string

John Lyons

What a difference a day makes

Seen from my window
       a dragonfly and
a cabbage white
       both aimless drifters
in the early autumn sun –
       they know that winter
is coming they sense it
       in their bones
in the state of play
       around them and
there appears to be
       an urgency in their flight
a desire perhaps to make
       the last of the hay
while the sun shines
       the best of it at least

Today is Tuesday
       and as good a day
as any to live it up –
       whatever time means
to these creatures
       there are still only
twenty-four hours in a day
       and the difference
a day makes may be
       between life and death

John Lyons

The poetic vocation

I put my back into it
have done so for years
as long as I can remember
I am a poet by the seat
of my pants a verbal
construction worker
I keep my eyes peeled
my job being to notice
and to say what I see
and to make sense
of my senses

Am I always sure
of where I’m heading ?


I feel my way through life
I lay myself open
and I have known
joy and pain and have
learnt to distinguish
one from the other

Sometimes the poetry
is in the detail
a robin a sparrow
and angel on the street corner

sometimes it’s
in the moment
a kiss a birth

On most days I go
for the low hanging fruit
occasionally I excel myself
very occasionally
when I reach for the heights
Every number is a fragment
of infinity and so I live the life –
in my heart there’s always room
for more love
Poetry is for those who have
time on their hands

John Lyons

What lifts the grey day

What lifts the grey day
       out of sadness
is the beauty of thought
       of word or of deed
the beauty that is inherent
       in being or what poets call
beauty’s beauty
       the sheer breath of life
the pure flesh of a face
       that smiles and utters
words of love
       womb-innocent children
whose thirst for knowledge
       is in itself endless adventure

John Lyons