Brief lives


Farewell Vanessa atalanta
farewell my admirable
red admiral – beloved mariner
of the summer skies
your brief life lived
on gilded mealy wings

From nettle patch
to wooded nettle patch
your days so brief
have brought such joy

So the lavender
so the wilted lilies
so the intricacies of all
that is dust by dust
shall be reclaimed

Under moonlight
under autumn mists
a final dalliance
and you’ll be gone

Such is the way of the world
within a rose’s memory
what love there is
what love there was
all things must pass

John Lyons

The passing of flowers


There is no aim
       to clean cut flowers –
to be frank they are
       an unnecessary need
We place them
       upon pedestals
we water them
       with affection
we say we love them
       we admire them
from all angles
       they centre our rooms
and light up the hours
       of our lives that are
themselves mere petals : and
       when their stems droop
and their blooms
       fall apart we mourn
their passing just as
       we mourn the passing
of our loves and all things that
       must necessarily pass

John Lyons

Sweet bird-of-paradise


       more than meets the eye
stiff erect leathery leaves
       bluish green with perhaps
a red midrib
       held aloft on a long petiole

the orange and blue flowers
       have two erect pointed petals
and five stamens :
       the flower bract is shaped
like a boat
       with green and red borders
—it bears fruit capsules
       containing numerous seeds

An angel masquerading
       as exotic flora
its role is to induce calm
       in the eye of the beholder
so much effortless beauty
       rising out of the earth
its silence announces
       that all will be well and that
wherever it is present
       there will be peace and love

John Lyons

The laurel forests of Madeira

Laurel Forest Madeira

We travelled north
       through the mountains
through the town of São Vicente
       —lush evergreen laurel forest
on either side of the road
       the deep emerald vegetation
obscuring the rough terrain shaped
      by volcanoes long extinct

That day the sun shone
       and the air felt cool and fresh
as we climbed into the hills
       and here and there we saw
tall torrents of mineral water
       cascading perpendicularly
into streams that churned
       in beds lined with pumice

And arriving at the shore in Seixal
       with its tall rugged cliffs
where these thin rivulets plunged
       abruptly over the edge
into the aimless sea I thought
       of time and love and light and
all things that at the end of the day
       spread out into nothing

John Lyons

Love’s resurrection


                       Pochomil, Nicaragua

A place of kindness
       of fresh-cut flowers
and rounded gestures
       of deep affection

eyes streaming sunlight
       the words whispered
on her lips brighter
       than any stars

Last night in vain
       the moon sought
to distract me
       from her beauty

A place of silence
       a delta through which
endless passion flows
       into an unmapped sea

Shores I walked with her
       under shade of palm
soft sand underfoot
       and time teeming

breath of poetry
       of instants captured
utterly eternal resurrection
       of love

John Lyons

True colours

gate adjust

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

These birds too
       know that it’s September
they also have their calendars
       and live from season to season
acting in accordance
       with the earth’s mood

They see the leaves falling
       they see dew on the grass
at first light and they observe
       the behaviour of squirrels
harvesting for the winter ahead
       and they sense
in the silence in the skies
       as summer visitors depart
to warmer climes
       that life will shortly form
a tighter fist
       and that some but not all
will soon struggle to survive –
       they know more than we know

John Lyons

Edited from earlier today

Just words


From this distance in time
         that rearward vision
as life unravels
         leaf after autumn leaf
falling through the drizzle
         all those moments captured
in wordy recollections
         the winnowing wind
of memory
         me picking my way
through the text
         of my past

Where would I be
         without those words
when love was in flames
         A world unwoven
only to be threaded
         together again
poetry to exalt
         the present and the real
built on the bridge
         of what went before

John Lyons

The red ball gown

How the words fall
       the occasion of words
or words for an occasion
       words that tell a story
or words that are the story
       pivotal words not merely
yes or no but found to be
       at every inflection of our lives
words in the midst of silence
       intriguing or decisive words

A widow in a wise veil
       a careless colour applied
to a carefree canvas
       a meal consumed
without animosity
       words measured so as
not to cause offence
       or precisely the opposite
: if a silence is not observed
       does it exist does it ?

A luscious red ball gown
       laid across a bed –
who will wear it and
       will she or won’t she ?
And if love is not observed
       does it exist does it?

John Lyons

Universe with a light touch

globe 2

    Universe, John Lyons (oil on wood)

A universe with a light touch
all that power all that energy

and still the lightest of touches
time and distance and light

and temperature and in the midst
a light touch gentle and delicate

lips that brush a forehead
or a finger that caresses a cheek

fire and destruction and fault lines
that tear the earth apart and

all the time birth to replace death
and love that binds hearts forever

John Lyons