In my dreams

In my dreams
       no stars no moon
no roses
       no sweet lavender
no road to paradise
       no sea breaking
softly on the shore
       no nectar on my tongue

no light but the light
       in your eyes
no sound but the murmur
       of your breath felt gently
against my cheeks
       in my dreams

John Lyons


The surface of things

Looking outwards
a hill topped
by ancient woodland
a pale-blue sky in which
the white clouds are drifting
slowly northwards

In the face
of a stiff breeze
the trees are standing
their ground
but there are dry
golden leaves floating
in the air

This is the season
of sweet chestnut
that soon I will gather
and roast and turn
into a delicious soup

Today no rain
has fallen
but at dawn I heard
the gnashing of foxes’ teeth
and shortly after
the raucous cry of gulls
unusual for them to be
so far from the river

Sometimes it takes
virtually nothing

for a day to be sublime

John Lyons

Love swept away

This is the world
       in which we walk
: leaves peppered
       with dark spots
and shotholes and
       cankers on the trunk
and dieback
       here and there
on the branches
       or blossom blast
in spring or
       early summer
when flowering shoots
       wilt or wither

And the question – why is it
       that disease is
an integral part
       of nature’s process ?
and why do some trees
       die while most survive ?

I stand on the ocean shore
       in awe of its eternal tides
No silence can compete
       with its incessant roar
no rock can withstand
       its ravenous tongue
and I think of her gentle face
       and of all the love
that time so simply
       swept away

The angels live among us

The earth
       so full of life
so full of truth
       another word
for universe
       that which
never lies –
       the riddle
of the sands
       But behind
every paradox
       every mystery
lie explanations
       and meanings

The innocent smile
       of a young child
the purity
      of her message –
as she left the tube
       she turned to thank
all her fellow passengers
       and to bid them goodbye
These are the angels
       true messengers
who speak only
       of goodness and love
the earth so full
       of truth and love

John Lyons

By Blackfriars Bridge

The dance of light
           on the river surface
the silver waters
           carried out to sea

By Blackfriars Bridge
           a cormorant perches on one
of the abandoned red piers
           of the old Chatham and Dover

It pauses for a moment
           in its day perhaps to catch
its breath if indeed birds
           do get breathless and

have to catch their breath
           I see so many birds
darting too and fro
           as though their lives

depended on such frenzy
           and quite possibly they do
slaves as they are
           to their appetites

unlike us who have
           domesticated time
and with it so much
           of the world around us

John Lyons

Flat earth

Flat earth

             Flat earth, John Lyons (30 x 25 cm, oil on canvas)

A topography
of the flat mineral earth

of fields and pastures
fertile in the imagination

a surface upon which
colours have been laid

and certain symmetries
marked out which please

the mathematical eye
the circle of life

from root to rust
finally squared

John Lyons

A phrase from Rachmaninoff


I have a mental picture
           of the poet Frank O’Hara sitting
in his apartment
           on a glorious New York summer’s day
He’s wearing a crisp
           white shirt and new sneakers
and is nervously tapping his fingers
           on his desk in time
to a phrase from Rachmaninoff
           that has been running
through his head
           ever since he woke

Through an open window
           he can also hear the city creating
its usual dusty cacophony
           he also has an eye on the clock
: the friend who is giving him
           the ride to the beach is late
and he has so been
           looking forward to the trip

Just then the doorbell rings
           and at once
he is overcome
           by the sudden surge of love
in his heart and struggles
           to get to his feet
fearing he might drown
           in the emotion

John Lyons

Ode to autumn

orange flowers

            Orange flowers, John Lyons (oil on wood)

Finally the fallen leaves

       are turning from copper
to pure gold
       This is the currency
that poets eagerly mine
       each autumn
It’s a subject that appeals
       to their inner Keats
the mellow sadness
       of a year on the way out

       Richardson’s Pamela
called herself
       a piece of painted dirt
and so it is
       the cycle in and out
of the earth
       the human comedy
one door closes
       another door opens
and while there is breath
       there is hope
and where there is life
       there is love

Whose hands are those
       painted on the cave walls
men women children
       the whole community ?
The caves are time capsules –
       behind the art is the perception
that creation goes the distance
       and that the thread of life
is eternal and breath alone powers
       the thread of love

John Lyons