Love’s hard lines

minor detail
          Minor detail, John Lyons (oil on canvas)

Figment done
        in pigment :
the devil
        is in the detail
a composition
        to raise a hue
and cry

If you must have it
        at least let me see
the colour
        of your money

Here there is
        light and darkness
within the geometry
        of chaos

A representation
        of mood
of a life lived
        on the hoof
a mere hint at
        the hard lines
of the love left
        in her wake

John Lyons


Eternal art


Two peppers
        painted for no reason
green and white pigment
        on a background
of cadmium yellow
        on a circle of wood :
rough surface
        rough texture

The old argument
        art versus nature
rehearsed down
        the centuries :
that which lives
        and breathes
and that which may
        last forever

John Lyons

Emigrant song

They let the grass
grow high in the meadow
then bring in the sheep
to keep it trim

In one corner
the church with its
tall steeple : on
summer days
it casts a long

So many shadows
in their blighted lives

Here so many hearts
failed as the years
bled them to death

Everywhere else
was a land of plenty
and love was the ticket

She finally left
when the roses
were in bloom

One summer’s day
For years nobody
noticed she was gone

John Lyons

Out of the air

Out of the air
out of the sun
out of the earth
all beauty

a world
made flesh
the bone and blood
by the warmth
of her breath

the long hair
that spins
in the wild wind
that lashes
her ruddy cheeks

her voice strung
with the strings
of a harp
I could listen
for hours
for a lifetime

watch her fingers
admire the spoils
of her handiwork

Those were fine days
never to be forgotten
a life lived
in the shape of love

John Lyons

Sunshine brings out the best

A gaggle of geese
overhead heading
for a family reunion
at Blackheath
by the pond
     where willows weep

Sunshine brings out
the best in us
the best being
that ability to live
     in the moment

To love in the moment
grateful for small mercies
Life and death
     at our fingertips

The grass is greener
in winter : parched
     under summer skies

My advice ?
Identify a single star
and stick with it
rain or shine
     thick or thin

And a dose of love
     can do no harm

John Lyons

Party time

Steel fireworks
How charming these illuminations
     Artificer’s artifice
Lends a little style to courage

Two air-burst shells
Pink explosion
Like two breasts set loose
Their nipples insolently pointing
                  What an epitaph

A poet in the forest
       His revolver half-cocked
Observes with indifference
Roses dying of hope

He thinks of Saadi’s roses
And suddenly his head slumps
When a rose reminds him
Of the soft curve of her hip

The air stinks with a terrible alcohol
Filtered by half-closed stars
The shells caress the soft
Night perfume where you rest
     Mortification of the roses

Guillaume Apollinaire
(translation by John Lyons)

Note: A later version of this poem appeared in the previous post

Warrior roses – Apollinaire

Celebration with steel lanterns
How charming these illuminations
Murderous fireworks
But with courage one has a good time

Two rockets pink explosion
Like two breasts that one releases
Insolently point their nipples
What a lover What an epitaph

A poet in the forest
Observes with indifference
His half-cocked revolver
The roses dying in silence

Roses from an abandoned park
And which he gathers at the fountain
At the end of the diverted path
Where each evening he strolls

He thinks of Sâdi’s roses
And suddenly his head slumps
When a rose reminds him
Of the soft curve of her hip

The air is filled with a terrible alcohol
Filtered by half-closed stars
The shells sob in their flight
The amorous death of roses

September 1915
Guillaume Apollinaire
(translation by John Lyons)

From Poèmes à Lou, a series of poems Apollinaire sent from the front line in letters addressed to his girlfriend at the time.

The waste of memory

The waste of memory—
        digital images caught
on devices doomed
        to obsolescence
with the advance
        of new technologies

Once upon a time
        a mind was sufficient
to recall happy times
        places where love
was shared
        on a day full of sun
and laughter
        a birth
a marriage
        significant moments
of pride or pleasure
        or achievement

Once upon a time

There is no return
        no way back
to the vast empty days
        we leave in our wake

One day I may struggle
        to recall that I ever loved you
in those days when no one
        was dearer to my heart :
a certain dress you wore
        in a certain unforgettable
location growing dimmer
        by the day
even as the sunlight fades
        One day will one day
be the last and all our loves
        and all our regrets
will be lost forever
        and a day

John Lyons

The mind has mountains

What gives shape to a life
        the physical features
the scuttling back and forth
        the hills climbed
the seas in which we bathed
        the dry dust of different cities
different arrays of stone
        and in the distance mountains
and deep valleys
        our bodies ever changing
growing and adapting
        and ultimately ageing
and all the while
        the emotional features
shaping our feelings
        our hopes and dreams
ideas of romance
        ideas of love
ideas of achievement
        as we reconcile
to almost inevitable
        failures and count
our blessings

Hopkins wrote
        of the topography
of the mind
        that rollercoaster
of the inner life
        the one we live
silently to ourselves
        knowing that we are
our own deepest
        mystery : easier
to know another
        to see through
the pretences
        the subterfuges
        out of fear : and yet
the truth
        will aways out

Hopkins who clung
        to the precipice of faith
by his fingertips
        who feared the darkness
into which his heart
        might one day plunge

John Lyons

Shape of things to come

Shape of things to come, John Lyons (30 x 25 cm, oil on canvas)

A map of the face
a few salient features
        a few boundaries
unworldly colours
        applied impasto

the gaze is there
        the expression
all that the artist
that the viewer
        will see
the broad forehead
        darkness and light
an air of authority
        ermine and red velvet
princely or despotic
        shape of things to come

John Lyons