Under the Mirabeau Bridge

Everything turns into writing     I get it
six feet better than five      Is poetry
a pain killer?     Is art?     I feel my lower back
has gone   :    it must be the heavy load I carry
doc will write me a prescription     make it better
Grace to be pain-free
                     in this vale of tears, Patsy
says and she smiles into her plate of sunny side
eggs    :    hard to tell if she’s being serious or
not sometimes
            Billy the Kid and Jesse James flash
before my eyes      along with Liberty Valance
Strange animal this fevered imagination
of mine        Had he lived Frank O’ would be ninety-six
now    Sad water under the Mirabeau Bridge, she
says as a beautiful tear
                                  blossoms in her eye.

John Lyons

Oscar Wilde – a sketch


      Preliminaries for a portrait of Oscar Wilde, by John Lyons

O sing to me of a man full of wit
a young palm sprung at Apollo’s altar 

A soothsayer a doctor a singer
a craftsman committed to words of truth
The land is our commonwealth provider
of all good things out of the earth and proof

that all that we have is meant to be shared
in times of peace and in times of war when
mine and yours becomes ours and we’re prepared
to discard the sword and live by the pen

John Lyons

In praise of petunias


The violet, white and pink flowers
of the petunia      a hardy plant from
     the tobacco species

The roots of its name derive
from the tupi-guarani
language of Brazil in which
     pety signifies tobacco

It reached Europe
in the mid-16th century
whence petun an old
     French word for tobacco

Its unassuming beauty
rises up through the light
into the air  :  its powerful
scent was believed
     to ward off evil spirits

Though petunia flowers are
symbols of anger and resentment
they are also a symbol of comfort
     and feeling good with someone

John Lyons


Eternal love

With monstrous heat the day’s eyelids open
all is parched    thirsting for a drop of rain
rivers have run dry     and blackbirds have lost
their voices   :   the drought is all pervasive
O sing to me of a man full of wit
a young palm
                  sprung at Apollo’s altar
a soothsayer      a doctor      a singer
a craftsman committed to words of truth
In KaDeWe on that December day
I ate smoked herring and lolled in your love
Snow fell across Berlin and chafed my hands
In the Christmas markets they were selling
comfort and joy and tidings of good will
I asked how long
                      does eternal love last

John Lyons

Patsy’s pearls

There really is no time like the present
poetry    breath    rhythm    the expression
of feeling       of thought      what it is to be
alive and in the moment     Kingfishers
woodpeckers   barn owls   wrens and dragon flies
observed from the hide
                              at the water’s edge
the dense humid smell of vegetation
the rustle of leaves and the play of light
on the river surface     close to where as
children we came with our nets and our jars
to fish for tadpoles
                So much life has passed
over that weir  :   “Way of the world,” pilgrim
Patsy says   “You can never step into
the same brook twice.”
                       Patsy’s pearls of wisdom.

John Lyons

Dark night of the soul

Time flies    stutters    glides   nose-dives    drags its heels
Bottle    half empty     or bottle    half full?
Say how much you love me      Do you or not?
Streams of consciousness into which we can
never step        like never the same river
       Don’t take it personally    but it’s
personal   :   do you see what I see    No
you don’t        because you can’t     Each of us
lost in our own space       mini galaxies
adrift in the cosmos   :   do you read me
over and out       calling planet x y
are you receiving me     I am in love
with you    over   :  and when transmission fails
sadness floods
                      the long dark night of the soul

John Lyons

The Tower

                  St Leonard’s Tower, West Malling

The Tower

Hot sun

Tinging the grey rag-stone

With gold.

Standing proud against,

A blue, blue

Perfect sky.

The sound of thrushes

In the surrounding parched trees,

Two buzzards wheel overhead.

Ancient stones

Laid down long ago,

By men from history

Gundulph or Odo of Bayeaux,

The detail is lost,

In the realms of time.

Casting its shadow

Over the valley

Of long lost hop fields,

And orchards now depleted

Of their succulent fruit.

Molly Rosenberg

For other poems by Molly Rosenberg search “Molly”

Love’s saving grace

Everything turns into writing    Crows
calling to each other across parched fields
a hawk hovers high above the wheat stubble
no rabbits     no hares     a vast emptiness
year after year    crop after crop     the rise
and fall of carbon     wheat     bread    energy
life and death
             names that come and go and are
soon forgotten     :   this is an erasure
universe in which the only constant
is change   
           In the house that Jack built time turns
everything upside down     Poets fight
to stem the tide     build a bulwark of words
remembering love
                        as the saving grace

John Lyons

The law of love

I watch the martens trawl the evening sky
the mystery of life before my eyes,
our brief span on this earth before we die
creation’s law that never ever lies.
       Stumps of time     all our words and deeds,
how many names live on and for how long
before forgotten in a place of weeds
the rich    the poor    the feeble    and the strong
Grace to be born
                        to live the law of love
that makes us worthy children of the stars
to favour over war the peaceful dove
and to forsake the angry way that mars
the beauty of this world that we should share
respecting one and all
                            with gentle care.

John Lyons

And tongues to be. . .

“‘And tongues to be your being shall rehearse,’”
“Just imagine him counting out those words.”
“‘Your monument shall be my gentle verse,’”
“The finest cheese      made from the finest curds.”
Now Patsy has much talent to amuse
In knowledge as in hue she is most fair.
“A challenge I shall set       you can’t refuse
Write me a rhyming sonnet I thee dare.”
My fingers drumming on the table top
I hum and ha while setting to the task.
The neighbours’ dog is barking  :  IT MUST STOP!
Give it a bone
                  is that too much to ask?
The poet struggling helpless and forlorn
Puts down his pen
                         picks up the crumpled horn. 

John Lyons