My education

Blue sky bird song thin cloud lying low on
the horizon  How much longer will I
be driven to write these sonnets? And what
is there left to say?
                           Nothing new under
the sun  and readers are tired of weather
reports  and dawn choruses and all the
cute observations  Flora and fauna
have had their day The snows of yesteryear
just another victim of global warm-
ing and all our mutual friends gone to dust
When I was a boy I played as a boy
In the schoolhouse I learned to form letters
a stick of chalk making shapes on a
sheet of slate
                 Seems so primeval today

John Lyons


One species one love

The miracle of life   from a single
cell to phenomenal complexity
simple division leading to multi-
plication  Ev’ry element can be
traced back to the Big Bang
Child’s play  
                the building blocks of creation
There is only one family   one truth
one darkness  one light  one species  one love
and all that has been   still is   and will be
forever   Poor Baudelaire there is no-
where out of the universe   so just en-
joy the dance and celebrate the power
of breath that drives the poem forward and
constantly whets
                         the appetite for life

John Lyons

The eloquence of trees

What Olson noted is that each tree has
its own sound   its own voice   which may vary
with the seasons   and whether there is wind
or not    and depending on its direction
and strength  
               What an acute ear it requires
to identify each species   Perhaps
the birds have it    or certain birds   perhaps
All those years ago   the tamarinds in
Liberia and the afternoon breeze
that lifted the bone dry dust from their leaves
and at night the black sky   peppered with a
billion stars or more    tiny pinpricks of
light     empty universe longing for life
the warm intimacy
                              of human love

John Lyons

There is no forgetting

The chain of memory that binds us to
who we are   There is no forgetting  no
In the face of time’s onslaught we have our
being constructed from particles of
starlight  We are dust of the universe
and each generation rises and falls
perennials alongside the roses
and the daffodils
                    and all things that bloom
Through reproduction nature tries and tries
to attain perfection   paragons of
beauty  and so too the shape of the soul
So too your lips and the curve of your cheeks
It was not difficult to love you  no
You were ev’rything
                               I ever wanted

John Lyons

Wild pansy

Wild Pansy

Johnny jump up  take note of botany’s
beauty   the florid floral music of
viola tricolor   Jump up and kiss
me   How soft  the red lips the petalled cheek
The subject of poetry’s poetry
just as dance is dance  
                                the rhythm as words
cross the page   the dancer   creeping   ramping
leaping   pirouetting   pursed lips pouting
Where are the snowflowers of yesteryear
that failed to outflank parasitic death?
In the house that Jack built we believe in
poetry’s afterlife  Who will read us
when we are long gone?
                            Dear reader you did

John Lyons

Revised text

Now at the moth hour

Bright moon-pearl in the shimmering waters
This river has been a constant thread through-
out my life   How many times have I strolled
back and forth across its bridges? With and
without purpose
                         and in or out of love
Days when I have counted the cormorants
lolling on the iron barges moored mid-stream
listened to the raucous cry of gulls and
quietly aged   Anglers are casting their flies
from the end of the pier   Never once have
I seen a single fish pulled from the depths
Now at the moth hour as the strands of day-
light unravel   an ev’ning star appears
Dust gently settles
                         on all ends of things

John Lyons

For we are old

The small talk has dried up   for we are old
Many have gone and those who remain have
all but forgotten their youth when the world
was full of promise   It’s true that some still
cling to the past
                        but their narratives are
worn threadbare in the telling   Among them
the most lucid are those who remember
their first love    and that sweet sensation of
lips touching lips as eyes met and one hand
grasped another    how together they strolled
down to the river and watched in silence
the water’s timeless flow  Wisdom comes at
a price and it seems that almost always
what is learned comes too late
                                          and we are old

John Lyons

Suppose a new mercy

Suppose it is a new mercy   a kiss
perhaps from once upon a long ago
a brief return to that other eden
Words words words
               and the same old story  Cut
to the past  There was a time and a place
when butter wouldn’t melt and tulips came
from Amsterdam and we danced under a
watermelon moon    And another night
when my fingers froze as we sailed the dark
Danube and you leaned in to tell me a
winter’s tale of a betrayal you had
suffered at the hands   And in your eyes I
could see the silent river flowing out
to sea   So let’s suppose
                                    a new mercy

John Lyons