Her hands are never still

Tender and true : a little piece to play
on the piano : an exercise out
of which joy spreads its contagion throughout
the house just as the sun distributes its
light during the day
                       and puts us to bed
when night falls : an audience comes in all
shapes and sizes and love is a thing that
happens    I remember a hand pruning
roses and another using scissors
to cut out a pattern for a dress
When life entered the front door we were taught
to shake it by the hand    When Patsy sleeps
her hands are never still   I asked her what’s
this secret life you lead :
                                she doesn’t know

John Lyons


Love is not gentle

From my window a deep blue velvet sky
moments before the day dips into dark-
ness  :  a moon will shortly follow and stars
and an eerie silence unbroken by
dogs or the final vespers of small birds
Love is not gentle
                        its dust fills the room
though it may happen anywhere where two
are gathered in its name    If you could see
me now or if you could hear my beating
heart you’d realise that I am intent
on rescuing the fallen hours we shared
Inner and outer space are reconciled
at night restoring the knowledge that all
our acts of love
                    are preserved for all time

John Lyons

The hours of final thirst

If these are the hours of final thirst and
all you have is love    count yourself lucky
Sheltered from the wind and rain    enjoy your
kingdom comforts
                 in that warm place where the
heart rules and sweet kisses are the order
of the day     Even in the grey winter light
consider your good fortune and swallow
the elixir of simple affections
Nothing is more becoming than the broad
smile of satisfaction    The lure of smart
clothes and sparkling jewels is beneath contempt
Money corrodes in the darkest of graves
where the eyes of blind ambition are fin-
ally closed—
               may poetry protect you ! 

John Lyons

In Memoriam : Bernadette Mayer

Bernadette Mayer
Bernadette Mayer (1945-2022)

Hush!  Hush! A soul has passed from one realm to
another, a poetic soul, full of
words, has passed into the eternal land-
scape, a soul obsessed with the beauty of
life in all its particulars      Winter
has come and now
                     we must hold our breath till
spring, but you, Bernadette, are beyond breath
Of and like the air, you’ve become a star
fixed in our firmament      We raise our eyes
and gaze up at the light that illumin-
ates your poetry    Your going brings you
closer to us all and we remember
with affection
                 the beauty of your verse

John Lyons

Monotony is a careless climate

Love is an occasion for surprises
such as a full moon through a wintry sky
whatever brings clearness or a vibrant
bouquet of roses   
                     or pure white lilies
Monotony is a careless climate
it leads to awkward moments of forget-
fulness and to mercenary changes
that only an unexpected song can
rectify       Narrow suspicions under-
mine the heart in which case emergency
gestures are required – a call – a cadence
Why you might ask is there a difference
between one window and another? Such
sadness should not
                 be allowed to take root

John Lyons

It snowed overnight

It’s 8.37 of a Tuesday
morning and I am struggling to know what
to write     Patsy is still fast asleep and
she looks like an angel who has become
marooned in my bed
                           It snowed overnight
and from my window I can see it has
left a fine dusting on the sidewalks and
parked cars     Last night before falling asleep
I was musing on the relationship
between space and love     the arena or
theatre within which these feelings unfold
and how we navigate the distances
and are able to sense the presence of
those we love
                however much we’re apart

John Lyons

A beautiful beam of light


Tell me Alice, what is the difference
between right away and a pearl? A pearl
is milk white and right away is at once:
this is a good explanation indeed
Happily very happily Alice
embroidered linens and Gertrude threaded
strands of silken words
                      through page after page
Neither woman felt interdiminished
For Guillaume Apollinaire crystal tears
were shed. Pin ware, fancy teeth, stout caesar.
Wet syllables in the rue de Fleurus
Picasso painted sobs for the deceased,
Alice pickled plums while Gertrude admired
a beautiful beam
                  of light in the room

John Lyons

Revised version

Solace – Molly Rosenberg




WB dominated my thoughts,
His ‘Bee loud glade‘
Buzzed through my mind,
Bringing such longing ,
To go far away to that
Special place.


WB still dominating my thoughts,
Another century indeed,
Now I have my own,
‘Bee loud glade’

No plane, no car, no sea to sail,
Just an open door to,
A special place,
Where the bees buzz,
In the lavender,
Landing on the Lilly pads,
In the cool greenness,
They sate their thirst.

We truly have had our
Wings clipped,
Our horizons
The world holds
Its breath,
Yet there is a
Solace and a
Quenching to be had,
If only we can find
Our own ‘Bee loud glade.

Molly Rosenberg

Molly’s beautiful lyric is inspired by W B Yeats’ https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/43281/the-lake-isle-of-innisfree

Pablo Neruda – Sonnet 44


You’ll be aware that I do and don’t love you
since there are two modes to life,
the word is a wing of silence,
and there’s a cold side to fire.

I love you in beginning to love you
to reengage in what is infinite
and so as never to stop loving you:
that’s why I still don’t love you.

I do and don’t love you as though I held
in my hands the keys to happiness
and an uncertain fate of unhappiness.

My love has two lives with which to love you,
that’s why I do love you when I don’t
and why I do love you when I do too.

Pablo Neruda

From One Hundred Love Sonnets

Translation by 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