Matrix in yellow and umber

Matrix, John Lyons (20 x 20 oil on canvas)

Matrix in yellow and umber

The past is another country
           the under-painting obliterated
for better or worse
           I have moved on
and with the application
           of simple colours
I have created a matrix
           of sorts
large patches of cadmium yellow
           smaller patches of raw umber
on a background of thinly applied
           cadmium red diluted with liquin

I love the haphazard nature
           of moving paint
with a palette knife
           so capturing the moment
life as it is breathed
           and the motions quick
and almost automatic
           so that the hand obeys
the eye
           rather than the brain
these paintings may
           mean nothing
to the spectator
           but to me they are
distillations of my life
           and represent
at the same time
           fragments of discovery
of who I am
           of what my purpose is
and what constitutes love
           and very much more

John Lyons


What the shoes show


What the shoes show

This is Paris
           just before Bastille Day
in the flat where we stayed
           and these are our shoes
parked together at night
           my boots dusty
from our walk through
           the Jardins des Tuileries

This was the day you took me
           for a martini at the Ritz
the day we visited
           the Fondation Louis Vuitton
with its spectacular waterfall
           the day we rode the Ferris wheel
and I photographed you
           in your floral print dress
and we held hands
           and we were in love

John Lyons

Revised and corrected

Play upon the heart

Play upon the heart

The words of the poem
           play upon the mind
they say look up
           from the page
and notice all
           that is around you
take note of the detail
           the state of the world
local and at large
           and of those souls
who move back and forth
           upon its surface
look into their eyes
           and observe their gestures
listen to the qualities
           of their breath
what purpose
           are they about

The words of the poem
           play upon the heart
to love the world
           and those who live
around you
           be generous
in your judgment
           and with your love
because you will want
           to be loved in return
the hands of the clock
           on the cathedral tower
have not moved in years
           what is essential in life
is timeless just as love
           is endless

John Lyons

Norwalk in the Fall

Norwalk in the Fall

Years that come and go
          —through Harlem
on a train out to Norwalk
           in the late Fall of 1976
the lakes brimming with sunlight
           the trees decked
in richly variegated
           copper tones
the air dry and cool

Chicago singing on the radio
           If you leave me now
met by my father’s second cousin
           her hair the deep rust
of autumn leaves
           her house in a clearing
in the forest
           her voice soft in the silence
my heart aching
           for a lost love

John Lyons

Love’s dying flame

Love’s dying flame

In the drift of days
           in the swirl
of autumn leaves
           I tabulate her absence

Smoke rises
           into the pale September sky
and butterflies in their final hours
           coast on the gentle flow of air

Love once shaped our lives
           and our bodies
burned with desire
           but time has reduced us
to memories
           of better times

The butterflies
           will return in spring
when we will rekindle
           love’s dying flame

John Lyons


Love is what it is

Love is what it is

It is what it is
           love that is
a universe
           to which not a jot
can be added
           or taken away

Budapest Paris
           Venice Chartres
these were stellar
           moments that will
illuminate my life

Just as we left a trail
           with traces of love
wherever we passed
           through the streets
of London

This quantum love
           is what it is
it cannot be denied
           it cannot be erased
it cannot be undermined
           or usurped
it is as though it had
           a life of its own
and that in its energy
           and its mass
it will run on for all eternity
           and it will

For my part I forget nothing
           I have forgotten nothing
her hair her eyes
           her lips her subtle smile
embedded in the depths of my blood
           in my altered DNA

and whether in the days and months
           and the years to come
we are side by side
           or far apart and
whether we’re talking still
           or have been engulfed
by silence
           it is as it is
and as it always was
           and as it always will be

John Lyons