A feather in her cap

A feather in her cap

Needs needs needs
           needs needs
fervent lovers
           and austere scholars
poetry and peaches
           what makes for
a satisfying life
           for a soft purr

roses in bloom
           the buzz of bees
collecting pollen
           a swallow or two
a lake in which to swim
           or a boat in which to row
the long summer days stretched
           into slow dawns

a short walk to heaven
           she bends at the knee
she swallows a fig
           chews on a celery stick
is entirely at home
           in her flesh
love is a feather
           in her cap

John Lyons

On a dark night on a sunny day

On a dark night on a sunny day

A cluster of words
           and how words cling
           on a dark night
on a sunny day
           so that in the sense of it all
words have their locations
           just like everything else

And Gertrude asks
What is a hinge ?
           and amiably answers
it’s a location
           just as love is

our lives hinge necessarily
           on and around those we love
and there are many other hinges
           just as our lives move in all directions
and many clothes hang in many wardrobes
           and if we keep our eyes peeled
we notice that there are clusters
           all around us
separations and segregations
           one quorum at breakfast
another at supper
           another at lunch

and we mind what happens
           to those we love
just as we mind the time
           and naturally the moment
and make the happiest of arrangements
           and life is a kind of exercise
and sometimes we get better at it
           and sometimes we don’t
and in order for our sanity to survive
           we first forgive ourselves
for all our frail imperfections and then
           we forgive others for theirs
and pray that they
           will respond in kind

John Lyons

Heart of the matter

Heart of the matter

A window
           into your heart
what vapours
           what steam
what frost
           what ice

the world
           never far away
the light
           and the darkness
dreams ushered in
           under moonlight

I am dumbed
           in disbelief
we walk the same earth
           breathe the same air
and yet we’re set on journeys
           driving us worlds apart

John Lyons

To refresh the future

To refresh the future

The first idea
           comes in a moment
from the desire
           to create
nothing else
           so alters the shape
of the world

A life of invention
           truth in the deed
the poem or the canvas
           or notes on a musical
           or observe the likeness
of clouds overhead
           or expound
on the innermost thoughts
           of a lost soul

Reject the stale moonlight
           and stars beyond the pale
who comes and goes in a life
           this is what concerns us
who remains and who abandons

The first idea
           is to refresh the future
without recourse
           to primitive astronomies
a life that rises above the surface
           venerable and articulate
and complete
           in constant pursuit
of her authentic breath
           a palpable love

John Lyons

Revised text

And so to Sunday rain

And so to Sunday rain

And so to Sunday rain
           that dampens the day
that silences the birds
           that dulls the sound
of children playing
that clings in tiny droplets
           to the window pane

and I can hear my breath
           and I can hear my heart
but not quite hear myself think
           though my cravings
are in full swing
           my appetite for life
raring to go

I shall rearrange
           the tables and chairs
and send out fresh invitations
           I shall cull red roses
from the rose bed
           trim the long green stems
and place them in a tall vase
           and I shall wait

At midnight if the rain has ceased
           I will sit by the window
and gaze at the moon
           the moon is never far
from my dreams
           it’s a wide place
and it encourages me
           to take sensible decisions

my special resolution
           this rain-drenched Sunday
is to embrace
           the statute of limitations
to waive aside
           all the hurt and the pain
and to open up my heart
           and to trust in love again

John Lyons

The winter of my discontent

The winter of my discontent

Not that far inland
           from the river
but somehow a seagull
           seems out of its depth
flying among magpies

what can it possibly
           hope to gain
in these alien
           feeding grounds ?

For example you never see
           seagulls hovering
or swooping down
           amid ancient woodlands
not at all

there are so many differences
           between one thing and another
in this life
           between hedges and trees
and between fruits
           that either are or are not

and yet it’s differences
           that make art
take colour for example
           and texture and lightness
and darkness

she loves me
           she loves me not
that’s the difference
           she being the winter
of my discontent

John Lyons


Of art poetry and love

Infancy, John Lyons (40 x 40 cm, oil on canvas)

Of art poetry and love

Nothing changes
           from generation
to generation
           but the thing seen
and that makes

writing and painting
           are like that in that
what is observed
           whether internally
or externally
           provides the material
necessary to live
           as an outlaw
in defiance of rules
           and totally open
to the unexpected
           that is why lovers
are always ahead
           of their time
because they create
           something entirely new

a bond composed
           of myriads of affinities
alongside refreshing
love like that
           is always beginning
is never ending
           is a fount of constant
innovation and harmonious
art poetry and love
           are the natural trinity
in which beauty and truth
           are enshrined

John Lyons


Crossed wires

Crossed wires, John Lyons (40 x 40 cm, oil on canvas)

Crossed wires

Two thick colours
           cut with a knife
crossed wires spread
           with a stiff brush
so that the paint
into iridescent
           skeins of light

a canvas
           is not an excuse
for dreariness
           or it might
just as well
           be a sack
but neither is drab
          daintiness required

a single meaning
           is quite meaningless
because everyone prefers
           a little variety
in the weather
           as long as the damp
does not get
           into the bones

let us say
           without fear of pretension
or contradiction
           that art is both a search
and a voyage of discovery
           and sometimes a flower
will never look the same
           after a decent portrait

but never forget
           there is a perfect climate
for every cake
           and a broken promise
should never be forgiven
           in the meantime
a good composition
           can bridge the gap
between one solitude
           and another

John Lyons

Blue dance

Blue dance, John Lyons (40 x 40 cm, oil on canvas)

Blue dance

Blue dance
upon blue

arcs of energy

so that the figure

leaps forth
from the canvas

of a single colour

a dancer loses
his head

in the moment
It takes

a lot of faith
to believe

in the power
of love

John Lyons

The Supper at Emmaus (1601)

The Supper at Emmaus, Caravaggio

The Supper at Emmaus (1601)

The miracle is in the art
           the broken bread
the goblet of wine
           the fabrics and linens
the energies captured
           in the extended arms
in every gesture
           the look on every face
the apples and pears
           and grapes in the basket
these are all incidentals
           still life brought to life
by the artist’s eye : no other
           visible source of light

The textures with which
           Caravaggio adorns the text
no tricks other than
           the sleight of perception
the narrative heart
           perfectly composed
the power to interpret
           to express
to reveal in pigments
           our numinous nature

John Lyons