Truth-seeking eyes

Truth-seeking eyes

The beauty of eyes
           mine looking into yours
yours looking into the mirror
           in which you see
not the growing lines on your brow
           not the skin aged
into a pale looseness
           but whatever you’ve
managed to conserve
           of your girlhood

It is a wonderful life from top to toe
           regardless of location
regardless of today’s blue sky
           regardless of the full-on sun
that brings you life
           even as it ends it

Your short-fingered hands
           sometimes struggle
to get to grips
           and your restless mind
lags behind your eyes
           You place roses
in a glass bowl
           and stand back to admire
their timeless beauty
           with the truth-seeking eyes
of the young girl
           you once were
you should donate them
           to posterity

John Lyons


Still life

Still life

What moves
           matter ?
Matter of fact
           a body of work
flesh and blood
           a Turner sunset
sets in the sunset
           the colour of light
the colour of love
           she who emerges
from her shell
           of beauty
who hangs
           in the night sky

love is a matter

           of fact
the haunting look
           on her face
a voice courting
           a troubled voice
           in the genes

John Lyons


Thanks for the memories

Thanks for the memories

           how you go
the agility of thought
           darting here and there
following every hunch
           putting two and two together

The sly black cat
           with white underbelly
contemplates the bobbing magpie
           dressed in its orchestral best
if only I had wings
           there’s a thought
how do you feel about that
           wise guy ?

Mind mountains
the dizzying heights
           here where the light
fades to darkness
           where love keeps the soul alive
where beauty and truth
           go hand in hand

When I’m done
           plant me in the ground
and let me grow
           into a mighty oak
feed my acorns to the hogs
           explain to little children
how I vowed never to die
           unless to be born again
into the light
           of love

John Lyons

Generations of stars

Generations of stars

Generations of leaves
       have fallen
will fall
       She leaves in winter
and returns in the fall

Generations of lovers
       have filled
will fill the earth
       with their joy

My love left
       without so much
as a by your leave
       Blue sky today
       I read
turn over a new leaf
       We live in the light

Generations of stars

       have taught us
that time withers
       on the oak branch
that fruit falls
       and flesh perishes
but life rises up
       out of the dust
that stars age into

John Lyons

The gentleness that can be

The gentleness that can be

What we pray for now
 is the gentleness that can be
 for her to raise a hand
 and point to the apple blossom
 and say that this is what life
 is all about : the candid beauty
 that bears fruit and feeds a nation
 Good fortune is love devoid
 of bitterness or envy or any
 meanness of spirit     Love
 has no rival when it comes
 to mending broken lives
 it is the common denominator
 of all our selfless breath
 In Venice we gazed into the waters
 saw the ripple of our reflection
 and wondered whether our affection
 would last forever    It did    It does
 John Lyons

This painting no longer exists

Poplars, John Lyons (oil on canvas)

This painting no longer exists

This painting of a row of poplars
            no longer exists
it was executed yesterday
            by that I mean it was laid down
in oils on canvas
            using principally primary colours
and briefly I’ll admit
            there were elements in it
that I was quite pleased with
            the poplars for example
the way they slanted
            after years of having to deal
with the prevailing wind
            these are poplars from my childhood
they are still there
            and I could take you to see them
if either you or I had the time
            but we don’t

The poplars were fine
            but the sky eluded me
there was not enough light shining through
            and the foreground was a mess
I could have worked on that
            tidied it up a bit
allowed the colours to vegetate
            a little more convincingly

But then the vast empty expanse

            in the top right-hand corner
defeated me
            I hadn’t an idea what to do with it
so I abandoned the canvas
            for an hour or two
got on with something else
            hoping that the picture
would grow on me
            It didn’t

So with an old cotton rag
            dipped in thinner
I removed the paint
            from the face of the earth
You either love something
            or you don’t
and I didn’t
            so it’s gone

John Lyons

A true story!

The real reality

The real reality

The fervent heat
            of this pure day down by
the glassy waters of the creek
            white and pink pond-blossoms
with great heart-shaped leaves
            the banks with dense bushery
and the picturesque beeches
            and shade and turf
the tremulous reedy call
            of some bird from recesses
breaking the warm indolent
            half-voluptuous silence

just over the surface of the pond
            two large slate-colored dragon-flies
with their wings of lace
            circling and darting
occasionally stopping quite still
            their wings quivering all the while
a flitting blackbird
            crosses obliquely

warmth light shade
            sounds that enhance the solitude
the quawk of some pond duck
            crickets and grasshoppers
mute in the noon heat
            but I hear the first of the cicadas

the prevailing delicate yet palpable,
            spicy grassy clovery
perfume to my nostrils
            and encircling over all
to my sight and soul
            the free space of the sky
transparent and blue
            and there in the west
a mass of white-gray fleecy clouds
            the sailors call “shoals of mackerel”
the sky with silver swirls
            like locks of tossed hair
spreading expanding— a vast
            voiceless formless simulacrum
yet may-be – who knows ? –
            the most real reality of all

Walt Whitman

(adapted from Specimen Days by John Lyons)