Maritime matters

blood and snow
Blood and snow, John Lyons (oil on canvas)

Maritime matters

The hypnotic sound of the sea
            breaking on the shore
the hydraulic power of the waves
            that race in and appear to trip
and crash down on the shingle
            the rasp as the waters retreat
the white surf lacing the beach
            Something primeval within us
nostalgia for the ocean depths
            from which we emerged
and for a simpler form of life
            for that prime motility
that brings us to where
            we are today

The sea runs in our veins
            with all the essential salts
star warmth marine blood
            stoking the complexities
of human relations
            the come and go upon dry land
She loves me she loves me not
            another shore another sea
there is always another
            another and another

John Lyons


A string of words

Face, John Lyons (oil on canvas)

A string of words

As blood is
            as words circulate
in the poet’s mind
            and fingers touch her lips
the pulse of her handsome blood
            beneath the hollow cheeks
the delicate porcelain smile
            below the naked eyes

She built of nature’s delight
            handsome in her womb
in the warmth of her blood
            morning noon and night
she presents a silent

Her scrupulous kiss
            he takes on the fly
savours the soft bright wet
            tenderness of muscles
in which a wordless song arises
            contained in herself
a promise never meant
            to be broken

John Lyons

Venice carnival remembered

murano lemon.png
Murano glass, a hand blown lemon

Venice carnival remembered

The play of light
            and shadow
on the canal waters
            place of all ages
place of all beauty
            shops filled
with sumptuous pieces
            of Murano glass

And how the light
            travelled through
the contoured colours
            and how it rose
in your eyes
            as you examined them
and how I loved you then
            and how I love you now

John Lyons

Rough with the smooth

warp and woof
Warp and woof, John Lyons (oil on canvas)

Rough with the smooth

Love too is a work
            of the imagination
it constantly seeks
            new forms of expression
in order to remain fresh
            to keep the present alive
and not simply trade
            on the faded past

It can be brash
            and outspoken
and have real attitude
            since by its very nature
it’s gestural
            more in the manner
of a de Kooning
            or a Pollock
than a Titian
            or a Raphael

Yes I want all of you
            the sweep of your strokes
across my body
            your hair falling
into my eyes
            my face drowning
in your tears
            of laughter
your precious hand
            gripping on to mine
as we hurtle
            down the roller coaster
moving from the darkness
            into the light


John Lyons

A fond farewell

Mon Plaisir, 2018

A fond farewell

Dignity in the face of loss
            or the slow ebb of affection
when love slips away
            and silence and coldness
take its place

She was a lady of flowers
            an unending river
a city of the imagination
            an early morning song
she was flesh and blood
            and her eyes danced
before all she saw
            the magical breath of life
she was the stuff of dreams
            made real and whole
and a force of nature
            she was where I always
longed to lay me down to rest
            in her open arms
in her open heart
            she was beauty
refracted through love
            and for a while
I was hers and
            she was mine

John Lyons

We make our own bed

Feel You, Tracey Emin (2014)

We make our own bed

It’s instinctive
            it’s in the genes
whether primates in the forest
            or you and I in our flats or town houses
each and everyone of us
            has to bed down for the night
to get through until the sun rises
            and life beckons us outwards

And so it is we carry our frames
            throughout the day
to labour in the marketplace
            or to rest and relax at play
until evening comes and with it
            the open arms of the one we love
our bodies shared upon the bed
            that together we have made

John Lyons

And so on Sunday afternoon to the White Cube gallery in Bermondsey Street, to see Tracey Emin’s spectacular show. The photos of paintings on the gallery website cannot do justice to the beautiful pale full-bodied intimate portraits on display. The brush strokes are instinctive and the media simple, but she has her dimensions down to a T. And the huge bronze sculptures are absolutely staggering. On Sunday we were graced with the artists’s presence and it lent a certain frisson to a wonderful afternoon.

The exhibition, Tracey Emin: A Fortnight of Tears, runs until 7 April, but hurry on down, as you may wish to visit it again and again.


The River

The river
The River, John Lyons

Three years ago

This is where we meet
            in the eyes of the mind
or of the heart on streets
            that the rain has swept
where early blooms
            have defied the season

We traipse through
            the long galleries
where feelings hang
            in frames and we examine
the colours and the textures
            of others’ lives
the long brush strokes
            or flicks of the palette knife
and in the hall where
            the bronze sculptures laze
a deep note sounds
            of young whales 
struggling to reach
            the surface

And all day long
            our shadows
are in hot pursuit
            and our tongues
never cease to babble
            and our convergence
has brought a new confection
            into the world
there is after all
            an ineffable art to love

John Lyons