Lamplit lines

Lamp, John Lyons (oil on wood)

Lamplit lines

In the darkness

In the silence

In the coldness

In their minds
certain memories

of certain shapes
of certain gestures

of certain colours
and certain textures

and certain  
sweet sensations

as they sheltered
in each other’s arms

John Lyons

A chair in which to breathe

Breathless, John Lyons (oil on wood)

A chair in which to breathe

An open window means
           a stiff breeze is blowing
means knowing you’re alive
           means painted flowers
will never fade
           means the books
in their cases are there
           to be read

and when love
           becomes a stranger
it might rain
           and the summer
may end prematurely
           and the birds will fly south
while honey is harvested
           and the wax is turned
to candles that burn
           at the midnight hour

and dreams
           may lose their way
and the days
           may accumulate
until there is nothing left but time
           and an empty chair
where she once counted
           her fingers and toes

John Lyons

When times are hard

Looking glass, John Lyons (oil on wood and paper)

When times are hard

A table means
           necessary places
means presence
           and necessary absence
in times of war
           in times of peace
a table means steadiness
           a strong line in life
a surface upon which
           plates and glasses
and knives and spoons
           and silver-plated forks
look their best :
           sometimes there is jam
and sometimes cream
           and sometimes milk
and sometimes honey
           and sometimes bread
or toast in a rack
           or scones or cake
and a pot of tea
           with cups and saucers
a sugar bowl
           and yellow daffodils
in a porcelain vase
           casting their light
on the crisp white linen cloth
           and sometimes
people come together
           to commemorate a life
and to celebrate
           their love

John Lyons


What burns below the horizon

Shifting Sands, John Lyons (65 x 50 cm, oil on canvas)

What burn below the horizon

What burns
             just below
the horizon
             a palette
of mixed feelings
             love in flames
in its purity
             its sky-blue sky
             an oxidised earth

where pristine rivers flow
             where untamed oceans
beat against wild shores
             where green pastures
stretch into long-ago years
             upon the mountain roads
lined with gorse
             and golden heather
that carry me down
             to Dingle Bay

John Lyons

Out of the earth

Plant, John Lyons (oil on wood)

Out of the earth

Out of the earth
           this pine wood
out of the earth
           these pigments
out of the earth
           the oils used
out of the earth
           the wooden brush
and bristles
           the artist too

out of the earth
           from stardust
to stardust
           this simple
           a smattering of light
in the darkness
           out of the earth
all life all love all art
           out of the earth

John Lyons

Mixed feelings

Mix, John Lyons (oil on canvas)

Mixed feelings

That morning stillness
           just woken from sleep
coffee in hand
           gaze through the window
a light winnowing breeze
           moves through the trees
birds tuning up
           for their morning chorus
a glorious day ahead
           blue skies and sunshine

and hope in leaps and bounds
           what passes is not love
whatever passes
           let it go : whoever passes
through your life
           let them go too
love never ever passes
           love remains

today I will mix paints
           and apply them to canvas
today I will mix words
           and apply them to paper
today I will make music
           with a mixture of notes
love never passes
           love remains

John Lyons


Hark to the sound of light

Flowers, John Lyons (oil on wood)

Hark to the sound of light

The rose has its imprint
           petal softness of velvet
brushed against her lips
           threads of life entwined
gold and silver and amethyst
           honour in her silence
honour in her words
           honour in her breath
though the rose requires
           no tongue

           literally made
in the stars
           and in the black nights
we gaze at our past
           the foundry in which
we were first formed
           before thought

That such intense heat
           could give rise to tears
whether of joy or pain
           to wisdom too
and sadly ignorance
           : does there always
have to be a thorn
           in the side ?

We say that paradise
           is a place of grace and love
and all that stems
           from light –
speech is in our nature
           and silence too
the rose imprinted
           needs no tongue

Look to your mirror
           song will heal your heart
happiness is there
           for the taking
syllables shaped
           in the sound of light
the mirror says
           love you too

John Lyons

Trooping my colours

Trooping the colour, John Lyons (40 x 40 cm, oil on canvas)

Trooping my colours

Under a blue sky
           I lay out my colours
this is the shape of them
           their texture as revealed
by the light

There is a pattern
           a gathering within
a certain geometry
           but there is
spontaneity too
           and ragged edges

you could say this canvas
           has my fingers all over it
the brush marks are all mine
           the choice of colours too
and some might say it’s not art
           but who are they to judge
can art ever be truly defined
           can love ?

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!