The brave man

new growth
New growth, John Lyons (oil on wood)

The brave man

And so to live
the warm antiquity of self
in a world grown cold
green eyes that look
to the sky

and in the night
fresh stars appear
– the wine is good
and love is always
a prospect
to look forward to

That brave man
looks and learns
and is not afraid
to relinquish the past
to distance himself
from all that is false
or faint-hearted

John Lyons


This revised poem is based on a reading of two poems by Wallace Stevens, ‘The Brave Man” and “A Fading of the Sun” from an early seminal collection, Ideas of Order (1936). The accompanying painting is an old camembert lid splattered with leftover colours so as not to waste.

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Time threads its way

jewel
Precious stone, John Lyons (oil on wood)

Time threads its way

Time threads its way
           through the rain
down into the gutter
           down into the earth
the gentle drizzle of time
           and I lie here thinking of her
far away now
           but remembering the closeness
the soft warmth of her body
           the beauty of her composure
the sheer energy of her existence
           everything that drew me to her

As galaxies roll around the universe
           as stars are born and others die
as fresh shoots of life appear
           all around me I pine for her
hating her absence and the silence
           with which she has filled
my days and nights
           There was an intensity
to what we shared
           with all the simplicity
of passion – and I know
           that it can never die
And so I wait for her
           to turn again – to return
to place her heart
           into my hands once more

John Lyons

Global meltdown

melting world
Global meltdown, John Lyons (oil on wood)

Perhaps I’m eating too much cheese, despite knowing that the flatulence from cattle breeding – and that includes milch cows – is contributing to the overproduction of methane gas in the atmosphere.

I suppose that makes my camembert consumption not particularly friendly to the environment, but what can you do? I don’t want to raise a stink about it.

Nevertheless, here’s my apocalyptic vision (on a camembert lid) of climate warming leading to global meltdown.

John Lyons

A poem for the day

underpainting
Abstract geometries, John Lyons (oil on canvas)

A poem for the day

Spring with all its promise
           the flowers that we cut
tulips and irises and daffodils
           the words we hold
close to our hearts
           when time moves
at a gentler pace
           and we hear the coo of doves
as nature positions itself
           for all that it takes
for the species to survive
           the particles of life
coming together
           difference converging

and young children skip
           along the pavements
and lovers embrace
           under the shade
of willow and oak
           A world that the beholder
imagines and savours
           in the mind and heart
Light borne on the tide
           the river suffused
and the oceans deep
           with the mystery
Knowledge of things –
           chromatic achievements
are as naught
           when love is absent

John Lyons

So to the life learnt

canvas
Easter canvas

So to the life learnt

So to the life learnt
           word by word :
who walks beside me in the shadow 
           of Shad Thames ?

the hollow space
           in your image and likeness
the simple mathematics
           as dawn breaks
above my head
           on this Easter Sunday

I have a mind full of you
           and of words
from other scriptures
           and I salute the day with love

The ghosts of Wilfred Owen
           and of Paul Éluard
move through these lines
           one mortally wounded
the other a survivor
           in the Great War

There was a time
           when your almond eyes
drifted into mine
           mine into yours
a time when parting
           on Tooley Street
was such sweet sorrow
           before Hamlet appeared

Now there are red tulips
           and daffodils
with their yellow petals
           spread in honour
of the stars from where
           they come
and there are words
           so many words
that I deploy
           in my struggle against
the ravages of time
           and the loss of love

John Lyons

 

Sunday silence

Sunday silence

Overnight
           a heavy frost
unexpected
           though still the birds
woke me
           with their spring song

how strongly their instincts
           are attuned to shifts
in the quality of light
           how anxious they are
to rehearse
           their love calls

Overnight
           you were a thought
in my head
           and I awoke
with memory of you
           obstinate in its occupation
of my mind
           my heart

In the Sunday silence
           I sip coffee
alone for all the world
           and recall the ritual
we shared 
          our calm and loving conversation
over the first coffee
           of the day

John Lyons

Storm of colour

storm of colour
Storm of colour, John Lyons (oil on canvas)

Storm of colour

A working body
      a body that works
a body of work
      work of the body
a body of words
      words of the body

the embodiment
      of beauty
encased in words
      of bold beauty
a casket of jewels
      sounding sense
and emotion
      makes language
rise above signs
      expression
in delicate metrical
      dance steps
heartfelt
      body of breath

John Lyons