Eternal betrayal

So another birthday in two months time
I say keep them coming    can’t get enough
I never saw a blue moon  – but last night
a huge rack of stars hung in the black sky
Birthday books and birthday greetings – it’s good
to be alive whether in London or
Berlin where snow was falling as they hung
Christmas lights
                   on the linden trees and the
sidewalks were etched in ice. Back in the day
there was warm soft love in her eyes    her gift
for me. How strange to be gone    gone in a
minute    or to be absent without leave
and never to return    drawn into the
sad vortex
             of eternal betrayal

John Lyons


Christmas market

With monstrous heat the day’s eyelids open
all is parched    thirsting for a drop of rain
rivers have run dry     and blackbirds have lost
their voices   :   the drought is all pervasive
O sing to me of a man full of wit
a young palm
                  sprung at Apollo’s altar
A soothsayer      a doctor      a singer
a craftsman committed to words of truth
In KaDeWe on that December day
I ate smoked herring and lolled in your love
Snow fell across Berlin and chafed my hands
In the Christmas markets they were selling
comfort and joy and tidings of good will
I asked how long
                      does eternal love last

John Lyons


She slept within me and I within her
a blue sky smiled down on us    and the trees
stood in silence     Grace to be born into
everlastingness   untouched by the heat
on the street
               to move among fresh flowers
to taste the land on our tongues and through our
love to keep time’s wastage at bay     I had
so many questions o gentle soul   How
strange for you to be gone      an expanding
s p a c e   impossible to fill with words or
tears and you so well aligned that you sleep
the world     borne on the drift of ageing stars
a poem on the page      a string of words
as snow falls across
                      the whole of Berlin

John Lyons

Paris Rome Vienna

I’m writing to you to say     finally
I get it     Champagne in Berlin in that
chic hotel     close to the Brandenburg Gate
the bubbles  the effervescence    nothing
lasts forever       so live for the moment
Birthdays come and go
                           relationships too
unless they are grounded in love      Venice
was meaningless      so too Paris    and Rome
As Patsy once said “You made your own bed
now lie in it.”      Counted the stars last night,
some were missing.
             How strange to be gone     a
black hole    a dead letter    silence bleeding
from a desert sky     photo dust     decay
we’re all here to go
                       so ciao and good luck

John Lyons

The tenacity of life

What redemption there is to be found in
the natural world   even in the bleak
mid-winter when owls cry out and foxes
howl and the earth sleeps
                            swaddled in darkness
and the bright stars by their very distance
diminish any human pretension
to grandeur !  Butcher    beast    and fool exist
in harmony, and to our faculties
we owe each apprehension of beauty :
the humble sycamore that sheds its bark
as lithe snakes slip free from their tired old skin
There it stands bare-branched to the elements
its seeds long-scattered   
                                  a moral proof to
the undaunted tenacity of life

John Lyons

Accept the joy juice

This after all is the life – the main chance
to seize whatever you want     emerald
eyes – and you better be quick about it
With her hair down to her shoulders she is
waiting for you to lift today’s clouds and
be a sunshine in her decorous days
In her right hand a red ribbon to pin
to your chest with a gold decoration
attached     Last night’s mudpack
                            has been removed
and she stands there as pretty as any
penny   waiting to plant a solemn kiss
on your blubbery lips   Tomorrow be
damned if you don’t
                   take the bull by the horns
Accept the joyjuice and don’t be a fool

John Lyons

Resting bones

Tell me Alice what is a loving tongue
when there are tears? A loving tongue is when
tenderness restores
                             meaning to language
Yes I believe that’s so     A pliable
succession of pleasing surrenders makes
for a pocketful of ingenious
joy     even a silence     and a special
anticipation         And Apollinaire
gazing into the Seine’s fleeting waters
saw only the outpouring of his heart
A moment’s sincere silence for Guillaume
In the house that Jack built we remember
all the poets who have gone before us
We give thanks and honour
                              their resting bones

John Lyons

A beautiful beam of light


Tell me Alice, what is the difference
between right away and a pearl? A pearl
is milk white and right away is at once:
this is a good explanation indeed
Happily very happily Alice
embroidered linens and Gertrude threaded
strands of silken words
                      through page after page
Neither woman felt interdiminished
For Guillaume Apollinaire crystal tears
were shed. Pin ware, fancy teeth, stout caesar.
Wet syllables in the rue de Fleurus
Picasso painted sobs for the deceased,
Alice pickled plums while Gertrude admired
a beautiful beam
                  of light in the room

John Lyons

Revised version

Solace – Molly Rosenberg




WB dominated my thoughts,
His ‘Bee loud glade‘
Buzzed through my mind,
Bringing such longing ,
To go far away to that
Special place.


WB still dominating my thoughts,
Another century indeed,
Now I have my own,
‘Bee loud glade’

No plane, no car, no sea to sail,
Just an open door to,
A special place,
Where the bees buzz,
In the lavender,
Landing on the Lilly pads,
In the cool greenness,
They sate their thirst.

We truly have had our
Wings clipped,
Our horizons
The world holds
Its breath,
Yet there is a
Solace and a
Quenching to be had,
If only we can find
Our own ‘Bee loud glade.

Molly Rosenberg

Molly’s beautiful lyric is inspired by W B Yeats’

Pablo Neruda – Sonnet 44


You’ll be aware that I do and don’t love you
since there are two modes to life,
the word is a wing of silence,
and there’s a cold side to fire.

I love you in beginning to love you
to reengage in what is infinite
and so as never to stop loving you:
that’s why I still don’t love you.

I do and don’t love you as though I held
in my hands the keys to happiness
and an uncertain fate of unhappiness.

My love has two lives with which to love you,
that’s why I do love you when I don’t
and why I do love you when I do too.

Pablo Neruda

From One Hundred Love Sonnets

Translation by John Lyons