Blithe spirit


Blithe spirit

The poet and the poem
           the eye
and the landscape
           the painter
and the canvas
           are one

the field
           the campus
all over
           streaks and shreds
and flecks of colour
           an alphabet
of shape
           of gesture
all under the same
           heavenly stars

skylarks nest
           on the ground
their young sheltered
           in the dense undergrowth
until their muscles
           are fit enough
to bear them
           high into the air

they herald the dawn
           with an artistry
and complexity of song
           that suggest
true musicianship :
           the bird and the song
and the listener
           are one

John Lyons


August days

August days

The fading light of August days
           dipping gradually into September
when some but not all things
           fall apart

Foxes know it
           you can see it in their eyes
as they look longingly
           at the gardens that will soon
be stripped to the bone :
           on shed roofs they laze
soaking up the last rays
           of the summer sun

There are roses in bloom
           the piecemeal beauty
of their petals still intact :
           and so gingerly 
down by the back fence
           I begin to pick blackberries
the plump succulent flesh
           occasionally bursting
under the slightest pressure
           such a delicate operation
and then a thorn
           pierces my forefinger
drawing thick globules of blood
           that instantly blend
with the stains
           from the crushed fruit

The frailty of it all
           year after year
the rise and fall of beauty :
           she had it in her eyes
in the soft smooth skin
           the graceful gestures
of her hands
           her dancer’s feet
in the breadth of her smile
           and so we pray
for the resurrection
           of the body

John Lyons

Revised from the earlier post

The wheel of art



The wheel of art

who made the leap
           from hunting gathering
to hand prints
           bison and antelopes
on the cave wall
           and Jackson Pollock
scouring a white canvas
           prowling back and forth
waiting to pounce
           to lunge at the surface
in stabbing motions
           to open wounds
that drip
           with colour

John Lyons


Intelligence is energy

David by Michelangelo
Michelangelo’s David

Intelligence is energy

I make no claims
           other than to say
that intelligence is energy
           and it manifests itself
for better or worse
           in every realm of art

the king is a thing
           that Shakespeare moves
around a stage
           before our eyes
and in our head
           painting too
is poetry
           and poets paint
composers offer us
           their soundscapes

out of Carrara marble
           using hammer and chisel
and the energy
           of his intelligence
Michelangelo extracted
           his David which now exists
in an active universe
           eternally bent on creation

John Lyons

Memories arrested in space

Tray, John Lyons (oil on plastic)

Memories arrested in space

Paint that captures
           the shape of gestures
memories arrested in space
           sinuous as the body is curved
And he thinks too
           of the unbound energies
they expended
           and of the shapes
that their bodies made
           when they came together

the arc of a breast
           a mouth agape
the slope of a thigh
           or an angled elbow
Form and the absence of it
           light and the absence of it
colour and the absence of it
           love and the absence of it
and under a wrathful sky
           their union and the absence of it

John Lyons

Sundown perfume

Sundown perfume

Sitting alone by the creek
           solitude here but the scene
bright and vivid enough
           the sun shining
and a fresh wind blowing
           some heavy showers last night

the grass and trees looking their best
           in the shadows and the half-shadows
and dappling glimpses of water
           through the gaps

the wild note of a quail near by
           crows cawing in the distance
a drove of young hogs
           rooting in soft ground
close to the oak
           under which I sit

And still the clear notes of the quail
           the quiver of leaf-shadows
over the paper as I write
           white clouds aloft in the sky
the sun fast declining to the west
           the swift darting of many sand-swallows
coming and going,
           their holes in a neighbouring marl-bank
the odour of the cedar oak
           so palpable as evening approaches
the bronze-and-gold of ripening wheat
           honey-scented clover-fields
the venerable old oak above me
           and still the dual notes of the quail
and the soughing of the wind
           through some nearby pines

As I rise to return home
           my ear catches a delicious song
from some bushy recess
           off there in the marsh
leisurely repeated
           over and over again
and circles of swallows
           flying in their dozens
in concentric rings
           in the last rays of sunset
like the flashes
           of some airy wheel

Adapted from Walt Whitman’s Specimen Days

Gertrude Stein – a portrait

gertrude stein
Gertrude Stein, John Lyons (oil on canvas)

Gertrude Stein – a portrait

Neatly folded napkins
           and freshly cut roses
in a cut glass vase
           a long oak table
guests to populate it :
           amid the wealth of words
silences cultivated
           in every nook and cranny

Alice and her embroidery
           Gertrude with hers
a carafe of red wine
           sparkling silverware
shining porcelain 
           At the window
heavy drapes
           to keep out the dust
and for the world
           to know its place

Sometimes always
loving glances
           often exchanged
time under orders
           and life
on its best behaviour :
           a dog with a name
a stern smile
           the making of history
word by word
           line by line

John Lyons