Dance, John Lyons (40 x 40 cm, oil on canvas)


The choreography
of paint on the canvas

the brush swaying
from side to side

crossing the surface
in leaps and bounds

air moving
through the bristles

energy unleashed
life as it should be lived

John Lyons

Early morning musing

flowers 2020
2020 flowers, John Lyons (oil on wood)

Early morning musing

Beautiful mottled January sky
           light illuminating
shreds of grey cloud
           birds engaged
in aimless enjoyment
           the to and fro of their lives

the year is on the turn
           there may be better days to come
but this is one of the best so far
           and it feels good
to be alive
           to know that there is love
in the world
           and to be a part of it

John Lyons

Words from the bridge

Words from the bridge

And again we ask
           how many dawns
and what lasts
on the wheel of time
           what is built to last
a bridge or a cathedral
           or a castle in the sky
yet what outlasts them all
           is the word

Even though the language dies
           the words remain
intact somewhere
           in the collective mind
What lasts
           is what returns
time and time again
           promises and vows
and declarations
           of love

its ebb and flow
           amid the light
and the darkness
           Love lasts
love the word
           verb and noun
the love forever
           on lovers’ lips

John Lyons


January moon

January moon

Anonymous moon
globe of dust
           and dreams
and measurement
           of my life

Sleepless moon
           empty of promise
empty of time
           empty of love

Tunes played
           on a fractured harp
amid the mist
           and at times frost

But for your breath
           I would be cold stone
But for your palpable breath
           I would not be

John Lyons

Januar Mond

Anonymer Mond
Kugel aus Staub 
          und Träumen
und Messung
            meines Lebens

Schlafloser Mond
            leer von Versprechen
            leer von Liebe

Melodien gespielt
            auf einer gebrochenen Harfe
inmitten des Nebels
            und manchmal Frost

Ohne deinen Atem
            wäre ich ein kalter Stein
Ohne deinen fühlbaren Atem
            ich würde nicht sein

(German version by John Lyons)

Sonnets to Orpheus – sonnet 14

Sonnets to Orpheus – sonnet 14

We move among flowers, vine leaves, fruit.
They do not speak only of the years.
Out of the darkness a colourful display emerges
and perhaps bears the jealous glint

of those dead who invigorate the earth.
What do we know about their part in this?
It has long been their way to enrich
the clay with their generous marrow.

The only question now is: are they happy to do this? …
This fruit demands the arduous labour of slaves,
driven by us, by their masters?

Are these the souls who sleep at the roots
and favour us with their abundance,
this mingling of silent strength and kisses?

Rainer Maria Rilke
(translation by John Lyons)

Sonette 14

Wir gehen um mit Blume, Weinblatt, Frucht. 
Sie sprechen nicht die Sprache nur des Jahres. 
Aus Dunkel steigt ein buntes Offenbares 
und hat vielleicht den Glanz der Eifersucht

der Toten an sich, die die Erde stärken. 
Was wissen wir von ihren Teil an dem? 
Es ist seit langem ihre Art, den Lehm 
mit ihrem freiem Marke zu durchmärken.

Nun fragt sich nur : tun sie es gern? … 
Drängt diese Frucht, ein Werk von schweren Sklaven, 
geballt zu uns empor, zu ihren Herrn?

Sind sie die Herren , die bei den Wurzel schlafen, 
und gönnen uns aus ihren Überflüssen 
dies Zwischending aus stummer Kraft und Küssen?

Sonnets to Orpheus

Sonnets to Orpheus

Sonnet 4

O you gentle souls, every once in a while
confront the breath that disdains you,
let it part around your cheeks,
behind you it shudders, converges.

O you blessed ones, o you whole ones,

you who seem to be where the heart begins.
Bow of arrows and target of arrows,
your smile glistens eternally with tears. 

Don’t be afraid to shoulder the burden,

hand it back to earth’s weight:
the mountains are heavy, the oceans too. 

Even the trees you planted as children,  

long ago grew too heavy;  you couldn’t carry them.
But the breezes… but the spaces…

Rainer Maria Rilke
(translation by John Lyons)

O ihr Zärtlichen, tretet zuweilen
in den Atem, der euch nicht meint,
laßt ihn an eueren Wangen sich teilen,
hinter euch zittert er, wieder vereint.

O ihr Seligen, o ihr Heilen,
die ihr der Anfang der Herzen scheint
Bogen der Pfeile und Ziele von Pfeilen,
ewiger glänzt euer Lächeln verweint.

Fürchtet euch nicht zu leiden, die Schwere,
gebt sie zurück an der Erde Gewicht;
schwer sind die Berge, schwer sind die Meere.

Selbst die als Kinder ihr pflanztet, die Bäume,
wurden zu schwer längst; ihr trüget sie nicht.
Aber die Lüfte … aber die Räume….

This is a quiet poem

This is a quiet poem

This is a quiet poem
: it’s New Year’s Day
and the streets are silent
the party’s over
the birds are relaxing
in their respective nests
there’s virtually no traffic

It’s as though

the previous twelve months
have been erased
the world is giving itself
a chance to freshen up

Lovers repeat their vows
their promises and stare
into each other’s eyes
It’s the newborn year
it doesn’t wish
to be disturbed
There are expectations
of peace and a resolution
to all conflicts

This is a quiet poem
and I’m sitting here
in Vienna awaiting
the orders that only I
can give myself

I love the sound
of certain voices
and their silence too
I love the gentleness
of the day and the ease
with which my lungs
fill with air and empty
each time I take
a deep breath

John Lyons

With corrections