Colour of love

                       Unfinished, John Lyons (oil on canvas)

Ocean depths or
       a beach of buff titanium
unpainted patches
       or thin smears –
an unfinished canvas
       in which only some
of the angles are right
       a space awaiting
       decisions decisions

       the dawn chorus
no words to their songs
       another day of decisions
simmering reds and pinks
       and vibrant yellows
would brighten it up
       emotions brushed
under the carpet
       it’s so hard to say goodbye
and some paintings
       never leave the studio

John Lyons

Art lover


Stains, John Lyons (16 x 16 cm, coffee and oil on canvas)

A grid formed
from barbecue skewers
laid overnight on a canvas
and doused in coffee
to create a canvas
drawn from nature

gravity and evaporation
did most of the rest
but a few dabs of oil paint
were added to provide
a little colour

so whose work is it
mine or an accident
of art produced
by the shaky hand
of chance?

John Lyons

The doors of perception


                            Door, John Lyons (oil on canvas)

“If the doors of perception
were cleansed
every thing would appear to man
as it is, Infinite.

For man has closed himself up,
till he sees all things
thro’ narrow chinks
of his cavern.”

William Blake
from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1790-93)

The painting illustrating today’s text is a reading of Willem de Kooning’s A door to the sea, held at the Whitney Museum in New York. It is perfectly legitimate for one painter to base a painting on an existing work by another artist. Think of the plethora of nativity or crucifixion scenes in Renaissance art. In its own way, a door may represent a nativity or a crucifixion.

The silence of the sea

new horizon
                     Silence of the sea, John Lyons (40 x 40 cm, oil on canvas)

Immense oceans
vast stretches of water
each with an individual
shape and personality
adjusted to shores
adjusted to depths
habitat and source
of sustenance
of life itself
where once
we emerged

vast waves of energy
issuing out of time
flooding the universe
with births and deaths
and rebirths in endless
cycles and expressions
from sunlight
and for no other purpose
than to mutate
into something bigger
or better or smaller
or more efficient
but a single process
at the heart of creation

the silent sea
that we observed
as it licked the shore
at Ramsgate
our birthplace
beckoning us

the silent sea
bathed in moonlight
gentle coruscations
as the wind picked
at its surface

relentless ebb and flow
a long slow pulse
the systolic and diastolic sea
the aqueous beating heart
into which we waded
at Hastings or that day
when we lay on the beach
at Copacabana
until a sudden sandstorm
drove us away

the silent sea
with its mysterious smile
posing more questions
than there are answers
and yet Turner obsessed
with its changing moods
its troubled temperament
although the day that
we lay on the sands of Margate
there was barely a ripple :
we ate cockles and mussels
succulent saline fruit
and the day was long
and under the warm sun
love seemed eternal

John Lyons

Love in Sète


The undoing of distance
       poetry that unpicks time
that puts two and two together
       though in this case one

High on a hill
       overlooking the harbour
we celebrated Easter
       and after ate bouillabaisse
as the dusk gathered
       in alleys and street corners
and bathed the dust
       in darkness

Above us
       the cemetery sky
filled with inevitable stars
       and that night her kiss
sent a shiver down my spine
       life and death tasted
on the same tongue
       I remembered an owl
crying in the wind
       I remembered the rafters
where spiders prowled
       in the early hours
before dawn
       I remembered that age
was rendered meaningless
       in a universe of decrepit light
and that the pain of pleasure
       was the certainty of loss

What could I possibly
       have known of love
all those years ago
       and what could I possibly
tell you now
       and why should you care?

John Lyons

Love in the mix


Such is the texture of life
       chiaroscoro on the palate
the rough with the smooth
       shapes drawn from nature
and chance the greatest
       of all artists – sole capable
of the happy accident
       a cascade of coloratura

and so we met and
       there was love in the mix
a relationship constructed
       out of coffee and much more
a sharing of bodies and of hours
       that built destinations
into our days and cut paths
       through the urban jungle

This disk of light and dark
       a flavour of the times
her cup never less
       than half full and all served
with a warm kiss – the taste
       indelible on my lips

John Lyons

Love’s conumdrum


      Dregs, John Lyons

Beauty lurks
in all things
ready to beguile
to entrance
to win a heart
to provoke a sigh
beauty that
so truly lies
to the eye
of the beholder

Here my fortunes
in love or life
all too easy
to be read
in the coffee cup
to me remained
a mystery
to others
an open book

John Lyons