Time’s petty pace

Heredia_partil view
Stained glass, (oil on canvas)

Time’s petty pace

Tomorrow and tomorrow
           etched in the mind
the word that appeared nightly
           above that building
on the corner
           of Mariahilferstrasse

Neon strips
           letter by letter
illuminating the word
           until complete
and so it remains
           for a minute or so
before vanishing
           into the dense darkness
of the Hapsburg capital
           only to repeat

At times
           thick white cloud
hangs from the horns
           of the moon

Tomorrow and tomorrow
           time creeps its petty pace
until first light of day
           and the deed is done

John Lyons


Watchers of the skies

Watchers of the skies

Watchers of the skies
           we look for planetary movements
that may herald better times
           bringing peace and consolation
to our loveless lives
           and so alleviate the turmoil
in our thankless day to day
           a benevolent moon
to announce
           the entrance of joy
into our favoured house
           our hopes in the ascendant
and a firmament filled
           with the sweet conjunction
of heavenly bodies
           aligned in perfect harmony

John Lyons

Love makes the finest dust

Love makes the finest dust

Think of our words
           as tiny particles of air
moving through the air
           our conversations
a light dusting of love
           all fears all doubts
all hopes all dreams
           expelled from the lungs
so that mine settle on you
           and yours settle on me
the day consumed
           by our banter
and our intermittent
           intimate silences as we allow
our bodies simply to be

Sitting across from you
           one sunny Sunday morning
at La Coupole in Montparnasse
           life never tasted so good
as we sipped at our drinks
           and watched the world go by

John Lyons

The lie of the land

The lie of the land

How silence may be
           the absence of all sound
or the absence of words
           a moment of peace or of tension
of loving or longing
           perhaps thoughtful
perhaps empty and endless
           the topographies of silence
how silent the beauty
           of the rose or of the heather
when it is in full bloom
           in the hills outside Dingle

And so to footsteps
           words that follow
in the footsteps of others
           paths of meaning
stepping from one word
           to another
stepping stones
           along life’s trails
my father’s words
           my mother’s
words for no reason
           other than
that they need to be spoken
           or to be withheld
as befit the silence
           they inhabit

I play on words
           I play with words
I make believe words
           in this make-believe world
this world of words
           and love too
is a make-believe word
            its syntax follows
the lie of the land
           the lay of the heart

John Lyons

The wisdom of owls

The wisdom of owls

O for the wisdom of owls
           who keep their counsel
minding no other business
           than their own and
silent but for the heavy slap
           of their wings on the night air
silent except for the times
           when their nests are under threat
silent except for the times
           when they choose to sing

John Lyons

In time’s sad passing

In time’s sad passing

Drove from Bray
           down to Wicklow
a thick coat of snow
           lying across the land
heaped high on the sides
           of the road and in smaller piles
perched precariously
           on the branches of trees

Winter had turned this part
           of the emerald isle white
so that the sheep
           in the rolling hills
were hard to distinguish
           from the ground they trod

I knew that my aunt
           whom I’d left hours earlier
in a hospital bed in Tralee
           would be gone before
the next spring came
           and the landscape
reappeared in full bloom
           I thought of the thin veins
on her hands and her forehead
           visible through the pale skin
and I recalled the shallow breath
           that softened her voice
so that she seemed already
           to have become half shadow
and yet her sharp blues eyes
           were as full of life as ever

John Lyons


A fork in the road

A fork in the road

The stars are our footlights
           in this world of performance
in which gongs rattle
           bells ring out
and there is much sitting
           and standing and walking
and being still until
           stillness is all

Time is dimension and box
           the roses in the vase
on the table
           along with the silver service
awaiting the guests
           for the ceremony to begin
We have made a home
           out of habit and language

The mind says be minimum
           the tongue says be quiet
as we advance naked
           into the light and passion
is an empty promise
           a counterfeit doubloon
pressed into the palm
           and so the river runs
through the city shapes
           where we circulate

I have a bundle of tunes
           under my arms
a veritable sheaf of poems
           but will I survive 
the hostilities of the curtain
           and will love in the end
shape up or suffer
           as the poet says
surfeit of dust
           and surcease of the bone

Words then
the tired old drays
           that plod the streets
their hooves stumbling
           at every fissure
and night after night
           the serenade that mounts
monotone into the darkness
           in which trembling hands fumble
as they attempt to unbutton
           the truth that lies beneath the lies

John Lyons