Just words


From this distance in time
         that rearward vision
as life unravels
         leaf after autumn leaf
falling through the drizzle
         all those moments captured
in wordy recollections
         the winnowing wind
of memory
         me picking my way
through the text
         of my past

Where would I be
         without those words
when love was in flames
         A world unwoven
only to be threaded
         together again
poetry to exalt
         the present and the real
built on the bridge
         of what went before

John Lyons

The red ball gown

How the words fall
       the occasion of words
or words for an occasion
       words that tell a story
or words that are the story
       pivotal words not merely
yes or no but found to be
       at every inflection of our lives
words in the midst of silence
       intriguing or decisive words

A widow in a wise veil
       a careless colour applied
to a carefree canvas
       a meal consumed
without animosity
       words measured so as
not to cause offence
       or precisely the opposite
: if a silence is not observed
       does it exist does it ?

A luscious red ball gown
       laid across a bed –
who will wear it and
       will she or won’t she ?
And if love is not observed
       does it exist does it?

John Lyons

Universe with a light touch

globe 2

    Universe, John Lyons (oil on wood)

A universe with a light touch
all that power all that energy

and still the lightest of touches
time and distance and light

and temperature and in the midst
a light touch gentle and delicate

lips that brush a forehead
or a finger that caresses a cheek

fire and destruction and fault lines
that tear the earth apart and

all the time birth to replace death
and love that binds hearts forever

John Lyons

Love is the only hope


                 Gertrude Stein and Alice B Toklas at home

Winter is closing in
       I read Gertrude Stein
to cheer me up –
       a cushion
a seltzer bottle
       a long dress
a red hat a blue coat
       a piano a chair
white lilies in a vase
       on a table upon which
particles of fine dust
       are clearly visible
or perhaps not dust
       but withered pollen

       the silence is singing
I can hear the sea
        where we bathed in July
I can hear the birds
       who have kept us amused
all summer
       their shadows gathering
on the wires overhead
       soon to be on their way
I think of our lives
       trimmed by the light
trimmed by time
       and how slowly
but surely our days
       spread into nothing
and how love
       is the only hope

John Lyons

Life cycles recycled

Stood under the old sycamore
       gazed up through the shadows
through the branches
       at the pale blue sky
the foliage now thinning
       many leaves underfoot
their colour faded to dull rust
       with the texture of wafer thin
friable parchment curled by age
       and days away from dust
the green seeds still clinging
       to dear life but with dry
stiff brown wings all ready
       to take flight

: twins
       I thought or lovers
joined together in a kiss
       but o so soon to be separated
in the relentless cycle
       of life and death and afterlife

John Lyons

Reprinted from yesterday with two modest alterations

In the dark drift of night

In the dark drift of night
the entire universe realigns
planets and stars and comets
unbeknownst to the lovers
who sleep through their dreams

At daylight standing
by an open window
I see that the hawthorn
has flowered effortlessly

While we slept all things
have grown : the roses
have come into their own
and fresh voices have joined
the dawn chorus

I understand that growth
is depletion in all things
but love – nothing else

John Lyons

To love and be loved

What I miss about winter
       is the brilliance of the stars
on those pitch black nights
       when there is frost in the air
and my soul is wrapped
       in the warmth of my flesh

to know that I am alive
       that I have a history
that all things are possible
       in this universe of light
in which to love and be loved
       lends purpose to every breath

John Lyons

Squirrel takes a turn

aimless 2

You would think
       that that squirrel
that spritely rodent
       with its grey bushy tail
was in training
       for something

All morning
       it has been running
back and forth
       along the rim
of the garden fence
       making a great show
of its enviable sense
       of balance : freezing
from time to time
       in quintessential poses
before leaping forward
       with acrobatic ease

Winter is approaching
       already the sun has dipped
the first frosts are days away
       the squirrel will have its sport
before summer utters
       its last call

John Lyons

What moves me to words

What moves me to words
       moves me to silence too
poetry is in the to and fro
       of the motion of the emotion
I see instances of beauty
       and I want to capture them
just as I want to admire them
       in silence in stillness
in the peace and quiet
       of my heart

The stars at night
       as I look out
across the necessary ocean
       never idle
the stars nor the sea
       in this universe woven
from light :
       the paradox
of gravity and weightlessness
       So what holds it all together
even as it expands
       fragments of the nothingness
that existed before the Big Bang
       blew it all apart ?

What drives this mass of energy
       into the shape of wild roses
or the orchid’s delicate blooms
       or the innocence of a child’s smile
or the unabashed gleam
       in my lover’s eyes ?

John Lyons

Eating limpets in Seixal


How could we forget
       the delicate flavour
of those lapas grilled
       in their shells
with butter and garlic
       and a little lemon juice
served with Madeira’s
       traditional bolo de caco

a flat circular garlic bread
       made from wheat
and sweet potato
       the hot pan awaiting you
that glorious afternoon
       when you swam
with a golden retriever
       in the volcanic lagoon
: does it ever get
       any better than that ?

John Lyons