In a love poem


In a poem of love
there are feathers and fish
and roses and butter
and slow-burning candles
there are tables and chairs
and a sky made of rain
and curtains to be drawn
and sunshine over the horizon

in a poem of love
it is summer and winter
and beaches and sandals
and today and tomorrow
and happily ever after
and blushes and kisses
and words made of silence
and naturally we celebrate
and swim in the mountains
and sweet as a baby
and tall as a castle

in a poem of love
there is time and again
and bells gently ringing
and Saturdays and Sundays
and moons to be baking
and an alphabet of promises
and sharp needles for mending

in a poem of love
there are paintings and photos
and pearls made of wisdom
and sonnets for reading

and beds for the lying
and pleasures for sharing
and songs for beginning
and streets never ending

John Lyons

Dust of ages


Cosmic ash drifting
through the universe
and that special light
in Venice
in which the artists
caught a glimpse of heaven
a composite of glorious colour
every square inch adorned

and the words that survive
: layer upon layer of faith
in the promise
of rewards to come
and the art
a bulwark against
falsehood and betrayal
trust and steadfast belief

beauty and truth
chiselled into stone
or worked
into precious metals
an artist’s honesty
valued for all time
love of life and of love
honoured in all ways

John Lyons

Poussière des âges

La dérive des cendres cosmiques
à travers l’univers
et cette lumière spéciale
à Venise
dans laquelle les artistes
ont aperçu le paradis
un composite de glorieuse couleur 
chaque pouce carré orné

et les mots qui survivent
: couche après couche de foi
dans la promesse
de récompenses à venir
et l’art un rempart contre
le mensonge et la trahison
la conviction et la confiance 

la beauté et la vérité
ciselées dans la pierre
ou travaillées
en métaux précieux
l’honnêteté d’un artiste
appréciée pour toujours
l’amour de la vie et de l’amour
honorés de toutes les manières

Paul Éluard – 4 lines


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

I tie and I untie I give and I refuse
I create and I destroy I adore and I punish
My flower is thought I caress and I sow
I see with my fingers I touch and I understand

From Paul Éluard, Perspectives (1948)

Je noue et je délie je donne et je refuse
Je crée et je détruis j’adore et je punis
Ma fleur est la pensée je caresse et je sème
je vois avec mes doigts je touche et je comprends

Slow drizzle

melting world

Slow drizzle
of time
of memory –
light grey rain
at the window

a confusion
of blackbirds
and magpies
in the air
and settling
here and there

your wild hair
thinner than ever
sleek silver threads
and around the eyes
the years marked
in soft lines

your thoughts
awkward –
clumsy recollections
of a moment
when you knew
that it was love

his words
his touch
his laughter
his love of life
his love of you
and how you
betrayed it all
for the shallow
of fool’s gold

John Lyons

By Putney Bridge


Down by Putney Bridge
slow day descending

into darkness –

river high

but not unduly
temperature falling

but not that cold –

late joggers

back and forth
ducks and geese

on the causeway –

first lights of evening

I watch the waters flow

I think of you
your one betrayal
after another

John Lyons

Words are not love

chaos of colour

Words are not love
just as leaves
are not autumn

dismissive gestures
and empty smiles
as the questions
tumble one by one

between your world
and my world
there is a world
of a difference

I too have crossed
Brooklyn Bridge
in the blazing heat
of a distant summer

dust upon my shoes
and city grime
etched into my collar

you were a shape once
you were a sense
you were a direction
full of promise

now nothing but words
sounds corralled
into a meaningless grid
of petrified ambition

John Lyons

The road less travelled

road less      Parksville NY, John Lyons (30 x 25 cm, oil on canvas)

The road less travelled

Just after the dawn dust
           had settled
after the larks had risen
           into the vacant sky
I chanced upon
           this fork in the road
a yellow wheat field
           and in the distance
the deep dense green
           of ancient woodland

and who knows
           where a road might leads
or what awaits us in our day-to-day
           as we make our way
along paths known or unknown
           how for better or worse 
a random choice may change
           a life forever

John Lyons

Text revised

Of art poetry and love

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

Of art poetry and love

Nothing changes
           from generation
to generation
           but the thing seen
and that makes

writing and painting
           are like that in that
what is observed
           whether internally
or externally
           provides the material
necessary to live
           as an outlaw
in defiance of rules
           and totally open
to the unexpected
           that is why lovers
are always ahead
           of their time
because they create
           something entirely new

a bond composed
           of myriads of affinities
alongside refreshing
love like that
           is always beginning
is never ending
           is a fount of constant
innovation and harmonious
art poetry and love
           are the natural trinity
in which beauty and truth
           are enshrined

John Lyons


Where lovers lie

St Paul's Deptford
St Paul’s, Deptford

Where lovers lie

And so to Deptford
       to St Paul’s
where death lies buried
       in the empty grounds
where fresh-blown roses
       are washed in the dew
petals gone in a final gasp
       to dust

In the broken darkness
       the birds fly silently
from oak to ash to sycamore
       and strands of light
filter through the dying leaves

Here we remember
       her silken hair
her rosy lips
       the shape of her smile
the taste of her kiss
       her gentleness of voice

What lies here
       under the earth
is love and beauty
       held on a threshold
by the edge of the creek
       the ash of stardust
awaiting resurrection

Here lie the remains
       of sweet young lovers
laid bone to bone
       in everlasting embrace
in the darkness

while all around them
       the swirl of autumn light
the frail dust
       of day-to-day debris
piled high in the gutters
       and — long forgotten
the ghost of silenced voices
       never to be heard again

John Lyons

St Paul’s in Deptford is a Grade 1 Listed Building designed by the architect Thomas Archer, dating from 1730. It is one of the places of worship built following the 1711 Act for building new churches in London and its suburbs. These are generally known as the Queen Anne churches. The poet, John Betjeman, described St Paul’s as “a pearl at the heart of Deptford”, and it is indeed a remarkable and important example of English Italianate Baroque.

Thomas Archer was specifically influenced by two churches in the Historic Centre of Rome: the interior, by Francesco Borromini’s restyling of S. Agnese in Agone, Piazza Navona using Corinthian pillars, 1653 onwards, and the portico by the semi-circular porch of S. Maria della Pace, (which is just off the Piazza Navona) by Pietro da Cortona, constructed 1656-1661.

A note on Deptford to place St Paul’s in its context: The deep ford which gave Deptford its name crossed the River Ravensbourne at what is now Deptford Bridge. It was on the ancient road from London to Canterbury and Dover, and Deptford is mentioned in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. One part of Deptford grew up here, beside the ford and the later bridge. The other part was the fishing village beside the Thames called Deptford Strand. There were fields between the two settlements until the nineteenth century.

In 1513 Henry VIII founded a dockyard at Deptford to build ships for the Royal Navy. In the eighteenth century a Victualling Yard was established alongside, where ships stores and provisions were assembled. The Dockyard closed in 1869.

After use as a cattle market and in other military and industrial capacities, the area is now being redeveloped for housing. The Victualling Yard remained until 1961. Its site is now occupied by the Pepys Estate. Samuel Pepys often visited the Dockyard when he was Clerk to the Navy Board, and his friend and fellow-diarist John Evelyn lived here, in the manor house called Sayes Court.