Sunshine brings out the best

A gaggle of geese
overhead heading
for a family reunion
at Blackheath
by the pond
     where willows weep

Sunshine brings out
the best in us
the best being
that ability to live
     in the moment

To love in the moment
grateful for small mercies
Life and death
     at our fingertips

The grass is greener
in winter : parched
     under summer skies

My advice ?
Identify a single star
and stick with it
rain or shine
     thick or thin

And a dose of love
     can do no harm

John Lyons

The waste of memory

The waste of memory—
        digital images caught
on devices doomed
        to obsolescence
with the advance
        of new technologies

Once upon a time
        a mind was sufficient
to recall happy times
        places where love
was shared
        on a day full of sun
and laughter
        a birth
a marriage
        significant moments
of pride or pleasure
        or achievement

Once upon a time

There is no return
        no way back
to the vast empty days
        we leave in our wake

One day I may struggle
        to recall that I ever loved you
in those days when no one
        was dearer to my heart :
a certain dress you wore
        in a certain unforgettable
location growing dimmer
        by the day
even as the sunlight fades
        One day will one day
be the last and all our loves
        and all our regrets
will be lost forever
        and a day

John Lyons

Eventual silence

Stones to sand
and bones to bonemeal
and latterly to dust

There is no refuge
from time’s onslaught
the very beginning
is the beginning
of the end

Oak outlives us
blackbirds and starlings
take shelter in the branches
and human energies
dwindle as a matter of course

There is however
much to be said for love
and how the engaged heart
takes delight where it finds it
and turns a blind eye
to transience and decay
and eventual silence

John Lyons

Second ode

Second ode

In the dark drift of night
           you are there beside me :
we have survived the many
           moon-marked phases of our love

and many a sober truth
           has been told
many a subtle confidence

Not a single day
           can be detained
much less a year
           and we who have risen up

from the soil are bound
           by its inexorable rule
and yet we lie together
           adrift in the dark night

substantial in our affections
           a love deeper than the silence
of winter roses and of a beauty
           more enduring

John Lyons



I am old
           or at least
older than I was :
           wisdom and virtue
have eluded me
           all my life

my talents
           such as they are
have amounted
           to naught

my body weak
           my throat parched
how the memory
           of her kind words
on her moist lips
           and of her un-
seasoned love
           hangs heavy
in my heart

John Lyons

Lorine Niedecker

Lorine Niedecker

Lorine Niedecker was born in 1903 in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, and lived in this wilderness area for most of her life. Her isolation from other writers and the beauty of her natural surroundings had a profound impact on her work. Niedecker chose to write in seclusion, and many of her closest relatives and neighbors were unaware that she was a poet. She had a brief relationship with the poet Louis Zukofsky in New York, but apart from that she continued to live in relative obscurity. In later years she was befriended by the British poet, Basil Bunting, the author of Briggflats, and one-time disciple of Ezra Pound; but for much of her life she lived in poverty, earning her living as a cleaning lady in a Fort Atkinson hospital. Since her death on 31 December 1970, her reputation as one of the most significant American poets of the 20th century has grown enormously. At the core of her writing are terse observations of her rural environment: the birds, trees, water and marshland that surrounded her.

For a selection of Lorine Niedecker’s poems see


John Lyons