All that love ago

Brandenburg Gate

Christmas lights
       on the linden trees
and an icy wind blowing
       in from Siberia
flakes of snow
       curling in the light
of the streetlamps
              dusting the pavement

I remember Berlin 
        how dark it was
how cold and dark it was
       when we left the Hotel Adlon
and sauntered up
       to the Brandenburg Gate

All those years ago
       all that time
all that dust
       all that love ago

John Lyons


Layers of love

Troubled waters, John Lyons (20 x 30 cm, oil on canvas)

Layers of love

Snow fell as they tramped 
through the empty streets
of Berlin

What was in their hearts
protected them

from the bitter cold

And as they passed hand in hand
beneath the Brandenberg Gate 
they felt invincible 

Life is often what lies beneath
a landscape in which
layers of love
have been laid to rest 

John Lyons

Digression on love

Digression on love

The memories
I am bound
to dismantle
of times too good
to be true

of scallops
from Borough Market
in the fluted shells
that the pilgrims wore

Memories of walls
and rivers and boats
and cathedrals
and many a meal
so joyfully shared

At what fence
our love faltered
I’ll never know
like so much
I suppose

I’ll never know

John Lyons

Revised from earlier today

Birthday in Berlin

Brandenburg Gate
Brandenburg Gate, Berlin

Birthday in Berlin

One night last December
           we sauntered up
to the Brandenburg Gate
           as they were hanging
Christmas lights
           on the linden trees

An icy wind
           was blowing in
from Siberia
           flakes of snow curled
in the streetlamps
           and feathered
the pavement
           I remember
how dark it was
           all that history
all that repression
           and now the release
the freedom
           couples strolling
arm in arm or hand in hand
           pausing to take pictures
or simply to admire
           the majestic scene

We strolled into the Hotel Adlon
           for champagne
raised our glasses
           took a sip of pleasure
together : it was
           a happy birthday

John Lyons

Poetry is word time

Holocaust memorial, Berlin, December 2017

Word time

Poetry is word time
           the running metre
swift of foot
           along the streets
of Paris or Berlin
           or Venice with its canals
The impertinence of history
           the microbes’ biological clock
or doomed stars
           as their batteries deplete
: what drives heaven
           and hell and every nook
and cranny of creation
           Drinking mulled wine
in the Christmas markets
           as snow gently falls
through the universe
           as it settles upon the living
and the remembered dead
           throughout the vales
of northern Europe
           and far beyond

Locked into the land
           with our earth gaze
ears cocked to capture
           a friendly voice
and it comes through
           crackling with radio
           our bridled thoughts 
to be mounted at will
           eternity in the saddle
time holding the reins
           And love a living thing
palpable flesh
           squeezed with delight
as darkness falls
           or at dawn
as the cattle egrets
           begin their day
and the host herd
           shuffles down to the river
to slake their thirst
           all in good time
solid word time
           cosmic rhyme time

John Lyons


Berlin memorial

Berlin memorial

The nameless shadows
           untimely laid to rest
in avenues of cold hard stone
           cemented into the merciless
grey of winter skies

collective or individual lives
           arranged in rigid alleys
that rise and fall underfoot
           but not a single angle less
than ninety degrees
           no soft circles or tender arcs
or any hint of creative
           deviation from that norm
that awaits us all one day

Here no birds perch
           and no song is heard
as the memories filter
           through and into the dust
these were our cities
           these were our streets
this is the place
           where we finally rest

John Lyons