Blackberry days

Blackberry days

Easy picking
           of the low-hanging fruit
the sun each evening
           lower in the sky
warm days
           cool nights
the grass thick with dew
           when we wake

I said
           winter is staring us in the face
let’s take care of those things
           of the spirit that will determine
our happiness and well-being
           in the hard days ahead

Let’s be wise in our affairs
           and articulate the love
we feel for each other
           and above all
let’s make amends
           for any offence

There are blackberries
           in abundance in woodlands
along the railway cuttings
           in back gardens—
let’s enjoy them while we can
           and be thankful

John Lyons

Totally revised



August days

August days

The fading light of August days
           dipping gradually into September
when some but not all things
           fall apart

Foxes know it
           you can see it in their eyes
as they look longingly
           at the gardens that will soon
be stripped to the bone :
           on shed roofs they laze
soaking up the last rays
           of the summer sun

There are roses in bloom
           the piecemeal beauty
of their petals still intact :
           and so gingerly 
down by the back fence
           I begin to pick blackberries
the plump succulent flesh
           occasionally bursting
under the slightest pressure
           such a delicate operation
and then a thorn
           pierces my forefinger
drawing thick globules of blood
           that instantly blend
with the stains
           from the crushed fruit

The frailty of it all
           year after year
the rise and fall of beauty :
           she had it in her eyes
in the soft smooth skin
           the graceful gestures
of her hands
           her dancer’s feet
in the breadth of her smile
           and so we pray
for the resurrection
           of the body

John Lyons

Revised from the earlier post

Wild blackberries

blackberries_wildThis week I have been revising a book of poetry that has been 18 months in the writing. Sections of the poem have been read by a very good friend of mine, Paul Taylor. I asked him as he was reading to mark the text wherever he found the lines confusing or simply dull. I am now working my way through the pages, sometimes rewriting passages he has marked as uninteresting or simply cutting them out if they no longer seem relevant to me.

It is always useful to have an editor, someone who can be trusted and whose judgment is based on wide reading and long years of experience. On this page I would like to express my gratitude to Paul for the task he undertook with great enthusiasm and completed with great professionalism. The lines  below, written over a year ago, nevertheless echo a poem submitted to the blog mid-August by Molly Rosenberg. According to Paul Taylor, my short poem is actually a metaphor for love. Who knows?

Wild blackberries

Wild blackberry canes
                   barbed brambles
heavy with fruit
                   thrive on the steep banks
of the railway cutting
                   goodness that grows
                   out of the soil :
but easy access to them is barred
                   by dense patches of nettles
so the berries gather dust
                   ripen and then fall back
into the undergrowth
                   to be eaten by birds
and by the large colonies of fox families
                   that have pitched their tents
at various stations
                   along the line

John Lyons

Blackberries – a seasonal poem

blackberriesThe Japanese haiku is a poem which replaces a few simple brushstrokes of the painter with a few simple words. It is a style of observational poetry built from short strokes of language.

Art is about observation and consciousness and the transference of that consciousness into an expressive form to create an aesthetic object. Sounds complicated, but it can be as simple as the representation of a bison on a cave wall, or as a poem by Molly Rosenberg, inspired by the picking of seasonal fruit.



Tearing skin
on sharpest thorns,
spots of crimson
stained on white shorts.
Deep green leaves,
folded, curled,
hiding the treasure
embedded within.
        A glint
of purple blackness,
first a single berry
then a cluster,
more and yet more
appear amid the cruelty
of the thorns
and the gentleness
of the leaves.
After the stabbing
and the pain
the sweetness
of the reward.

Molly Rosenberg