The eloquence of trees

What Olson noted is that each tree has
its own sound   its own voice   which may vary
with the seasons   and whether there is wind
or not    and depending on its direction
and strength  
               What an acute ear it requires
to identify each species   Perhaps
the birds have it    or certain birds   perhaps
All those years ago   the tamarinds in
Liberia and the afternoon breeze
that lifted the bone dry dust from their leaves
and at night the black sky   peppered with a
billion stars or more    tiny pinpricks of
light     empty universe longing for life
the warm intimacy
                              of human love

John Lyons


There is no forgetting

The chain of memory that binds us to
who we are   There is no forgetting  no
In the face of time’s onslaught we have our
being constructed from particles of
starlight  We are dust of the universe
and each generation rises and falls
perennials alongside the roses
and the daffodils
                    and all things that bloom
Through reproduction nature tries and tries
to attain perfection   paragons of
beauty  and so too the shape of the soul
So too your lips and the curve of your cheeks
It was not difficult to love you  no
You were ev’rything
                               I ever wanted

John Lyons

Love that sets the path

Light that reaches back
to the origin of light
the original species
of light from which
all emanates

Has time ever stood still ?
Has movement ever ceased ?
The universe that expands
within our minds
within our hearts
all energy recycled
all growth turned
to advantage

So too love
in all its leisure
and our internal life
governed by purpose
and by attraction
by what we call desire
the passion that fires up
the humbled penitent soul
to action

Love that reaches back
into all our yesterdays
Love that sets the path
for all our days to come

John Lyons

A complex of occasions

A complex of occasions
        a life
three score and ten
        : to have known love
more than once
        and for the memory
to burn as a flame
        in the mind

Yesterday in April still
        the first white butterfly
of the season
        gliding above the debris
in the railway cutting

All things are measures
        of other things
some trees now in flower
        others with foliage
about to burst forth

Beneath the complexity
        the cycles that drive
the natural world
        the song of the nightingale
and the manmade beauty
        of the Grecian urn

and the web of words
        that binds us together
in communities and
        in our homes and
in our hearts
        and in our beds

John Lyons

Fibres of our being

The light the air
the dust falling
gently back
into the earth

How detached we’ve become
from the peace of stars
and the cycles
that gave birth
to the very fibres
of our being

How divided the world
split off from the universe
by arrogance and pride
by blind ambition
and by anger and violence

But life is the truth itself
the supple flesh that glows
in the darkness
the warmth of blood
the warmth of affection
the warmth of desire
that hungers only
to serve love

The sun the moon
the stars : these are
neither myth nor metaphor
they are our kith and kin
our brethren ever since
mass first exploded
into energy and created

Time time time
with its subtle taste
of eternity

John Lyons

Chains of memory

The chains of memory
        the shackles the bonds
that bind the beloved
        to the beloved
the all-knowingness
        of love which each day
resurrects and brings out
        into the light

Grace and desire
        hand in hand
something that changes
        so that nothing ever changes
the state in which there is
        no restlessness
and no discomfort

Yes there are words
        but sometimes
they are unvoiced
        each syllable
closely guarded
        latent speech
kept in reserve

this is what I saw
        in her eyes
this what I felt
        when I held her hand
and then the brush
        of her lips on my skin
her breath aligned
        with my own—

and out of love
        all those gestures
that rise into being
        the creativity that battles
against the onslaught of death
        the tenderness that softens
every blow and soothes
        one’s wounded vanity

John Lyons

A poetry of familiar things

          Cascade, John Lyons (oil on canvas)

A poetry of familiar things
a sparrow or a rose
or flowering mimosa
a simple summer cotton dress
decorated with flowers
which she wears with pride

The families that traipse
up and down
the Promenade des Anglais
in Nice : the blue sea
and the blue sky
the heat of the day
in August

Chagall and Matisse
and Italian sorbets
and the insatiable thirst
for love and life

John Lyons

Une poésie des choses familières
un moineau ou une rose
ou mimosa en fleurs
une simple robe d’été en coton
décorée de fleurs
qu’elle porte avec fierté

Les familles qui traînent
haut et bas
la Promenade des Anglais
à Nice : la mer bleue
et le ciel bleu
la chaleur du jour
en août

Chagall et Matisse
et des sorbets italiens
et la soif insatiable
d’amour et de vie

The lie of the land

         The lie of the land, John Lyons (9 x 13 cm collage)

This is what it’s like

       to be caught
in the warp and weft
       of being
the fabric of our existence

We have needs
       beyond our means
dreams that may be
and we fear above all
       the loss of love

Our lives are filled
       with equipment and devices –
so many things we no longer
       know how to do for ourselves
our homes have become
       territories which we guard
with our lives
       we have become investments
and pander to so many idols
       blinding ourselves
to the work of angels
       who move constantly among us

Perfection is there
       in the webs of spiders
in nature’s silk
       in the beauty of roses
or the soaring flight
       of sparrowhawks

But there are no vacancies
       in the natural world
and none need apply
       creation has its work to do
its solar systems to build
       while we are tasked
with something quite simple
       merely to love and
to allow ourselves
       to be loved

John Lyons

In calm waters

The thing you are after
       may lie around the next corner
: chance is a fine thing
       down to your last fly
when suddenly you feel a bite
       on the end of the line
a blue sky strewn with thin cloud
       and the sun slowly sinking in the west
and the fish tugs and the rod bends
       and you know that the tussle is on

That we should have what we require
       to get through our days so that the body
is sustained and the soul can breathe
       and there is time to nurse all
that is dear to the heart and that love
       should no longer be a stranger

John Lyons

The beauty of life

It’s so beautiful
the power of it
       the frailty of it
the five-petalled primrose 
       quality of it
the balance of it
       how we are always
only a breath away
       from love or death

how so much and yet
       so little is held
in our hands –
       we have words
to breach the silence
       and silence to sustain
our words and images
       all that is expressed
out of us calmly and urgently
       all that speaks
to the heart
       and to the soul

So beautiful
a hand pressed
       to lips or the sound
of a child’s laughter
       her thin hair
caught in the wind
       blowing across her face
her defiant smile
       her eventual kiss

John Lyons