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 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
          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

noirjean
         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
       dashed
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
       life
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
       life
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

The self all at sea

Awe
       that sense of wonderment
when the mind
       not to say the body
is blown away
       by beauty

That she is rose
       and flesh
all woven
       from light

Here in the place of birth
       her hair tangled
by the brisk breeze
       her eyes damp
with remembrance
       with loss

At night she grinds her teeth
       the lost innocence
the years misspent
       in pointless pursuits
the child in her
       a figment of the imagination

She who was once rose
       on the threshold of dust
at the dissolution of time
       where the sea thrashes
the ocean’s edge
       and peace alone
comes to creatures
       that swim with the tide

John Lyons

Coffee bones

archaeology
Coffee bones, John Lyons (30 x 30 cm, coffee grounds and oil on canvas)

Bones that yearn
for other bones
out of the earth
into the earth

coffee grounds
and yellow cadmium
eyes turning
one toward the other

only love heals
the scars left
by love

winsome
her hazel eyes
her lips
a celebration

love woven
on the loom
of her life

bones
and the echo
of other bones
long gone

Venus sidles up
to the moon
and for a brief
moment

it illuminates
their love
their bodies turning
in unison

time will one day
sweep them away
for ever conjoined
their dust

their bones
laid to rest
for a single
eternity

John Lyons

Bed of roses

cutting

The long green
       leafy tongues
of this plant
       peering through
the undergrowth
       lapping up the light

Its four-petalled
       flower little bigger
than a pinhead
       proud to exhibit
itself amid the tangle
       of blackberry canes

All life
       out of this soil
this rich clay
       from which your lips
were formed
       minerals that fed
your blood your breath
       and shaped your limbs

Here birth and death
       coexist as one
feeds the other
       in the eternal cycle
of resurrection
       And so I say
: make of your love
       a bed of roses
so as to be sure that
       it will never die

John Lyons