What’s known in the memory

What’s known in the memory

Of all that passing life
           what remains
is what’s known
           in the memory : a river
in County Waterford
           flows through my mind
the heathered bank where I stood
           with my cousin Paul
under the summer sun
           so we cast our hooks
and watched as they drifted

that youthful day the trout
           were too shy
or too cunning
           and they avoided our bait
and so we returned home

but Paul
           who has passed
along with that day
           lives in the memory
and I am always
           who I was
going to be
           just now

For the angels among us

For the angels among us

Angels more common
           than one would think
they move among us
           silently and their silence
is their message :
           the aura of innocence
lambs that gambol
           and skip and small
children who love
           blue skies and open fields
in which to romp
           laughter on their lips

To attempt to describe them
           would be foolish
for they are better known
           by their actions
pure and unselfish
           Wherever there is love
the angels are present
           they are the filters
through which our words
           pass when we wish
to praise the beauty of life
           in all its truth

John Lyons

In praise of petunias


In praise of petunias

The violet white
           and pink flowers
of the petunia
           a hardy plant from
the tobacco

the roots of its name

from the tupi-guarani
           language of Brazil
in which pety signifies

it reached Europe

           in the mid-16th century
whence petun
           an old French word
for tobacco

its unassuming beauty
           rises up
through the light
           into the air

its powerful scent
was believed
to ward off
evil spirits

John Lyons

What is it to love ?

What is it to love ?

The poet asks
           what is it to love
what is it that moves
           two people
to take one another
           as their own
to have and to hold
           to exclude all others ?

that love
           clear and bright
seen in the intersection
           of their eyes
and in the shared pattern
           of their movements
in the harmonies
           of their breath
in all their geometries
           and in the rhythms
and the intricate narrative
           of their dance

What beauty arises
           from their unmuted concentricity
from the steadfast enactment
           of their most intimate dreams
As circles of darkness
           are kept at bay
by circles of light
           so their souls shine
in the singularity
           of their conjoined flesh
: time is the dust
           that love outlives

John Lyons

When she wakes

When she wakes

Her tousled hair
           when she wakes
the fine threads
           that bear her age
the intersection
           of her beauty
with the world
           the accumulated
events of her breath
           and all that it takes
to make a life
           a probe advanced
into history in the making
           knowingly becoming
who she wishes to be
           the flesh of her
with its starwarmth
           like all things
fabricated from

So I ask myself
           what is there
not to hold dear
           and to love ?

John Lyons


Bones that yearn

Bones, John Lyons (coffee grounds and oil on canvas)

Bones that yearn

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

her hazel eyes
her lips
a celebration

love woven
on the loom
of her life

and the echo
of other bones
long gone

Venus sidles up
to the moon
and for a brief

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

John Lyons

Where blood thickens

Where blood thickens

This is where the blood thickens
with time with age
with hair losing its natural colour
with skin becoming dry
and lined with the bitter-sweet
badges of experience

This is where the only lessons learnt
are self-taught and remembrance
threatens to overwhelm
with constant impulses to return
to what was in any case
dysfunctional and unsatisfactory
out of keel and unbalanced

it takes skill to live life
with passion whilst not offending
justice and good sense
nor to be duped
by honey-tongued princesses
Recall the calves
the thick varicose veins
the spent knees
and the multiplicities of indifference

You who are needful of a human life
grasp it while you can
be muscular in your pursuit of love
fearless in your acts of pleasure
repay tenderness in kind
and seek what wisdom lies
deep behind the eyes
remember too that the rose
once dwelt in the stars
as did its thorns
as did your bones
and hers too

John Lyons

Raison d’être

Raison d’être

To see the world
as love sees it

the constant
ephemeral flame

what fires the heart
sets acts of passion

in motion
and drives us

to be better
than ourselves

to be the gift
that never dies

to be the truth
that never denies

its reason for being
its being for a reason

John Lyons

The snows of yesteryear

Snowfield, John Lyons (oil on canvas)

The snows of yesteryear

When lost for words
           I reach for the poets
Charles Olson
           or François Villon
luminous words
           scrawled on paper
genius is almost always low tech
           it comes in flashes
in aperçus
           in fleeting moments of insight

All that has been
           suddenly is : time
is the face of recognition
           where are the loves
of yesteryear
           the snowfields of yore ?

Each of us has
           our own unique antiquity
some die in their bed while others
           swing from hallowed gallows
Notre Dame
           a place of visitation
a monument to belief
           in the resurrected spirit

John Lyons