ee cummings testament

in thy beauty is the dilemma of flutes

The wOrds saD and beauty, the
woRds thORN and desIRe;that si-
lence that is anathemA to musicke, you-
r loVer torn betwEEn a rock and a
hard place;body of love laid snug
to rest;inTemPerate riSe and faLL
of quickSilver.Stay A while and I
will take your baroMetriC press-
ure;a feBrile finGer strays upon y-
our impulse.O lord, lead us into temp-
tation,bEforE it is tOO late.But for
the worDs,beTimes, all is dusT.

18 April 2005

John Lyons


The year ending

40 x 40_Tiny dancer
                                  Tiny dancer, John Lyons (40 x 40 cm, oil on canvas)

The living dance
upon dead minds
believe in moon magic
threaten to destroy
the earth with misplaced
enthusiasms and dreams

Time is no refuge
and no doors can
remain bolted forever
Pick up your spoons
and dig into the daily
gruel and accept the cards
you have been dealt

The only splendour
here below is love
but remember it cannot
be put into words nor
can it be photographed
Disdain all those
who would betray it
they are not worth the soil
in which they are buried

John Lyons


The clock strikes Christmas
time beats with an open heart

the moon has climbed
to the top of the stairs

I see it through a window
that peeks out into the future

Somewhere a flower is waking
its perfume will soon spread

as its petals open and so deepen
the earth’s unassailable beauty

In every aspect of every star
of every planet you are loved

my hands – simple as they are
were born to adore you everly

John Lyons

You who in winter sit

You who in winter sit
behind frosted panes
your breath vanishing
before your eyes
observe that the moon
is no longer beneath
your feet but high
in the dark empty sky

You who in winter sit
sat upon the sadness
of your dreams or
the loss of your love
observe the sun rising
in the east shedding
its warm light across
the cold day

You who in winter sit
waiting for life to appear
recognise that it is never
anywhere other than
within your heart and
yours to administer
like the loyal and faithful
servant tasked with
spreading the good news

John Lyons

A once world

A once world
without air
without water
without light
without love
without a ghost
of affection
without a dream
or a song
dayless and

A once world
in the cosmos
an expectation
an oceanic silence
without words
without gestures
birth awaiting birth
life awaiting life
a deep darkness
awaiting the star
of Bethlehem

John Lyons

Thicker than blood

Love thicker than blood
deeper than any sea
freer than any air
an incandescent fire

sky cannot shelter it
nor the moon illuminate
its furthest actions or
its deeper recesses

love longer than time
more encompassing
than any space
more succinct

than any word
No battle can ever
defeat it no betrayal
ever taint it

Love thicker than blood
more compelling
than any kiss
love is what it is

John Lyons

Pity poor flesh

Pity poor flesh

Pity poor flesh
           pity poor stars and stones
pity poor world
           of war and enmity
pity the lion and the forest
           and the schools of children
doomed to a fading life
           pity poor love and lip
that struggles to express
           the heart’s true desires
seeking solace in the size
           of a shoe and bag
and a dress cut to ribbons
           Pity poor flesh
in its daily dalliance
           with kingdom-come death
and made-to-measure

John Lyons


Moonful thoughts

Moonful thoughts

Last night with the full moon
           I felt a tide rise within me
a surge of my old self
           I’ll revert to my singularity
and be true and steadfast
           in the pursuit of my pursuits
eyes peeled for the hawk
           that hovers above
the ploughed fields
           my gaze drawn
to the beauty of roses
           in full bloom

Kind words I’ll trade
           with whoever offers kindness
but I’ll be on my guard
           against those shallow souls
with mean pinched faces
           who’ve sought 
to dupe and betray me with their
           whimpering fantasies
: nothing false and possible
           is love
which is ours to give
           and to keep
as the seasons flick
           ever lifewards

From humble heights
           true love grows
to become in and of itself
           a proud universe
of rapturous speech and gesture
           within which lovers
kneel and bless themselves
           and give praise

           back to my old self
to the left hand
           in sync with the right
balance and equanimity
           nothing possible and false
is limitless

A creamy disk of light
           against the pitch black sky
and the tug of blood
           rushing through my veins
urging me to own and to disown
           with discernment
I too have lived the learning curve
           have timewise stumbled
here and there into bitter failure
           : but no more

Cycles of pain and joy
           I trust shall soon cede
to the once and for all
          and love in my life 
shall become 
         an enduring ecstasy

John Lyons

Revised version




Who but me knows the precise thrill
       that rises out of the deeplyness
of your beauty — a beauty steeped
       in the tenderness of your gesture
a beauty beyond definition
       that tears language apart
that reduces poetry
       to a meaningless rubble
of senseless sentiment
       It is not that the fabric of your skin
is softer than any silk
       though it is that too
nor that your smile floods
       whatever space you occupy
with a savage starlust
       of almost unbearable brilliance

       The memory of fields of lavender
of orchards overburdened
       with the fragrance
of competing blooms
       the wild perfumes that rose up
from a land soothed
       by the summer breeze
vineyards swept
       by the wayward dusts of Provence
and on the Mediterranean shore
       the fine pilgrim sand
that shifts so slowly in time
       Those were restless days
and months and years
       now long gone
a remnant glimmer that
       with undimmed youth
I hold in my eye
       a beauty that knows no repose
matched by a sweet desire
       that will never die

John Lyons

*The above poem was inspired by the following line,”Who out of deeplyness rose to undeath”, taken from a poem by e.e. cummings, published in 1931 in a collection entitled W [ViVa]. To read the whole of the poem by cummings click here