Down by the Thames

Down by the Thames

The flow of language
that runs down to silence
: the rivers that bury
themselves in the sea

just as today at Erith
Thames waters glide away
into the distance
out of my sight and mind

Farewell to the idea
to the passing moment
to the creatures that live
within beneath or above

these tidal reaches
to times marked
by the sun and the moon
A lone fisherman casts a line

into the deep unknown
What passion lurks
within his heart what loves
has he known and lost ?

His head is in his dreams
his hope in the bite of a fish
his life has brought him
to the pier where for a while

he will be

John Lyons

On Erith pier

On Erith pier

So I go and sit with my soul
           watch the clouds head east
see a flurry of white gulls
           begging for bread from a lady
who’s crumbling a loaf
           in a plastic bag
before hurling the pieces
           over the railings

All the while the river
           has its silence and I have mine
I note that the beauty of autumn
           rivals that of spring
the trees awash
           with radiant hues
of copper and gold
           and I nurse the notion
of changing seasons
           praying only
that the season of love
           will soon return

John Lyons


How much more local

How much more local

Life from breath to breath
           living on the spur of the moment
among roses and daffodils
           down by Erith Deep Wharf
the river’s ebb revealing
           the mudflats where long-legged
oyster-catchers and other waders
           eke out an existence
so much memory
           so much sunken time

so much change since I was a child
           the wooden jetties collapsed
replaced by the cold hard cement
           of progress and the dull hand
of municipal planning in which
           the imagination is forced
into a backseat or is totally costed
           out of the process
degenerate regeneration
           as though nobody was ever expected
to survive the onslaught
           all that corrodes
with no eye for beauty
           no ear for the truth
no rest for the innocent
           no life for lovers

John Lyons


In these cold waters

In these cold waters

Low mist lying across
           the Thames at Erith
a wide stretch known
           to Daniel Defoe

no warmth in these waters
           where bream and perch
and pike and roach
           and rudd and carp
and gudgeon live out
           their cold-blooded lives

Between October and January
           salmon may be seen
heading upriver
           to Hampton Court
and rainbow trout
           are known to spawn
in the Wandle
           at Croydon

A Siberian sturgeon
           that had lost its way
was once caught
           at Dartford provoking
rare excitement
           among devotees

John Lyons


A few words for a cold Sunday morning. Poetry is in the rhythm as it is in the wind, in the coalescence or energies that keep the world warm and alive on this frosty morning. The silence of meditation, the white canvas across the land. On days such as these we search for warmth. We wrap up well in our coats or lie longer in bed under the covers. But whether at home or out and about, what we seek is human warmth, a smile, a hand held, a kiss, the clench of love, anything to remind us that this too will pass, that the cold season will shift into spring and on into summer and that patience will get us through these challenging times.

Poetry is in the steps that words take, how they move through the mind at a trot, or flow smoothly like a river or rush over a wintry weir, driven always by the passion for life and by the sustaining energies that come directly from the sun. November. The month of remembrance and of memory, of those who are in the cold cold ground, of those who move warmly above it. Memory, the living gallery of moments and places and feelings and faces and sensations and hopes and dreams and love. 


From Holly Hill to the river’s edge
           a chill November day
with an icy wind
           soughing among the alders
and the damp chrysanthemum petals
           blown about the garden-ways
beneath a low grey sky

                      a sluggish tide
slapping the charred beams
           of the abandoned jetty
           the air thick with decay
                      and obsolescence

The future too has its backwaters
           where light will gather in
dark pools of neglect
           who bathes in these waters
may be lost
                      lost forever