Covid-19 – a meditation

                                               Covid-19, John Lyons (40 x 40 cm, mixed media)

From newsprint
these flowers
standing in a vase
daubs of red paint
against a blue

How the eye
has its memory
plays tricks on us
creates a virtual
fools us into thinking
fools us into feeling

Take a closer look
news of the pandemic
Covid-19 in faint type
and how the unconscious
brings colours
to the surface
creates unexpected

and there is the light
reflected from the canvas
the bright cadmium hue
that captures today’s
glorious sunshine
tells of the happiness
in my heart

this art
this simple meditation
in times of emergency
is an agent of life
there is hope in shapes
cut with scissors
glued to a surface
that will hang forever
in my heart

John Lyons

Relaxin’ at Camarillo

Charlie Parker

I’ve been listening
       to Charlie Parker
for most of my adult life
       I never tire of the riffs
the sweet melodies
       the effortlessly inventive energy
he applies to the saxophone
       the awesome power of his breath
that lives on in the recordings :
       masterworks indeed

Like the poetry
       of Frank O’Hara
who is alive and well
       in the Lunch Poems
his tone of voice too
       captured for all time
in a poetry that positively
       sings of friendship and love

‘My words are love’
       Frank wrote
and Charlie might well have said
       the same about his notes
Stepping away
       from the world of work
Frank worked the world
       into his verse
His poems – as with all art –
       are affairs of the heart

John Lyons

The ministry of works

I think how different
       the world would be
if the gasmen
       digging up the road
outside my house
       had taken a vow of silence

But no – it’s early morning
       and they gather
and their excited chatter
       is as though
they had not seen
       each other for years

The foreman arrives
       at eight on the dot
and sets them to work
       : only the drills and
the mechanical diggers
       finally silence them

John Lyons

Meditation in times of emergency

Meditation in times of emergency

This has been a beautiful day
           unbroken sunshine
and young families strolling
           in the park and down by the river
and everyone subdued
           and yet determined
to enjoy every minute

I walked past the magnolia
           with its splendid votive blooms
and once again
           heard the woodpecker
tapping to its own code
           a day not to be deconstructed
but to be lived for the moment

I thought of Apollinaire
           standing on the Mirabeau Bridge
watching as the waters passed
           beneath him
I thought of Frank O’Hara
           never one to be lost for words
I thought of all the love
           that passes by and of the love
that alone endures

John Lyons

This is a quiet poem

This is a quiet poem

This is a quiet poem
: it’s New Year’s Day
and the streets are silent
the party’s over
the birds are relaxing
in their respective nests
there’s virtually no traffic

It’s as though

the previous twelve months
have been erased
the world is giving itself
a chance to freshen up

Lovers repeat their vows
their promises and stare
into each other’s eyes
It’s the newborn year
it doesn’t wish
to be disturbed
There are expectations
of peace and a resolution
to all conflicts

This is a quiet poem
and I’m sitting here
in Vienna awaiting
the orders that only I
can give myself

I love the sound
of certain voices
and their silence too
I love the gentleness
of the day and the ease
with which my lungs
fill with air and empty
each time I take
a deep breath

John Lyons

With corrections

My sentiments exactly

My sentiments exactly

I was born under my stars
           you were born under yours
and though we share
           the same universe
there are still silences between us
           that stretch out across space
my quietness and yours
as cracked autumn leaves
           tumble through the galaxy

If we dig deep enough
           we will hit upon
pockets of the past
           your childhood and mine
our parents now long gone
           dreams that are ripe
for resurrection
           the lust for love

In Spitalfields market
           I bought black leather gloves
to keep my fingers warm
           those fingers
that know your body
           so well

When you blush
           your blood vessels fill with desire
I can read your face
           like the back of my hand
Never forget that we share
           the same minerals
nor that the shadows
           that trailed behind us
on the edges of the Grand Canal
           will be there for all eternity
I own the light in your eyes
           just as you own the light in mine
: we are a constellation of two
           our nights know no darkness

John Lyons


A belated Christmas card

A belated Christmas card

I’ve seen the tree
           in the Rockerfeller Plaza
mine is smaller
and its decorations
           are sparse
but it is green
           as Christmas should be
and it can grow
           in the imagination
since it has roots
           and needs to be watered
and fed like any living

My blood is a refined red
           adding colour to my festive
           and there are fluffy white clouds
trailing in the distance
           under a flickering sun

I wish I had thought
           of the phrase
the lipstick of life
           but I didn’t
nevertheless I saw you
           the last time you took it
from you bag
           and applied it to your lips
           and when you’d finished
you looked so divine
           I thought I might kiss you
forever but I did not
           because I didn’t want
to disturb
           your perfect beauty

John Lyons

Beauty and perfection

Beauty and perfection

It’s Saturday once again
           and I feel
I’ve been here before
           low-lying cloud
and drizzle at the windows
           and a sense
that in my pursuit of perfection
           I have failed once again

not that that will ever
           stop me trying
what else is there to strive for
           but beauty and perfection
and the skill to know it
           when you see it
to enjoy it while you can
           if you can

A rose is perfect
           whoever bought
a bouquet of imperfect roses
           : beauty and perfection
supported by a life
           of trial and error

The rain intensifies
           and I just know
it’s settling in for the day
           throwing me back
on my resources
           Today I’ll try
not to think of love
           I’ve been drowning
in that word for so long
           Let’s say that
my words are love
           and leave it at that

John Lyons

The power of one word


The power of one word

I have a mental picture
           of the poet Frank O’Hara sitting
in his apartment
           on a glorious New York summer’s day
He’s wearing a crisp
           white shirt and new sneakers
and is nervously tapping his fingers
           on his desk in time
to a phrase from Rachmaninoff
           that has been running
through his head
           ever since he woke

Through an open window
           he can also hear the city making
its usual cacophonous dust
           he also has an eye on the clock
: the friend who is giving him
           the ride to the beach is late
and he has so been
           looking forward to the trip

Just then the doorbell rings
           and at once
he is overcome
           by the sudden surge of love
in his heart and struggles
           to get to his feet
fearing he might drown
           in the emotion

John Lyons


I too have lain under trees

I too have lain under trees

 It’s our duty
      to be attentive
      that sets us apart
that brings us
not just in times
      of emergency
but as we gaze
      into a pair
of pale blue
or green 
      or hazel eyes
and whisper

      words of love

Where would
      the universe be
without us ?

John Lyons