Pale flowers dry tears

Is there poetry outside of love I
wonder   knowing that somewhere yes
in the distance lips are pursed and tears
are running down her nostrils and the full
moon has passed into the clouds and all hope
has been lost    Like a subway train   the act
of love passes
                      and the flicker of lights
on 6th Avenue serves only to deep-
en the misery of self-awareness
The truth comes in several colours   you
take your pick but the consequences are
invariably the same    Pale flowers
because the day is long and so much space
to fill with words and silence
                                         and dry tears

John Lyons


Tsunami of love

          Tsunami, John Lyons (acrylic on paper)

There is always something
       to pierce through
the heavy greyness of the day
       in which mouldering leaves
continue to detach
       from the mothership –

time is sand
       and leaves and detritus
and irrevocable decay
       but it is also opportunity
in which to create a space
       for happiness and for love

we should all learn
       the sparrow’s song
and keep our eyes open
       scouring our line of vision
for the angels who are
       always there waiting
to be invited
       into our hearts

to be buried
       in a deluge of love
is not such a bad thing
       I would have thought

John Lyons

The quality of light

             Starleaf, John Lyons (acrylic on paper)

Well here we are

       and what are we going to do ?
It’s not as though the questions
       ever change just the seasons
that rotate and the leaves fall
       and we look each other
in the eye and ask ourselves
       how long can this go on ?

And yet we have learned
       to read the universe
like a book and we know
       that falling leaves
are star fragments
       that energy and mass
are bosom buddies
       that nothing ventured
is ever lost in the infinite
       sum of things and that
love has the quality of light
       which never fades

John Lyons

Falling out

Black winter sky
       filled with stars
       of the urban universe
and life-long focus
       of our gaze
all we ever wished for
       from cradle to grave

I am an anthology
       of hopes and dreams
I am a timeline
       noted all the times
that I have loved
       noted all the times
that I have lost
       and still the stars
lurking in the cool skies
       and I carry
my transparent self
       from day to day through
this imponderable world
       and bring flowers
when appropriate
       warm roses and daffodils
whenever love is in season –
       a gondola on the Grand Canal
the ride we never took
       together at least

Memories of darkness
       and light as the Carnival
exploded before our eyes
       You were one of the most
beautiful things in the world
       and you put Renaissance art
to shame with your smile
       and yet your heart
did not bear scrutiny
       and being tentatively in love
you slipped and stumbled
       out of it again

John Lyons

The angels live among us

The earth
       so full of life
so full of truth
       another word
for universe
       that which
never lies –
       the riddle
of the sands
       But behind
every paradox
       every mystery
lie explanations
       and meanings

The innocent smile
       of a young child
the purity
      of her message –
as she left the tube
       she turned to thank
all her fellow passengers
       and to bid them goodbye
These are the angels
       true messengers
who speak only
       of goodness and love
the earth so full
       of truth and love

John Lyons

A phrase from Rachmaninoff


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 creating
its usual dusty cacophony
           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

Mike Goldberg’s sardines

                    Sardines, by Michael Goldberg

So I like to keep
tinned sardines
in my cupboard
for a rainy day
and whenever
I think of them
I think of Frank
O’Hara visiting
Mike Goldberg
who is painting
sardines into
his picture
but when it’s
finished Frank
goes back and
says : Where’s
the sardines?
They’re gone
they were too
much says
Mike Goldberg

John Lyons

Seen on the radio

Summer Couch
Willem de Kooning, Summer Couch, 1943

You get the picture
it’s a shut-in weekend
pale drizzle out on the streets
and Frank is home relaxing

after a hard few days
at the museum office
and he’s listening
to Grieg and to Prokofiev

to relieve those feeling-
sorry-for-oneself feelings
and he’s dreaming
of the painting

Dutch Willem de Kooning
has promised him
and because he’s Dutch
it has an orange bed in it
and Frank muses that it’s
more than the ear can hold

John Lyons