The rest is silence


As the fire blazed
       in the mouth of the cave
pigments were mixed
       and applied to the walls
the deer and antelope admired
       and keenly observed
and hunted for food
       : art in order to render
their deep respect for
       this source of life

that others might know
       their story
their values
       the word inseparable
from the deed
       an imagist language
a timeless articulation
       in time and space

John Lyons

Le reste est silence

Alors que le feu flambait
       dans l’embouchure de la grotte
les pigments ont été mélangés
       et appliqués sur les murs
le cerf et l’antilope admirés
       et vivement observés
et chassés pour se nourrir
       : l’art pour rendre
leur profond respect pour
       cette source de vie

que d’autres puissent savoir
       de leur histoire
de leurs valeurs
       le mot inséparable
de l’acte
       un langage imagiste
une articulation intemporelle
       dans le temps et dans l’espace


Resolution in the face

Prince of Denmark, John Lyons (25 x 30 cm, oil on canvas)

Love sleeps cosy
in my heart
a bright star
in a warm firmament

I wake to the chirrup
of thrush and sparrow
magpies in their Bourbon
regalia have yet to appear

In my dream
I was flying back to you
to a nest we had built
together lovingly

Though rain has fallen
it did not dampen my spirit
whatever life throws my way
I am ready and willing to play

John Lyons

Intelligence is energy

David by Michelangelo
Michelangelo’s David

Intelligence is energy

I make no claims
           other than to say
that intelligence is energy
           and it manifests itself
for better or worse
           in every realm of art

the king is a thing
           that Shakespeare moves
around a stage
           before our eyes
and in our head
           painting too
is poetry
           and poets paint
composers offer us
           their soundscapes

out of Carrara marble
           using hammer and chisel
and the energy
           of his intelligence
Michelangelo extracted
           his David which now exists
in an active universe
           eternally bent on creation

John Lyons

So to the life learnt

Easter canvas

So to the life learnt

So to the life learnt
           word by word :
who walks beside me in the shadow 
           of Shad Thames ?

the hollow space
           in your image and likeness
the simple mathematics
           as dawn breaks
above my head
           on this Easter Sunday

I have a mind full of you
           and of words
from other scriptures
           and I salute the day with love

The ghosts of Wilfred Owen
           and of Paul Éluard
move through these lines
           one mortally wounded
the other a survivor
           in the Great War

There was a time
           when your almond eyes
drifted into mine
           mine into yours
a time when parting
           on Tooley Street
was such sweet sorrow
           before Hamlet appeared

Now there are red tulips
           and daffodils
with their yellow petals
           spread in honour
of the stars from where
           they come
and there are words
           so many words
that I deploy
           in my struggle against
the ravages of time
           and the loss of love

John Lyons


Out of our stars

Out of our stars

What bearing
out of stars

are they words
or not

why of course
all hails from them

we the stuff of stars
their language

the love I feel
is star love

it is energy
and attraction

and it fills my sky
with contentment

it is paradise
not to be crossed

poetry is more
than earth song

it is the rhapsody
of warm blood

purposing through
the cold universe

and so it encompasses
all surpasses all

John Lyons

Corrected text

Childhood memory

Childhood memory

Smoke from a heap of leaves burning
as darkness fell and life smouldered on
That night a sharp frost and the following day
awoke to a white lawn crisp under fox foot :
if the king is a thing so too a man and a woman
and a child and all bodies made under the sun
and so our lives are lived among such things
and yet all things as we know will pass
fame and glory and pride and wealth and position
and what remains is what we can secure

against the cold and bitter depredations of dust
the warmth stored in our hearts and in our minds

though those too will pass just as the smoke
rose unseen and faded into the sky and the fire died

John Lyons

Gross domestic profit

Gross domestic product

The politics of platitude
         with which they would smother us
that this is a great country
         the fifth largest economy in the world
but that the poor must be chased
         into the ground / the disabled hounded
the weak trodden further down
         so many thousand more children
being raised in poverty
         evictions and homelessness on the rise
thorns trimmed from the rose
         before it is sold into slavery

Read back in time : a king is a thing
          What drove Ophelia to distraction
was utter madness
         the parameters are all wrong
the indices askew and beside the point
          Something rotten on the streets of London
prejudice and intolerance and greed
          We have a duty to care so that the child
may be protected and prosper
         so that the elderly may be treated
with dignity and respect
         so that a hand may be extended
to those who suffer persecution

These are indeed austere times
         in which the public discourse
has been hijacked by the corrupt
         pilferers of the commonwealth
Money buys a very big lie
         trumping the truth at every turn
: a king is a thing is the thing
         and enough is enough is enough

John Lyons