Hark to the sound of light

Flowers, John Lyons (oil on wood)

Hark to the sound of light

The rose has its imprint
           petal softness of velvet
brushed against her lips
           threads of life entwined
gold and silver and amethyst
           honour in her silence
honour in her words
           honour in her breath
though the rose requires
           no tongue

           literally made
in the stars
           and in the black nights
we gaze at our past
           the foundry in which
we were first formed
           before thought

That such intense heat
           could give rise to tears
whether of joy or pain
           to wisdom too
and sadly ignorance
           : does there always
have to be a thorn
           in the side ?

We say that paradise
           is a place of grace and love
and all that stems
           from light –
speech is in our nature
           and silence too
the rose imprinted
           needs no tongue

Look to your mirror
           song will heal your heart
happiness is there
           for the taking
syllables shaped
           in the sound of light
the mirror says
           love you too

John Lyons

Truth-seeking eyes

Truth-seeking eyes

The beauty of eyes
           mine looking into yours
yours looking into the mirror
           in which you see
not the growing lines on your brow
           not the skin aged
into a pale looseness
           but whatever you’ve
managed to conserve
           of your girlhood

It is a wonderful life from top to toe
           regardless of location
regardless of today’s blue sky
           regardless of the full-on sun
that brings you life
           even as it ends it

Your short-fingered hands
           sometimes struggle
to get to grips
           and your restless mind
lags behind your eyes
           You place roses
in a glass bowl
           and stand back to admire
their timeless beauty
           with the truth-seeking eyes
of the young girl
           you once were
you should donate them
           to posterity

John Lyons


Generations of stars

Generations of stars

Generations of leaves
       have fallen
will fall
       She leaves in winter
and returns in the fall

Generations of lovers
       have filled
will fill the earth
       with their joy

My love left
       without so much
as a by your leave
       Blue sky today
       I read
turn over a new leaf
       We live in the light

Generations of stars

       have taught us
that time withers
       on the oak branch
that fruit falls
       and flesh perishes
but life rises up
       out of the dust
that stars age into

John Lyons

The gentleness that can be

The gentleness that can be

What we pray for now
 is the gentleness that can be
 for her to raise a hand
 and point to the apple blossom
 and say that this is what life
 is all about : the candid beauty
 that bears fruit and feeds a nation
 Good fortune is love devoid
 of bitterness or envy or any
 meanness of spirit     Love
 has no rival when it comes
 to mending broken lives
 it is the common denominator
 of all our selfless breath
 In Venice we gazed into the waters
 saw the ripple of our reflection
 and wondered whether our affection
 would last forever    It did    It does
 John Lyons

Critical light

Critical light

Critical light
            immaterial time
the distance
two objects

the universe
            a play on light
without which
            no beauty

            the mind’s eye
a play on words
            or colours
or textures
            or dimensions
multiples of three

the poet
            who was
of three minds

a blackbird
            a field of snow
notes slung
            across an empty

            is the absence
of darkness
            love is

the measure
            of all things
the sparrow
            and the lily

what is done
            in the darkness
critical light
            all the love
that radiates

in the end
            she may come round
it all takes time
            Rome was not built
in a day

you ask
            how many times
must we repeat
            I reply
until we get it

John Lyons


Breath lives


Breath lives

Not the surface
            of things
but the fact
            that breath lives
in starlight
            whether it comes
from her eyes
            or the warmth
of her smile
            or of her words

just as flowers
            come forth
from within
            the earth
being of the earth
            the hyacinths
and the tulips
            and the irises
that you place
            in a cut glass bowl
generations of them
            to adorn
the mahogany table
            the light refracted
through the crystal

the movement
            of matter
in the flesh
            the fluidity
of our bodies
            the restlessness
of every living cell
            the urge to embrace
beauty in every
            shape and form
so that Venus
            is not diminished
or eclipsed
            by the sun

            daisies and buttercups
litter the lawn
            their colours bright
against the rich
            green grass
but not the surface of things
            the purpose of things
the pretty notes
            of the May madrigal
the air wreathed
            with love

Eyes trapped in time

Eyes trapped in time

The eyes have it
           when the vision
is precise
           when the hand
can trust
           what the eye
has seen
           With my little eye
I look for the clock
           that still works
on monuments cathedrals
           or dare I say
on the Conciergerie
           where prisoners
were once held
in the dark depths
           of time

or where land
           and sea meet
where the sun rises
           and where the sun sets
all measured
           by the human eye
infinity trapped
           along with us all
in time
           shaped by time
our loves
           and our losses
our calculated lives
           my flesh and blood
alongside the rough bark
           of millenial oaks
the tender integument
           of my heart

Anyone can do
           the maths
life and death
           the algorithms
to which we all

John Lyons

N.B. Edited from an earlier post

Yes culture too is breath

Yes culture too is breath

Yes culture too is breath
           and all breath comes
from the stars
           and we know
that when the breath cools
           it’s time to move on

She will withhold her kisses
           and in her eyes there will be
disdain and she will glance
           away into the future 
toward the life she has planned
           for your absence

Passion is our birthright
           and we are born
to hold one another
           in our arms
and our words are there
           to console in times of grief
to support in times of distress
           and to express the love
that never dies when it is
           true love

John Lyons

Poetic mastery

Poetic mastery

How journeyed ?
           thought that leads
                      to shape
shape to thought
           the impulse to create
                                 to innovate
                      to add fresh colour
to revitalize
                    to labour at an idea
from tree
                      to wood
                                            to table
to an installation
           that spells domesticity
                      a home built
                                            from forms
all of which
           are a kind of script
                                 a man-made world
                      by women too
                                            the structures
we inhabit
           our practices
                                   how they shift
with time—
                      all works
of the imagination
           and of these
                      the greatest
                                            is love

John Lyons


Rilke’s Apollo

Archaic torso of apollo
Archaic torso of Apollo

Rilke’s Apollo

Value shaped
           by the heart
and by the hand
           lends form to love
The torso that gleams
           the flicker of stone
seen in the eyes
           all the softness
of starlight
           caught in the lines
from which these
           my words
take their life
The artist a beast
           that preys upon
the timeless universe’s
           and depth

John Lyons

Em português:

O Apolo de Rilke

Valor formado
            pelo coração
e pela mão
            dá forma ao amor
O torso que brilha
            o cintilar de pedra
visto nos olhos
            toda a suavidade
da luz das estrelas
            pego nas linhas
das quais
            minhas palavras
tiram a vida
O artista uma fera
            que faz pilhagem
da distância
           do movimento
da profundidade
           do eterno universo