Let innocence age

Let innocence age
        how light travels
through the decades
        a young child
on a suburban train
        gazes at me
        across the cosmos
down the tunnel
        of time
seeing his origins
        in reverse

Those early years
        of which so little
is remembered
        life’s preamble
barely off hands
        and knees
and how the hands
        themselves vie
with the eyes
        in the search
for understanding
        and palpable love

John Lyons


Not of words

Not of words
        the poet uses words
to denounce words
        longs for a love
not of ideas but of gestures
        stability of the land
lapped by the sea
        not an expression
but as the sun pulses
        as lilies in the field grow
and as the bees
        collect their nectar

Words are brief
        are soon over
are often lost
        or displaced
by the mind
        but love is strong
and quiet and peace
        and tenderness
are its embodiment
        the kiss its seal

John Lyons

Love and understanding

At night open skies
not a single cloud
pinpricks of light
from the wise stars

tissue of my flesh
woven from their energy
all my hopes all my desires
driven by their impulse

Nothing hidden under a bushel
the illuminations of art
and the written word
predicated on sight and insight

Reason and rhyme :
we’re here to make sense
as a child learns to count
to place a finger on the pulse

Love and understanding
all that brings satisfaction
and contentment
to the restless heart

John Lyons

The body thrives

That we are things

        things that think
we are stone
        made flesh

the atomic numbers
        within us that hold
our thoughts
        and our feelings

We search for meaning
        on all sides
and within ourselves
        direction and purpose

and we set great store
        by love in all forms
by beauty in all forms
        by truth in every instance

Though it may take an eternity
        the universe is countable
its infinity finite and bound
        by contraction—by attraction

love is the quantum
        song is its expression
light its revelation : the body
        thrives in its consummation

John Lyons


How Beautiful You Are

Art or a shared thought
        a certain fixed combination
of words or shapes
        or numbers in a mathematical
formula : a theorem or
        a theory

How when they are captured
        they transcend time and space —
the eternal curves of the lines
        presented on canvas
Les Demoiselles d’Avignon
        that transport us to 1907
and beyond

They mixed pigments
        by the fireside
before daubing the walls : later
        panels or cloth stretched
on a frame that allowed
        the walls to be transported

Is it the heart
        or the mind that delights
in infinite things ?
        Let’s call them
death cheaters

        The music of the spheres
harmony abounds
        and our senses
soak it all up

How beautiful the nightingale
        How beautiful the Grecian Urn
Autumn fields heavy with dew
        The cold North
and the warm South
        The drowsy Mediterranean

How beautiful the body
        How beautiful life
How beautiful love
        How beautiful the air
we breathe    How beautiful
        you are

John Lyons

Highly recommended, The Cloud of Witness a retrospective of paintings by Keith Cunningham at the Newport Street Gallery till 21 August 2022. Free admission.

Alive loves

The art and understanding
        of small children
innocent seeds sown
        into the dust

All that grows
        that brings beauty
in time

See how the leaves
        have burst forth
how spring has renewed
        the face of our earth

The remedy
        against the clock
is to steep oneself
        in art
according to

to make of life
        a long paradise
to cultivate one’s
        own garden of eden

Alive loves

John Lyons

Our common ownership

A poem for all seasons
syllables at the ready
sounds good

The subtle shift
from crocuses
to daffodils

as high pressure
settles in across
the continent

We have so much
to be thankful for
yet give such

little thanks : so much
life squandered
to no purpose

It’s not a competition
earth fire water air
belong to us all

No one should
own life : no one
should own death

love should be
our inalienable common

John Lyons

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Soft-petalled beauty

I write free from
the pressure of praise
my words go
largely unnoticed

and my subject
is what I see and hear
and feel –

during the day
I count sparrows
and at night
the outer stars

and how we so
reveal ourselves
in our acts of love

Not for no reason
are the flowers
we bring
to our host’s table

soft-petalled beauty
that knows its place
that fills our lives
with guileless grace

So when I took your hand
it was to hold it forever
it was for our love to be
contentment’s face

John Lyons

Slender words


Aimless art, John Lyons (25 x 30 cm, oil on canvas)

As the wind moves
through a field
of tall flowers

or through a forest
in winter
when all the leaves
have fallen

As it moves through
her hair displacing
the sunlight
as it goes

As her breath moves
through her lips
passes out
into the air

and the sound
of her laughter
of the voice shaped
by her words

her gentle smile
and the kiss
she blows
for me alone

John Lyons

Sparrow and rose and mistletoe

Love acts beyond the day
       beyond the night
beyond seasons
       beyond borders
it brings infinite focus
       on beloved particulars

Within its own time
       it acts beyond time
and is expressed
       in a body of actions
it is cause and effect
       it knows no deception
no betrayal and errs always
       on the side of love

Love’s heir is love
       in temper
in voice
       in patience
in remembrance
       and future vision
it is steadfast revelation
       of all self-knowledge –
who turns away from love
       turns away from life

It is sparrow and rose and mistletoe
       it is hawk and nightingale
a lawn spread with dandelion
       a snow moon presiding
a star that casts no shadow
       Measured against it
all wealth is inadequate –
       as cherry blossom litters
the streets and sap rises
       it is time now to love

John Lyons