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

Love’s promise / La promesse d’amour

Magpies do not
sing madrigals –
more reserved
than the thrush
than the sparrow
In this still air
I watch them glide
from one tree
to another barely
a muscle flexed

Treat every day
as the start
of a new year –
the ornithological
that perpetuates
the good news

If she is heartless
if he is joyless
move on
they are a waste
of daffodils and roses
No kiss can compensate
for the betrayal
of love’s promise

John Lyons

La promesse d’amour

Les pies ne chantent
pas de madrigaux –
plus réservées
que le muguet
que le moineau
Dans cet air calme
je les regarde glisser
d’un arbre
à un autre à peine
un muscle fléchi

Traiter tous les jours
comme le début
d’une nouvelle année –
la perspective ornithologique
qui perpétue
la bonne nouvelle

Si elle a le cœur dur
si lui est sans joie
laisse-les tomber
ils sont une perte
de jonquilles et de roses
Aucun baiser ne peut
compenser la trahison
de la promesse d’amour

Nature’s skin and bone

This season’s colours too
     will fade when our secret lives
emerge from the shadows
     and peacocks strut once more
and fan their feathers to admiring hens
     life leaf flower fruit life
this too
     is the way of the world

How my blood warms
     to love and the thought
of paradise – a smile
     the warm flesh pressed
to mine – a breath unearthed
     I turn around the light
in her eyes – streets strewn
     with cherry blossom
white chalk mineral words
     with which to sing
of such beauty shaped from clay
     of nature’s skin and bones

John Lyons

Stéphane Mallarmé – the sapphire of silence

Poorly equipped
the poet enters
the world
rides a wooden

an all-weather
walker he explores
ancient woodlands
and hikes across
endless fields

the stars render
time meaningless
just the beat
of his heart
and the pace
of his footfall

his ancestors
are words
words and music
and his home
is the sapphire
of silence
in which his soul
savours love

life is light
and colour
and all the world
feeds on life
patience is
a natural virtue
which the poet
along with sparrows
along with magpies
he admires
their point of view
the purity
of their speech

spiders play
on strings
melodies rich
to the poet’s ear
crude vowels
and consonants
struggle to express
the beauty around us

John Lyons

What never dies

Our frailties
       humble flowers
in the meadows
       and happiness
an art a skill
       that enables us
to live for
       another day

To be is better
       than not to be
words words words
       to fill a theatrical
space in time
       to know all
that defies entropy
       peace and love

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

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