The life of a poet

My shadow diminished
       in the winter sun
the fields where I walk
        damp from recent rain
I miss the summer roses
       the daffodils of spring

Last night the moon
       edging towards an event
the fullness of its light
       a beacon in the night sky
Hope hangs by a thread
       but there is always hope

In the woodlands
       the ground strewn
with acorns that crackle
       under my feet

Two blackbirds
       on a distant chimney
while a pigeon keeps
       its distance

Even among birds
       there is a pecking order
though they have
       no notion of this

The life of a poet
       is its own reward
I am part of what
       I observe

I write myself
       and when I’m done
I paint myself into
       a comfortable corner

John Lyons

(The three versions below are my own translation)


La vida de un poeta

Mi sombra disminuyó
         en el sol de invierno
los campos donde camino
         húmedos por la lluvia reciente
Extraño las rosas de verano
         los narcisos de la primavera

Anoche la luna
         avanzaba hacia un evento
la plenitud de su luz
         un faro en el cielo nocturno
La esperanza pende de un hilo
         pero siempre hay esperanza

En los bosques
         el suelo sembrado
con bellotas que crujen
         bajo mis pies

Dos mirlos
         en una chimenea lejana
mientras una paloma mantiene
         su distancia

Incluso entre pájaros
         hay un orden jerárquico
aunque no tienen
         noción de esto

La vida de un poeta
         es su propia recompensa
Soy parte de lo que
         yo observo

Yo me escribo
         y cuando termino
me pinto en
         un rincón cómodo


A vida de um poeta

Minha sombra diminuiu
no sol de inverno
os campos onde eu ando
molhado da chuva recente
Sinto falta das rosas de verão
os narcisos da primavera

Noite passada a lua
andava em direção a um evento
a plenitude de sua luz
um farol no céu noturno
A esperança está por um fio
mas sempre há esperança

Na floresta
o solo semeado
com bolotas que racham
sob meus pés

Dois melros
em um telhado distante
enquanto uma pomba mantém
sua distância

Mesmo entre pássaros
existe uma ordem hierárquica
embora eles não tenham
noção disso

A vida de um poeta
é sua própria recompensa
Eu faço parte do que
eu observo

Eu me escrevo 
e quando termino
eu me pinto em
um canto confortável


La vie d’un poète

Mon ombre a diminué
sous le soleil d’hiver
les champs où je marche
humides de pluies récentes
Les roses d’été me manquent
les jonquilles du printemps

Hier soir la lune
se dirigeait vers un événement
la plénitude de sa lumière
une balise dans le ciel nocturne
L’espoir ne tient qu’à un fil
mais il y a toujours de l’espoir

Dans les bois
le sol semé
avec des glands qui craquent
sous mes pieds

Deux merles
sur un toit éloigné
tandis qu’une colombe garde
sa distance

Même parmi les oiseaux
il y a un ordre hiérarchique
bien qu’ils n’aient pas
notion de cela

La vie d’un poète
c’est sa propre récompense
Je fais partie de ce que
j’observe

Je m’écris
et quand j’ai fini
Je me peins
dans un coin confortable

Generations of stars

Generations of stars

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

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
effortless
       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
       immortality

John Lyons

Critical light

Critical light

Critical light
            immaterial time
the distance
            between
two objects

the universe
            a play on light
without which
            no beauty

imagination
            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
stave

peace
            is the absence
of darkness
            love is
omnipresence

the measure
            of all things
the sparrow
            and the lily

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

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
            right

John Lyons

 

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
           gracefully
The artist a beast
           that preys upon
the timeless universe’s
           distance
movement
           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
            graciosamente
O artista uma fera
            que faz pilhagem
da distância
           do movimento
da profundidade
           do eterno universo

First date

First date

How to speak
            of that moment in time
before time existed
            and how to measure
that pre-moment
            before the Big Bang
and all our energy
            all our time
all our particles
            date from then
the first date
            hence the expression
stars in their eyes
            is no metaphor

and all our love
            the life and death
of us all contained
            within the cycle
and not a hair
            can be added
or subtracted
            to or from the universe
all the feelings
            the hopes and desires
that we embody
            the quantum mechanics
of our existence
            self-knowledge
data-mined
            in the kiss

John Lyons

Snow moon

Snow moon

Was this the snow moon
            poised low above the horizon
in the east this morning
            How the light reveals
and yet plays tricks
            the optical illusions
from rainbows
            to the crock of gold

And how each of us
            longs for a mirage
to relieve the angst
            of our inner deserts
And how we see ourselves cast
            in the planets and in the stars
We dream of Venus
            and of Mars and so set them
on imaginary paths
            How far have the particles
that made me
            travelled in their own
lifetime or yours
            in your lifetime too ?
Extracts as we are
            of distant energies
we bear the imprint
            of the universe
in our disparate souls
            and in our love
that seeks to bind
            the cosmic dust
into a marriage
            of perfect being

John Lyons

 

Look to love

Look to love

What do you want to know
            what words do you look to
for wisdom for understanding
            that there’s nothing free from dust
in this world
            or that the turbulent sea
will outlive us all
            that the genius of nature
is inexhaustible ?
            Seed bud leaf flower
the mysterious genealogies
            of all living things
and natural selection
            and the truths that never waver

Look to love
            to the love in your life
the love that survives
            the day to day
the flesh bound fast
            to another’s flesh
for better or for worse
            Arrange your home
the inner sanctum
            be seasonal and fill it with roses
never mind the dust
            honour your heart’s desire
time is a luxury
            spend it wisely

John Lyons

Magnetic alignment

floweroffrost
Flower of frost 

Magnetic alignment

The beauty of frail
            flowers of frost
on the window pane
            fine filigree of ice
that will soon melt
            under the morning sun
And I think of love
            of compassed perfection
magnetic alignment
            in which the eyes have it
a tongue-tied love
            that exceeds the night
subsists on the light of stars
            values truth and sincerity
holds the body sacred
            knowing that the flesh
source of all life
            never lies

To lie in the lee of love
            sheltered from time
from the depredation
            of thwarted dreams
that lives in shared decision
            set upon a common path
a sole direction
            that trades not in power
but in tokens of gentleness
            As the wind ruffles
the fresh leaves of trees in spring
            so love stirs the heart’s fibres
its voice never fades
            never fails

John Lyons