Bone ash

empty shells
Empty shells (Paris, 21 February 2020)

Bone ash

Bone ash
on a hillside
—that’s how
it ends

Let’s not

We are here
to make love
of our own destinies
for three score
and ten

Throw caution
to the wind
like there’s
no tomorrow

how it ends
—God knows

John Lyons

Versão em português

Cinzas de osso

Cinzas de osso
em uma encosta
-É assim que

Não vamos
o contrário

Estamos aqui
para fazer amor
— mordomos
de nossos próprios destinos
por setenta anos

Jogue a cautela
ao vento
como se não houvesse

como isso termina
-Deus sabe

Crossing the Pont des Arts

Le Pont des Arts, Paris

Crossing the Pont des Arts

You wouldn’t think it
           but it takes real guts
to love someone
           I read Frank O’Hara
and he talks of coffee
           in the morning
and how all the tears
           in America cannot
dampen the joy
           of sharing life’s
simple pleasures with
           the person you love

Frank once walked alone
           across the Pont des Arts
and when he reached
           the other side there was
no one there waiting
           for him and he was
distraught despite the fact
           it was only a bridge

John Lyons

Paris France

Paris France

France is a single street
that moves up and down the country

sometimes its centre is Paris
Sometimes it’s Nice or Lyon

But always it’s always a single street
which has no beginning

and no end
And it’s full of French earth

washed by many fine rivers
that flow down from

tall mountains and hills
into the valleys into the sea

John Lyons

What the shoes show


What the shoes show

This is Paris
           just before Bastille Day
in the flat where we stayed
           and these are our shoes
parked together at night
           my boots dusty
from our walk through
           the Jardins des Tuileries

This was the day you took me
           for a martini at the Ritz
the day we visited
           the Fondation Louis Vuitton
with its spectacular waterfall
           the day we rode the Ferris wheel
and I photographed you
           in your floral print dress
and we held hands
           and we were in love

John Lyons

Revised and corrected

At La Closerie des Lilas


At La Closerie des Lilas

That evening we spent
           with Ulyana and her friend
talking over a bottle of wine
           while the shades of Cézanne
and Oscar Wilde moved
           among the tables

There where the Surrealists
           once came to blows
with their opponents
           you talked of the politics
dividing the Ukrainians
           of Philadelphia
the egos and the rivalries
           the desire to control

there where back in the day
           Picasso and Modigliani
came calmly to chat
           and Joyce and Beckett
and on occasions
           Gertrude Stein

and Hemingway
           of course
in every bar

But I’d gladly return there
           with you if you would too :
would you ?


John Lyons

End of the affair

End of the affair

Love emerges intact
            from the edge of night
the poverty of winter
            behind us now
the disparate particles
            coalescing into what
we once were
            coupled in our nature
I who am still warm
            with love and you
who have grown
            distant and cold

I let you go
            I bid you farewell
make no attempt
            to restrain you
My love is yours to reject
             yours to regret
for the rest
            of your life

I cannot bind you to the memory
            of Tooley Street
nor the dusty roads of Paris
            nor to the easy give and take
of our salad days
            Though the mornings
have grown silent
            I say go
go to be whomsoever you need to be
            go wherever you will

Did you think
            that the moon
would fall at your feet
            or that all the earth’s rivers
would run dry ?
            In my eyes I hold
the courage to observe
            your departure
In my wounded heart
            I await your return

John Lyons

Musée d’Orsay 

Musée d’Orsay, Paris

Musée d’Orsay 

A place of memories
            of you and I
where we once were
            of days gone by
when love was love
            so easy on the lips
as hand in hand
            we strolled
through our life
            without a care

A terminus
            where works of art
end their days
            marooned for all time
in this huge hall under the eye
            of the clock

A place in the memory
            in the heart and soul
of tenderness and love
            that never fades
that never ends
            will never die

John Lyons

Poetry is word time

Holocaust memorial, Berlin, December 2017

Word time

Poetry is word time
           the running metre
swift of foot
           along the streets
of Paris or Berlin
           or Venice with its canals
The impertinence of history
           the microbes’ biological clock
or doomed stars
           as their batteries deplete
: what drives heaven
           and hell and every nook
and cranny of creation
           Drinking mulled wine
in the Christmas markets
           as snow gently falls
through the universe
           as it settles upon the living
and the remembered dead
           throughout the vales
of northern Europe
           and far beyond

Locked into the land
           with our earth gaze
ears cocked to capture
           a friendly voice
and it comes through
           crackling with radio
           our bridled thoughts 
to be mounted at will
           eternity in the saddle
time holding the reins
           And love a living thing
palpable flesh
           squeezed with delight
as darkness falls
           or at dawn
as the cattle egrets
           begin their day
and the host herd
           shuffles down to the river
to slake their thirst
           all in good time
solid word time
           cosmic rhyme time

John Lyons


City of light

City of light

Beneath our various lives
           beneath the day-to-day
that timeless centre of self
           where our serenities gather

and here a horde of memories
           set in gold and untouchable
a meal in a small bistro
           up from the Musée d’Orsay

steak tartare and frites
           and the pelting rain
that kept us trapped
           for an hour or two

up from the museum
           where the dead hunted
for our love and admiration
           but all we had was mutual

John Lyons

Perhaps Paris

Perhaps Paris

Poetry that is
           light on the ear
and on the mind
           of swift foot
full of sunshine
           and love :
it happens sometimes
           but it can’t be forced

Perhaps this spring
           we will go to Paris
walk hand in hand
           along the banks of the Seine
or take an afternoon stroll
           in the Jardin du Luxembourg
and at night in the anonymity
           of the hotel room
your soft skin will beckon to mine
           and we will get closer
than we have ever been
           and it will last forever

John Lyons