From ash to dust

Under the sycamore
the dry seeds
worn to dust
thousands of them
from a single tree

I sit in the shade
and look out
across the meadow
where away
in the distance
a young couple
is sunbathing

This is still summer
and the leaves
are still green
and their flesh
is still supple
and unmarked
by time

A universe of light
and cinders :
all things turn to ash
and ash to dust
and every memory
will be forgotten

Salad days pass
the young grow old
even language tires
of endless repetition
All things are senseless
all life unless
imbued with love

John Lyons

Lear and his daughters

30 x 24_King Lear
                     King Lear, John Lyons (24 x 30 cm, oil on canvas)

A method to the madness
         an underlying grid a pattern
an old canvas pitted with pigment
         swathed in buff titanium
upon which a trellis of cadmium red
         and finally gentle strokes of the brush
to deposit patches of burnt umber
         ashes to ash applied

Out of the earth Lear and his daughters
         and the love that each has or has not
a stage for the passage of time
         for a shift in the power of prevailing winds
Choices choices as the blood circulates
        as the words vanish along with their breath
into thin air : the play is always the thing
         the capture of colour under the fading light

When I was a boy I would have sold
         my kingdom for a horse for a pony
to carry me off into the sunset
         Now age has mottled my skin
and confined me to local horizons
         under a heavy head of silver hair
I gather my dust and count
         the few blessings that remain
: on my lips the tempestuous taste of real love
         as in Spitalfields where the final curtain fell

John Lyons

The rest is silence

lascaux

As the fire blazed
       in the mouth of the cave
pigments were mixed
       and applied to the walls
the deer and antelope admired
       and keenly observed
and hunted for food
       : art in order to render
their deep respect for
       this source of life

that others might know
       their story
their values
       the word inseparable
from the deed
       an imagist language
a timeless articulation
       in time and space

John Lyons

Le reste est silence

Alors que le feu flambait
       dans l’embouchure de la grotte
les pigments ont été mélangés
       et appliqués sur les murs
le cerf et l’antilope admirés
       et vivement observés
et chassés pour se nourrir
       : l’art pour rendre
leur profond respect pour
       cette source de vie

que d’autres puissent savoir
       de leur histoire
de leurs valeurs
       le mot inséparable
de l’acte
       un langage imagiste
une articulation intemporelle
       dans le temps et dans l’espace

On the cutting room floor

  news1                       The cutting room floor, John Lyons (40 x 40 cm, mixed media on canvas)

Think of the canvas

       as a board
as a Shakespearean stage
       imagine who treads here
Lear or Hamlet or Othello
       Ophelia or Desdemona

words words words
       cut up and thrown
haphazardly as though
       chance were a fine thing
all of this scissored
       out of yesterday’s news
present states
       relentlessly slipping
into the past
       make no bones about it

whether it were better
       or nobler in the mind
enough drama to last us
       a lifetime or more
decisions decisions
       that the artist must take
much editing to be done
       only twenty-four hours
before it’s time to sweep
       the cutting room floor

John Lyons

A word in your ear

snail

What’s in
       a snail ?
a name
       a shape
a notion
       of speed
an inner

       ear

cochlea
       helix
such perfect
       geometry
a plump
       tasty pod
filled with
       damp desire

an aristocrat

       among others
in its blue robe
       its horned crown
sitting upon
       a bloody throne

John Lyons

The early morning air

The early morning air

I love the early morning air
           the way it hits the lungs
and tells me how good it is
           to be alive and to be walking
the streets around Shoreditch
           where Shakespeare once performed
in the early hours
           just before the offices open
It’s one of the most alive places
           on the planet
full of the real buzz of life
           people who have come
from their beds
           with fresh energy
ready to engage with the day
           with the win-some lose-some
open mind you get
           from a good night’s sleep

I love the bustle and the jostle
           of people prepared
to make a go of it
           I love the sound of friendship
in the air as people greet or part
           and go on their way to work
I love the simple affections
           that bind us all together
and the deep love
           in my heart

John Lyons

Shakespeare’s pulse

Shakespeare’s pulse

Shakespeare’s pulse
            is in the language
his poetry speaks
            for itself
and he offers
            no explanation
Simply put
            it is what the words say
The culture is not
            in the knowledge
but in the expression
            He puts breath
into desire
            and all those questions
that make us human
            and so we wonder
and we want
            but only love
brings reconciliation
            and contentment

John Lyons

Our trade in love

Our trade in love

As the year turns
            and seasons slip
one into another
            the still air lies lightly
above the land
            nature on its marks
about to burst
            into colour

and this our trade in love
            the history of our blood
the lines that have brought us
            to this convergence
to the ceremony
            of our commingled flesh
each with an inexhaustible
            appetite for life

our nails pared
            our hair trimmed
the deep breath
            as we embrace
Passion’s give and take
            our lives no less mysterious
than those of the foxes
            that live in the reality
of our imagination :
            and in your body
I see the map of my heart
            the endless path
that I must take
            time and time again

John Lyons


Give me some music; music, moody food
Of us that trade in love.
                              Antony and Cleopatra

Out of the cosmic soup

petri dish

Petri dish, John Lyons (oil on canvas)

Out of the cosmic soup

Out of an ionized
           and undifferentiated soup
of matter and radiation :
           poetry
and the petrified hare
           diving beneath the hedgerow
the sparrow singing
           on your garden fence
the fox sunning itself
           on the shed roof
Romeo and Juliet
           and William Shakespeare
and Tooley Street
           and your hand in mine
and all things
           and all feelings
and all moments
           and Weinberg who wrote
of the first three minutes
           and this poem in particular
out of that selfsame
            articulate cosmic soup
out of the petri dish
           of my heart and mind

John Lyons