Under the Mirabeau Bridge

Everything turns into writing     I get it
six feet better than five      Is poetry
a pain killer?     Is art?     I feel my lower back
has gone   :    it must be the heavy load I carry
doc will write me a prescription     make it better
Grace to be pain-free
                     in this vale of tears, Patsy
says and she smiles into her plate of sunny side
eggs    :    hard to tell if she’s being serious or
not sometimes
            Billy the Kid and Jesse James flash
before my eyes      along with Liberty Valance
Strange animal this fevered imagination
of mine        Had he lived Frank O’ would be ninety-six
now    Sad water under the Mirabeau Bridge, she
says as a beautiful tear
                                  blossoms in her eye.

John Lyons

The law of love

I watch the martens trawl the evening sky
the mystery of life before my eyes,
our brief span on this earth before we die
creation’s law that never ever lies.
Débris.
       Stumps of time     all our words and deeds,
how many names live on and for how long
before forgotten in a place of weeds
the rich    the poor    the feeble    and the strong
Grace to be born
                        to live the law of love
that makes us worthy children of the stars
to favour over war the peaceful dove
and to forsake the angry way that mars
the beauty of this world that we should share
respecting one and all
                            with gentle care.

John Lyons

Star-crossed lovers

“No birth no death no beginning no end
the gates of paradise beckon as time
slips into eternal mode      Black on white
the words unwind across the page   :  poems
we project onto the mind     line after line
reel after reel       empires of the senses
the rise and fall of roses      the rivers
that forever run down to the sea
star-crossed lovers
                         and ancient mariners. . .”
“A night at the movies,” Patsy adds, “or
a dog day afternoon.”     In the house that
Jack built such enlightened banter is all
the rage    A shaft of light through the curtains
captures the dust
                     falling all around us

John Lyons

Ball of love

Sun up.    The foxes have fallen silent
I hear pigeons and sparrows and magpies
The air is quite cool     but the sky is blue
Patsy is still sleeping   :  she will wake soon
and I will bring her coffee without which
she simply cannot function        my pleasure
to serve her and to see her eyes light up
In the house that Jack built
                                      it’s the simple
gestures that keep the ball of love rolling
How strange to think that one day all this will
be over           What will become of our words?
How will all the love we have known transcend
to another level of universe
as we hand our carbon
                                back to the earth?

John Lyons

Brief lives brief memories

O rose     pure contradiction    sleep softly
under so many lids     Your thorned beauty
sans pareil in the kingdom of decay
incites all who see you to ecstasy
So brief your silent life immortalised
in paint and poetry
                        you bless the vows
of lovers even as you follow them 
down to the grave and mingle with their dust
I had so many questions    :   all my life
Brief lives    brief memories     and crystal tears
that soak into the soil to feed your death
To what purpose do the stars move if not
to foster love       Grace to be born into
—o so rare— 
           an age of enlightenment

John Lyons

Time gentlemen

Days go by.    How terrible is time    Too
much or too little     both can be killers
In the house that Jack built we try to take
time in our stride
                 I lie in bed and watch
Patsy dress    I tell her she’s got the body
of an angel        “You just going to lie
there?” she smiles, “haven’t you got work to do?”
Out on the street a small dog is yapping.
Dog days.     Can feel the dust coating the back
of my throat
              Grace to be alive      to read
Apollinaire     his sad but beautiful
Poems to Lou :  he turned everything
into writing     Dark night  :  shells exploding
over the Western Front
                              Time gentlemen

John Lyons

Pleasure together

What’s to be said of the angels who bring
messages    a whisper in the ear    a
warning or good tidings      The purest love
I ever knew      the gentlest kiss       her eyes
ablaze with joy    her soft blushed cheeks    her smile
no other word but radiance      Childhood
innocence free of all impediments
belly to belly in the lap of love
How strange to be gone
                                and so sudden   so
soon to be a space adrift within an
infinite space      untouched by words    untouched
by memory    forgotten every
orchid      every rose     and all the days
and nights we took
                       our pleasure together

John Lyons

The day Frank died

Cannot forgive myself for not knowing
where I was on the day Frank O’Hara
died      “Do what you want, but don’t get hurt,” his
father told him.       I get a little Ver-
laine for Patsy 
                 feel the dust in the back
of my throat     “Take my watch, it’s always fast,
cram more life into your day.”     Grace to be
born with that wit     that gift for friendship    for
poetry       to live more variously
Slow sobs of autumn     played on violins
a library of crystal tears    Cribbage
into the early hours     Patsy asleep
in my arms  :  so silent I hear the thump
of her heart
             she’s out cold to the sadness

John Lyons

She slept within me

She slept within me and I within her
a blue sky smiled down on us    and the trees
stood in silence     Grace to be born into
everlastingness   untouched by the heat
on the street
               to move among fresh flowers
to taste the land on our tongues and through our
love to keep time’s wastage at bay     I had
so many questions o gentle soul   How
strange for you to be gone      an expanding
s p a c e   impossible to fill with words or
tears and you so well aligned that you sleep
the world     borne on the drift of ageing stars
a poem on the page      a string of words
as snow falls across
                      the whole of Ireland

John Lyons

The spangle of stars

“I set no store by the spangle of stars
nor by the boundless sea     nor earth    nor stone
the wrack of summer spoils is all too swift
the worm that hides within the apple core
the rose that withers
                            ere you close an eye.”
Patsy puts down her fork and thinks anon.
“Seems,” she says, “that thou hast taken a puff
Shakespearean turn that does sit ill with
your accustomed style.       I’ll wager you have
lost your carefully carved Carrara marb-
les and art in need of rest in a dark
chamber.” In the house that Jack built there is
much mirth and banter of this ilk     to strike
against the sadness
                          of our mortal fate.

John Lyons