On a street in Vienna

Outside the day is clear and blue    and trees
are gently dancing in the wind   I move
a book on my desk       It leaves an imprint
of earthy dust as each of us will do
in time       Time gentlemen please      Júlio
Harold    Ernesto      Carlos     their warm breath
gone the way of the world : and Pamela
who called herself
                          a piece of painted dirt
Footsteps over the rainy cobblestones
on a street in Vienna      Beethoven
playing the Moonlight Sonata in my
imagination      Ladies dusting off
their ball gowns and powdering their noses
Ted asks where are
                         the snows of yesteryear?

John Lyons

And so it goes. . .

And so it goes   the hours   the days   the years
the rise and fall of tides chasing the moon
dogs howling in the backyards     while lovers
toss and turn having burnt the night away
Patsy says that had she never met me     
she’d have had to invent mon semblable
my look-alike      my be-alike
                                     and I’m flattered
When I see my reflection in her eyes
—and I know the mirror never lies— I
see love        How wonderful to be such a
special person in someone’s life      Blood is
thicker than water but love wins heads down
I say the cow with the crumpled horn can
take a hike
                I’m not going anywhere

John Lyons

Time and the river

A whisper of wind in the sycamores
dense clusters of seed about to take flight
the rose of youth faded      the memory
of love     long gone   :   autumn light shimmers
on the river’s surface where salmon pike
and eel skulk
                   and to no avail anglers
cast their baited lines into the shadows
The seagulls and oyster catchers have
seen it all before         Time and the river
You can never bathe in the same stream twice
so Patsy says       and she’s right     life travels
in a single relentless direction  :
give a dog a bone       it will chew it un-
til it is gone
             and there are no returns

John Lyons

Roses are shining in Picardy

Roses are shining in Picardy       alongside
the graves of those who fell at the Somme—rolling green
hills amid patches of ancient woodland    Patsy
and I drove through the region one summer under
a glorious sea-blue sky
                                   the pity of war
palpable on all sides—vast fields of white crosses
neatly corralled within beds of blood-red roses
Outside young children are bouncing on trampolines
adults are preparing to light their barbecues
the charred flesh of pork of lamb and chicken will soon
be on the menu       the air will fill with laughter
A song stirs in the silence
                                Remember Ypres
Remember Gallipoli—the past is another country
               Remember the bygone tears

John Lyons

I wake in the early hours

I lie awake in the early hours listening
to Patsy’s gentle breathing as she drifts on through
her dreams 
             Sleep is another country    Patsy is
another country      I remember
                    What does not
change is the will to change     I remember the birds
the empty cage     the day they escaped    As a boy
I played soldiers I played cowboys and I fought
to save the planet from aliens from outer
space     I know now that the aliens are within
and what endures when everything changes is
love.    Love.     Each one of us is another country
and what remains when all imperfections are stripped
away is love. In the house that Jack built that is
all he ever thinks about
                           and he remembers

John Lyons

Much ado about nothing. . .

Alice says the trick with these poems is
to enjoy the ride across the page     Time
again to trip and stumble and brush off
the dust and injury of age      She loves
me     she loves me not    
                      So what’s new to speak ?
Slings    arrows    darling buds of May    
The house that jack built reverberates
        with the sound
of music       and the words are mere stepping
stones to meaning      or sometimes to chaos
“Beauty is in the eye and the ear,”    so
said the poets and painters assembled
around Frank O’Hara who was famous
for his white shirts and his lunch time riffs on
the breeze shot
                  on the streets of Manhattan

John Lyons

The fragility of stars

The fragility of stars    our forbears
from them heat    light    energy   our lifeblood
and time
           Sweet time      to live and    time to die
No trace of her footsteps on the Brooklyn
Bridge but I swear we crossed it hand in hand
one sweltering summer’s day     sweat pouring
off us as we trudged towards a cool place
of refreshment     Then Washington Square Park
Grace to be born to know such love such joy
to have lived through every syllable and
silence        to have breathed those years
                                        side by side
How strange now    for her to be gone     to be
the dust of dreams     of memory    aimless
particles adrift 
                          in the solar wind

John Lyons


Corrected from an earlier posting

Photo dust

I’m writing to you to say     finally
I get it     Champagne in Berlin in that
chic hotel     close to the Brandenburg Gate
the bubbles  the effervescence    nothing
lasts forever       so live for the moment
Birthdays come and go
                           relationships too
unless they are grounded in love      Venice
was meaningless      so too Paris    and Rome
As Patsy once said “You make your own bed
you lie on it.”      Counted the stars last night,
some were missing.
             How strange to be gone     a
black hole    a dead letter    silence bleeding
from a desert sky     photo dust     decay
we’re all here to go
                       so ciao and good luck

John Lyons

Soft tissue of love

In the sky     a vast orange ball of fire
it sustains our life and brings me coffee
on those dry Monday mornings when I can
feel the dead dust in the back of my throat
Grace to be alive
                         to enjoy these small

mercies    Life rises up out of the bed
showers and dresses in preparation
for the poem on the page that has yet
to be written        In my make-believe world
a dog chews on an old bone in the yard
while in the house that Jack built the poet
awaits spontaneous combustion : thinks
of jasmine   of truth    and beauty    the bloom
of her body
              the soft tissue of love

John Lyons

Blue sky green fields. . .

Blue sky green fields trees standing in silence
I wake to the same old tired equations
my body a little closer to dust
Needs and means
              How strange that the universe
is able to expand without putting
on weight      Being or nothingness—we’re all
heading for one or the other     Best steak
I ever had was just off Wall St. with
Elaine       Still remember her burnt umber
eyes and her Italian American
smile    Time sat and sulked on the day I was
leaving but in the house that Jack built there
was no room for poetry because roses
never could pay the rent
                                        neither could love

John Lyons