Terms of endearment

A tower set
in the countryside
from the top of which
the old poet looks out
surveys the rolling hills
the patches of dense thicket

Above him the air moves
aimless clouds
in shifting formations
and a silence all around him
and deeper still within

No advantage
from this vantage point
the steps ascended
will need to be reversed
to bring him down to earth

And in the steps there are years
there are recollections of all the times
the roses bloomed and the scent
of lavender and lilac caught him
off guard and it was summer
once again

how at moments the past
becomes transparent and all is seen
as though yesterday
and all the accumulations
of personal knowledge
are there to behold
as real as the geraniums
on the sill

memory is in the nature of things
just as all is recorded for all time
and its presence is constant
in the faculty of love so that
under the spun sky no kiss
no term of endearment
is ever lost

John Lyons


Temper and belief

Temper and belief
       as if to say –
the mutability
       of mass and energy
the purpose of human shadows
       the arc of time marked
by the rise and fall of poppies
       the summer rites of butterflies
the miniscule expansion
       of my personal universe
rubbing shoulders
       with all the necessary angels
life the colour of sky and sea
       the full weight of these particles
that press around me

Green will soon turn to gold
       dense clouds will gather
in chromatic clusters
       in some past life
I will chance upon love
       and savour those moments
that will always be
       that will never return

John Lyons

The radiance of sunlight

Say that our bodies are beautiful
in the radiance of sunlight
our flesh still warm with the love
we bring to the day
how the regal flow of blood
sets our cheeks aglow
and how we are insatiable for life

As the flower’s beauty is inseparable
from the sum of its parts
each particle plays its part in our being

our intelligence a beacon
amid the arcane mysteries
of cosmos and creation :
how age degrades all things bar love
so that we have nothing to fear
from the edge of the night
nor the silence of daybreak
as long as there is breath on our lips

John Lyons

Corrected text

Love’s last intelligence


Put aside the sad smell of lilacs
and words that spread outwards
to smother the truth of solitude
Beneath this deep eggshell blue
all manner of things might appear
chance and happy circumstance
all that is about to be written

Breathe freedom
an absence of objects
a spacious peace in which
our innate nature may flourish
here is horizon and novelty
made from pigments that arise
out of the earth’s core

We are in the time of roses
we hunger for the nightingale’s song
we who for so long have clutched
at the elements of life
and yet for every failed ambition
for every dashed dream
a single wisdom has sheltered us
and that is that wordless love
articulates the last intelligence

John Lyons

A bravura of the mind

A bravura of the mind

Fret fear fate
           new texts in the world
as though time dragging its heels
           even though time does not exist
outside of our perception
           the archaic forms of poetry
from worlds long gone
           the shift in customs and belief
and so much forgotten
           or abandoned and yet
the struggle is the same
           how to deal with the day
how to fill our lives
           with being

and how to remain open
           to love in all its gestures
receptive also to truth
           the beauty of it
to know the value
           of our breath
a bravura both of the mind
           and of the heart

John Lyons


Weekend wisdom

Weekend wisdom

A short walk
           down the path
to the front door
           where to the left
a climbing rose
           has just been planted
and behind it
           a new trellis
pinned to the wall

The rose will prosper
           its roots will reach
deep into the earth
           the mineral truth
of its beauty
           will flourish
year on year
           and it will be
a thing of joy

The emblematic rose
           and the power
of object and images
           and the speech of truth
what Wallace called
           weekend wisdom
the time devoted
           to words and thoughts
and how we carry words
           within us
close to our hearts
           weekend thoughts and words
and the sad smell of lilacs
by the rose’s aroma
           and how we give
each other our word
           and how its truth
lies at the very heart
           of language
and how betrayal
           of the word
is an arrogant dagger
           fatal to desire

John Lyons