Dust of ages


Cosmic ash drifting
through the universe
and that special light
in Venice
in which the artists
caught a glimpse of heaven
a composite of glorious colour
every square inch adorned

and the words that survive
: layer upon layer of faith
in the promise
of rewards to come
and the art
a bulwark against
falsehood and betrayal
trust and steadfast belief

beauty and truth
chiselled into stone
or worked
into precious metals
an artist’s honesty
valued for all time
love of life and of love
honoured in all ways

John Lyons

Poussière des âges

La dérive des cendres cosmiques
à travers l’univers
et cette lumière spéciale
à Venise
dans laquelle les artistes
ont aperçu le paradis
un composite de glorieuse couleur 
chaque pouce carré orné

et les mots qui survivent
: couche après couche de foi
dans la promesse
de récompenses à venir
et l’art un rempart contre
le mensonge et la trahison
la conviction et la confiance 

la beauté et la vérité
ciselées dans la pierre
ou travaillées
en métaux précieux
l’honnêteté d’un artiste
appréciée pour toujours
l’amour de la vie et de l’amour
honorés de toutes les manières

When the carnival is over

Venice, 2017

When the carnival is over

Perhaps you my dear
were the dream life

what we had
what we shared

the seamless construct
of our days and nights

the endless possibilities
the love beyond hope

beyond reason :
all our yesterdays

lived as the lilies
of the field

without a thought
for tomorrow

John Lyons

A Venice of the mind


A Venice of the mind

A Venice of time in place
           in which you stand
leaning against a parapet
           staring into the sluggish waters
People are milling around you
           but your eyes are lost
in the distance within you
           your heart is drifting

Externally you are a pose
           a photograph
soft light in your hair
           lips curled in a gentle smile
Internally you are
           a lifetime away from me
I have lost you
           to your dreams
and to your darkness
           You have abandoned me
to the chill wind
           of your silence

John Lyons

Venice carnival remembered

murano lemon.png
Murano glass, a hand blown lemon

Venice carnival remembered

The play of light
            and shadow
on the canal waters
            place of all ages
place of all beauty
            shops filled
with sumptuous pieces
            of Murano glass

And how the light
            travelled through
the contoured colours
            and how it rose
in your eyes
            as you examined them
and how I loved you then
            and how I love you now

John Lyons

Keeping track of the past


Keeping track of the past

I keep restaurant bills and
            museum and cinema tickets
as markers in the books I read
            I know that on February 10th
2017 we visited the Guggenheim
            on that magical trip to Venice

Peggy Guggenheim who collected
            artists and writers and paintings
: and we who held our own
            special collections of words
to describe who we were as walkers
            and talkers and so much more
So I always know where we once were
            but I’m not so sure where you are now

John Lyons

Digression on love

Digression on love

The memories
I am bound
to dismantle
of times too good
to be true

of scallops
from Borough Market
in the fluted shells
that the pilgrims wore

Memories of walls
and rivers and boats
and cathedrals
and many a meal
so joyfully shared

At what fence
our love faltered
I’ll never know
like so much
I suppose

I’ll never know

John Lyons

Revised from earlier today

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


Venice : an observation

Venice : an observation

Ostentation is one thing
           beauty another
and underlying it all
            there is or is not love
For a moment
           put to one side
the glorious mosaics
           the painted ceilings
and take to the streets
           that flank the canals
wealth is personally perishable
           insofar as it does not
survive one’s own
it transcends nothing
           it merely remains
acquiring the sad dust
           of monumental history
where tourists tread
           in their ungainly droves
Possession and power
           are one thing
but it is love alone
           that drives bodies
to meet and lips
           to touch

John Lyons

Bone dust

Bone dust

Cosmic ash drifting
           through the universe
and that special light in Venice
           in which the artists
caught a glimpse of heaven
           a composite of glorious colour
every square inch adorned
           and the word that survives
: layer upon layer of faith
           in the promise of rewards
to come and the art
           a bulwark against
falsehood and betrayal
           trust and steadfast belief
truth cut into stone
           or worked
into precious metal
           honesty of the artist
valued for all time
           love honoured in all ways

John Lyons



I remember the cascade of light
refracted through the droplets of rain 

I remember the amber gleam of your eyes
gazing at me from time to time

I remember the love that I saw there
and how our bodies flowed together

effortlessly as we crossed bridges
and strolled along the endless canals

I remember thinking how all things end
but how love if it is true transcends all things

I remember thinking that the beauty
of the Venetian mosaics was like the beauty of life

a narrative painstakingly assembled piece by piece
years in the making never to be undone

John Lyons