Helpless love

           Grapevine, John Lyons

What shall I do
with this absurdity
this universe in which
silence and stillness
simply do not exist

I think of whispered words
the tightened bow of her beauty
the ships on the shores of Troy
the blazing battlements
and a heart under siege

The rod and fly that I handled
so poorly as a boy when I fished
the streams around Thomastown
days long forgotten dearly remembered
What shall I do with this absurdity

the mule that I rode or the horse
or the donkey or a day at the fair
riding the carrousel with scarcely
a dream in my heart just an old tune
: or adrift in the water

under sail off the Brittany coast
under a fierce summer sun
and something stirred within me
and I held her soft face in my gaze
and fell forever into helpless love

John Lyons

Love – an artifice of eternity

                       Débris, John Lyons (40 x 40, mixed media on canvas)

The fact is that we grow into our age
a generation among generations

perhaps the flesh tires but the soul never
the spirit that drives us forward

the pursuit not of intellect but of love
whatever lights a fire under our emotions

From conception to birth to our passing
the cycle is relentless and justly so –

no rose or magpie aspires to immortality
though wild salmon run the rapids

to perpetuate their nameless lineage
The day is there for us to behold

the moments for us to savour the delights
of breath and feel the pulse of life

coursing through our veins : a gentle kiss
is all it takes to lift us up to heaven

John Lyons

How gently she moves

How gently she moves
       through my mind
an image without words
       a fleeting presence
and how the quiet returns
       in moments of respite

Who among us
       has never loved in vain
has never fought
       for a cause that was
doomed to failure or turned
       an eager hand
for it to come
       to naught

But there is no pain
       in the imagining
or when we shake down
       the dust of distant days
Our dreams our hopes
       wind in circles that recur

old tunes rattled out
       on an ageing gramophone
the long-legged flies
       that scuttled across
the shallow pond’s
       smooth summer surface

our lives a convoluted
       race against time
and all the while obsessed
       with truth and beauty
a lonely face that flashed
       before my eyes
a whisper barely heard
       before it dies

John Lyons

Love’s complaint

Upon Troy’s battlements

I will not say
       that the cards dealt
were marked
       or that such were
the merciless stars
       that shone upon
those dark nights
       when I struggled
to find my path
       my soul

in the stillness
       in the morning silence
broken only
       by voice of thrush
and sparrow and
       cooing dove
I stand by my choices
       and the consequences
       and look to the future
my body yet to collapse
       into wrack and ruin
my desire to love
       and be loved intact

Today I hold
       my hand to the fire
hell has no mysteries
       it is heaven that eludes
or provokes with promises
       of rude passion to tempt
our tender flesh
       into submission
or beguiles us with
       crude images of beauties
that stalk the flaming
       battlements of Troy

John Lyons

The rag-and-bone shop of the heart

Old iron old bones old rags
       images of my childhood
of sun piercing through
       grey clouds
moments of illumination
       and deep joy

An age of innocence
       and simple pleasures
of spelling and arithmetic
       and endless games
in the school yard
       At Christmas
we played the Nativity
       and at Easter
the passion of Resurrection
       stirred our souls

and in those infant days
       we were closer to heaven
than we would ever get again
       In the summer we danced
and hopped and skipped
       and played in the fields
and it seemed to us
       that life was endless
and that love would never
       break our hearts

John Lyons

The poetics of dream

The poetics of dream

Never has space
           flight of birds
flight of angels
           aerial distance
the poet’s mind
           eyed from a castle
or from a tower
           in Sligo

the act ever
the arrow speeding
           through the air
how thoughts soar
           carried on the wind
a child’s kite
           with unending string

never has space
           and within it love
the heartfelt impulse
           flight of fancy
eclipsing all fear
           never has space
known such a time
           as now and then

John Lyons

Die Poetik des Traums

Hat nie Platz
           Flug der Vögel
Flug der Engel
der Geist des Dichters
           von einer Burg aus gesehen
oder von einem Turm
           in Sligo

die Tat immer
Der Pfeil beschleunigt
           durch die Luft
wie Gedanken steigen
           im Wind getragen
Drachen eines Kindes
           mit endloser Schnur

hat nie Platz
           und Liebe darin
der warme Impuls
           Flug der Fantasie
alle Angst in den Schatten stellen
           hat nie Platz
eine solche Zeit bekannt
           wie jetzt und dann


Yeats in decline

Yeats in decline

The beauty of things
           necessary as the rose
or the eyes of a child
           sufficient in their being
in need of no explanation
           Every thought every thing
fit for use in the poem
           that endows every aspect
with the intensity of life
           What is seen and felt
and is expressed
           in transcendent
confidential language
           Inspiration is breath
that animates
           that brings to life
An old man with a stick
           beats at the door
and we recognise his face
           and value his gesture

John Lyons



Poetry as an act of location
           an act of placement
the bleak port of Santos
           built on coffee and corruption
or the harbour in Salou
           a catch of sardines
shed unceremoniously
           onto the jetty
leaping metallic muscle
           gleaming in the sunlight

Call it emotional
operating within
           the physical register
How delicate a table laid
           for a supper shared
How delicate a thought
           a kiss
a dream come true :
           her beauty baited
with a string of words
           no pain or panic
in our pleasure
the tired leopards of the moon
           here was my soil seeded :
here did her petals flourish
           opening out to imbibe
the sweet night-thickened dew
           her courage swollen
to the purpose
           of love’s common limb

Old men now clamber across
           the worn marble steps
ache of ages
           ache of years
a flicker in the failing light
           and then gone
deaf to the soft birdsong
           on the summer air
their swooping swagger caught
           in a swirl of mutinous dust

John Lyons

The Tower

W B Yeats (1865-1939)

The Tower

The clouds of the sky
           torn to shreds
by the bitter wind
           grey clouds blowing in
from the East
           on this the shortest day
the longest night to come
            How well Yeats understood
the wreck of the body
           the slow decay of the blood
and for so many years
           knew only love unrequited
haughty disdainful love
           that near broke his heart
until he found satisfaction
           with one who cared
peace of body and mind
           at last and an harmonious life

Faith and pride
           he bequeaths to the young
and memories of love
           the poet’s sweet imaginings
he puts to one side :
           time indeed to make a living will
a testament to his humanity
           the lock stock and barrel
of his life and the learnings
           of his unbroken soul

John Lyons

Rare flower

Rare flower

Rare flower soaked
           in the summer rain
the wind will outlive you
           your petals will wither
and fall and your dust
           will be a distant memory

though you hale
           from a proud corridor
of stars your beauty
           will not survive the season
of salmon rising

dragonflies will buzz
           above your head
indifferent to your charms
           and through the black night
you will feel abashed
           in the shadow of the rose

there is no wisdom in old age
           merely senescence
a paltry figure in a tattered coat
           as the poet would have it
bones that fail and eyes
           out of focus
a limp from day to day

of her he recalls
           how he penetrated the light
how she listened enrapt
           to his song of innocence
and how their hearts were lost
           in a tangle of limbs

rare flower in spring
           do not raise false hopes
do not long for love everlasting
           delight in the bed in which you lie
and know that time will take its revenge
           come what may

John Lyons