Love swept away

This is the world
       in which we walk
: leaves peppered
       with dark spots
and shotholes and
       cankers on the trunk
and dieback
       here and there
on the branches
       or blossom blast
in spring or
       early summer
when flowering shoots
       wilt or wither

And the question – why is it
       that disease is
an integral part
       of nature’s process ?
and why do some trees
       die while most survive ?

I stand on the ocean shore
       in awe of its eternal tides
No silence can compete
       with its incessant roar
no rock can withstand
       its ravenous tongue
and I think of her gentle face
       and of all the love
that time so simply
       swept away

What moves me to words

What moves me to words
       moves me to silence too
poetry is in the to and fro
       of the motion of the emotion
I see instances of beauty
       and I want to capture them
just as I want to admire them
       in silence in stillness
in the peace and quiet
       of my heart

The stars at night
       as I look out
across the necessary ocean
       never idle
the stars nor the sea
       in this universe woven
from light :
       the paradox
of gravity and weightlessness
       So what holds it all together
even as it expands
       fragments of the nothingness
that existed before the Big Bang
       blew it all apart ?

What drives this mass of energy
       into the shape of wild roses
or the orchid’s delicate blooms
       or the innocence of a child’s smile
or the unabashed gleam
       in my lover’s eyes ?

John Lyons

Memory is distance

               Coffee grounds on yellow background, John Lyons

Memory is distance
       over time
is wholeness
       is struggle to prevent
fragmentation –
       perceptions saved
within the senses
       the dragonfly
that skimmed the pond
       summer after summer
all those years ago
       and the scent of cherry blossom
of peach and pear and plum
       and cut grass
and ice on my tongue
       the joy and sadness of rain
and winter dreams
       and the discontent of bees
as flowers fade and dust gathers
       on the gilded earth
and love comes lately
       if it comes at all

Memory is sharpness
       of the mind
we forage for it
       and sometimes stumble
upon past realms
       resurrected in the heart
savoured on the lips
       or a soft voice heard
on the edge of night
       a tender text of angels
a sudden knowledge
       of years reborn
a body politic
       to which we clasp
until daylight breaks
       across our bones

John Lyons

The sea’s sad music

At dawn
       I go down to the sea
drawn to its mystery
       I listen to its silence
it too has mountains
       deep and unknown
and when the wind rises
              it has a dark voice
that grinds and gasps
       as it gropes for the shore

At sunrise the light shimmers
       across its surface
I see myself
       in the glassy reflection
and listen to the ocean’s sighs
      that appear to echo my own

Where was love
       in all this meaningless motion
where was pity and passion
       where were the words of soft speech
where were the palpable
       signs of affection
where were the gestures
       capable of defusing time
where were the keen kisses
       to soothe my soul
where were the answers
       to stem the cruel tide ?

Night falls
       and a golden moon
gives way to blistering stars
      bronze shadows stride
across the fragrant water
       all is memory
all is loss
       all is done

John Lyons

The flesh and bone of it

This is the flesh and bone of it
whether to be or not to be
the doubts and the indecisions
that make a mockery of time

Fine sand shifting in the clear waters
the gentle roll of waves on the shore
and in the distance an empty eternity
that constantly reminds us of how far

we have travelled and how far
we have to go and the slow dawning
of knowledge that tells us that love
is an answer but not the answer

that something deeper needs to occur
before even love can find a safe haven
I watch the boats that ferry passengers
from place to place from one arena

to another and with them they carry
their secret hopes and fears
their dreams and their ambitions
and I wonder where their true loves lie

John Lyons

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

Enduring love

Out of the darkness
the new day emerges
a stretch of wide water
to cross before nightfall

in the absence of rain
I listen to the rush of blood
pulsing through my veins
and remind myself

that we are in the time of fruit
of tall silent shadows and
so fortunate to be pampered
by nature’s full bounty

Out of the darkness
beauty’s warm flesh emerges
refreshed and ready to renew
its promise of enduring love

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

I will go to the ocean

I will go to the ocean
feel the breath of it on my face
and breathe in unison with it

and the sun will rise
with all its fierce energy
and will scorch the sand

which I call sea-dust
and I will tread gingerly on it
so that my feet scarcely suffer

and I’ll admire the frigate birds
that ply the waves just off-shore
how patiently they fish for shadows

and at night I’ll count the stars
that have tracked me
and all I ever loved since birth

John Lyons

Faith in my hands


                       Simplified, John Lyons (40 x 40 cm, oil on canvas)

My hands tanned
       mottled and freckled
have aged but not grown old
       an absurdity I know
but it is as if
       for reasons unknown
they have been spared
       the ravages of time

I observe them
       this way and that
hold them up
       to the light
relieved that they are
       still fit for purpose
secure too in the knowledge
       that neither the right
nor the left one
       will ever betray me

John Lyons