Blithe spirit

skylark

Blithe spirit

The poet and the poem
           the eye
and the landscape
           the painter
and the canvas
           are one

the field
           the campus
all over
           streaks and shreds
and flecks of colour
           an alphabet
of shape
           of gesture
all under the same
           heavenly stars

skylarks nest
           on the ground
their young sheltered
           in the dense undergrowth
until their muscles
           are fit enough
to bear them
           high into the air

they herald the dawn
           with an artistry
and complexity of song
           that suggest
true musicianship :
           the bird and the song
and the listener
           are one

John Lyons

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The vernacular of light

The vernacular of light

Attuned to the eloquence of light
and shifting shades of darkness
all our perceptions coloured
by subtle changes of circumstance

a poetry steeped in mindful inflections

number breath and melody
the immense orchestration of life
whether in the busy thoroughfares
or simply contemplating an empty
landscape or watching the foamy sea
sift through sand on the shore

there were thirteen blackbirds

all of which took to the air
spread wings and flew out
beyond the poem back to where
they belonged in the innocence
of non-judgmental nature
poetry : the sacrament of praise

John Lyons

Prelude to the day

dawn of time
Dawn of time, John Lyons (oil on canvas)

Prelude to the day

Instances of what we are
           shifting portraits
temporal illusions
           dressed for the occasion
in which context is all

The sea retains the memory
           of creatures that crawled
onto dry land and evolved
           into the open air
our beginnings like all
           fresh starts
humble and grateful
           for the opportunity to grow

We pray for the gift of music
           for the gift of words
for the gift of love
           for the gift of human solidarity
for the fragrance of flesh
           freely given freely taken
for the imagination
           to move forward
leaving the past behind
           old lessons learnt

We despise effigies
           and make our monuments
from the moment
           we despise all that is feigned
that reeks of indifference
           and phoney affections

The authenticity of life
           demands
that love be genuine
           that it should never be betrayed
and that the tongue
           should be generous in its praise
of true beauty
           and all earthly freedoms

John Lyons

The poet’s melodeon

ocean

The poet’s melodeon

How constant this ocean
           gnawing day in day out
at the rock face : at night
           clouds move across the sky
their progress tracked
           by whales who keep
to the shadows cast
           by the moonlight

Blue waters by day
           time barely ruffled in the breeze
curls of light finely shaved
           a virtuoso performance
in which we are all the players
           the crash of cymbals
and the roar of horns
           here at our birthplace

Think of Wallace Stevens
           his obsession with melody
and with number
           his mother’s fingers
on the keyboard
           the silence of his bass voice
as he composed his poetry
           delving deep into his emotions
remembering the blue silk
           the clear warm evenings
the homeliness of life
           the beauty behind every breath
whispers of immortality
           in the mute nights
fitful tracings overlaid
           with love

John Lyons


Revised

The blue and white day

The blue and white day

A significant landscape
one in which you are present
or another in which your absence is noted
in which there is a snow-capped mountain
and a blue lake
and ants crawl across a dusty path
marking time

one in which the sun appears

or the moon
and an infinite number of stars
a silent landscape
or one in which the wind howls
and tall trees shake
a landscape in which
you might one day reappear

one in which your days

were once filled with love
before that too passed
along with faith and hope
and left you emotionally
destitute

Immaculate beginnings

Immaculate beginnings

Amid the chaos
           amid the brash cacophony
an essential silence
           at the centre of our being
in those moments
           when the self is nursed
by the natural world
           by observation
of all those rhythms
           that echo those of our blood
the play of light on water
           the movement of tall trees
that dance in the breeze
           To them we owe life’s breath
and the beauty of autumn umbers
           Every artistic gesture
dating back to the origins of time
           is an act of love
the essence of the universe
           is invention

John Lyons

 

A poem for the day

underpainting
Abstract geometries, John Lyons (oil on canvas)

A poem for the day

Spring with all its promise
           the flowers that we cut
tulips and irises and daffodils
           the words we hold
close to our hearts
           when time moves
at a gentler pace
           and we hear the coo of doves
as nature positions itself
           for all that it takes
for the species to survive
           the particles of life
coming together
           difference converging

and young children skip
           along the pavements
and lovers embrace
           under the shade
of willow and oak
           A world that the beholder
imagines and savours
           in the mind and heart
Light borne on the tide
           the river suffused
and the oceans deep
           with the mystery
Knowledge of things –
           chromatic achievements
are as naught
           when love is absent

John Lyons