An aside on Wallace Stevens

An aside on Wallace Stevens

I read him for the granulations of time
            for the immaculate imagery
with which he sketches our existence
            the true interior life that sums us up
for the transparence of place he inhabits
            and for the thoughtfulness of his voice

He is a master of landscapes
            of rivers and mountains and plains
and trees and blackbirds with an acute eye
            for anything that moves
in a field of snow
            and in his observations he is always
central and necessary and just as the stars
            he stands naked in the cosmos

How often do we note that the sea
            breaks on the edges of his lines
that are composed
            for oboe or hautboy
intuitive melodies to be performed
            in the haunted forests of our cities
evoking all those unsettling truths
            so deeply buried in our blood

John Lyons


Fruit of the stars

Fruit of the stars

A sky
            full of snowflakes
obscures the stars but
            from their hydrogen
and their oxygen
            comes water
a marriage made
            in a molecule

            fruit of the stars
and chain of constant
that for which
            we were born
moving within the light
            at rest within the shade
a temperate life
            capable of noble deeds
energized from before
            the moment of conception
and measured against
            the inspirations of time
and judged
            by our capacity to love

            that supreme fiction 
poetry of all that’s made
            bonds of flesh
bound in words and intoned
            in tender hymns
to our humanity
            cherished thoughts
that elate the heart
            and fire passion
in our blood until we attain
            the proud pangs of paradise

John Lyons


In praise of Wallace

In praise of Wallace

Some say that he’s no poet
           but what do they know
he is succinct and always
           to the point
and shadows run freely
           through his verse
and the heavens are a backdrop
           to the endless mountains
Men and women live
           in his lines and he observes
more than a blackbird
           will ever see

He hears the strumming
           of a poor pale guitar
but he is generous
           in his appraisal
because he knows
           that things are as they are
and so he gives them a voice
           and poetry is the subject
of his poetry
           and his life’s summation
the flesh the bone
           the dirt the stone

In Margravine
           where the squirrels romp
and crows fill the air
           with their raucous song
and the tombs sink deeper
           into the earth while nature
flourishes all around
           and young lovers walks by
without batting an eye
           and not so much as a sigh

John Lyons

More imagining

More imagining

A rose needs the light
           in order for its beauty to shine
though the thorns can
           prick a finger in the dark
and a rose shared becomes
           much more than itself
it establishes a dialogue
           even if unspoken
between two perspectives
           a flow of feeling and meaning
that does not need
           to be put into words
the silence for example
           of two people in love
in the presence of a rose
           that adds a third dimension
nothing more substantial
           nothing more real
than the kiss that is
           yet to be given

John Lyons

The common life

The common life

I lead the common life
           I too am a result
of mixed blessings
           of wild gifts
and irresistible flaws
           I’m familiar with church steeples
and power plants
           and black lines on the horizon

I know who made me
           and for what purpose
and I prefer boots to shoes
           and yes I know which way
the ball bounces
           I’m conscious of the poetry
that I write and anxious
           not to waste my breath
Birthdays come and go
           but I remain
and I’m open to love

John Lyons

The intelligence of trees

Tree, John Lyons (oil on wood)

The intelligence of trees

Wallace refers to the intelligence of trees
the famed tree of knowledge is related
the thing that grows organically
and the metaphors that we may apply
the roots that reach so deep into the earth
the branches that reach constantly for the sky
the leaves that burst from buds in spring
that bring delight in the summer until
in the autumn they fall as all things fall
the rings of age that mark the wood
the gnarled bark of ancient specimens
the shade under which lovers lounge
the stillness of time until the wind rises

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