Love be brief


History – dead time
       a past buried
in a chromatic wilderness
       a burnt match floating
in a greasy pool
       of rainwater
an old hair
       on an old pillow case

Be minimum
       with your words
in your actions
       resolve to move forward
to write new texts
       in a world
of warmth and affection
       the past is scribble
of fret and fear and fate
       beyond absolution

Be minimum
       cut to the quick
courage and conviction –
       angels will appear
on the edge of night
       by day they will mingle
with crows and sparrows
       foxes will pay allegiance

She who is not worthy
       will lose her way
be lost forever –
       exercise discretion
: in the forgetting
       there is forgiveness –
be minimum
       say no more

John Lyons

Love’s last intelligence


Put aside the sad smell of lilacs
and words that spread outwards
to smother the truth of solitude
Beneath this deep eggshell blue
all manner of things might appear
chance and happy circumstance
all that is about to be written

Breathe freedom
an absence of objects
a spacious peace in which
our innate nature may flourish
here is horizon and novelty
made from pigments that arise
out of the earth’s core

We are in the time of roses
we hunger for the nightingale’s song
we who for so long have clutched
at the elements of life
and yet for every failed ambition
for every dashed dream
a single wisdom has sheltered us
and that is that wordless love
articulates the last intelligence

John Lyons

Critical light

Critical light

Critical light
            immaterial time
the distance
two objects

the universe
            a play on light
without which
            no beauty

            the mind’s eye
a play on words
            or colours
or textures
            or dimensions
multiples of three

the poet
            who was
of three minds

a blackbird
            a field of snow
notes slung
            across an empty

            is the absence
of darkness
            love is

the measure
            of all things
the sparrow
            and the lily

what is done
            in the darkness
critical light
            all the love
that radiates

in the end
            she may come round
it all takes time
            Rome was not built
in a day

you ask
            how many times
must we repeat
            I reply
until we get it

John Lyons


A certain idea of order

A certain idea of order

There is unity
           and there is particularity
a universe put together
           from a handful of building blocks
There is the sky and the sea
           and swallows come and go
filling our latitude with
           their grace and beauty
without ever overstaying
           their welcome

And she who sings in the dark
           whose voice is heard in my soul
whose unembittered gestures trace
           patterns of affection in my life
a summer without end
           a body drawn from the dust of stars
whole and intemperate in her passion
           the sound of love present
in every articulation
           she strides daily into my life

John Lyons

New dawn

New dawn, John Lyons (oil on canvas)

New dawn

What is striking
           are the bare spaces
the bare sky the bare streets
           the bare park hidden behind
the thick summer foliage
           These are times
of tenderness and grief
           times in which to care
           for the body
and let the devil
           take the soul

Company that is comfort
           has given way to avoidance
and now more than ever
           distance separates us
and love’s versatile touch
           is so out of reach

Yours was a name
           I once loved
but in that name
           a space has grown
larger than any
           I have ever known
it tells me that though
           you are still here
you are long gone
           long gone

John Lyons

Yesterday a chaffinch


Yesterday a chaffinch

The world that I see
           from my window
consists of a hill
           a stretch of woodland
and a pale blue sky

there’s an uneven line
           of trees on the horizon
and whenever I look
           outwards I see birds
of every description

yesterday a chaffinch
           with its rusty red underbelly
added a little colour
           to my life when it perched
on the garden fence

I noticed its electric eyes
           alert to the slightest movement
that could spell danger
           and yet serenely confident
in its ability to survive

John Lyons


Living on unmarked time

Living on unmarked time

A solitude of the self
           living on unmarked time
adjusting to the differences
           of temper and belief
these are the colours of spring
           the intensity of yellow daffodils
blue skies and robins returning
           day after day to sing their song

here where our ancestors
           cast no shadow
and love is a memory
           in the making
I remember the geraniums
           on the sill of the shed window
I remember the towers we climbed
           hand in hand and the moon
that spread its light
           upon the surface of the lake
I remember the colour of love
           in your eyes
such beauty
           that I will never forget

John Lyons


Words from the fragrant portal

Words from the fragrant portal

So the demarcations
of day and night
of here and now
or there
or there
of now and again
the rise and fall
of empires
as it always was
and will be

and love parading

through the streets
of Vienna
strolling hand in hand
under the dark
moonless sky
love in which the body
is taken to its limits
overreaches itself
pours into another
so that it is neither
he nor she

words against the silence

breath against extinction
life and death
universe without limit
time a mere drop
in the ocean

John Lyons

The idea of order

The idea of order

Whose spirit is this
that rises every day
that shapes meaning
out of nothing
that defies the seasons
and the passage of time
to sing of roses
and nightingales
to gild the moment
with deep love

a voice driven
by gestures
of the mind
by the ebb
and flow of tides
by moon-phases
a voice that willfully
scatters words
where petals
are wont to lie

John Lyons

Die Idee der Ordnung

Wessen Geist ist das
das steigt jeden Tag
das formt die Bedeutung
aus dem Nichts
das trotzt den Jahreszeiten
und der Lauf der Zeit
von Rosen und Nachtigallen

den Moment vergolden
mit tiefer Liebe ?

eine Stimme getrieben
durch Gesten
aus dem Gedächtnis
von der Ebbe
und Fluss der Gezeiten
durch Mondphasen
eine Stimme, die absichtlich
streut Wörter
wo Blütenblätter
sind gewohnt
sich hinzulegen


A bravura of the mind

A bravura of the mind

And yet
           what is mind ?
Say that we are
           textual beings
readers of all things
           say that words are
our common currency
           our feelings
put into breath
           our ideas
all notions
           of time and space
all relationships
           and especially
that shared passion
           we call love

John Lyons