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

                       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

Sacrament of praise

Breath and pulse
       the warm flesh
the light in her eyes
       the laughter on her lips
and a poet skilled
       in the sacrament of praise

a champion of life
       around whom
wild winds spin
       and oceans lap
at shifting sands
       and willows are
whipped by the rain
       and time weaves
its eternal mysteries
       : beauty

that is momentary
       in the mind
frail as the tissue
       of poppy blooms
torn on the briar’s thorns
       a sparrow’s song
a robin bobbing
       on the garden fence
a dragonfly that hovers
       over the shallow pond
how soon our summers
       are spent
our loves
       never so

John Lyons

The innocence of age

bark

On my walk through the park
       I notice that the shadows
of the trees themselves have aged
       I inspect the corrugated bark
the deep lines on trunk and branch
       how time never passes without
leaving an indelible mark
       on all things and I marvel at
the wisdom of oak and sycamore
       so closely adherent
to the monastic virtue
       of stability

If all things pass some do so
       at a slower pace than others
so I am content to discount
       my dog years and I gaze
defiantly into the mirror—
      what is beautiful is perhaps
an acquired taste : I adore
       the innocence and energy
of young children who skip
       along the paths of their childhood

I know that in time age will
       bend their shadows too
that ash and elm will outlive them
       that their dreams for a while
will touch the golden moon
       until gravity brings them down
to the level earth but that their hearts
       will never be still

John Lyons

The radiance of sunlight

Say that our bodies are beautiful
in the radiance of sunlight
our flesh still warm with the love
we bring to the day
how the regal flow of blood
sets our cheeks aglow
and how we are insatiable for life

As the flower’s beauty is inseparable
from the sum of its parts
each particle plays its part in our being

our intelligence a beacon
amid the arcane mysteries
of cosmos and creation :
how age degrades all things bar love
so that we have nothing to fear
from the edge of the night
nor the silence of daybreak
as long as there is breath on our lips

John Lyons

Corrected text

The deep roots of love

Strip away the intricacies
of appearance
strip away the complexities
of the world
and live in the simplicity
of the moment

Though we are born
into the nucleus of time
we outgrow it as we move
deeper into love
and learn to revel
in all its enchantments

In love we no longer live
in the silence of self
and every kiss given
and every kiss received
reverberates
down the generations
as a natural truth

There is nothing to own here
but everything to be —
triumphant in the abandonment
of all that is false and pointless :
just as we respect the oak
and the sycamore let us admire
the deep roots of enduring love

John Lyons