Life story

Life story

From the fierce flames
of such distant constellations
such a soft and subtle beauty
mined out of the earth
impeccable fruit of life
if I must fall let it be
into you loving arms

John Lyons

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The surface of things

The surface of things

The beautiful surface of things
           life in all its infinite detail
and in all its glory
           the capacity to articulate
to put two and two together
           the chalk hills
of the North Downs
           at present covered
in pure white snow
           where pure white lambs
will graze unknowingly
           in days to come in spring

the rich hue and cry of life
           lived and held
in the conscious mind
           assembled in our language
a world built word by word
           and recalled word for word
just as our love grows
           accumulating acts of affection
mutual and stored
           in the necessary memory
of living words :
           there was a wedding feast
at which the water
           became wine and filled
the imagination
           as all art does in changing
the face of the earth
           in its becoming

John Lyons

The mind takes a break

The mind takes a break

When I am lost
           for words to write
I reach for the poems
           of Wallace Stevens
and allow my mind
           to drift in his obsessions
two figures in the dark night
           the voice of the moment
and the place in which
           he has Florida in his ear
and always the singularity
           of the eye that builds
from what it sees
           a world of the imagination

I think of his restless fingers
           and his rule of thumb :
say it and it shall be
           the conceiving words
from which he constructs
           a composite of reality

Below Key West
           there’re stars I’ve never seen
and on the roof of a rusty barn
           there are buzzards
crouched in anticipation
           there are palm trees
etched against the blue-black sky
           and there is a full moon
with nothing to reveal
           other than itself
Finally there is the sea
           sleeping in silence in the bay
and this silence I tell you 
           is such a welcome serenade

John Lyons

Plain sense

Plain sense

The plain sense of things
           the end of the imagination ?
I don’t think so— and certainly
           not for a fallen leaf
We imagine all our lives
           we envisage and plan and hope
and sometimes pray
           and whether we gamble or not
we are always calculating odds
           she loves me she loves me not

Stare out from the train
           as it passes Deptford Green
where children still skateboard
           within office hours
where the ornamental pond
           is covered in thick green slime
the trees bare these winter days
           and all the time I’m imagining
what will happen next
           and where will it end
and I think of all those
           I have loved and love still
and wonder what they’re about
           imagining all the time so that
nothing inanimate or inert
           will ever lay down the law
and condemn me to silence
           Thoughts and feelings are
expressions sometimes
           voiced sometimes not
and our world a construct
           of collective consciousness
so fragile it could pass
           in the blink of an eye

John Lyons

 

Notes towards . . .

Notes towards . . .

In the uncertain light
       some certainties
the passage of time
       the coming and going
of the seasons
       youth followed hopefully
by the wisdom of age
       and a little less ignorance
hell receding as the heavens
       come a little closer
less fear of fear
       and life refreshed
in the commerce
       of words and the truth
of poetry and belief
       in the purity of love

John Lyons

Blackberry and apple

Blackberry and apple

I noticed that the blackberries
on the canes in the garden
are almost ripe for picking

Blackberry and apple pie
was one of my favourites
when I was a boy

In those days I knew
nothing of poetry
but I was an expert
when it came to judging
blackberry and apple pies

I understand that I am
the world in which I walk
can debate whether
it is nobler or not but would
honestly kill for a decent
blackberry and apple pie

John Lyons

Snowstorm

Snowstorm

The beauty of what is

or the beauty
of what’s about to be 
fully-fledged
or new-born

the rose that is
about to droop
or the tight bud
bursting with energy ?

a single flake falling
or a field covered in snow
and the roving eye
of the blackbird

the only thing seen
in that entire scene

and the fact
as Wallace tells us
that poetry

is all in the mind

John Lyons