To refresh the future

To refresh the future

The first idea
           comes in a moment
from the desire
           to create
nothing else
           so alters the shape
of the world

A life of invention
           truth in the deed
the poem or the canvas
           or notes on a musical
           or observe the likeness
of clouds overhead
           or expound
on the innermost thoughts
           of a lost soul

Reject the stale moonlight
           and stars beyond the pale
who comes and goes in a life
           this is what concerns us
who remains and who abandons

The first idea
           is to refresh the future
without recourse
           to primitive astronomies
a life that rises above the surface
           venerable and articulate
and complete
           in constant pursuit
of her authentic breath
           a palpable love

John Lyons

Revised text

An odor from a star

An odor from a star

Sunday evening fades
           by an open window
summer has danced
           the day long
and it’s time to read
           the words in my heart
to spell out the compendium
           that I am of dreams and how
at this point in time
           it would be wrong
for rain to fall
           through my universe

Imagine that there are lilacs
           here on the page
and that their heady aroma
           hangs heavy in the air
imagine a room teeming
           with the scent of roses
and that a proud thorn has drawn
           a trickle of my blood

I call every atom of myself

           my own and yet how
to distinguish them
           from all others
that have made the journey
           to this day ?

Atoms are blue and countable
           if we put our hands together
: with needle and thread
           she sewed the tender buttons
onto the soft fragrant silk
           a shadow bent
in the silence of her words
           of her love

John Lyons

Some of the above words were drawn from the poem below by Wallace Stevens

Carnet de Voyage

An odor from a star
Comes to my fancy, slight,
Tenderly spiced and gay,
As if a seraph’s hand
Unloosed the fragrant silks
Of some sultana, bright
In her soft sky. And pure
It is, and excellent,
As if a seraph’s blue
Fell, as a shadow falls,
And his warm body shed
Sweet exhalations, void
Of our despised decay.

Wallace Stevens, Uncollected Poems

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