The silence of things

The silence of things
        that have no voice
no means of expression
        above and beyond
their physical shape
        and characteristics
things so often
        in the backdrop
that we barely notice
        stones in the road
that only occasionally
        cause us to trip

And yet they are
        presence and context
where what we talk of
        takes place or unfolds

Our fascination
        with the moon
and the stars and the sea
        with lakes and rivers
all of which are in
        perpetual motion
and have deep purpose
        and speak volumes to us
on their own terms
        in their own language
devoid of syllables
        but full of sense

And we speculate constantly
        about never-ending things
the chain of life and death
        systolic and diastolic and all
that happens in between

Love should be among
        those never-ending things
and sometimes it is
        but all too often
there comes a sharp speech
        a withering conversation
and the voices dry up
        and love no longer is

John Lyons

Never-ending things

The silence of things
        that have no voice
no means of expression
        above and beyond
their physical shape
        and characteristics
things so often
        in the backdrop
that we barely notice

And yet they are
        presence and context
where what we talk of
        takes place or unfolds

Our fascination
        with the stars
and the sea
        with lakes and rivers
all of which have motion
        and deep purpose
and speak to us
        on their own terms
in their own language
        devoid of syllables
but full of meaning

And we speculate
        constantly about
never-ending things
        the chain of life and death
and all that happens
        in between

Love should be
        a never-ending thing
and sometimes it is
        but all too often
there comes a speech
        and the conversation
dries up and
        it no longer is

John Lyons

A clear day

A clear day :
        fresh leaves on the trees
have brought the ancient woodland
        to life : school has yet to begin
but soon the young
        will be making their way
along the path through the woods
        to their classes

the youngest will hop and skip
        and chatter their innocent
knowledge full of the excitement
        and anticipation of what
the day holds
        the new meanings
that their activities
        will create

Today the air is clear
        and this small world
is touched by sunshine
        The young have inherited
this part of the world
        this spectacle lived previously
by others long gone

And the woodland’s understory
        is alive with new growth
holly and dogwood
        ivy and nettles
saplings fighting for their share
        of the light

John Lyons

End of the affair

From seed to flower
        to fruit to flesh
to love and to love’s
        heartless betrayal

Here at the water’s edge
        the hand drops
petals of memory
        where the grey river flows
swollen by recent rains

Time and time again
        remembered
woven into the faded
        opulence of our dreams

White-winged gulls
        were our chorus
wheeling above us
        riding the wind’s wild waves
filling the crisp air
        with their raucous cries
in the secular light

For a brief spell
        unfettered feelings
and paged perfections
        perishable beauty
fleetingly held
        in the palm of the hand

Then
        a seismic shift
Words hewn from silence
        the silhouette of a lone tree
standing in the midst
        of a denuded field
baked beneath the sun
        shaken by the vortex of dust
that rises up
        from the land

Here the hawk feeds
        the eagle too
and at night
        owls prowl the fields
so that the ungodly earth
        knows no rest

John Lyons

A new knowledge

Tikal

                     It was like
                    A new knowledge of reality.

                                                     Wallace Stevens

As evening falls,
    so too, the relentless rain, the air
        dense with the stench of rotting
    vegetation. I am typing a letter to
        myself and there are children all

around me,
    curious to see the neat rows of black letters
        appear on the crisp white paper. So few
    typewriters make it to the forest depths.
        The rain does not ease and I’m

sitting now
    in the restaurant run by an elderly Chinaman
        who is desperate to buy my wristwatch.
    There are candles on the tables and they
        splutter and die as clouds of termites

envelope them:
    they are relit and die again, charred termites
        trapped in the smouldering wax. It is almost
    impossible to talk through these flurries of insects
        that find their way into ears and mouths

and nostrils.
    Mortality borne on frail white wings. An ancient
        city quarried from limestone lies now in ruins.
    a place of visitation rather than a centre of celebration.
        The Mayan time wheel halted in its tracks.

At dawn
    the mists rise above the temple pyramids, monkeys
        haul themselves over dilapidated walls, and deer
    and tapirs roam freely; wild turkeys scavenge
        in the undergrowth, unperturbed by the raucous

caw of toucans
    and parrots in the branches above. No human
        prayer will bring this city back to life.
    Nature has regained control: or rather, one life has
       surrendered to another in all its tacit mystery.

14 October 2004

John Lyons

The pant and sigh

The spirit of peace
        large and rich and thrifty
that builds vast and populous cities
        that encourages agriculture
and the arts and commerce
        the balance of freedoms
nothing too close
        nothing too far off
neither the stars too far off


The poet who is a workman

        who concentrates the light
who turns a pivot with his finger
        allows no time to stray
is obedient to his conscience
        who understands how
the processes of life grow men
        and women and children
who talks of the soul of eternity
        as manifest in the rose
and in all creatures
        his thoughts hymns
in praise of things
        equable and egalitarian
expecting and believing
        and trusting in what is good
and upright and firm-fibered
        who sees certainties
for what they are
        and beauty for what it is
the preserve of the smile
        and the noble gesture
a beauty beyond the pant
        and sigh of sex
the beauty of fluent truth
        expressed
in the beauty
        of words that are lashed
to the earth out of which
        all things arise

John Lyons

Things seen as seen

Things seen as seen
as real as the fox
grown fat during
the summer months

immune to the sin
of pride it strolls
across the lawn
king of the pile

a family raised
all in good health
a secure successful
survivor – what

is not to admire ?
Redemption is there
at the heart of love
in the beauty of the day

John Lyons

The sycamore senses

starleaf
                      Leaf, John Lyons (acrylic on paper)

The sycamore senses
the lengthening days
knows that a curve
has been passed

Its leaves tightly packed
in the buds are biding
their time ; they are aware
of their purpose in life

Poetry is not an imaginary
world – it’s as real as
those leaves patiently
waiting to burst forth

John Lyons

Think of the earth

Think of the earth
as a body
out of which
all bodies arise

think of the earth
as the life of life
of the origin
of all species

think of the earth
as a space in which
all movements
are defined

the motion of words
as much as sparrows
of angels as much
as the easterly wind

think of the earth
as time and consequence
all rolled into one
in separable existence

think of the earth
as our home from home
as the ultimate
alma mater

think of the earth
of a place to love
and to be loved
or be damned

out of friable soil
the red rose
and the beauty
of poetry

John Lyons