Who makes much of miracles?

Who makes much of miracles?

I know of nothing else but miracles,
           whether I walk Manhattan’s streets
or raise my eyes over the roofs of houses
           toward the sky
or wade barefoot along the beach
           just in the water’s edge
or stand under trees in the woods
           or talk by day with anyone I love
or sleep in bed at night
           with the woman I love
or sit at a table
           to share a meal

or look at strangers
           riding the same train
or watch the busy buzz
           of honey-bees around the hive
or cattle calmly feeding in the fields
           or the flight of birds
chasing insects in the air
           or the wonder of sundown
of stars shining through
           or the curve of a new moon
in the bright black night
           all miracles to me
that life with all its gifts
           breath brings to me

John Lyons

Adapted from ‘Miracles’, by Walt Whitman



It’s good to be alive

It’s good to be alive

Cold and sharp last night
            clear and not much wind
the full moon shining
            a fine spread of constellations
Sirius very bright rising early
            preceded by Orion
vast glittering sworded
            chasing with his dog

In the calm splendour
            of the night
I take a short walk
            the earth hard frozen
a stiff glare of ice
            over the pond
my mind full of her
            of her last words to me
before the cold silence
            The bitter wind
drives me back
            into the warmth

I wake early
            my mind full of her
the lost warmth of her love
            the fond memories

Out in the open
            the sun has risen
I sit on a bench
            close to the woods
I bask in the pleasant air
            there are bluebirds
flying about
            I hear the reedy trill
of a robin
            then other songs that rise
to a steady chorus
            I stroll on past the pond
where the ice has melted :
            it’s good to be alive

John Lyons

Adapted from a passage by Walt Whitman

Going down of the sun

Going down of the sun

Sitting alone by the creek
           the sun still shining
a fresh wind blowing
           the grass and trees
looking their best
           every shade of green
the shadows and the half-shadows
           the dappling glimpses of the water

The wild note of a quail near by
           the quiver of leaf-shadows
over the pages as I read
           the sky aloft with white clouds

And now the sun
           going down in the west
the fragrance of oak and cedar
           light on the air
the inherent beauty
           of all that is

John Lyons

We two how long we loved

We two how long we loved

We two how long we loved
           held each others’ lives in our lives
lived among trees and rocks
           and cities walled with steel and glass
travelled down to the shore
           watched the infinite waves roll in
trod the sand and sheltered
           from the wind

We two who braved the bitter cold
           or sought shade when temperatures rose
we who despised the predatory hawks
           who seek only to pick life to pieces
we who dreamt of a land of milk and honey
           and woke each day to the scent of orchids
bedded all our hopes in the power of love
           prayed to the resplendent sun of blue skies
we two whose paths drew the same circles
           found freedom and trust and beauty and delight
in the simple day after day after day
           after day side by side

John Lyons

Out of the rolling ocean

Out of the rolling ocean

Out of the rolling ocean
           whispering you came to me
from afar out of the crowd
           you came from the irresistible sea
and I who had travelled so far
           merely to see you
merely to touch you
           was touched by your beauty
by the silence of your breath
           out of the rolling ocean

and looking so I feared
           that I might lose you
back into the cohesive crowd
           and so remain separated
in space and time
           the land torn from the ocean
and no more hold you
           at sundown when gulls
salute the air nor die again
           for your sweet love

John Lyons

Based on a poem by Walt Whitman, “Out of the Rolling Ocean Crowd”



The dissatisfied soul

The dissatisfied soul

Ever undiscouraged
the soul struggles
          grapples with the mystery
of all earth’s ages
          old and new
eyes and ears
but the soul ever dissatisfied
but unconvinced
          the same struggle
the same battle
          down the years
leaves of grass
          in the searing wind

John Lyons


The last clean shirt

The last clean shirt

So Monday morning
             I look into the closet
and there it is
             hanging there
the last clean shirt
             and it’s ironed
and ready to wear
             but it’s the last clean shirt
and I have a whole week
             ahead of me

It’s a white shirt
             and for some reason
I think of Othello and Shakespeare
             and wonder if he
was ever in this situation
             or Walt Whitman or John Donne
or any of the other metaphysicals
             for that matter —not that I would ever
compare myself to any of them
             it’s just a thought
but who did wash and iron
             their shirts for them ?

and so I watch the short film
             by Alfred Leslie with subtitles
written by Frank O’Hara
             and I discover that
the last clean shirt
             is a metaphor
for ashes to ashes
             and dust to dust
and please see that my grave
             is kept clean

John Lyons