Occasional side-bit

companion piece
Companion piece, John Lyons (oil on wood)

Occasional side-bit

Down every day
           to the solitude of the woodland
a serene sun filtering
           through the trees
as I sit here by the pond
           the water surface moving
in gentle wind-ripples
           before me

On an old beech at the edge
           decayed and slanting
yet still with life and leaves
           on its mossy limbs
a grey squirrel is exploring
           running up and down
flicking its tail before sitting
           on its haunches

Suddenly it sees me
           and the game is up
as it races back into the thick
           of the foliage again

John Lyons

Adapted from Walt Whitman’s Specimen Days


Walt Whitman – a vignette

Walt Whitman – a vignette

And then I go down
           and loaf along the Harlem river
— just had a good spell
           of this recreation

The sun sufficiently veiled
           a soft south breeze
the river full of small or large
           tapered shell boats
darting up and down—some singly
           now and then long ones
with six or eight young men

Two fine yachts lie
off the shore
           I linger long
enjoying the sundown
           the glow
the streaked sky
           the heights
the distances
           the shadows

Adapted from Walt Whitman’s ‘Hot Weather New York’ in Specimen Days



Gridlock, John Lyons (oil on canvas)


I am a free companion
           love is a dream once had
never forgotten
           I wince at the bite of dogs
I was forged in the stars
           the stars will break me

I eat sea flakes
           and drink from the clouds
To be in any form
           what is that ?
Birds train all their lives
           to sing the same song
I hear their chorus
           I vow that one day
it will all make sense
           In the silence life is
what rises to the surface
           We held hands for three years
until she went
           her separate way

John Lyons

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