breezy night in spring
songbird pulse like dark thunder
at the soft margins
of a mind that’s young
and labouring under a more difficult
with the coolness of medicinal dreams
the breeze blows over
the garden, grown shaggy within walls
of mossy stone –
in the sixteenth century
under the bright stars
(Leo rising before midnight
in the zodiac garden
with its statue of a sea goat,
of man pouring water from a jar
into the fishes mouth,
the Roman goddesses—
Venus, shining one,
chaste and armoured,
wheeling through the slow sky
brittle chimes ring from tower
over the gazebo –
telescope – seas on the moon –
seas for dreaming
moving like music over fractured
water in every shade of red and gold –
past the monastery
the child has come through wind and rain
over the fields to stand in this garden
pale gold cast over the lawn
from chamber over the balcony
she stands in her nightclothes
before the mirror
combing her hair,
He was a bright little boy
able to grasp things easily
in a remarkable way, they thought
sitting on the cool flagstones,
in front of the big house
high over the lawn,
beneath the cocktails and the chatter,
learning from matchbooks the constellations
and their seasons
from a page in the farmer’s journal
the clouds and weathers
the names of dinosaurs –
the models of aircraft
as they all walked through the terminal
things that kid figures out
the damnedest thing
the clouds over grassy hills
picnickers from the last century
abandon the grove quickly
rainclouds singing over swamps
gold edge over harbour and town
shooting flames of white
break the summer drought
smoke rises vertically
iceclouds in azure
over the trees
fire adorns the quiet towns
sun wrapped in clouds – silver ripples on lake
frost settling over fields
Fire red at dusk
In brown jacket walking the rows
of rustling corn
sheaves bound the moonlight
Harvest Moon. Trick or treat
How autumn settles on the market towns.
Deep purple falls.
Turning stars turning secret slow turning
Colder tonight; Snow.
Wind rustling beyond the porchlight.
Carry your books from school.
The room can’t be this lonely
There has to be someone
warm in the warm nest
The cool air fiery woods are my church
let me walk there Sunday morning
let there be a cabin in the woods
where she waits
It is cold in Rome
cold winds coming over the hills
Hurry through the muddy streets
the evening wind rises
the wind is walking
the Romans are building bonfires
In the land of the Gauls
In the country of the Druids
Greece is warmer
Summery gust spins the windmill by moonlight
Odysseus coming over the waves
sleeping on the beach
shepherds dream in the forest
Driftwood fire and the surf
safe in the night with the grownups around
Green glowing of the sign on the tower
Green glowing of the evening surf
Jesus and the fishermen
on the hillsides around the lake
camels coming over the desert
through the blue starlight
the study with shelves of leather books
Ah filled with light
invasions of angels
visionmen dance through the air
Candles. Ancient knowledge.
Project the motions of the stars
The rising of the harvest moon
Trappers in the lonely continent
Canoes over lakes and rivers.
The continent of solitude
Deer in the woods.
On the riverbank, Indians.
The sky pictures first came
to the shepherds, sleeping near fires,
on remote mountainsides.
Through the halls the child wandered
learning the tall canvases,
the symphonies of colour –
It is the god who taught them how to paint –
There are worlds in the canvas
that does not show our world.
Statues in the garden
Dark pulsing music
stones in the fountain
moonshadow crawls over sundial
she is moving in the night
beyond the dirtpiles.
Have your planes come safely home?
Still you keep the nightwatch
around the flickering scope –
the sky around the water gap – there –
Are they coming through the gap?
Are they coming through the geologic ages?
What are they bringing
such a long way?
Brilliant corals where the angelfish swim.
Time is there is no time.
Lizardfish thrash in the ancient sea.
Big as whales.
This moment contains a hundred million years.
The water warm and choppy.
Saltwater and blood.
A hundred million coralfish.
Coconut palms on the shore. Yellow parrots.
Grass hut. Bonfire.
Strange carvings in canoes.
Naked breast and thigh
on the warm red sand
. drumbeat, fire.
where is the devil?
far from the ashes that burn near the fence.
Where were you born, yellow worm?
from ducks that rot in the summer sun
in the field where the devil dances.
where is the wind?
Where is the lute that rings out in the snowy air?
what are you singing?
Baby Jesus tucked in his bed.
what is the hour?
Time for the boy to be tucked in his bed.
Time for the boy to be tucked
Pleasant dreams, sliding into sleep
come winging through the water gap
drawn by the horses of the night
hoofbeats on distant moonbeams
splattered the Plymouth’s windshield
Saturday night going up to the quarry
north of town
into the inky night
the road turned upward,
into the hills
they were drinking beer.
Didn’t know them. People my cousin knew.
One guy, maybe sixteen, real tough,
Told the legend –
Saint Lucifer, who was really an angel
though despised by God.
Good old Saint Lucifer,
who really was our friend.
Tales about crazy ouija boards, demonic possession
Rock groups holding Black Mass backstage.
Pentagram and goat’s head;
scary movies, where they drank human blood.
But it was all right.
I was home, driving the old car
(grandfather had it since I was a kid:
didn’t dare wreck it –
easily could on a night like this,
drinking and smoking with strangers,
just turned seventeen)
Childhood was all around
keep me safe.
Still I was scared for awhile
This guy Mike Lyons
(people used to think he was my brother.
wasn’t, though lived in same subdivision,
rode the same bus)
pretty cool guy all the same,
at this party down the street
(didn’t know those people either)
Looking at the silver cross I wore around my neck.
Belief yes. Churchgoer.
I sipped my beer. Lit cigarette.
Hearing Led Zeppelin someone was
playing real loud.
Jesus. Sure. Jesus is just all right Oh yeah.
Mike Lyons though it was pretty unusual.
Respected me for it.
In Sunday school they said you should do that.
Called it public confession.
Though I’m not much at witnessing.
So I did public confession at parties.
Had a real wasted one when my parents
went to Mexico for a week.
People I worked with. They had all kinds
of drugs. Had them all over.
Didn’t know beer and sangria don’t mix.
Got really wasted
Had to talk about songs about the devil
images from Revelation
Satan. 666. Fear.
Talked real loud.
Everyone started leaving and I got sick.
It was late.
Had to clean up afterwards
Last night of it I had to get up early
the next day.
Had to make sure it was real clean.
Parents would be the next to see it,
and .I wouldn’t be there.
Drove to the airport at 6 AM
And flew to Philadelphia via Hartsfield.
Buying Atlanta paper trying to look important in my suit.
Was afraid someone left a cigarette butt
Smouldering beneath the cushion,
and my parents would find
the house burnt down
with the little dog inside
when they got home
two days later
on my seventeenth birthday
How it feels
after the heat and grime
of the city,
lying in bed.
beyond the windowsill
summer rain on the cool and darkening lawn –
how this house feels
after the trains and the strangers
to be among the folks I know
in the friendly rooms
again after all these years –
and how that house
could balm the soul that had drunk
too much of the horror
of daylight and newspapers
of darkness and nightmares
You’re safe now. You’re going to be all right.
on the beach
sand burning so white
it waves in concentrations
of its spectral colours
sea turns black under sun and thunderheads;
the brightness of it dims your eyes;
its roar creates a loud silence
this is the season of fierce heat,
Savage August enclosing your skin
with salt and fire
the sea withheld
the chimes emerge
the blue bolt and report
Cyprus and a day like this
the air charged and thick
a sudden wind kicks up waves
born of foam, rising on the surf,
a sudden gust chilling your bare skin.
You don’t know the way she comes
out of the amniotic swells
veins full of the hot red sea.
The season is turning. Your soul
is turning. Something will happen but
it’s not time yet. Stand Still. Wait.
Just before daylight
the milkmaids going out to the dewy fields
one I knew stopped
gave me milk, eggs, bread
and I was hungry
been out all night
it was spring
the ceremonies of innocence
performed in the morning
with daylight burgeoning in the air,
the sun was setting.
Bright white, gold edge of blue
over the house. Westward.
over the sea.
I checked the hour.
It’s a hunter’s moon for sure.
There’s that chill in the air
like those nights in father’s old jacket
down at the playground
talking to that strange dark girl
who talked about pills and suicide
in a dreamy way –
Halloween feeling in the air
Autumn. Harvest. football
rake and ritual
of the scythe
John Barelycorn in a tavern on the lonely road
Damsel. Cheerleader. Neighbour’s daughter.
Leaves lie deep in the graveyard.
Stones. Time. The grass turned brown.
Song of sadness. Slow, deliberate, cold.
The notes cut through you,
The words cut through your mind
like sunlight through stained glass
Figures. Ghostly ages.
Mother Mary have you ever really felt the same
Scotland Medieval. Castle Walls
she comes tonight
cut you down, Adonis
the meaning of this
blood flowing. Apples.
Ed Lyons has been writing and publishing poems for over forty years. He has studied at the University of Florida, where he earned a B.A. in English, and Florida State University, where he earned an M.S. in Instructional Systems. He has studied under poets Lawrence Hetrick, Van Brock, and David Kirby. He is a regular contributor to the Poems from the Heron Clan anthology, which he co-founded, and a frequent contributor to Lothlorien Poetry Journal, which won him a Best of the Net nomination. Ed’s work has also appeared in Albatross, Woodrider, A New Ulster, Án Áitiúil, and North Carolina Bards. Ed has and written hymns for the Moravian Church. The last is the subject of Ed’s 2019 chapbook Wachovia, published by Katherine James Books in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Ed lives in Winston-Salem, also in North Carolina.
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