Richard Lyons

Psalm with the Doors and Windows Open

The trees distract my attention and remember me as a passing,
as do the open windows and doors, and a flashing bicyclist
and a line of schoolkids on a rope between their tenders.
I move uneasily across a bridge, my hair gusting.
I’ve forgotten my little hat with the brim so I fret a little.
I am walking down the street, touching the bark of young trees.
A man is leaving a tip on a patio table. A woman is touching her lip.
Here is a minute between my fingers. Here is my biography of bird nests,
one with sticks, grass, and a strip from a shredded secret document,
one unstitching itself, one with two mud-flecked small blue eggs.
Here is shock. It’s unrecognizable when I wear the mask of composure.
Here is the feeling that time is running out. It’s J. Andrade’s rooster
with a head wound. Here is my insect nerve. Should I take my bearings?
Here is my fear of loneliness. It’s really small, a fleck of lapis.
I wear the mask with raised eyebrows, the mask with flashing teeth.
I am afraid of ocean vistas. I am the shout in a darkened mall.
Here is the rat, the pride inside my desires. It’s got a lot of mileage.
Here is my false confession, in triplicate. I know everyone has questions.
Here is my silence on compact disc. Nightly no one is really listening.
I am shuttling my body and wondering why I can’t remember
the mobile spinning above my unfocused infant eyes. At this very instant,
a child is conceived on the dark side of the globe from where I’m standing.
The new mother and father are ravenous lovers, climbing each other like trees,
double or nothing. Good for them, good for them, exact and tender.
I want to feel all of our hearts beating, lungs wheezing, mouths drooling.
I want to sleep for twenty or thirty minutes. I want to snuggle and kick.
I want to know where I stand in relation to the stars and the highways.
I want to touch what is forbidden every mortal. I want to sit for a minute.
It doesn’t matter where. With the side of my hand, I wipe the spittle from my lip.


Richard Lyons teaches at Mississippi State University. His most recent collection of poems, Fleur Carnivore, won the 2005 Washington Prize from the Word Works in Washington DC. He plans to return to the Mediterranean and track down his alter ego somewhere between volcanic rock and plunging surf. His manuscript, Blood Psalms, seeks a publisher. The curious are urged to check out his blog site: richardlyonspoet.wordpress.com. James Madison Redd’s interview of Lyons will be in an upcoming issue of Prairie Schooner online.

“Psalm with Doors and Windows Open” appears in our Spring 2014 issue.