charade

they say their prayers here.
white marble stone arches
glow dutifully radiant,
imprisoning the crescent moon
like a painting of a holy night.

sunsets-ful of marigold
stripped mindlessly
into bruised petals for
a charlatan’s offering, wilted,
retreat into warm shadows.

pale staircases shimmer,
rich with obligatory faith
and schooled adoration,
ringing bawdy laughter amongst
idle scrutiny of blasphemous attire.

intricate shadow of branches
of a broad and blessed tree
in the halo of a generous moon,
flow across a courtyard
in rivulets of darkness.

they chant their empty verses
here, dizzy amidst scented oil lamps
that fade into coarse daylight,

a little girl, barefooted, belled anklets,
peeks through a rift in the mob
to study a house crow pecking
at an abandoned broken coconut.

T. E. Pyrus

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Sojourner

she sneaks in through our open window,
barefoot on the starlit floor,
quiet in mild summer wind,
like whispered secrets of a child
and dew drops on fresh grass at dawn.

she paints our whitewashed wall
with fleur-de-lys and window grills
in clear shadow, then wanders
through the resting home,
humming like sweet springtime rain;
when she traced grey names of every book
with pale and gentle fingertips,
they glittered fresh in crystal frost,
as if winter lost her way again tonight.

she peeks into each mirror-
now braiding a dream into her hair,
now fixing a star on her shoulder-
then hides tiny clouds of spare laughter
on the ceiling, behind the couch,
in between coffee and breakfast time,
and silent afternoons.

she climbs onto the windowsill,
her wistful smile lit softly
in waking twilight, she steps
onto a purple breeze
and floats into another perfect night.

T. E. Pyrus

When shadows spill over…

When shadows spill over
the purple-flowered edges
of the sidewalk,
they trickle into the alley
right next to the
newspaper-decked playground
and the stranded fountain.
The library across the road
sprinkles secrets, unexplored,
whispers lost in faerytales
that live by sunset firelight;
then shadows climb the dusky walls
then cities twinkle into life.

T. E. Pyrus

embers and silence..,

She skips stones o’er shallow darkness
that ripples ’round her bare ankles.
twilights trace her lorn shoulders and soul,
pale wristlets of sunset that grace her wrists
burn bright, searing like heartbreak,
yet smoulder forever like untiring love;
her eyes, grey like shadow, twinkle with wry mirth
o’er shallow darkness, like faery knights
of new moon, vows of pure sunlight
every dawn; her hair, dear as midnight,
curtains wistful smiles: gentle curve of her frayed lips,
gentle hope that never fully breaks with falling time;
her laughter wakes the melancholic night;
o’re shallow darkness, wishing stars shine bright..,

T. E. Pyrus

life on the stripes

like flowing tide and passing time,
footsteps echo to and fro
across the white striped asphalt road
as faceless shadows come and go.

underneath the mellowed sun,
words and silence melt and flow,
and ripple down the asphalt road
as faceless shadows come and go.

traffic lights blink bright and bare
and blend in smouldered sunset glow,
like ancient streaks on black and white
as faceless shadows come and go.

and twinkling smiles and precious tears
from unfamiliar friend and foe,
all listen, still, for those who wait
as faceless shadows come and go.

T. E. Pyrus

Prison-souls

They put up grills outside the corridor
that idles before our classrooms.
The quadrangle trapped within
breathes beneath the open skies,
burning in the mid-morning sun,
and hiding in our imaginary mysteries at night.
The new paint on the grills is soft
and green like bluish boredom,
we sunk in our tense fingernails
into patterns of ill humour,
’til uncivil slurs of loud empty threats
shooed us back into shadowy classrooms.
Every time we stepped outside,
the glossy grills drew our leftover pride,
silenced our laughter, till all we could do
to look away from the hypnotic grills
was to gaze vacantly at the red lines,
and the carelessly scribbled words in red
that demanded clearer handwriting,
and red fractions over hundred
that sunk and never rose again.
Sometimes, between the ear-splitting lunch bells,
we’d push our hands out through the gaps in the grills
that ventilated the claustrophobic corridor,
with close-clipped nails, perhaps some spilt ink,
or an apathetic cut from a pencil sharpener,
as the rain poured, stormy and seething
and cold upon our skin, as we counted
in threes, first drops for another word,
bit back to save our mouths
that bleed from all the undeserved apologies
that they were made to speak,
second drops for notes passed under the desk
and crushed words of passion
that choked our wavering voice,
every third for dreams they mocked with skill,
and said we must outgrow, so we grew,
expanding and stretching, deflating and straining,
stifling and pulling, and pulling, and pulling,
until something broke,
and all the sunshine drowned
in these broken prison-souls.

T. E. Pyrus

Ode to a Dinghy

Stray rays of darkness
fade beside the plain, veiled moon
that sighs over shimmering waters;
a resting dawn rubs charcoal dust off the curved horizon.
No whisper of the frantic wind
breaks the symphony of folding time
and how it melts and flows like crystal
in between the clear crickets’ tales,
overfilling holes that howling dogs bite into stifling stillness;
fluttering heartbeats of starlit egrets
who watch the offbeat silver fish
that flies for only a moment
before it splashes back to wordlessness.

When stars dissolve in melting time,
you drift into the lighter blue,
dinghy from the midnight’s side,
cutting through fine net of mist
that craves to trap the quieter moon,
the rainless, soundless, sunless dawn.
Time slips through like silverfish.
You guide them past the wired fence
half drowned, half trembling silver thorns
awaiting crows and kingfishers.

They fling the worn hand woven net,
mist and dew lace dark brown skin,
and watch it slice through shimmering mist
and morningstar-kissed rippled waves,
and speak no words in silence.
Like a sketch in charcoal
you blend in dark grey
and they live statuesque in bare black
and muslin white and shadow folds
knotted neatly at the waist, waiting,
watching grayscales break
into burnt reds, wondering,
perhaps, who watches from
behind the dusty window glass
where sleep still reigns
the passenger train that rattles,
yet whistles none, speaks lesser still
on railway tracks that rest by light
and wait by dark…

T. E. Pyrus

Snapshot

Curiosity stares through tinted glasses
at railway tracks that glint darker in the sun;
the house crow that pecks on the ties in between
looks only slightly greyer than its shadow.
The diesel smoke and incense mist
lie faintly over red painted benches
that infrequently decorate the station platform.
Glass doored cabinets in miniature stalls
hold jars of hard candy, myriad pan filling
and sugared tamarind sweets to charm the mouth,
brightly coloured foil packets of biscuits and sweetened milk cake
lie sulking on the icebox, liberally filled
with ice cream and badam milk, mishti doi and lassi,
chilled soda in orange, brown, and green,
sealed bottles of water for people to please.
People and more people with stranger clothes and faces
scurry and stumble, then scramble and hurry
up the overbridge and down to platform number four
with sari and suitcase, toddler with a missing shoe.
Cartons of fresh iced fish to be sold a thousand miles away
settle comfortably on the floor of the parcel compartment,
painted blue, like all the thirty and one passenger coaches
tailing the rusty red engine that punctuates the chaos
with sleepy sighs and anxious whistles.
Footsteps and wheels run briskly here,
yet time runs ever slowly still
in rhythm with the ceaseless chant –
“cha~i coffee! co~ffee chai! cha~i coffee!…”

T. E. Pyrus

watch-Lamp

Another lamp at the bend towards the revived cathedral,
that one, down this elegant street,
with noble, white apartments on either side,
overflowing floral finery from every windowsill.
he watches over folk who wander by and comforts those who wander lost,
and those with mismatched clothes chasing down some dire fate.

Another cheery day runs past; a week follows with greater haste,
sunlit skies turn into shadow cushions for the lightning storms.
fresh white paint, lost and wanders down the painted top of the holy dome;
fresh wilted red petunia and thriving leaves quaver and glow
like fairy-lights and missing stars;
a child in drowned and heavy rags wanders in the darkened rain
parched for food and warmth and home.

Lamp wonders in puzzlement that on this bright, delightful night
pain still crushes loving souls, and sorrow takes their heart away,
and how they carry hopes along, veiling flaws from blinding light,
how they still know to love, and how laughter bubbles up inside;
the asphalt mirroring his shine is the darkest he has ever seen.

T. E. Pyrus