When I met you, looked deep into those black-velvety eyes,
I knew I found my muse, a Blue jay: ashen, muted grief,
steel-blue quietude, and a mosaic brilliance concealed
except when you glided with your poetry, the Cherry
Blossom tunnel I walked through all those years, stooped, no
longer seemed dreary, and as I read between the lines
you wrote, knowing you and finding me in those spaces,
I stopped and looked up at the steeple of the old Methodist
Chapel at twilight in that quiet cul-de-sac not far from
where we lived, and looked at creation waltzing
with stern architecture with her golden auburn feet,
like you’d put it, I stood there and waited for nightfall
and for once looked at the stars in that simple
yet transcendent way you saw them and I felt
the beauty only you could capture,
but life has this uncanny knack of separating us from the people
we hold most dear: often they move away slowly like
glaciers and that hurt ebbs with time, but sometimes they’re
taken from us in ways we never fathomed and that grief
flows through our veins like lava, burning with reminiscence:
an indomitable regret, I should have done more, maybe
just a gentle hold of that cascading brown hair, or a soft
kiss at dawn, reminding you that I loved you enough,
I should have read deeper and found that though your
verse reflected love, there were these undercurrents of
hopelessness threatening to drown you, I should have
fought harder, but these words are silent sighs now,
just wistful hope like the Minister of the church gave me
when he said, “God took her in that dark way,” but he
wasn’t there when I came home and saw that diagonal
slash, the red puddle that still stains sleepless nights,
he didn’t hear my shaking plea for grace, and he didn’t
see the last love poem I ever wrote fighting both volatile anger
and calamitous sorrow: those last scribbles on a sheet
in which I enclosed the ring I gave you, placing a
pearl back in an oyster shell, and laid it on the brown
coffin, trying futilely to let everything fade.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2017)

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What about him? I lived a normal life,
studying, paying the bills, and writing
sonnets about roses and transcendentalism,
but I remember him, years ago, clanks,
swigs and swooshes, an upper middle
class zero, despite the potential to be
an anti-hero, he knew too much, but saw
too little, under some sickening trance
distorting reason and intelligence,
and when the ex-wife said she
couldn’t handle it anymore, whirlwinds
of bitterness swept him away, more clanks,
swigs and swooshes, and then he came home
and looked in the mirror, and I guess that
clichéd stuff works sometimes, saw pouches
under his eyes, a beard that isn’t fashionable,
and realized that he had willingly forgotten
to remember the things that matter,
and so, he cut the long matted hair,
trimmed the beard, and somehow
used another whirlwind to
fight against the grain, how? I don’t know,
perhaps he wrote about it while he slowly
did it, or things clicked, anyway he met sister
who I never understood, and married her,
I guess they love each other in some
odd, unhealthy way, he doesn’t drink
anymore, he gives me a warm handshake,
looks me in the eye,
but walks with eyes cast down, and
when Timmy and Tommy, and Billy see him,
they don’t care anymore, “He’s drinking alone,
and that’s fine by us!” They say, and when the
old man who lives next door, and loves greeting,
loving and hugging everybody else around watches,
he directs his eyes away and says, “Ha! Hypocrite!”
But I’m learning things when he looks me in the
eye, I’ve realized that beneath something lifeless,
something else lies, I’ve never quite understood it,
it’s not protein shake grit, the guy is no longer 22!
But it’s some uncanny instinct, an absence of life making
him do things, but then again, what do I know,
and I’m not going to pry, like I said, I just write
sonnets about thorns, I mean roses, damn it!

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2017)

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When I wake up, something in the stuffy air, hates it,
whispers, “Rest for a while,” but then becomes
a maelström of chaotic motes as I walk, and I
have to trudge, and then pick up pace, and finally
run, I know I don’t do this alone, and I don’t know
what the future holds, and whether things fit together,
or fall apart, I’ll have to endure, but I’ll say this, you don’t
become what you say or think or feel, and there is
no cottage nestled in a reverie, but neither
is there a wasteland, litter and debris stays scattered
unless you pick it up and throw it in a trashcan,
and you can choose becoming the funeral poet,
blaming that coffin, as it slowly shuts, screaming,
while the gasoline that you pour on yourself
catches fire, and they’ll say, “Brilliant!” But I guess
that flawed Dane was right about them, and about other
things as well, but I haven’t gotten to reading him yet,
and I don’t care about coffins or skulls anymore,
I write this to the alcoholic, or degenerate, or whatever
it is they want to call them these days, and I’ll admit
that some might be too far gone, but a switch blade
cuts through a few others each time the liquor
burns through, or those images they watch haunt,
and tells them that it’s not the bottle, or the screen
(since all the women have left them)
but them, sure, the cougars love you, the rest say that what
you do is real, but they are twisted, and won’t stand
by you when your vision blurs, and you can’t even
get up anymore, art cannot affect life, and neither
can life distort art, and so try, and toss the bottle
against the hard wall, let it break, but don’t ever say,
“I did it!” If you succeed, there are people lying
on desert sands watching the sky for weird
explanations of things, others who think that
being cryogenically frozen, or inserting something
in their heads will give them answers, and trust
me, I’ve spoken to them, but let them stay
zombies with all the knowledge, but no insight,
but I guess you’ve seen enough now, to know
that some other hand sets fire to the
alcohol, the screen, and house you’re in,
and makes you walk (recovering), while it blazes.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2017)

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I think we’ve danced enough and a little too passionately on this burning floor. You came to me with the allure that no woman possesses, kissing me tenderly at first and then breathing me in. And I guess I gave in, because men aren’t born men, they rise and grow, or drown in the abyss of circumstance, flailing, trying to swim like children when they’re first thrown in a pool. But minutes turn into hours, and hours into days, and days into months, and months into years, and as I watched you, you grew more beautiful, fascinating and stayed young, but age and rage shook me with each glance and touch. And then something struck, breaking me out of obsolescence, and they can call it whatever they want, but it broke the statue I’d become, and helped me see that you were cheating on me with every other person around me, and using me in some uncanny way to do it. And now, there’s a girl who admits that she’s just as guilty, and work which demands bringing back the attention you sucked out of me, and so, I’m dumping you without a phone call or even a text. I’m sure you’ll try coming back now and then, wearing the most enchanting dress, but I think I’m sticking with her, and even if nothing goes my way, I’ll die trying, never touching you again, but at the hands of Fate who just might be more forgiving.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2017)

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Sitting next to you, you tell me how you feel,
and I don’t respond, I often think if you think
I’m hard, but I let doubt dissipate slowly,
because I’ve seen a depth,
uncanny, unyielding, unfettered that few
women like you possess, I know you
know that if I replied nonchalantly, then we’d
be twenty-two again, trapped in
a prison maze of a pharisaic liberal romance,
endlessly texting each other, feigning,
a picture perfect shattered mirror,
always expecting a reflection,
but receiving nothing, but I also know that if
I stayed silent, we would feel
older than we are, caught in a lotharic
conservative passion, mute, hidden
in a room, feeding off each other
like vultures, sure, we wound each other
by saying things, but then as guilt turns
my compass south, and I smoke, I see
you looking at me, not with pity, or
disgust, and I snub out my cigarette and
you walk up to me, and when you’re sick of
yourself, and stand on the terrace,
braving the downpour, letting it sink
through clothing and flesh, I don’t address
a star anymore, or personify the
golden tang, no, I feel the cold and
throw myself into your arms, I often
let thought turn into memory, or
memory into thought, and you don’t
console then, but put it bluntly, and
when I’m too steeped in my mistakes,
you let the cold floor remind me where
I am, and that’s why I let you
lean against that hard wall too,
sure I read those who
elevate love, and I admire them,
but a distance stays between me and the page,
the same distance between what we have
and what we get, and I don’t read those
who take a birds-eye view of things
anymore, combining atoms into molecules,
I now know that what’s always said is eventually
undone, and what’s too often done
lacks substance, but what’s sometimes done
with depth spells much more than allusion,
or metaphor, and I think you damn well know
by now that I love you, and you me.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2017)

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When you left me, I felt it to the bone, the echoes of
who we were (and what we’d become) screaming,
changing the contours of my face, making it as
cold as those stairs my bare feet trudged up,
I longed for solace, but breathed the pitiless
air of existence: trying, surviving, fading, dying,
I lay long while the clock ticked, but time inside
ceased, I reached out looking to touch you,
but my arm just met that bed, suddenly uncomfortable,
unbearable, uneasy, and I left myself there for days
or years, I don’t remember, but I’m glad because
memory often traps you in a paperweight of
havoc, a bitter mass swirling, I don’t know how I
cut through, but I think something faint glimmers
now and then, telling me, speaking of
an almost you and I, we reached for too
much and found nothing in the end, a slipshod,
moody romance driven by ideals and their
antithesis, I guess you were smart enough
to realize then, but I get it now, and I’ll never
love you again, but love you enough to
love her without promises or expectations,
or twisted half-lies, or broken half-truths,
just linear, accepting and forgiving,
giving and taking, and moving on, honest
and flawed enough to find togetherness.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2017)

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When you sent me that mail, asking me to help you
write better, I was still trapped in an
antechamber of naïvety, the false gold of youth
burning from the chandelier, making me see
things in color, I should have never responded
and let silence dismay, discomfit your little head, and make
it think, but pride fuels youth, and I don’t know
what you saw in those Hallmark Card poems
which were an imitation, because
I refused to draw from pain then, you
then told me about the other you contacted
who spat on everything he took, asking you
for something that cougars with their grayish
coats, trying to revive the lost flame in their eyes
would leap at, and trust me, you’ll find
tons of them chasing after the ‘gentlemen’
poets, and I said, don’t, but I think you
did it anyway, and maybe those pictures you sent now
haunt, or maybe you don’t care, later you cut me off,
after talking about a creative writing course
which thinking back sounds like group therapy,
because I think that if you really went through
that sort of thing, they would place you on
a red mat and dissect you with no pin,
scissors or needle, but with radical blades
even though they paradoxically say that
truth and meaning change with the ticking
of the digital watch, I look now and read these
school-girls trying to imitate a few of us,
talking about the corners the bullies of circumstance
pushed us into, and I won’t
give a fuck about them, until they take something
and fine-tune or change it, or find their own
pain, sometimes I can’t help but wonder how
they would look, with red tarmac skin, and
swollen bluish lips, with bloodshot eyes
and weight gain, losing all the seduction and
the masochism they dream about, we didn’t have
a choice, and so many dropped like flies swatted,
and what about you? Maybe you’re now spewing false
flame on a platform, almost breaking the mike-stand
while a small crowd roars, or you’re finally bleeding,
but the last I remember, you
were just a pretty girl with a plastic-cherub smile.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2017)

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