Dearly beloved,

We are gathered here to mourn this showy pretense we call a ‘New Year’, or ‘2018’, and celebrate with false euphoria, only seemingly increasing dopamine levels, exchanging ‘hugs’ or ‘hearts’ or ‘cuddles’ or ‘emoticons’ or ‘virtual E-Cards’ or ‘Hallmark Cards,’ the last, if you’re old-fashioned for a day, and decide that it’s worth the effort to drag yourself to that rustic bookstore that Kindle has replaced, and then go on and on about the smell of books, and the flavor of nouns and verbs jumping from the page straight to your heart or mind, tantalizing and enlightening you. So we, here, have enough experiential insight to know that it’s better to wish you a happy pre-New Year’s day and a tragic post-New Year’s day, because I guess we’re slightly sadistic watching you, using our mind’s eye to see you make your resolutions. I will…I will…I will…and then watch with a smug grin as each thing you tick off is stricken off the very next day, and you’re left hopeless. Then you’ll perhaps resort to stringing pills together like poetic alliteration (uncannily, unyieldingly, unbendingly) and think you’ll sleep easy, but wake up stupid and walk around in a stupor and perhaps never recover. Or, you’ll decide to take that machismo path; go to a bar, shoot some tequila and shake your head, and then walk straight out while people look at you in wonder increasing your false-ego, before heading for a gutter and puking your guts out. Or, you’ll feel the loneliness seeping from the sidewalks and buildings and the muted-ashen weather, and yes the inspiration for the last sentence is from a book by J.M. Coetzee called ‘Youth’, and you’ll find it on page 52 and the context is about a dreamer with vaguely erotic, unrealistic expectations, finding himself losing grip as life catches up. And yes, that’s just the micro-context, but the macro-context with the jargon of theory is best left to the critics. And yes, I’m making a point here: Do not quote without context. Anyhow, I’m going off tangent, and letting my straight path of consciousness take an unnecessary turn, and so, I’ll get back. You could also decide to take to cough syrup and an antispasmodic, the low-high, I think it’s called a ‘downer’, but what do I know, before you fight more muscle spasms and wheezing. Anyhow, whatever you do is your prerogative, we’re busy shedding fake-tears for you with all the fake-warmth the universe or cosmos can provide, and writing ‘2018’ on a ripped off sheet from a notebook and placing it in a miniature coffin, and burying it both literally and figuratively. Please do feel the need to share your experiences of plotting excuses, breaking promises, or other morbid realities with us. We are not the stars and cannot shine our light, or the split moon with its cadence, or the sun with its exotic warmth, but we’ll listen and switch off.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2017)

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i feel like an anachronistic,
anomaly trapped in
your cultural complications,
complexities,
apartheid of a deeper tone:
casteism, classification,
a maelström of labels,
tearing down the creaky
gate of the chapel, the shrine
of offerings, the emerald palace,
and individuality sacrificed
for a superficial semblance of
collectivism, and I won’t deny,
that some gatherings
with choirs, carols, chimes
seemingly invigorated me
until I realized that it’s (Hyper?)
Calvinistic
fundamentalism instigating,
unsettling, unnerving,
spewed using a Pharisaic
hypocrisy, but it’s the same…
the same…everywhere, everyday,
“Oh, he has a beard! He’s dangerous!”
Or, “Oh, so you’re divorced,” said
slyly with a lopsided repugnance, or,
“Remove your slippers please,” said
with a plastic smile, teeth like fucking
Chiclets, struggling, but betraying
that you’re beneath their dignity,
and now blood, while puppets,
charlatans dangling on
strings of political injustice,
the hounds from hell
without a leash
bark, bite, chew, chomp
no, I’m not from the West,
I’ve never been there,
I’m brown-skinned to the bone,
and I haven’t said it
directly because of
the other camp that pitches it tent
with crude sticks, and a saffron
too bright, checking if I smoke five…
ten…twenty cigarettes…
a little too conservatively,
and what of my poetic influences:
holding Olds’ eroticism and Pamuk’s
ode to Turkey together, a contrast,
a juxtaposition, in the same mind which
isn’t a matrix, but uncanny
perception?
what of the love I make to an older woman?
the neo-classical
shredding without a sitar I like?
and Snarky Puppy that’s playing
now, as I write these lines, odd-time,
no 4/4, free flow, rhyme with
no structured beat?
what of it? Some understand,
but most need a one-dimensional
(thought) dissection, which is
why I sometimes take my vacation,
because the peaks don’t speak,
squeak, seek and definitely
don’t sneak.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2017)

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I often think of
time, its paradoxes,
non-linearly, when I
think of you, broken,
fractured into shards,
before you evolved,
and then chastised,
castigated, criminally
misunderstood when
your mistakes taught
you, they say, you get
what you deserve, but
I ask if you deserve
what you get, I ask if
that pain inflicted, when
you’re writhing in the throes
of an abusive childhood
are the welts of a later
dysfunctionality, degeneracy,
youth flushed down a toilet,
for the mess we become,
perhaps that’s how time
thinks, a door finitude
cannot open, you came to me,
drunk, after he left you, and I
said no, but then came again,
alluring, attractive, regaining
control, and I’ll be vain enough
to say I looked great too, and must
poetry describe each hushed
cadence to the beauty of each
felt or unfelt touch, electrifying,
invigorating, revitalizing, but
then you flipped your coin and
left India, riddled with corruption,
and I’m stuck, sitting in this car,
punching poetry on my phone,
seeking, yearning for
a place, a space, with or without
you, away from the rhetoric and
political truth that slaps me everyday,
and I can’t help but think of you.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2017)

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When I last met sister,
her reality was a Kafkaesque,
disjointed, dysfunctional,
nightmare that gave me no
respite, rest, recess, I wanted
to let her pain sink in, empathize,
or at least sympathize, she lay on
a park bench, muttering, stuttering,
stammering, falling short,
“I’m…just…a…fucking…w..aste
of vo..lu..me,” she said Prozac
ridden, her hazy eyes,
speaking more than prescription,
“Turn…me…d..o..w..n, s..t..a..t..i..c,”
she said, but I couldn’t leave her
in that weedy reality, riddled with scraps,
paunched men staring at her
like she was a whore, ready to prance,
pounce, prey, and that litter stinks more
than the debris in the outskirts
of this seemingly cosmopolitan, dark
eye-liner, dark red lipshade façade
that only people who know India smell,
and you can call it a messiah complex,
a Jack Shephard need to save, and yes,
I have a similar tattoo on my arm, or a
pseudo-Samaritan need to fake-help,
or just love, but I picked her up, despite
my nonchalance which soon splintered
into tears, a heart of shattered stars,
carried her home, with my little
lean muscle, and told her
there is no mute, or a tuneless
song, but a new dawn, day, a spark,
a speck of hope, and she listened,
drifting in and out of consciousness,
but soon walked away, dissipating, dissolving,
disappearing again, and I hope with all
my heart that she found a place
with her name engraved on a
good man’s heart, and not on
a pothole reeking of addiction,
where she’ll be a target without
a need for an aim, and that shakes,
splits my core, with a jagged,
rough-edged knife, because I may
never be able to save her again.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2017)

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I need you to look for the deeper semantic,
beneath the minty sapphire peaks, layered and
layered in a soft mist, only hinting at you,
because even nature’s screen, that cascades
gently is palpable, but you’re (im)palpable,
and I say that because you’re heard, felt even
when you’re unheard, unfelt, and words
spoken on a page only allude to this connection
we’re feeling, leaving us reeling, so electrifying,
but words read slowly, meaningfully, quietly
with the cadence of the moonlight,
the rhythm of the skipping heart
will carry you to me
in a way that only (we) know

So, when doubts and uncertainties, leave you
thinking and thinking, unbearable, undying
know that I’m longing and longing for
all that’s implacable, insatiable, subdued,
distinct and I’m yearning and yearning
for more than something trite,
and I’m falling and falling for
what syllables on a page will never give
justice, and I’m loving and loving all that’s you.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2017)

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This sonnet is about you, you, and just (you)
you: (deeper) than externally-existent
though you sit cross-legged in that top and jean (blue)
(you) since you’ve taken over what’s resistant

and speckled it with all that you said today
and (you‘re) here, both now, after, and forever,
your silence (speaks) abating screams in your way
and you’ve cut through all that said never-ever

and there is no perhaps but a must, a will
to reach beyond w-o-r-d-s, written and within
to find, to know, to feel, and stay (loved) loving
both you and (you) and there’s no staying just still
because you stay (here) and (you) were the pin
this dartingly-direct heart needed knowing

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2017)

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It is en(coded) often 0-1
a binary thought (or not) don’t tell me!
Because I want out, so just make me see
beyond this mace, it weighs a bloody ton!

Sure you don’t have those Bette Davis Eyes
but that brown swirl is just as fetchingly (fair)
and that alluringly-attractive-soft hair
without desirably-deceiving lies

that say heart and light, but mean (break and night)
may-might, or wont-will find me in these spaces
I’ve stitched together with my grief and fault
but you and I will have to use (in)sight
to rip apart or pick-peck all those traces
that hinder us and find relief, (new) thought

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2017)

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