I think of her

I thought of her when that romantic cottage
with its burgundy chimney, walls of stone
and dreamy garden leading up to a calm,
comforting, consoling canal became a favela:
a machine gun, overpopulated, tumbledown
town with littered streets, giving a sojourner
no succour.

I thought of her when post-rock songs by Mogwai,
If These Trees Could Talk, Explosions in the Sky and
Mono infused with a profound sadness became a
jarring, atonal cacophony – a noisy Tophet
where the off-tune screeching were the
scorching flames and the pneumatic drill reverberating
was the worm that didn’t stop gnawing.

I thought of her when Biblical verses didn’t speak anymore
and my reading of the Psalms turned against me,
making me David’s foe, and each Proverb stung
like a wasp and though I tried, tired and browbeaten,
I found no aesthetic, celestial grasp and needed
love; not validation, just love.

I thought of her when the temperature in my room
dropped, and I covered myself with bed sheets and
wore sweaters, but still shivered, my teeth chattering,
and no cigarette or swig of The Old Admiral helped,
and yesterday’s warmth seemed a sepia memory
dissolving in the acid of self-loathing and scruples,
condemning me, chastising me and making
me wage war on myself, a personality split right
in the centre with an axe of false guilt.

I thought of her when I sat among friends in some
noisy bar, the reckless revelry never appealing, the
gossip and the boisterous joking so repulsive,
and though they got me to dance, all I saw
were the faces of demons, ready to devour in their
intoxicated false fire, the clinking of the glasses
and the ‘Hurrahs!’ Only betraying a monochromatic
banality beneath a gaudy façade of togetherness.

I thought of her when I scored that goal on the football
field, a step-over and a low, left footed drive, an ephemeral
thrill, a false euphoria, a momentary increase of dopamine
levels that left just as quickly as it arrived, like the breeze,
and I didn’t bother celebrating or even acknowledging
pats on the back which became curses yelled the very next
day when nothing I did worked, and I went home and
tossed the studs in the corner of the attic, falsely
vowing to never play again.

I thought of her when I kissed another, she smiled and so
did I, but my thoughts were elsewhere, a mistake, a foolish
thrill that loneliness made me seek, just like it
often makes me want to jump off this apartment
complex. We closed our eyes and it seemed perfect,
just like things masquerade wearing gilded crowns
adorned with gemstones, when they’re just thorns
stitched together haphazardly.

I thought of her when I read fantasy books, placing
myself in the protagonist’s shoes and her the other
who makes him whole, fighting demons using wards,
or drawing from the source and destroying the
forsaken, or just warring using sword and shield, a mere
mortal with her immortal talisman, until I found
myself on an ashen road purged of both magic
and technology, never-ending, a dystopian
journey, the very antithesis of life.

I think of her even now, though my thoughts don’t
reach her and I’ve kept all the poems I wrote her
locked, and plan on never re-reading them, though
I look at the crossroads outside my apartment complex
at night, the streets lit by dim streetlights and the
blaring headlights of speeding cars, each man or
woman journeying, traveling, traversing and
lost in transition.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)

Protected by Copyscape

Destiny

Some find the road daunting like a wraith of asphalt,
the potholes like trenches of fire and brimstone,
they neither see the glinting horizon, or breathe
the scent of hope, their eyes fixed on planting feet
firmly, hoping some miasma of death, rising from
the cracked surface won’t rise, threaten and
engulf, empower, entangle them and drag them
into the abyss with a net of malice, but forget
that they’re already in the pit and they’ve
only deluded themselves into thinking that
they walk.

Some rush, thinking the horizon is just footfalls
away and amaze others, leaping hurdle after hurdle,
before striking one and breaking bone and tearing
ligaments and then in pain, howling, screaming,
shrieking, they cry to the gods who watched them
with amusement, knowing exactly when they’ll
shatter like fragile glassware falling from a cabinet
to the dusty floor.

Some tread carefully but never lose sight of
the horizon, amazing the gods more than men,
enduring, and slowly weaving their way,
both realistic and abstract, both bold
and vulnerable, fighting with burnished breastplates
when asked to, but tossing it aside and
letting the hard rain of refinement soak their naked skin
when needed, and for them the path
becomes lucid, brighter and they enjoy the
walk despite the hardships and trial and
tribulation before finally touching the
horizon, and blazing with the scintillating
glow of redemption.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)

Protected by Copyscape

Things come undone

I loved you enough to let you go,
and you’ll never know that I both
loved and lost, that I strolled idyllic
fields of gold, hand in hand with you,
imagination fueling hope like the
second wind a pugilist receives,
when he gives it all and still
lies as the referee counts to eight,
only to get up again, wobbly but
suddenly rejuvenated, renewed in
heart and spirit because he has
nothing to lose, that I wept alone
for being so cowardly and unable to
tell you how I truly felt when you
had it in you to reciprocate,
before we walked fucked up paths
separately, me seeking the ephemeral
fake glowing soul that pill popping
gives, and you losing
people you loved, and looking on,
with dry tears and a liquid nitrogen
heart. I guess fate never made us truly
seek each other then, and it’s too late now.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)

Protected by Copyscape

Humpty

Humpty sat in the refrigerator pondering and pondering, which is pretty much what eggs did. They were deep existential thinkers contemplating on the nature of good and evil, the nature of man and man’s relationship to them. He pondered on metaphysical things like the nature of the eternal yolk, the finitude of the shell and predestination. Why do some eggs hatch and become chickens when the rest are refrigerated? Why am I here? What is the meaning of all this? What does tomorrow bring? He thought. He never quite understood man. He very carefully and gently caressed eggs and placed them in the refrigerator with utmost care, but he’d seen another side. Another vicious side that another poor egg who was now either in heaven, hell, purgatory or the void experienced. Man, just picked him up and smashed him over a woman’s head in rage. He watched in horror as shell broke and yolk spilt. How could man who’s capable of such tenderness do something so vicious? Did man have two yolks, one good and another bad? Or did he only mask his depravity? Humpty thought, and wished he could express these feelings but he had no outlet and he felt uneasy and discomforted when the refrigerator door opened, and a child looked at him before picking him up. Humpty remained mute but his yolk froze. Terror gripped him. It was time to finally experience things and face truth or judgement and he didn’t know what lay before him. He couldn’t express his sheer agony and inner torture. A whirlwind of emotion gripped his yolk. Help! Save! Redeem! He desperately thought when the child suddenly brought Humpty out of the house and he saw the light. The sun. Now, he had some innate knowledge of it but had never truly seen it. He felt warm, comforted and consoled when he was placed on a wall. He was ecstatic. He had inner peace. So, it’s redemption after all, he thought and lost himself to the moment when he felt a slight nudge. He suddenly found himself losing consciousness and experienced severe nausea, and he felt the urge to vomit but couldn’t. He was falling. ‘Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall. Humpty Dumpty had a great fall,’ he heard the child sing. The agony was excruciating. And then he crashed against the cobbles and felt his shell cracking: a small crack before a split and his yolk oozed out. What did I ever do to you? Why do you hurt me? Aaargh! It stings! It burns! I can’t handle it! The pain! Please make it stop! He thought, still unable to express himself. And then he saw the murderous child wearing a crown and carrying a toy horse. He crushed Humpty some more with the horse. Oh God! No! Please! Don’t! He thought. The child then squashed Humpty into pulp, letting the yolk run on his hands. Make it stop! Make this murderous bastard quit! Humpty thought and then he heard a voice of a demon when the child shrieked with glee, saying, ‘All the King’s horses and the King’s men. Couldn’t put Humpty together again.’ And everything faded to black just after Humpty realized that existence is meaningless and embraced nihilism.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)

Protected by Copyscape

Change

Yes, I’m an alcoholic and a chain smoker,
I drink to feel because within I’m parched,
arid, airless and if I don’t I’m the archetypal
modern man, constantly downloading Facebook
comments and Instagram likes to my heart,
incessantly uploading lines as bland as
the soup served in a homeless shelter,
forever falsely reinforcing myself by seeking
a vicious circle validation from popular
people who don’t care,
always lost in emotional transition and
translating my core to hate poetry.
I’ve judged people, I’ve left spiteful, malicious
comments on their blog posts, I’ve let paranoia
seize me and transform me into a psychotic,
poetic boogeyman of sorts, with crimson eyes
without irises, a face tattooed with blade marks
like absent-spirits, and devilish horns splitting my skull
and giving me a demoniac’s anti-halo. But I’m done
using hate to fight hate, using anger to fight ostracism,
using rage to fight cruelty. I’m losing my Messiah
complex because I’m no holy man or saviour for the
broken. And these lines echo my repentance and remorse
from a soul that I thought a black hole completely replaced.
And if you take them, thank you. But if
you wish to still propagate vehement rhetoric
I can’t stop you and I won’t. I’ll just write about
the people who matter and express myself
positively. There’s no war here friend and I apologize
for starting one. There are two sides to a coin
but I don’t expect you to perceive that. So, flip it
and let it land on your palm and do whatever you must
depending on your call. It’s your prerogative to hate, your
entitlement to destroy, but what’s said on a computer
screen just stays there, and I’ve learned that now
the hard way and I plan on finding the light because
I’m finally calm, controlled and cool. I’ve discarded negative
energy – both people and lines written, and I can only say
that if my lines or messages which are often presented as half-truths
provoke people so much, then I can alter them and touch people
just as much.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)

Protected by Copyscape

Difference makers

My brother, you were a
to-the-bone, raw expressionist,
and you could articulate each iota of emotion
that coursed through you like river rapids,
the deluge, the storm and the breeze,
I felt it all as I read line after line,
your fury, your deep-seated pain and
the love you had for the women in your life,
a symphony of pure, unmitigated feeling,
leaving minds reeling, thoughts flooding,
writing with blood and fire, pouring
your heart out and leaving the ring
on your feet regardless of if you won or lost
every time you fought using your lines as gloves.
Now, I’ve read the greats, the rich symbolism
of Eliot, the metaphysical Donne, the
off-putting imagery of Olds, the celestial,
futuristic, Bowie loving Tracy K. Smith,
the proverbial Gibran, the mystical Rumi,
the eloquent, sensual Neruda and the
violent, experimental Ocean Vuong,
but they only made me think, helped me tap
into metaphor and weave a spider web
of consciousness, the spider my fears,
the trapped and tortured insect me,
but you taught me to feel these lines
I write, to scream in silence when my
thoughts slip, moods flip and I completely
lose my grip of this ramshackle sanity,
the smashed glass of insanity,
splintering, splitting, severing,
and I’m looking at a shattered mirror,
fractured reflection of myself
with a bottle in my hand,
and I know how hard it is,
how frightening it is.
I remember your poem Jumper
and I have those urges too,
to defy gravity with one final act
of expression, and break my skull
and spine on a car below, but
I also remember you wishing to
leave the scars behind and find
light because the residual pain was
gradually declining, dwindling, diminishing,
and that was your last poem,
among the few you didn’t delete
that you left and walked away,
and it’s been 3 years. Now I don’t know
what happened to you or where you are
and I only call you my brother not because
I knew you well – in fact I hardly knew you –
but because you shaped
my themes and taught me to dig deep
and draw and draw until I fall face down
on my lines, the syllables gently grazing me,
saying, ‘Rest. Enough.’ Thank you, my friend.
We often don’t know the difference we make
in another’s life and here’s letting you know
that you made a difference in mine.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)

Protected by Copyscape

Fighting together

Yesterday I looked up and saw the ceiling
fan circling and circling, and I thought
I could which soon became an I should, and tortured,
torn asunder by whirlwinds of pandemonium
and bedlam, I sought validation and support,
but all I saw were crumbling walls with punctured
wallpaper like veins clipped off. I spoke to
person after person, calling and crying,
screaming and shrieking, a bereaved atonal
cacophony unheard, muted and muffled.
Predators lurked in the shadows masquerading
as beggars with bowls, making you feel for them,
before they suddenly seize and destroy you.
Murderers lurked dressed liked princesses,
making you want to pick up the bag they
purposely drop, before they gouge your eyes
out. Betrayers lurked, calling you a friend,
before stabbing you in the front.
Acquaintances ghosted, and occultists
cast spells, prophesying when they weren’t
given the gift. ‘Kind’ people turned against
you asking you to write verses about your
pain, so that they get the thrill of watching you suffer.
But as I rushed through the smog and the acidic
burn, howling, bellowing and bawling, I found
three people like the Maji themselves following
a star of hope. And one of them is you,
you’ve given me a friendship that I cherish,
you’ve taught me to fight my weaknesses and flaws,
you’ve respected me despite knowing my
terrible, terrifying past,
you’ve shown me a kindness that helps
me see, though everything is blurry
and I’m falling…fainting…fading…
and I can’t respect you enough or thank
you enough for just being there. Now in life
sordid path leads to sordid path,
and crimson tainted leaves coat these
desert places, but knowing that someone
fights together with you, knowing similar
trials, having made similar mistakes and
still pushing forward makes me believe that
I’m not alone and I don’t have to carry
this oakwood crucifix – the yellows and browns
representing the inner jaundice and paranoia –
alone. So, come tomorrow whether I write again
or not, whether I walk away and find redemption in
the mountains or not, these lines are for you
and here to stay.

For Emily, for being a true friend and such a beautiful person.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)

Protected by Copyscape