Youth

This is an image of a young man skateboarding. I've used it because my humorous science fiction post is about being forever young.

Yes, I found the small potent potion
of youth, hidden in a cave named,
‘Transcendence,’ and drank it in one
gulp, oh now, don’t complain, I hunted
for it, and did the hard labor, and so it was all
mine, all mine, I tell you! And it was just a
little green elixir, and so, why share?
Well, I thought that way, years ago,
and for a while it soothed, relieved,
took away stress and grief, and I grew a
beard for a year, and then a Mohawk
the next, and the women drifted in and
out like thoughts in the consciousness,
alluring, attractive, brilliant, bright,
exotic, winsome,
because I journeyed from land
to land, savoring the Boza of Turkey,
the Butter Chicken Masala of India,
and hell, even the Balut of Philippines
which only takes a little getting used
to just like Kopi Luwak,
I went skydiving, swam the
Pacific, attended fashionable parties
on Yachts, and slowly and delicately
feasted on molecular gastronomy
served in three Michelin Star restaurants,
I worked every job from sales clerk
to CEO for the hell of experience,
and boy, those were the days! But soon
television became virtual reality and then
holographic virtual reality and finally
modulated telepathy, signals given from
movie post-brains sitting in post-Hollywood,
and post-minds taking whatever they want to
with the option of cutting and editing
bits, and changing the soundtrack with a flick
of the post-consciousness,
using another signal from
the post-Music Industry, and all this
was too much for me, because the potion
only gave me youth and not evolution,
and so, they threatened me, labeling me
an oddity, and since they couldn’t kill me,
they exiled me to another cave called,
‘Depravity,’ the very word an anathema
to the post-human, and they gave me
my old gadgets which they’d reconstructed
using post-science, way too complicated and
intricate for me to comprehend, and they
called it ‘mercy’, even though they hate the
spoken word and language now rests in
a collective super-consciousness, and so I type,
hoping somebody will hear me, but
nobody does, and I guess I’ll just keep typing
and typing with existential questions
haunting me, and the angst of my mistakes
clawing at my heart, tearing it uncannily,
and  I know now that the word ‘youth’ doesn’t
just mean young, but also connotes
a forever quarter-life crisis,
a forever pain of existing, outside time,
figuratively and literally! And a forever
madness of the millennial even though
three thousand years have passed,
and the Gregorian calendar is now as
redundant as me!

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

A Rondeau for the ostracized

This is a black and white picture of a lonely man. I've used it because my poem talks about ostracism

Find me outside the temple gates on littered streets
Where beggars roam and hawkers sell their rancid meats
Where lepers and malingerers don’t have a chance
At ever swaying to the beat of triumph’s dance
Where you’ll find rickety old huts with threadbare sheets

Here succubi know men and the unclean beast eats
Here rustic thrones lie mangled with disfigured seats
Here beauty lies defeated by affliction’s lance
Outside the temple gates on littered streets

The vendor in his broken lodge sells hardened sweets
The dullard brags about unreasonable feats
The crone does everything expected to enhance
Distress and pain. Yes, you’ll find me in this expanse
Ensconced in halls of grief where the elite excrete
Outside the temple gates on littered streets

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

Life as I know it

This is a black and white picture of a depressed man's face. I've chosen it because my prose piece is a personal confessional about my struggles with depression.

I’m a broken man who leads a very lonely life. I don’t have any friends or ‘treasured acquaintances’ as Sheldon Cooper puts it. I’m highly introverted and gravely misunderstood. I have made my share of mistakes, and they haunt me like the spirits that made Legion break his chains and torture himself.

I’ve lost my sense of duty, and I’m as irresponsible as they come. Hours pass with me smoking cigarette after cigarette and listening to the same song on repeat. And when I’m feeling a little determined, I try losing myself to a book. But there are days when I can’t read, let alone write. I feel numb then and try to stimulate my mind with a lot of caffeine; hoping some feral burst of inspiration will strike me, but it rarely works. And I’m left like a defeated prisoner, bound up and tossed in a cage; looking down at the grime and piss.

Once, I was idealistic and believed that I’d hold the stars in my hand like the Son of man. But fate dealt with me harshly and made me realize that I’m dust and ashes, and nothing more. He cruelly stomped on my feet as I chased the will-o’-the-wisp, taking from me the people and dreams I held close to my heart. He made me live out a reality that I once mocked – nurses in pristine white gowns injecting me with tranquilizers, doctors plotting to throw me in a halfway home and over-medicating me like I was a lab rat, and even my parents looking away with contempt.

Then, I looked for solace in religion. I went through mad spiritual phases in my life where I thought serving God is the only purpose in life. But religion only accentuated my grief. I found more terror in faith than love. I had horrific visions which led to more white-gowned nurses and doctors.

Finally, I accepted my circumstances and walked away from wanting validation from people, and no wrath from God. I can’t say that I’ve gained closure, and I doubt I ever will, but for whatever it’s worth I’ve decided to exist as long as there is breath in me; not caring if I’ll fade like discarded Polaroid over time or if I’ll find myself framed on someone’s mantelshelf.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

We

This is a surreal image of a couple looking at each other. I've used it because to me it represents not being in love but still being together which is the theme of my prose poem.

I don’t know when we fell out of love. Did it happen gradually like a candle melting or did it occur abruptly like a glass plate slipping from a waiter’s fingers and shattering into pieces on the floor?

I remember when we were swashbuckling romantics who walked under the distress of noon, and the august, solemn canopy of Autumn, hand in hand, driven by quixotic passion and a raw lust for life.

Maybe it’s that very idealism that killed us. Maybe we woke up one night and realized that though we shared the same bed and lived under the same roof, we were just two extremely different people who could only find themselves if they went their separate ways.

Or maybe there was an incandescent spark once but like a firecracker that becomes ash and debris after an exuberant display; we became redundant – just immature children make-believing that we were swimming in a sea of turquoise when all there was, was an unfruitful land with skulls and bones.

But what bothers me is that we’re still together, not out of necessity or the need for solace, but out of subconscious choice. We suppress the truth that insists that we let go and bind each other with toxic threads of unity for the sake of it.

We’ve known charm and Chernobyl. We’ve seen thriving forests with wood nymphs and the seventh stage of the abyss. We’ve felt dashes of joy and ebullitions of sorrow. We’ve held love and hate.

But what saddens me is that all we’ve known, seen, felt and held hasn’t given us the will to walk away and plunge ourselves in the unknown where we’ll find insight and freedom.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

A villanelle for the broken

This is a picture of a sorrowed man praying. I've chosen this image because it augments my villanelle which is about grief

If life has meaning, then do tell me what it is
Do whispers of distress become a din of ache
Or do we wait in sorrow for outstanding bliss?

I’ve walked beside these rusty tracks, I’ve heard the hiss
Of broken trains. I’ve frequented regret’s long wake
If life has meaning, then do tell me what it is

Is it a puzzle that needs solving? A grim quiz?
Or do we conjure up lies for intention’s sake?
Or do we wait in sorrow for outstanding bliss?

I’ve heard the wails of pain from the perturbed abyss
I’ve seen the donjon crumble and I’ve felt the quake
If life has meaning, then do tell me what it is

Is it wild joy that’s toasted with champagne and fizz?
A guileless thrill for skewers, well-done steak, and cake?
Or do we wait in sorrow for outstanding bliss?

I’ve held her, and I’ve lost her like a bygone kiss
I’ve felt my torment echo and my stronghold shake
If life has meaning, then my grief is all there is
Or do I wait in sorrow for outstanding bliss?

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

On chimeras and a constant need for validation in our postmodern age

This is a picture of a man silhouetted against a matrix. It represents our digital, postmodern age which revolves around technology.

You sometimes encounter people in life who want you to love them intimately. They’re literally obsessed with you and try forcing their perceptions of intimacy on you. They’re not exactly stalkers but aren’t a far cry from that breed. Now, I understand unrequited love and the need for someone to reciprocate your feelings, but if you truly love someone, you’ll let them go. You’ll never force your delusions on them because no two people think alike.

Yes, there may be a collective consciousness, but I don’t believe in the concept of soul mates or two people sharing one soul. A collective consciousness is something more genetic and has to do with traits acquired and personality, but ultimately you are your being.

People fail to recognize this aspect of liberating individuality and seem to constantly seek the approval of the ‘other’. They have ideas of the other which are often so different from who the other really is. They have dreams and misconceptions that often lead to such acts of foolishness. We live in a cyber, postmodern reality where a few messages sent, or a few Tinder dates make ‘together forever.’

Love requires commitment. Love isn’t judgment. Love isn’t falling for fancies. Love has a deep emotional aspect to it but that’s something that one acquires after years of actual togetherness and it’s not the puppy emotional, fake, cyber simulacrum.

I have found strange people entering and exiting my life. They come in like hurricanes of trust and promises and exit like whirlwinds of bitterness all because they expected something that I didn’t want to give them. I can offer friendship, loyalty, and trust if people give me the same, but I cannot offer love that satiates your chimeras. People don’t understand that I’m not hardwired to love them like their mind tells them. Your mind tells you many things and you feel myriad things but most of what you’re going through is self-indulgence. Pure selfish, hedonistic anti-altruism and when I don’t give you what you seek, your bitterness erupts like a pustule and those warm eyes turn into icy glares meant to pierce or wound.

People go to insane heights when their delusion meets the hard ground. You’ll find them unfriending people on Social Media, engaging in gossip and projecting their anger and insecurities onto the person they perceive insulted them. They dig into their pasts and scrape old wounds until they’re bleeding again and play the blame game. The person of adoration becomes an object that needs destruction.

Sometimes the madness descends to utter incoherence. ‘How could you have done that?’ You’ll find them screaming when you did nothing wrong. I don’t love you and neither did you love me. You worshiped me, and I’m not flattered. I need you to move on. So, please get over it. That’s the only response you can give people like that and if you don’t want a direct confrontation, just cut ties. Trust me, any vicious cycle, even if a person has faced similar circumstances in their life but deludes themselves into thinking that creates a special unity, needs a severing.

What is with this age and the need for constant reinforcement? I guess social media has played a destructive role in fueling our narcissistic egos. It’s all about the likes, comments, and shares and it doesn’t matter if you’re happy or depressed. If you’re happy, you’ll resort to posting picture perfect selfies and gloat as the likes and comments flow. And then there’s the sorrowed narcissist. The person who uses depression, prior abuse, and the ostracism or bullying they’ve faced to get the same likes. This person doesn’t usually use Facebook but uses blogging platforms to achieve the same goal – an ephemeral reinforcement.

I think we’ve forgotten how to have a good time. We don’t even read paperbacks anymore. We prefer shortening our attention spans by spending time reading blog after blog, hoping someone will find our blogs and like or comment. And a comment; something said by a stranger we know nothing about makes our day. And if it isn’t repeated the next day, we feel insecure and lost.

My friends, this is shallow living. But getting out of this needs suffering. You need to suffer pangs of loneliness to know solitude. You need to suffer failure to know that victory isn’t everything and this is a gradual change or an unraveling of sorts.

Having said this, I’m guilty of so many things I’ve pointed out and criticized, but I’m slowly realizing that this cyber existence isn’t worth it. Now I’m not advocating a Luddite puritanism but a balance or a middle road like the Buddha put it – neither giving in to too much or too little.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

Turn the other cheek

This is a picture of a heart shaped red tree with red leaves surrounding it. My piece is a darkly humorous piece about the nature of love and hence the image.

Men with peace signs: We only want love.

Intelligent woman: So do something about it! There are two groups vehemently arguing.

Men with peace signs: We only want love.

Intelligent woman: Listen, we can stop this before things get messy. But I need your help. I’ll do the talking, and since you’re strong men, you can come between them if it comes to push and shove.

Men with peace signs: We only want love.

Intelligent woman: Stop saying that. You sound like the sheep in Orwell’s Animal Farm or poor line repetition in a bad villanelle.

Men with peace signs: We only want love.

Intelligent woman: See extreme pacifism doesn’t solve anything. I keep a gun in my pocket for self-defense. I get that you want love, but love is a verb. We have to do something.

Men with peace signs: We only want love.

Intelligent woman: Okay, I’ll stop being eloquent. Here’s a simple analogy: Say you have a flat tire; won’t you fix it? Look they’re shoving each other already. Please, I beg you. I’m only 5’4, and those guys look like thugs.

Men with peace signs: We only want love.

Intelligent woman: Okay, say I shot into the air, it’ll draw attention, but I’ll need your help. Will you help?

Men with peace signs: We only want love.

Intelligent woman: Look! They’re increasing in number. I think it’s some religious argument or something. We have to intervene!

Men with peace signs: We only want love.

Intelligent woman: Look! They’re punching each other now, and the number has increased. We have to stop this now!

Men with peace signs: We only want love.

Intelligent woman: Murder! Murder! It’s too late! It’s too damn late!

Men with peace signs: We only want love.

Intelligent woman: Stop saying that! Look what we’ve caused. I don’t think I can live with myself.

Men with peace signs: We only want love.

Intelligent woman: Say that once more, and I swear I’ll shoot you in the head.

Men with peace signs: We only want love.

Intelligent woman: Oh, so you want love, huh, you avant-garde moralists. I’ll show you what hate is if you do not stop! Say it, go on.

Men with peace signs: We only want love.

*Gunshots heard*

Judge: What you did was heinous and disgusting. You killed two innocent, educated men holding peace signs. They were only doing their best to protest against that horrible religious conflict that took place in front of you. Eight violent morons killed themselves. But two saints were martyred. You are as bad as Nero who burned people like these men. You will be shown those bloodstained peace signs in prison every day. And fortunately, in this state, we still use the electric chair. I will take pleasure in watching you burn, and hope there is a literal hell where you’ll burn some more. Death penalty! Death penalty! Death penalty!

Orange prison-robed woman: Please no! Please, I beg you! I only want love.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

Lucidity

This is a picture of water. I've used it to depict clarity because my piece is about my muse freeing me from all unnerving thoughts.

Have I told you that you’re my lucidity, the clearest thought that settles somewhere in the back of a shadowed mind, and slowly, gently, inch by inch lights it up, until I’m smiling again though my eyes are bloodshot and I’m staring like someone catatonic, looking through the phases of my life and time? You may not notice the smile, but it’s there, and the clarity your love gives me, even if it’s for a few moments is like a beautiful minimalistic piano piece by Einuadi or Allevi. It’s serene and absorbs me with a faint glow that slowly rises like a crescendo, building up very steadily and subconsciously, and it’s more than a jaded heart can hope for. I’ve walked the dark alleyways of littered purgatory, hoping for a cleansing from madness that possesses, but I only lose my way, and I’m trapped in a vicious circle, walking the same places over and again, the downpour chastising me, but then with soaked clothes, I remember that’s there more than a frightening, agonizing status quo. I remember you, and your grace and steel-blue strength: a tranquil yet sturdy resolve, your brown eyes possessing an allure that’s both subtly sensual and fiery, your way of handling the most complex situations with the simplest intuition, your beauty that draws me away from every other woman I’ve known, and I make my way home – earthy, with clothes clinging to me, feverish from the cold, and you pull me to you, despite it all, and kiss me ever so gently, and then this house we live in transforms – the muted bulbs become chandeliers, the worn couches become luxurious, the hard bed becomes soft, and the dust and echoes of trauma dissipate, and when we make love, it’s the apex of a together actualization, it’s the epitome of a together transcendence, because it’s deeper than lust. It’s a bond we’ve forged over years of an almost us, to finally taking the step and constructing our architecture that’s standing despite each storm of tribulation, despite each fire of unresolved hurt and bitterness, and I know we’ll heal, not because of the time we spend together, but because of what we share.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

An old friend

This is a picture of an aristocrat. I've used it to lampoon elitism. My post is about pseudo-intellectuals and poets who use verbose writing to convey simple points. The image complements it.

An old friend or one who says he’s one,
tells me he despises ‘high’ metaphor –
as if metaphor were the Tower of Babel,
which one climbs and climbs, until
everything disintegrates into talking in
tongues – but he writes with such verbosity,
that I need a Thesaurus to only figure out that
what’s going on is going on.

And that’s not the point of poetry is it?
Ask me to talk of loneliness, and I’ll
give you a demonic room with crumbling wallpaper,
torn chintz grey curtains, and threadbare couches
with rusty nails sticking out, the dust asphyxiating
you while the television’s grainy screened, but people
around you are paradoxically dancing and reveling in
the same grimy place, smoking their joints, carousing,
cuddling and kissing, perhaps even fucking, oblivious
to glances from dilated pupils.

Ask him to talk of loneliness and he’ll say,
“It’s a cacophonous Tophet where rumination
deliquesces and the recherché panache becomes
quotidian utilitarianism,” which basically means
that it’s a shit hole that deprives you of thought.

Well, he secretly admires me, and I, the size of
his lexicon, and we don’t need to talk about Autumn
or the Riemann hypothesis to figure that out.

I’ll smoke my cigarettes and drink my coffee
and he can sip his sherry while he’s eating caviar.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

The five stages of Grief with Binky the Clown

This is an image of a sad clown. I've used it because my post is about a heartbroken clown forced into self-deprecating work because of fate.

 

My job’s to make you laugh, to give you joy and to coat your hearts with effervescence, and that I’ll do as long as I’m standing on this stage. I lost my second wife a month ago, and since then I’ve spiraled into alcoholism. But I guess it’s better than shooting crap into my arm. I’ve lost my day job selling popcorn at the fair, and I’m struggling to foot the bills, to get by. But enough self-loathing. I’m here to make you laugh, to help take your minds off the stress of actuality.

You come here – every Friday night – after paying the cheap five-dollar entrance because you long for entertainment. You crave for more than sleazy motel room sex with hookers. You want me to make you laugh and then satiate your vulgar appetites. But all I have…okay enough of that!

You’re here now, and it’s time to make you laugh. I’ve worn the green nose and the green lipstick because that’s what Mayor Green favors. He won the lottery this week, and I was mad when the owner said, “It’s green today Binky.” I mean, green! Fuck man! You’re one egotistical prick, aren’t you? Even after all these years of snorting J&J’s Big C, some shred of malicious ego makes you want to humiliate me. Do I have to yell, “Green!” too while you proceed with whatever the fuck you plan on doing with me tonight. Then again, you’re entitled to your fetishes, and I knew what I was getting into when I signed up for this. So, I’m sorry sir. Please take no offense. And please don’t report me. This is all I have left!

I wish my wife, Molly the mime could pull me out of this rut I’m in. But she’s in heaven now, finally speaking, saying, “You’ll get through this Binky! Hang in there!” If only I could have prevented the accident, but we’re a circus, and we take risks. But still, I wish I was powerful and in command. I would have saved her then.

My job is to make you laugh, but I don’t have it in me. I’m exhausted and riddled with the most painful grief. So, take your turns, sirs. Let’s skip this showy sick display and get on with it. Snort your coke off my nose until your mustaches turn white and proceed with all the nasty shit you want to do. I’m all yours. Haha. Haha. Molly! Oh, Molly!

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

Binky the Clown