What do we dream about when we lose our wills to dream?
A gulag? An oubliette? A concentration camp?
They say time heals all wounds, but what is time,
but an insect keeping count while it scuttles over the surface
of rough, dangerous fate?
I’ve thought about you and I;
about how we found ourselves in the brilliance of song and rhythm:
the violin and the piano reaching a feverish pitch,
and inundating the room with light and fortune,
but isn’t everything just a chase after the breeze like
Solomon’s tome says?
Look at us now; look at the absurdity of our landscape—
so surreal and so polluted
like a city with pink neon signs obscured by the smog—
while we trample through soiled streets hoping
someone will give us a place to stay
and we won’t be itinerants anymore.
Preachers scream from the pulpit,
showmen trade in theatrics,
but what becomes of the broken?
What becomes of those whose life on earth is a slow
descent into the abyss, where the howling madmen
and the raging reprobates try rising above oceans of despair in vain?
An off-key guitar strums in the distance,
and some eerie aura envelops it;
this is our fate, my dear,
this is our final place,
among the mongrels and the sewer rats,
a spiritual Chernobyl,
bodies on the ground given to vultures and other scavengers,
so, laugh, drink and be merry even if you can’t
because we die tomorrow,
because nothing is worth the effort,
because the race isn’t worth running,
and Ithaca is a myth
just like self-transcendence and men becoming gods,
everything is transient,
hear ye, hear ye, hear the nihilist’s call, the owl’s hoot, the hyena’s laugh,
listen if you have ears to the message of violence,
see if you have eyes; see the carnage of the saints,
the destruction the righteous leave behind,
hear ye, hear ye, dear sinners, hear the weird news,
Calvin is in heaven while Servetus still burns for writing a few
We persecute the sick; we rebel against the sorrowed;
we kill off the oppressed; all in the name of God,
and our reward is bliss and understanding for all eternity,
love and beauty forever and ever.
© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)