Controversy

I never asked for controversy,
some unseen hand thrust it on me
just like some unseen hand scribbled the
Ten Commandments on tablets
and thrust it on early Israel

but controversy begets art
who slaps you when he’s one,
hits you with uppercuts when he’s two,
head kicks you when he’s three,
anaconda chokes you when he’s four

and I guess I’ve seen enough to know
that love poems are sermons and those
‘awws’ are paws, and an emoticon screams,
that nature reaches orgasms using
clever subtle analogy, that esoteric
verse romanticizes, and romantics
are cryptic Batemans

so, I’ll stay tortured, reaching, searching,
yearning, longing while poetic fundamentalists
misconstrue my lines, write scathing remarks
seething with hatred,
and I’ll let all the flooding, sweeping, overwhelming,
overrunning piss of malice sweep me away,
and crash against the rocks on which a make-shift,
shabby Lorelei who screams, ‘you wronged me!’ and
can’t do anything other than playing the blame game sits.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)

A waste of time

This is a picture of nuclear waste. I've chosen it to represent doomed relationships that people cling on to for the sake of not being lonely.

So, I had a girlfriend nine years ago,
and we were the antithesis of ‘soul-mates,’
or ’till death do us apart,’ but we kept the
relationship going, adding layers and layers
of toxicity to a nuclear waste dump.

We’d say, ‘I love you so much!’ though we didn’t mean a word,
and we’d indulge in so much PDA
that made people think we were fucking like rabbits.

But the crazy part of the affair was that we never had sex,
sure, we got naked and explored each other’s bodies,
but we just never got down to the act.

I guess the truth is that I wasn’t physically attracted to her
and she thought I was prude pretending to be a player (which
was true then.)

Anyhow, the question I’m trying to ask is why
do we let ourselves get trapped in Sicilian Bulls of
doomed relationships, heated by the fires
of insecurities or false affection?

All those relationships are, are rose petals covering flick-knives
or a silky velvet drape covering a corpse
or a poorly written book that becomes a bestseller
or a shitty soap opera that manages to run for ten seasons.

It’s bullshit, and after I finally got a hold of myself, I broke up
and slept properly without hearing the phone ring at twelve in
the morning.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)

The pugilist

Does fate enshrine a few in a temple of fame while discarding others more worthy?

I don’t know how I’m world champion with a 40-4 record,
my punches are mosquito stings,
my dance is an unhinged waltz, missing beat, and tempo
my flabby arms and swing are an ode to the spastic,
my jaw shatters into fragments of counterfeit ivory
when they strike me hard,
and I’m scared, deer-spotting-leopard or ostrich-spotting-lion
scared,
I have no personality and cannot sell a fight,
my insults lack a preacher’s fire and brimstone,
my eyes tear up after a stare-down when I’m backstage,
away from sulfurous reporters with caustic spittle,
my paunch is repulsive, white dough that I massage
before dropping a fart,
my nose is a smashed in, little car wreck that I never bothered to fix
I don’t know how I’m world champion with a 40-4 record.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)

For Real Toads and dVerse 

A hard knock life

This is a picture of wood burning. It represents a difficult life, trial and agony.

Whoever said, ‘Life is beautiful,’ was either caught up in grandiose delusions like green sunsets or sought solace in excruciating pain and became a tragic optimist of sorts.

Life isn’t beautiful, and it’s not fair. It’s bleak like an arid landscape devoid of any vegetation and tortured by the spiteful sun. It roars with pain like the waves that thrash madly and then sweep away the shore in their angst. It agonizes you like a throbbing hangover after a night spent drinking a bottle of rum. It tortures you emotionally and physically like a man with cancer who also happens to be on death row.

Life can ebb away before you know it, and all you’ll become is a redundant machine like an outdated computer with dust and grime coating its screen. Life can break you like a wrestler puts his opponent in a hold and crushes his arm. Life can gut you like a thief sneaking up on you and pushing that blade into your belly for just a little cash. Life makes its demands and when you don’t heed; you may not suffer the consequences now, but there will come a time when it’ll take every drop of blood from you.

Philosophers have sought explanations as to why there is sorrow, and as to why we live in a fractured world. Some have made that bold nihilistic statement – ‘God is dead,’ and have envisioned a world in which humanity has absolute freedom without consequences. Some have gone further and added that every human is responsible for every cataclysmic event that happens even though there is no purpose. These days we argue about the very nature of reality. ‘Are we living in a simulation?’ Some ask.

But theories meet theories and anti-theories, and ultimately the search for purpose becomes what it truly is – a never-ending struggle with time, space and our place in reality. ‘Everything is meaningless and just a chase after the breeze,’ said Solomon who was probably the first real nihilist.

The truth is that all his metaphors and exploits and wisdom gained him nothing. Then defeated, he wrote Ecclesiastes and projected his grimness while he did. I’ll end with a story of a prodigal son. Except in this one, there’s no closure, no catharsis, and no epiphany.

Once there lived a man who demanded his father’s inheritance and spent it quickly on buying himself an apartment. He believed he was absolutely free and spent more money on women, cigarettes, and alcohol. The money flowed because his father was rich, and he set up bank accounts and tried using it responsibly while maintaining his bohemian lifestyle. But pleasure always catches up and overthrows direction, and he fell into drugs and horrible company. Towards the end, battered and bruised, he said, ‘I’ll get my shit together,’ and tried, but he found his pattern of recklessness inescapable. He found himself becoming the man in the iron cage, the reprobate; abandoned by God and forsaken by men. His father passed away, and he went back to live with his mother. She showed him love, but he never reciprocated it. He’d become so used to getting what he wanted that now he projected his failures on her and verbally and physically started abusing the poor old woman. One day, he struck her too hard, and she collapsed and lay there, breathless. ‘Oh, mother! Oh, sweet mother! My angel! What have I done? What have I done?’ He sobbed bitterly. Then too cowardly to face the law and shame, he resorted to taking his own life.

Life isn’t beautiful because it always leaves you wanting more.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)

Pensive

You and I walk past brownstones, the color of rust, the melancholic artificiality endowing us with Plathian muses, making us wish for something more than facades and magniloquent odes lacking the depth and authenticity that only despair forges in the fires of harrowing experiences using a hammer possessed by death-spirits.

You and I walk beneath amber sunsets on potholed roads where buskers cut their fingers on sad but sharp violin strings, and the music’s an ode to obscurity. The call to oblivion is so strong then, and the waspish ache within makes us rage at tyrannical gods and hate humanity like anti-Bodhisattvas. But then a numbing that even an anti-psychotic can’t provide coats our hearts like the paper leaves of Autumn cover the mossy ground, and yes, there’s beauty in not feeling anything sometimes.

You and I perceive existential angst in ways that leave us devoured by madness, but also empathetic, and it’s this dichotomy within us that makes us unique and sets us apart from the half-baked crowd. It’s a roaring silence and a darkened light, but these hackneyed oxymorons don’t really give it justice. It’s the Big Bang of the all the lines we write, a sudden jolt of the consciousness leading to streams and streams of macabre yet beautiful thoughts like black rivulets under the gentle glow of a crescent moon.

You and I know tragedy intimately like Gnostics directly communicating with their gods through mystical experiences. But, this wealth of pain has taught us, even though it severed us from the magnetic throng – ostentatiously attracted to or bitterly repulsed by one another. We’re freaks and vagabonds, misfits and pilgrims with causes augmented by throes.

You and I connect in ways that supersede the yes, no, and okay though the weight we carry differs not in intensity, but in form. We grasp the deeper semantic that forms the undercurrent of good conversation, and we let it carry us to the shores of honesty, which is why we can pause talk today and restore it three weeks from now with the same ardor, and I’d like to believe that’s something precious.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)

For Mia

Real Toads’

I won’t give up on us, and I hope love doesn’t

I did create him after reading my pain and distrust
But all he did was spew fanaticism and used the rod
In wicked ways that torture weary minds and kill the soul.

But he was processed by red Calvinism and icy heart
His Cherry Blossom euphemism for biting words so harsh!
That spiteful torn design masked using a soft, milder hue.

Then studying him, I read words absent; and battered phrase
Those paradoxes and aporia that I couldn’t solve
And that calamitous voice frightened me and shook my core.

He held the gun and pointed; tricked me into mangy grunge
Lamenting profligacy using its depravity
In search of all the truth that’s lost, he said but never wept.

But when he said the honest might be dead, I had enough
I walked with him, exhausted, but resolved in mind and will
I plucked that gun from him in some uncanny, painful way.

And after, lay on grass and waited for that petrichor
And when it rained, I wept, went home, removed that stinging blog
And went to her and smiled when she embraced me in those arms.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)

The Emperor’s Demise

So, after Darth Vader threw Emperor Palpatine into that vortex, he found himself on this side of the universe. He looked at a Star Wars poster of the latest movie and grinned at the words ‘The Last Jedi’ written in red. He then walked up to a woman on a lonely street. He stretched his pale arms out in his uncanny way and tried mind control and asked her to join the dark side.

“Get away from me, you freak!” she screamed and ran away.

Disillusioned by his lack of strength, he succumbed to alcoholism and in a ramshackle bar met a former rock star now broken because of his fall from grace. They talked, and both ranted about unrealistic dreams: One wanting power and the other fame. But somehow, they managed to come up with an idea despite all the slurring and the occasional puking.

They decided to start a band.

Palpatine walked up to the mike stand and stood there while the band played heavy distortion and the drummer used his double bass pedal like a maniac.

Palpatine was unsure but decided to give it a try anyway. He softly said, “Dark side,” and the crowd roared. There was something about his voice that made it so distinct and raw.

Palpatine grinned, and his band soon achieved fame. All he did was walk up to the mike stand in his black robe and talk about wistful dreams of destroying the Jedi and ruling the universe.

Then Palpatine suddenly realized that it was possible to control human beings without a superpower, and he soon eliminated tinges of nostalgia in his rhetoric. He labeled the genre he invented Sith rock, called his fans Stormtroopers, and urged them to dress appropriately during concerts. The band attained astronomical fame. The critics loved Palpatine’s new approach. They called it progressive and reactionary.

All went well until some Stormtroopers took off their masks during a concert and decided to change things. They formed an instrumental band which was rooted in Sith rock but eliminated Palpatine’s rhetoric.

Palpatine derided them for not being true to the roots of the movement, but that only gave them attention. Fans and critics loved this new genre called post-Sith rock and left Palpatine. They called them inventive.

Disillusioned, Palpatine found a woman on a lonely street and stretched his pale arms out and asked her to join the dark side.

She filed a sexual harassment case, and Palpatine lost most of his money. He returned to the ramshackle bar and watched the trailer of The Last Jedi.

“Rey. Where was she when I needed her?” he slurred and puked.

(Inspired by Star Wars)

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)