Being a millennial

This is a picture of computer code. The image embodies the cyber, fake, artificial world we live in.

Instagram promotions that cater to the narcissist,
that feed him delicacy after delicacy of his choice
that he consumes with a voracious, insatiable appetite
like a murderous owl that preys on a rabbit,
Facebook status messages that promote a fabricated self,
craving for validation from other artificial cyber-realities,
and when someone wakes up now and then and realizes
that we’re living in a matrix, nobody listens, because
they’re content as long as superficiality fuels their egos
like diesel makes a locomotive run
and that’s what we’ve become, cars of different shapes
and sizes, the coat of paint reflecting our stature, our
‘substance’ and our standing,
Twitter filled with little birds tweeting out death threats
or supposedly intelligent remarks about politics,
religion, caste, creed and what not,
Youtubers making a living out of identifying gold-diggers
on the street, or creating ‘Social Experiments,’ in which they
feed a homeless man for a day, give him a couple hundred
bucks, make him cry and then say, “Off you go, son!”
People creating online petitions for the most insane things
like changing the ending of a TV show that a million others
sign,
Netflix preaching to us from the cyber pulpit, telling us how
to lead our lives, making the bogus virtual world
seep into our lives,
and we being the sheeple we are, listen,
because size matters,
a strong independent woman friend-zones a nice guy and has a
gay best friend,
an Alpha male gets away with trampling over
the Betas and the Gammas,
memes are the new adages,
perfect pictures of party girls drinking vodka at some
fashionable pub that they get into only because they have
a Ladies night is more eye pleasing than anything Van Gogh
painted, and don’t get us started on Jackson Pollock!
Love and lust are synonyms,
bullying, stereotyping, and gossiping is justified behavior,
and many more things.

How I wish for a place in the mountains where the air is crisp!
How I wish for a simple job, that satisfies me, and nature to invigorate me!
How I wish for solitude, and books alone, to keep me company!

But here I am, torn between preaching to the choir, and suffering from
the loneliness that a city brings,
here I am in a country snaking its way into Fascism like fish into a
mouth of a whale,
here I am, surrounded by crones, witches, stalkers, haters, ’empaths,’
and monsters,
here I am, consumed by myself, thrown into the very artificial world I detest,
unable to break free.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

Muse

When I saw that picture of you, naked, sitting on the armchair
with one leg slung over its side,
your breasts hard and aroused, your face projecting ecstasy,
your hand gently sliding down your underwear,
your eyes closed, alone in a room with half-opened wardrobes,
I knew you’d become my muse.

Now, we can never predict these things.
The grass is fresh, moist and the petrichor from the last hour’s
drizzle emanates from it today,
but it’s coated with mildew like talcum powder tomorrow.
The mystic dances and sways to the rhythm of nature’s beat today,
but he howls in an asylum, and tears his hair in rage tomorrow.
The lover walks with a steady gait, extending confidence, today,
but after she jilts him, tomorrow,
he crouches on all fours, wearing threadbare rags
and fills the air with the stench of bitterness.

We think we govern fate, but it rules over us with a scepter in hand.
We think we pluck the fruit of life and eat it, bit by bit, but it devours
us like a raging lioness attacks a dear.
We think we’re in control of desire, but we’re just slaves of the flesh
with insatiable lust.

So, here I am, possessed by the thought of you naked, wanting to breathe your scent, needing to reach wild madness with you, craving for your skin, sweat, electricity, and hungering for an ecstatic, utopian union through a night spent together.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

Grunge

This is a picture of a man smoking. The image represents a hedonistic attitude towards life which is one of the central themes my poem revolves around.

I had one too many yesterday, popped pills like I was
scattering dimes on the dinner table, laying them bare,
I smoked a pack of Marlboro Red like I usually do,
flicking the half-smoked cigarettes into the rotten,
weed-strewn patch of land that haunts the left side
of my cracked wallpaper, slightly jaded house.

I stood on a balcony that’s barely holding up like
an oxygenated man needing tubes and needles,
I watched the honeydew sunset with dilated
pupils, drifting in and out of a lazy reverie –
a blurred door in the distance with misty vines
creeping over it, the cobbled path like fish scales,
coalescing now and then. I was half-running, half-stumbling,
but without fear, I tried
getting to the door but suddenly woke up
only to find myself beginning again.

I stood in my thrift store shirt
and track pants, unwashed, unclean
and unattended to. I guess there’s a sense
of freedom in a slightly reckless abandonment
or a partial hedonism.

I didn’t need you at that moment and
I don’t need you now.
I didn’t love you at that moment and
I don’t love you now.
I didn’t feel you at that moment and
I don’t feel you now.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

For whatever it’s worth

This is a picture of raindrops coating a window. It depicts sorrow and struggle which are central themes in my poem.

I’m just living my life reading books, with angst
killing off whatever remains of my will,
disorienting an already hazy mind: a despairing ugly
nebula. I look everywhere, and I see hate,
and then look within and see nothing different,
and I can’t help but ask why I soldier on when
I’m a waste of space, a postgraduate dropout,
third wheeling with apathy and darkness,
sitting in an empty, forsaken theater
of black chimera,
a bipolar, fucked up, shell of a man,
a chain smoker
with bluing lips and a tongue with nicotine
patches like a carpet with grotesque stains;
mooching off my parents, sending
Facebook friend requests to a hundred
people and ending up with
a dozen who don’t care
plastered on the damn wall, unable to live
with a past of intense trial, tribulation, and
trepidation—
nights spent roaming the streets
in ‘penance’, enduring the downpour, stepping on
thorns, and trying to gouge my eyes out.
They think I’m a lunatic, and
they’re right, but I can’t shake off my neurosis
or psychosis, or my panoramic delusions, so
far-reaching that I need prescription to
survive, to get up and start a day, let alone
live, and I’m often catatonic,
and so, yes, in that sense, “Dieu est mort,”
because it’s pointless when you’re hung,
drawn and quartered, outside the gates of
sanity, while a choir
of angry demons watch, waiting to devour you
each time you go near
faith, and so, I can’t give anyone anything except these
lines, and though no one listens, or hears my
cry, they’re here, etched, so that one day when
I’m gone someone will them read for whatever it’s worth.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

Silence

When you walked into that coffee shop, with its rustic strength:
the beige tables, the blotchy wooden benches, unadorned
and homely, you brought with you the allure of a Japanese
Maple: both a wild, orange liveliness, and a lacy stream of
thought, and yes, the side-swept medium length hair, the
rare hazel eyes, the blue dress, and the tattoo, curving down
the side of your neck but stopping in the middle of your
forearm, not overdone, made me call you again,
what transpired was a relationship
of strained passion, and cold reasoning,
you were so attached to the culture you left, and
I moved because I wanted no part of it, we called each
other hypocrites, but want kept us alive, you said that
I turned against everything that made me, and I hated
your blind faith in the imposters ruling home, we gave
up, you left, and it relieved me, I travelled for a
few years after that, finding joy in nature:
a simple Flag of Bavaria sky, hillsides painted in purple,
green, and fading red with a winsome flourish, parks
where you heard the sweet aubade of love birds
complementing the slow rise of the sun, and I knew I had
happiness that would sustain me until I met someone
who wasn’t you, but coming back to my apartment that
cold night, after a few beers, elated, made me want
to watch the news at home, to scoff at the inane
political debates, but when I saw the face of a young journalist
who was killed because she stood up against
intolerance and the strain of fascism, all
sense of beauty left me, the worn chintz curtain,
the threadbare couch, the motes of dust suspended
in the dim light of the bulb threatened to engulf me,
my thoughts were a swirling mass of chaos trapped
in a paperweight of dying restraint: I wished I had never called
you back, I wished that the silence between my words
didn’t say more than it should have, I wished I had
never let you go, but my thoughts have taken shape now
and my bloodshot eyes reflect the gun pointed at my
head that urges me to throw lead.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

A sonnet to existence

this is a picture of a man looking at a display of fireworks. I've used this image because I interpret it as a man watching his dreams from afar. He doesn't know if they'll ever materialize.

I’ve spent my life exploring works of those renown
Hoping some scintilla of touch would enrich
This tumbledown estate where weeds and vines unsown
Plague, afflict and curse with harvests never rich

And sometimes words like fireflies glow in my weak mind
Sparkling with exuberance, they guide the pen
I hold. They tell the world that I’m lost and confined
Living a subdued existence in some den

But there has to be more to life than strife and pain
More than clichés like, “We live for art alone.”
There must be wealth of circumstance, bestowing gain
On our hearts as we meander to the throne

But then our dreams are misty fairy tales and lore
Making us just waste our lives, demanding more

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

A terzanelle of regret

This is a black and white image of praying hands. For me, this image captures raw pain, loss, regret and repentance which are themes my poem explores.

I have no Piper’s charm but still, my errors trail
Like rats, they swallow me without a trace of grace
And you see a fragmented ship without a sail

The mirror now reflects a bearded, nettled face
A life filled with vicissitudes and seething hate
Like rats, it swallows me without a trace of grace

I can’t do anything to stop this storm of fate
I’m shifted by the current, and I hit the rocks
A life filled with vicissitudes and seething hate

The jester laughs, and a deranged oppressor mocks
I lose my footing, and I rupture my weak bones
I’m shifted by the current, and I hit the rocks

The children sling a heap of mud and pointed stones
My song grows weary, and I reel, about to fall
I lose my footing, and I rupture my weak bones

I never walked with giants or stood strong and tall
I have no Piper’s charm but still, my errors trail
This song grows weary, and I reel, about to fall
And you’ll see a fragmented ship without a sail

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

Everyone

This is a picture of people silhouetted against a sparkling background. I've used this image to represent conformity and the dreams that fuel people and make them cruel.

Something special somewhere lies
out of reach of
everyone who longs to become someone,
frustrating, forcing
addled brains to know more incoherence
and then take their rage out on poor
nobody who knew no one and lived
nowhere.

Everybody looks up to somebody
who gives his umpteenth theatrical swansong
saying, ‘Oh! I’m depressed and can’t do it anymore!’
Amidst the clicks, flashes, cheers and claps
while poor nobody genuinely sings his song
to an audience of none.

Everyone wants to go everywhere –
fucking on wild tropical beaches
to the rhythm of the tide,
climbing the alabaster peaks,
just for the boisterous boast,
trekking through jungles with tribes
for a mugshot of an emaciated man
who crushes the serpent’s head with his foot before
the now famous ‘poverty’ or ‘education’ status
update, written on the spot, because voilà!
There’s connectivity! While poor nobody
knows no place except the thought of somewhere.

Oh devious, deceitful generation
with bloodshot eyes and zombie like fixation
on tips, taps, clings, rings, permanent vibration,
clicks, flicks, swipes, types, a cyber fake-salvation;
glued to the screen, books not read, dead attention –
the red light after a post, the ovation
you need – forever lost in fast transition

Everybody wants to live someplace better than
everyone else, and anyone who says, ‘no,’ is
nobody who’s tragically crying, ‘Anyone!’
While someone looks and laughs, saying,
‘Ha! Loser! He’ll never amount to anyone!’
And everyone joins in the chorus because
something special somewhere lies
out of reach of
anyone who wants to become someone.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

A sestina of madness

This is a picture of one man rowing. There's nobody else in the picture and it's in black and white. It represents acute despair.

I walked beneath a Maple tree arch
and knew appeal and something crimson:
the Painter’s flourish still surviving
despite the architect’s fierce madness;
returning I saw trees hacked: corpses
and gave up hoping for love and peace

They stood with candles wanting some peace
below a gaudy, dazzling false arch
and now we see the terror; corpses
the earth weeps since it’s not Fall’s crimson,
it’s finitude’s severe sheer madness
until no life is left surviving

I thought she loved me: we’re surviving;
thought life will give us solace and peace,
we just tore everything in madness,
we now live under a subdued arch,
love is soft, never something crimson,
these rings we wear now look like corpses

My friends are now remote, just corpses,
I thought we’ll walk this path, surviving
these tests and pains that just seem crimson,
perhaps I trusted in devout peace:
felt we’ll all race beneath a strong arch;
those cotton candy dreams are madness

I trusted my will till the madness
attacked it, left poetic corpses,
I stood beneath a perilous arch
and only thought I was surviving
until it dawned without intense peace –
the sky had turned a wintry crimson

My fate is sealed and only crimson,
I try but cannot fight this madness,
a mind cast down by war and not peace,
thoughts in the mud: they look like corpses,
I’m tired of fighting and surviving,
I only stood beneath a lost arch

I walked beneath a Maple tree arch,
the painter’s flourish still surviving;
returning I saw trees hacked: corpses.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

Finding my own

This is a black and white image of trains. I've chosen it because it represents life in motion, which is the essence of my poem.

I’ve often wondered if this tarmac path
now fractured — densely coated with fool’s gold
embodies my spindrift life — plague and wrath
the mirror now reflects what I don’t hold

It lies without — past costly flats and greed
past quilted beds and lives too far from home
I’ve pondered, wondered if there’s more to need
and would like walking its route — simply roam

But chairs stay still like ties we can’t break from
and light bulbs just glow with no feeling
and modern cabinets keep us lost, numb —
a life without approach to meaning

I’ve often wondered if screams coat my silence
or if it’s fading circumstance and hence —

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)