Prison Cell Paranoia (Part 2)

Some bolt of madness comes from a demonic source,
and I’m swirling and swirling in inner chaos.
‘He wrote this because he hates my writing.’
‘Did she call me a narcissist using subtle, vague imagery?’
‘Does she want me to suffer because she’s never forgiven me?’
and then this amicable, passionate man is possessed
by fear, self-loathing and an extremely raw pain
and he lashes and lashes out
and becomes an egotistical, violent, atonal cacophony
of screeching and off-tune violin notes and glass breaking,
‘Fucker, I’ll show you!’ He screams in silence while
his fingers race across the keyboard like a blade across a neck,
‘Bitch! Whore! Harlot! Die! Die! Die!’
And with dopamine levels flaring up like pyrotechnics
and anger spreading from viscera to lungs to head
like pain after you’ve climbed a steep slope
and a double-forked tongue of bitterness and hate
scraping the computer screen
until its scars hide the alphabets
and eyes with needles in them
blurring vision and causing seething agony
he lashes and lashes some more.
He then pops antihistamines and anxiolytics,
but the pills don’t work and only heighten distress
making him feel like Charles Manson in that rare prison interview
or the devil himself shivering with rage
in the depths of hell
and the aftermath is a wicked hush
like the sight of brambles
in which a rat lies impaled
or the sight of a coffin
in which a once cocaine-addicted
now looking like Barbie blonde lies
and then the guilt roars
like a pit bull snarling at the gate
or the sound of a chainsaw
and submerged in aquamarine torment
drowning, flailing but failing
he weeps, but the tears don’t fall,
he squeezes his pain
like a stockbroker his stress ball
or a teenager the pustule on his face
but it doesn’t explode, doesn’t shatter
and left feeling ugly and vile
like the sinner outside the Temple
beating his chest
and crying for mercy
he silently sobs
looking catatonic the whole time
and he thinks a dry apology will fix things
but souls lie six feet under.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)

Originally published in The Literati Mafia 

A villanelle for the forsaken

What’s memory but a reverb of whispered pasts?
On ashen, sordid ground, I take root; here I stand –
Expecting withered trees to clasp; some dew that lasts –

With such fierce passion we plant or forsake our masts –
Fly flags on fruitful, fertile, or dead, barren land –
When memory’s but a reverb of whispered pasts –

Oh, how I long for love that changes, holds me fast –
Through strife, fear, test, ache and pain – an aesthetic hand –
Expecting withered trees to clasp; some dew that lasts –

Hope tosses, shuns me, puts sick bones in breaking casts –
And songs become a dirge with sounds from banished bands –
What’s memory but a reverb of whispered pasts?

Perhaps the answer’s in the wind, truth left unasked –
Perhaps I hope to see and must accept what’s planned –
Expecting withered trees to clasp; some dew that lasts –

Oh, how I long for love that changes, holds me fast –
On ashen, sordid ground, I take root; here I stand –
What’s memory but a reverb of whispered pasts?
Expecting withered trees to clasp; some dew that lasts –

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)

Originally published in Morality Park

Prayer

This is a black and white picture of nature. I've chosen it because it augments the bleak, nihilistic tone of my poem. But I specifically chose nature since the poem ends on a hopeful petition.

I

As the mist sheathes the mountainside
like a scabbard its sword,
and the only sound heard is the
distant allegro of a street dog barking,
as the musty odor of half-smoked cigarettes
bleeds from the ashtray,
as the cold lingers outside this antediluvian
cottage, knocking, knocking and knocking
some more on the discolored door,
as the stars in the sky lower their choruses
to mere whispers,
as we lie under separate quilts
divided by oceans of guilt with their
white gushing waves of sorrow,
I ask you, is it fate or chance that
turned us on each other?
Our stories don’t have happy endings
and knowing that it’s bleak ash and brimstone
that meets us, while we flail and weep,
thrash and never sleep
in abysses of tomorrow only
augments the very substance of this pain
we hold, enmeshed with our soul,
scattered through our selves
like the lights in a kaleidoscope.

II

God, I pray that somehow our souls you’ll keep
and though we’ve wandered far from grace, your keep
you’ll spare us the rod, the ever-restless sleep
holding us through fear in blissful sleep.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)

Room 101 – EP

So, I left the city with its industrial roar like the low growl of a mythical beast, straight out of a fantasy novel, and moved to the mountains for the raw, crisp and cool breeze and petrichor and starlight sky, not obscured by smog like a faint red haze, picked from the pages of Revelation and Jehovah’s wrath.

But my idealism soon crashed like a car careening into a bus, and I’m desperately salvaging the remnants of a dream. I believed solitude would soften me, and the sight of the fresh green would strengthen me, but I find withdrawal asphyxiating like too much hookah pulled from a pipe, leaving the lungs singeing. There’s an acute, harrowing distress present even here, while I smoke my cigarettes and look yonder at the small illuminated cross, and the little luminescence of the small town in the distance looking like Christmas lights on a felled tree, chopped to bits.

And staying in my room isn’t very different from isolating myself from the indifferent city with its women who come and go talking of Michelangelo, and the same dull taking of toast and tea that I so thoroughly despise. I happen to like coffee, thank you! So, thoroughly dejected I’m listening to Paul Desmond on repeat wondering if there’s more than the buffet this hotel serves, more than climbs that feel like acid eating away at my lungs from the inside out, more than bloodshot eyes obscured by my photochromatic glasses like a pus-stained bandage covering a rough wound.

Even reading feels like hacking through some brutally dense forest; the words producing severe stress and migraines, and sentences crawling into my mind like worms because I nudge them in. So, I’m writing today and possibly tomorrow, until I’ve got a hold on the melancholia that trails me everywhere like a shadow, and rip it apart, exposing its entrails and hang it like butcher’s meat on a wall of things I’ve conquered.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)

Room 101

I live in a room that’s both my last meal on Death Row and the Gas Chamber. When it’s the former, I embrace this illusion we call ‘free will’ and enjoy a sumptuous meal according to my desires, but I’m soon dragged away by the guards of tyranny, and a brutal genocidal force, and I’m strapped in the chamber, my fear echoing, my heartbeat an odd time signature that you can use in a Math Rock song, and I’m soon left writhing with apparitions surrounding me, threatening to engulf and envelop me, and as foam drips from my mouth, and my irises disappear, I’m slowly fading, clutching to pillars of delusion that only seemingly held me. Delilah defeats Samson thoroughly here, because he’s denied his strength even after he’s tortured, and his eyes are gouged out. This room’s both pleasure and pain. The unmitigated dark pleasure of the ebb and flow, and twisted secrets kept when I’m with a woman – personifying and venerating her, giving her a place outside restrictions, smashing Time and his infuriating ticks, tocks and chimes. But it’s also the pain of watching her dissipate within seconds and replaced by a deep-seated primal fear of watching dimensions split and cacophonous syllables spoken by a horrific deity slowly inching their way into my mind, scalding reason, and overwhelming and overpowering me. This room’s both catharsis and oblivion. I find here, the catharsis of downers, alcohol, and jazz – the juxtaposition of a slightly loud piano and a gentler alto saxophone, and the ephemerality of sex and fluid, of women entering and leaving, but I also slowly find that with each transient nirvana I’m granted comes a plethora of soul-sucking thoughts, ripping my heart from its place and placing it out of reach, showing me just how vulnerable and insignificant I am. I find that with each orgasm comes guilt, because she isn’t here to stay, and will waltz back to her life the next morning while I’m fox-trotting out my life in click-bait and endless cyber repetitions. This room is many things, but despite the moans and sighs, the false lull of pharmaceuticals, and the chaos and quietude of a mind, it lacks love.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)

Originally published in Morality Park

The sojourner’s haibun

I’m trapped in my old sedan like the Sicilian Bull, the fires of trauma roasting me, and in agony I pound the steering wheel and incessantly press the horn, though the hairpin bends as sharp as glinting scythes stay deserted, except for the hard rain, the water like blood sluicing, the wipers like metal claws scraping the glass in desperation. On either side tea plantations like incisions on a masochist’s wrist haunt. The mist envelopes like white pus, and I can’t see the dying light circumscribed by the mutinous night with her soldiers with onyx spears and her crescent moon—her war horn with pitted symbols of anarchy. A solitary hooded man passes like the reaper in flesh. My shrieks echo, and the car burns the wet asphalt leaving tire marks like another layer of infection on a gangrenous wound. The rage from my headlights clamp the air like crocodile shears, tearing its appendages of oxygen and nitrogen. The fume from my exhaust pipe settles on crushed empty paper cups, like acid poured on a battered, torture victim’s face. I ascend, yanked by some invisible force, like a mongrel tied to the back of motorcycle and then dragged across winding curve after winding curve because it bit the driver, sunk its teeth into his flesh. I’m the dog and Fate is the driver. I should have never rebelled. I should have never played with his dice, tossed it like a chewed off mutton bone. The car has a few dents like keloids that eventually form if one keeps itching scabs. It’s running low on fuel like a terminally ill patient in the ICU slowly losing his life-force. The tires pass over a thin trunk with spindly branches – stripped away by the howling wind like a demoniac’s scream – like a spine yanked out with thoracic nerves attached. I don’t see it and it pierces one like a rusty nail impales a big toe. The air fizzles out like the entrails of a sacrificed goat. A loud pop like a gunshot to the head. I lose control and spin like vertigo before a faint. The car careens like bloody vomit and smashes a signboard saying, ‘12/24.’ Glass shatters like foot bones cracking when stepped on by football studs. My head hits the dashboard like a plate thrown, smashing a wall. I gradually drift in and out of consciousness like a man after a snake bite…

You’ll never reach the end of this long walk –
Because fate to man is no two-edged coin –
So, rush to meet life, the gods they enjoin –
you – fight, attend with silent, muted talk –

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)

Originally published in Morality Park

People

This is a picture of a city viewed from the inside of a car while it's raining. I've chosen it to represent life and grief. We hide our grief and go on with our lives, but how long can it be contained?

When we write,
we write with the hardest hearts,
singed raw with pride,
but when we grieve,
those hearts soften,
and words become tears cascading
down rough contours and jagged edges.

What’s written isn’t felt
when hands mechanically type,
but when it’s felt,
despair cloaks us,
and we wish for
idyllic unknowns and peaceful reveries.

We hold the deepest pain,
but mask it
with a semblance of a smile,
we delude ourselves
into thinking we own it,
but it’s the opposite,
and when it possesses us
words flail and thrash
the air that keeps us
and prayers and psalms turn into
battered petitions and broken hallelujahs.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)

Originally published in The Literati Mafia