September’s Twilight

This is an image of a pink thunderstorm. There is both a calmness and a coarseness to this image. I chose it because it embodies a love-hate relationship which I've written about.

I’ll never wait for you forever, notwithstanding purple
September’s twilight, when the moon skims over frigid, wintry
Air barely highlighting the flotsam, giving it a spectral
Impression nudging me to aim some thought in lost compartments
Of my despairing mind towards you. And though gloomy auras
Descend from frightening space – threatening like hollow spirits
With voices crippled and dead murmurs, trying to sequester
My peace, and slowly making their way down anfractuous stairwells,
Reminding me of love made and distress felt when we teetered
Between the darkness and soft light, embodying both love and
Strong hate in bonds unbreakable, but needing breaking, crushing
and severing.

Why did we hurt each other so immensely? Stab and stab more?
Why did we peel the scab of wounds that healed with mutant vigor?
Why did we yield to Lorelei’s kiss? Sink to bluish-green depths
With millstones round our necks? Why did we try so fiercely, firmly
And furiously at obeisance and not at invading,
Imbuing faint love?

Now irredeemable, we are dying
For a togetherness that’s like the sound of lost rocks buried
Beneath Autumnal wrath – love lost that isn’t supposed to live once
More; isn’t supposed to have breath or new flame; a Gordian Knot to
Remain forever enigmatic, to lie still beneath pink

September’s twilight.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

Brevity

This is an image of a train approaching; making its way through the mist. I've chosen it because it represents the brevity of all things, and the struggle that is life to me.

“This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.”

― T.S. Eliot, The Hollow Men

I pass a graveyard on my way to work each morning,
a desolate place filled with scraps of putrid litter,
devoid of any being but a mangy mongrel
with chipped-off statued cherubs and unclean engravings.
The place is an anathema, infected with jinn,
a place where bones still rattle in decaying coffins.
I think of souls that never leave to paradise; damned
to haunt and own us; souls forever wandering; lost
with no respite each time I see the place, but then a
dissimilar thought takes control and I think – looking
at starless skies – if we indeed have souls or if it’s fable
concocted by robed priests to keep the masses senseless,
I wonder if the past and future have no meaning,
if an opaque void circumscribes existence, birth, death,
if only brevity is the hand we fiercely claw at,
if time meets no continuance, and even the present
is just a ball suspended in vitality that
fades, lessens till millennia and cycles are lost
forever, and all you and I have known disperses,
and worlds end with soft whimpers and never thunderous bangs.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

The tears will never flow again

This is an image of a bleak landscape. I chose it because it augments the tone of despondency in my poem which talks about failure and loss.

A Daughter song plays, making you nostalgic; teary-eyed
While you’re in your unhealthy room; the air so rancid and stale
Your friends have Masters; steady jobs with salaries and perks
They’ve cut through brambles of problems using scythes of constancy
You’ve wallowed in your doldrums; nailed to ashen, windswept walls
The whispers in your head are now echoes: grating, jarring, upsetting,
‘You’re a train wreck! An anathema so noxious! Fuck!’
Your little world that’s so deluded is crumbling and you don’t
Like watching as your placid waters roar and your skies turn red,
As your tranquil wood nymphs look with bestial stares and hate,
As trumpets blare and chariots of rage maraud the land,
As tigers of reality eat sheep of daft naïvety.
Your friends have found the lushest meadows after test and plague,
But darkness swallows you fully; tears at flesh and bone; sucks blood.
You’ll watch as dreams of you becoming an artist with books and poems
Also meets dust, and reduced to ashes you’ll try weeping,
But the tears won’t flow; the tears, they’ll never flow again

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

Do I marvel?

This is a black and white image of the mountains covered in snow. I've chosen it because it suggests ambiguity like my poem which makes me wonder if I should marvel at God's mysterious ways or lament.

It’s as if God casts some unseen net on the lives of some,
Perpetually trapping them in cords of deepest grief,
Not even offering them glimpses of bleak, beaten skies,
Or ashen barks, or the discordant angry rooks who caw.

The wicked prosper while the good lie buried with their deeds –
Unknown to all, except those who did benefit from them.
Perhaps the Lord sees time in the eternal present, and past
And future belong to mortals who need strongholds in stories told,
And lessons learned in paroxysms of acute death pangs.
But still, this never tells us all we need to know and hear,
And blind faith doesn’t suffice despite few saying otherwise.

Look at Auschwitz where devils embodied men and God said, yes,
Look at farmers poisoning themselves because of debt,
Look at lynching and mob violence; children hanging on trees,
Look at hellfire and damnation for man’s sin and shame.

I’ve known a thousand roads of suffering and few of joy,
I’ve heard the sound of rasping waves assailing the timid shore
And the song of the melodious thrush that brings in dawn,
I’ve learned and learned more with a thirst for learning so much more,
I’ve studied the realms of meaning with intense adventure and lust,
But I’ll never know the ways of God and his disdain
Or love.

And must I praise, lament or leave it at Amen?

 

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

Doubt

This is an image of raindrops on a window slightly obscuring the scenery outside. I chose this image because it embodies doubt to me. My piece is about a lack of faith in God and this picture complements it.

My struggle with broken faith and doubt; salvation and death
Feels like hell on earth: the coals, the sulfur, and smoke.

Why do I come to you my Lord when you’ve distressed me,
Afflicted me and blinded me with eyes near-sighted,
Unable to see even glimpses of wondrous glory?
I often think it’s fear or a bitter emptiness,
Or maybe just the need to be deeply, truly loved

I walk unclean streets, lonely and needing anyone
Who’ll clasp my hand as I push aside the offscourings
Of yesterday’s ball with my feet; the revelers
Came and went,
I slept a half-sleep while the fireworks scourged the sky
With rockets like lashes; a whistle, a strike; the revelers
Came and went,
I watched the garish throng with drums; the revelers
Came and went,
But stupor gripped me, and like a dying caterpillar
In a chewed off cocoon, I watched the dusty cars
Slowly moving to adventures I’ll never know.

She says, ‘I’ll buy you a bunny to remember me,’ smiling,
I respond with exuberance, ‘Make sure he’s cute!’ and laughing,
Hug her tightly, our jaded eyes slowly and gently meeting,
But she’ll be gone one day, and knowing deep regret
For all the things both said, unsaid, and crushing, breaking
The heart she sacrificed for a foolish coward like me,
I’ll see just darkness and the agony of raw pain
And then cry, ‘Why! Why Lord!’ Distrusting faith and love.

My struggle with broken faith and doubt; salvation and death
Feels like hell on earth: the coals, the sulfur, and smoke.
Why do I come to you my Lord when you’ve distressed me?
Maybe it’s because I’m sick to death of my core

But will you have me?
But will you forgive me?
But will you redeem me?

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

Hold me fast Lord

This is an image of the galaxy. i chose this because I want the God who holds the universe to hold me though I lack faith.

I have these urges to say goodbye to it all,
My self-indulgent life and thespianism,
To wander from the mountebanks’ unclean parade
Of gaudy brouhaha and clickbait melodrama,
I have these urges to lay down my pen, tear page
And never come back to mooching off my misery
To fashion lines that stab more than they ever saved,
I have these urges to fight the fight and run the race
To soldier on for Christ until his grace is sight,
But do I really have grace or was I hoodwinked
By a deceitful heart that slyly feigned conversion?
I markedly recall the day I wept with grief,
And quoting Lyte, said, ‘Jesus, I my cross have taken,’
I cried then for the sinner I was and met mercy
At Calvary where lives of men were bought at a cost,
A priceless, bloody, brutal, terrifying cost,
I then knew love, a love so deep and unfathomable,
But thinking back I wonder why it faded away,
And today I’m seven times the son of hell I once was,
My sin besieges me and a dark cage holds me,
‘I once professed and even journeyed,’ I say flatly
And echo the pilgrim who regressed so thoroughly,
But perhaps this is all God’s mysterious intent –
A bitter bud now but a flower sweet one day
Like Cowper put it, or like Solomon says, weary
From hedonism and chases of the flesh –
Who can interpret God? He does what he wishes to. But
Regardless of how my story plays out; heaven or hell,
I have these urges to say goodbye to it all
And if you’ll have me, I’ll gladly pick that cross again,
And though it’ll tear me asunder to lose family,
And watch friends become foes, good ignoble, love hard hate,
I’ll carry on as you hold me fast through fear and pain.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)

Don’t cry for me this December

This is an image of sunlight pouring through a bleak forest and it captures the essence of the poem I've written which is both pessimistic and optimistic

Frank Zappa’s Watermelon in Easter Hay plays softly
As I’m amid fecund vegetation, lush hills;
The songs I’ve written weep with these distorted times
When all around me there is growth and newness and crisp air,
But tears cascade down rough contours and broken edges
My guilt has no bounds; it wells up like a spring of death,
Forever the tortured artist, is there no respite?
The bells of the chapel chime, they’re most uninviting
Through wind and cold and drizzle they cut, beseech, entreat,
But only like a razor slowly splitting the ear
Qui n’avance pas, recule –
This truth I know now in all its fiery vengeance,
I’ve squandered my existence Holy Father, forgive me.
The motel room I’m in is dull and rusty
With stubbed cigarette ends and dirt, and blood-stained sheets,
The cobwebbed ceiling heralds an aubade so dirgy
And in the choking light of the dying bulb, I see
A fly that flits around the dregs of tea in a cup
So pockmarked with the stains of time and brutal age,
The seven-branched old candelabra is a witness
To faith archaic and withered like a gnarled, unclean oak,
The dust beneath the bed induces a bronchial wheeze
And hacking up phlegm so green, I cough and wheeze so fiercely.

‘Is there nothing I can do anymore?’ I ask myself
‘Is my life now reduced to hackneyed statements and pessimistic clichés?’
‘Am I just carrion to be fed on by demons and vultures?’ I ask melodramatically.

And so, I pick up that old guitar I named Lucille
In honor of the late, great B.B.King,
I pour some aging brandy and pop that happy pill
And clear my drying throat and spit before I sing

I think of crime and punishment, the life to come,
I think of death and Hades, the age that’ll be,
I think of misfits and women, the brawls, the drink, the bum,
I think of all the things to still do and thankfully see.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)