This is a picture of a man silhouetted against a bright window. He's in a dark room and to me this image symbolizes both despair and hope and complements my piece.

I found you in a desolate place riddled with black mildew covered leaves and whirlwinds of dust.

I found you after I’d gambled away my years, chasing the will-o’-the-wisp.

I found you after all the women in my life walked out on me, and I was starting to wonder if their love was just a ruse.

I found you in a catacomb of distress — a broken tomb where the past echoes and there is no stairwell to carry us out into the future.

I found you, just as broken as I was, in the throes of heartbreak and depression, wanting more, hoping to leave your burdens at an altar of resurrection and walk out with the belfry behind you and dawn in front.

I loved you with all my heart, and remember kissing you in the moonlight while it drizzled, and little puddles snaked their way around our feet, and cars climbed winding curve after winding curve, briefly illuminating us with their headlights, before leaving us to the soft, ethereal glow of the moonlight.

I loved you because you stood by me when I found myself in an abandoned room with broken walls and smashed windows — the shards of madness embedding themselves in my flesh and resisting removal.

I loved you because you loved me despite my vagaries and my disposition; despite my eccentricities and hate. You never let me go despite time or season. You laughed with me during the buoyant Summer. You helped me create evocative poetry to rival Spring’s expressionism. You held me close and wept with me when our lives saw Autumn’s rust. You helped me see meaning when a bleak Winter enveloped us.

I lost you, and now I walk corridor after corridor screaming your name, hoping you’ll hear me again. I walk on the shore, and the spindrift pierces me like a thousand needles, and a part of me wants to lose myself in the waves.

I lost you, and my symphony lies unfinished without a coda, and there isn’t anyone else who can help me with it. The piano lies dusty and the guitar untuned. I’ve broken the mouthpiece of the clarinet, and I doubt I’ll ever play again.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

An ode to self

This is an image of myself with an overgrown beard. I've used it because my poem describes me as a shabby poet who's given up on life.

Walt Whitman, you shabby bastard, reincarnated
as a straight man with dying honey skin, teeth like
sorrowed Chiclets, bleeding yellow—a coward,
a hypocrite, a liar, a farce, a façade of a man,
speaking with an almost bass smoky voice,
thickened by the Indian accent, just like belly fat.

Does the rum give you solace, a harsh catharsis?
Do cigarettes & coffee give you an old school aubade?
Do the pills you pop give you a blurry epiphany?

Forever histrionic and theatrical—
a pitiful demoniac’s twisted, sick despair—
a drift between distress and the hysterical—
forever searching for a life that’s just and fair—

Your wife’s cuckolding you in the next room
while you search for answers reading books
you hear her moans, sighs and deep sobs
and a part of you is titillated, aroused and likes it

Oh Walt Whitman, you filthy bastard, going weeks
without a shave or a shower, walking to the cigarette
shop in the track pants you shagged in, and then
to the supermarket where faces turn because you
look like a beachcomber but have a credit card

Oh Walt Whitman, you dirty bastard, coming home
with three cans of Red Bull and then spilling it on the floor,
and then licking the floor and lapping it up like a dog,
before you’re frustrated and need your porn.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

A song of experience

This is an image of cigarette butts. I've used it to symbolize the despair and meaninglessness that's echoed in this poem.

A lament rises from these dry bones, encased in
a coffin of a life gone by,
when I was young, my father the demon, said, ‘I am thine
and thou art mine,’ with a devilish, deceitful, duplicitous grin,
when I was young, my mother the angel said, ‘Stay strong and
surely, you’ll succeed,’ with a sincere, serene, simple smile,
when I was young, my brother, the stoic said, ‘Your scrimshawed
feelings are yours alone; don’t give them even a peak,’
with a stern, stubborn, sterile face,
when I was young, my sister,
the naïve said, ‘Yours is the world and all possibilities become
actualities if dreamt into existence,’
with an innocent, introspective, irreproachable charm,
when I was young, my lover,
the impassioned said, ‘Kiss me, you’re the heart of this (heart)
and soul of this (soul)
and never will I ever abandon all that’s you and I,’
with a feverish, furious, ferocious hold,
when I was young, my second lover, the kind said, ‘Paint the colors
of your heart on the canvas of
my being and grasp me tenderly under the sliced moonlight,’
with a peaceful, placid, peaceable touch.

Time drifts and I’ve drifted with it, but not elegantly.
Age carries, and I carry it, but not gracefully.
Life rises and falls, and books meet dust, and this room smells of mildew,
and by and by I’m fading, falling, slipping, sliding.

I’ve learnt much and seen so much more.
I’ve touched much and felt so much more.
I’ve tasted much and heard so much more.

Love eludes me now, whirling round and round, setting everything without on
fire with her dance, but never thawing the ice within.
Lust possesses me now, echoing and echoing, setting everything within on
fire with his voice, and ever thawing the ice without.

Cheap motel rooms and cigarettes; one-night stands and ashen hyacinths –
These I know, these I know, intimately and intensely.

Perfume and cascading hair, with eyes like brown tourmaline –
Her I’ve never kissed, her I’ve never kissed, intimately and intensely.

The smog rises and obscures my window, the world’s full of blurred
objects and abstract shapes, and a simulacrum of truth is all I know,
everything is now a hazy imagination, my vision’s blurred,
the smoke rises, and I exhale, the sharp liquor burns my throat,
a fatalist’s escape, and I know I need the real, but I also know
I want my delusion.

A lament rises from these dry bones, encased in
a coffin of a life gone by,
now that I’m older, I say, ‘Life and death sing the same song in the
same key to the same wind, and what happened will happen again,
and there’s nothing I can do but cut through weeds of paranoia,
despair and angst, knowing I’ll never fully heal.’

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)