This is a picture of Autumn. My collaboration with Emily revolves around heartbreak and rebirth which can be found in Autumn's colors.

I pass winding curve after winding curve with Ray LaMontagne’s Jolene playing; one hand on the steering wheel and another holding a half-smoked cigarette. It’s Autumn and the road’s barren except for some false gold leaves glittering, symbolizing the facade we’ve become. I still can’t find beauty in this season of aged whiskey trees and rum breath air. Maybe I don’t look hard enough, just like I didn’t try hard enough for us, but I sure did bleed hard enough to watch crimson sluice over our Spring and enthusiasm. I still carry a picture of you. I crushed it the other day but couldn’t make myself trample it with my mud-caked boots. I hate to admit it, but I’m still in love with you.

Driving the same old roads, in the same dim town, heart burning as I think of us, who we were, who we are now, apart within the same cold world. Ray sings of being Empty now, tears sting my eyes behind my shades, knowing what we had is gone, feeling the depth of what we made, locked in our tortured minds and souls, afraid of love in its whole form, all hues and shades accepted; you weren’t accepted as you are, I tried and was rejected. I drive and think of words to say, to bring you back into my realm, then quickly push the thought away, as tears within me drown.

They say love edifies and enriches, but that’s just one facet. It’s not always incandescent, flaring souls with dashes of color, nor is it always luminescent: hands clasped through the bluish chill, finding in each other all that’s needed when we despair. Sometimes love destroys, and sitting in this ramshackle bar, I’m worn with wistful reverie, and the raw whiskey doesn’t soothe or alleviate. It only elevates the feeling of separateness, making me feel trapped in a maze of a blurred what once was. I grope, try, but can’t find my way out. You broke my heart and I guess I ripped yours too. You’re not here anymore, having moved to another town and I’m crushed by a landslide of emotion. Speaking of landslides, I hear Stevie Nicks in my head, asking me if I can handle the seasons of my life, because I did build my life around you, but drunk patrons and vagabonds perhaps living a different shade of the same story are all I see now.

Now in my darkened room, head under cover from the sun, rejecting its brightness and warmth, it doesn’t compare to when we were Yellow, as Coldplay sings in the background; it’s like all the songs I’m hearing are meant to remind me of you. Sometimes I wonder if I should’ve stayed, waiting patiently for the days to end, waking with some newfound meaning, say the words upon my tongue, that I need you. I need you, now and then, maybe always. I drink this blood red wine, aware of the daily communion without you, heart bleeding with each beat and breath. What we had isn’t gone, just lost in mazes of thoughts that drain ceaselessly from the depths of past lives and current hopes and hopelessness.

I wake up in a dusty motel room, dank and dusty. I’m hungover. I throw on something I picked up in a thrift shop. I bought a Bible too, hoping that it’ll ease the pain of heartbreak. I flip through a few pages and put it down. A maelstrom of thoughts leave my mind in disarray: Why this broken world? Why the sorrow of loving someone only to find them walk away and leave you limping unsteadily between hope and hopelessness – the twilight of not knowing if they’ll come back or utterly abandon you? I must move on, I tell myself, but you never get over that special someone who sees past your guilt and mistakes, and makes a numb, callous heart feel again. And you were that person, that woman who made each heartbeat, each simple thing worth it. I part the worn chintz curtains and let the red dawn envelop me. It’s always that color now – the color of loss, passion and a Pyrrhic victory.

Remembering when we first met, the bliss I felt in your presence, couldn’t contain the heart on my sleeve, didn’t follow the rules of when to say what, didn’t wait for a space to contact you again, I was in heaven, after being in a muted hell. On that first day, I pulled you close to me, slowly, steadily moving past your walls, shyly grabbing your hands, easing into embrace, then kissing your cheek on that beautiful face, time tested and painted with disappointment, failure, abandonment. I made a pact with myself right then, I would never abandon you. I would see past the running away as a test willingly taken because I saw you. You, in all your majesty and grace, not just as the scars you so willingly wore. I wanted your pain, your burdens to bear, to become “us” unafraid together, to believe I was sincere, never dreaming of playing a game with your fragile, kind heart; I couldn’t convince you and we grew apart. Come back, we’ll reset, on The Edge of Desire, just like John Mayer says; flip your mattress on its axis and find me on yours, we’ll hang onto each other, stay closer this time, not having to live in what we’ve created. Come back, I forgive us. Will you? Please?

I’ve often wondered if my insecurities, bitterness and jealousy is in my blood or if it’ll wash out in the water just like that Mayer song, which was art to us. How could I have ever let you go? Is drinking myself to an end on sordid streets, littered with the debris of bad memories like crushed paper cups worth it, when all it takes is acknowledging responsibility? I guess I’ve made myself an archetypal anti-hero, a charlatan straight out of a comic book and it’s just my pride that’s keeping me from driving to where you are, and telling you that I need you – all of you, every inch of your soul and body, each iota of you that gave me a baptism of sorts: a rebirth in this world full of broken places where cacophony strikes people down with harsh drumbeats and the clanging of cymbals filled with hate. And I’ve seen enough and heard enough, and I guess it’s time to humble myself and just break down, look you in the eye and tell you that I can’t fucking live without you.

I’m calling you in desperation, dialing the numbers ingrained in my mind, I couldn’t forget even if I wanted to, can’t block you, I’ve tried in perpetual vain. Surrendering to possibilities of rejection, you may not answer, ignore my attempt, my heart not just on my sleeve, laid bare in my hands, bloody, wounded, full, aching, alive at the thought of our pride forsaking, envisioning a reunion where we shed our past skins and become reborn, us, again. Us, again and always. I’m hoping the sheer power of my needing you will create lightning bolts, somehow as a signal from silent heavens, that I’m ready for reckless abandon, not reckless at all when it comes to our twin flames. My anxiety creeps to crippling heights, as I hear the sound of unanswering silence, dreading hearing your voice only on a greeting, jovial and inviting, a mockery of my pain. I keep saying please with each eternal ring, “Answer, Answer, it’s me.”

I look at my phone, hoping you’d call, and then walk street after street, like I’m doing penance, hoping that once when I’m knock-kneed and engulfed by the raw pain that follows circumstance, you’ll call and give me catharsis. I guess I’m hoping on a miracle. I guess I’ve retreated into some golden shell of youth’s idealism, unwilling to come out, like a snail protecting himself, unaware that all it takes is one stomp to crush and kill. I can call you, but I’m teetering between red and blue: the red of a harsh hurt which I can no longer bear and the blue of hope. And then as I stroll aimlessly, past litter, potholes and ramshackle bars, cigarette shops and hotdog stands, I feel my phone vibrate and looking at your picture brings back so much that I’m tempted to not answer, but I decide to brave it all, take this last chance and say, “Hello.”

Your voice is live, electricity through phone lines, makes my head light, I lose my breath. “Hello?”, you say another time, and I respond in an almost whisper: “I’m not sure what to say, you know it’s me, this time away, unbearable. I can’t explain myself fully, make you understand, just want to be together again.” You respond, as if thinking of the next words is the most difficult task in a situation so fragile, then slowly say, in a tone almost defeated, “None of it matters, the past is gone, I’ve been thinking of driving to where you are, wordless, we’ll feel what words can’t tell, mend pieces still broken in embraces eternal”. Eternal, a word often heard in scripture or musings on life after this, now just us, the love I almost lost, a culmination of words said and unspoken, “I’m coming”, we speak in unison, and love handles the rest.

© Nitin Lalit Murali and Emily C. Poésie (2019)

This is a collaboration between me and Emily. You’ll find her at the Melancholy Spitfire. She’s a very talented writer who writes very honest, evocative and beautiful poetry, and she’s also a good friend. Do follow her blog. 

Hope in desert places

This is a picture of a desert. I've chosen it because my post is about sorrow , pain and finding hope in desert places.

You and I amble past collapsing brownstones – circumscribed by decaying barks and withered grass – hand in hand, looking for a place where the common denominator is madness and the ecstasy that both pain and pleasure bring.

You and I see through ostentatious facades lacking depth and semantic: pretty, insipid Instagram photos and Facebook status updates, designed to impress.

You and I know the unknown and see the unseen, and that breaks us each day but ties us together with a fabric of blood that murmurs of a togetherness that transcends even the sweetest aubade of the songbird at dawn.

You and I haunt decrepit, tumbledown places, looking for solace, a place to sheath our swords until we fall to our knees and with red droplets of anguish creating our Gethsemane, we look at each other and know that the only way of battling the void is to embrace each other in that beautiful, twisted way that only we can.

Eden & Chernobyl, the Puppeteer & the puppet, the Wasteland & the Crucifix, the Glory & the Passion – these things we know intimately.

We’ve seen the horror that unhinges minds, alters personality and chokes with its paranormal tentacles, but we’ve come out both defeated and victorious.

We’ve felt the sorrow that kills, that feels like a spear in the side while the executioner hammers nail after nail, tearing skin and breaking bone, but we’ve come out both weeping and with renewed grit.

I look around me sitting on ruined pillars with broken gargoyles atop them and see the starless sky, the smog, the industry, but the thought of you making your way somewhere along these winding roads in a different space and time makes me think that there’s hope in desert places.

For Mia 

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

The fiddler plays but we’re not dancing

This is an image of a hand peeking out from the abyss. It symbolizes the struggles that the mentally ill go through which is debilitating and excruciating.

We don’t need to talk tonight, so hush, because the demons sleep. Sure, they’ll return tomorrow while the fiddler plays his sad violin on the roof, and I’ll wonder if this is the little girl I carried, and why, oh why has fate struck her with my curse and blessing, my gift and punishment. When we wake, they’ll howl and like little insects pierce through our thick skulls and feast on the serotonin in our synapses. But they sleep now darling, they sleep. So hush, it’s best we don’t wake them up at this hour. I hold you in my hands, gently stroking your hair, while you softly snore, and I think these thoughts. If I could, I’ll wage war against them, though my grip is weak, my sword blunt, and my shield shattered like a dented car’s hood. I’ll play the arsonist and set them on fire. Or the sacrificial lamb, take them upon myself, and let them completely disorient me, thoroughly destroy me, and drown myself after so they never return and you grow up normal, healthy and strong. But they exist in a realm I cannot touch, and prayer is dead in their post-apocalyptic metaphysical realm. They shield the sovereign with a black curtain, and so, I can’t do anything but stay at your side. I often think of years from now, when I’m gone, split by these fireflies from hell forming a scythe, cutting through skull and mind, finally making me a body blue and cold. Will you find a way by then to beat the apparitions? The ghastly horrible hounds? I never did, but I hope you succeed. And what if you don’t? Who will you turn to? Your mother’s an alcoholic mess, showing up now and then and using us selfishly for money, and your older sister succumbed, hanging from the ceiling fan, and taking with her, a part of me. I wish you’d set yourself on righteous fire, killing them off once and for all. But wishes are just delusions, probably placed in our minds by the same little death-moths making us believe, so we can suffer more. Find strength in the torture, find meaning in the pain, and when you can’t handle them, find a way to rip them to shreds; tear them, torture them in an inner purgatory reserved just for them. Show them pain; grant them unendurable havoc. You’re stronger than me. Become steel, transcend, and make them afraid: Terrified of causing you despondency or paranoia. Give them neurosis and psychosis and liberate yourself. And then walk into a new age. But tonight sleep easy, they aren’t here, and I am, and even when I’m gone, let my presence remain, because I won’t rest until you’ve flayed them alive, impaled them, and thrown them in a pot of boiling water. Kill depression and psychosis by using the old brutal adage: an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. Show them no mercy, but always remember that I love you. Sleep easy, my daughter, sleep.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

I’d like to believe

This is an image of a bright creeper and the dull bark it creeps over. I've chosen it because it represents contrast which is a key theme in my poem.

I don’t know if I see woolly greenish-yellow pastures
like a parakeet’s breast, and peaks like broad, inverted
icicles, or red, bloody flick-knives of grass that have
martyred cowherds for their faith, leading up to
enormous arrowheads dripping with white venom like
froth, embodying hate speeches and propaganda.

I don’t know if I walk on beige, velvet sands –
nature’s cushion, while ringlets of blue peace
gently wash my feet, or on hard ground like
tourmaline made stubborn by callous hearts,
while poisonous blue little pythons seek to
drag me away into the abyss.

I don’t know if I watch the glassy purple chested
Hummingbird seeking a pink cotton candy flower,
flying neither too high or too low, but finding its
equilibrium, or if I watch a small weapon with a small
bloody scythe we call a beak, and razor-like wings
sucking the blood out of a flower and making it
anaemic, like viciousness masked by a
golden Bauta of tenderness, or getting
one’s way no matter what, even if it meant trampling
someone masquerading as white-prophet selflessness.

Does beauty still exist? Does hope triumph?
Or does depravity engulf? Or does hate have no bounds?

Do I see a pyramid of self-actualization, starting at bare
survival and ending at transcendence? Or do I see an inverted one of
self-indulgence, starting at pure corruption and
ending at bare survival?

Questions go unanswered, and the voices, they haunt.
Things are better unsaid, only because expression kills.

Meet me at the crossroads, where the asphalt glints,
urging me to make my choice, and the spiteful sun
pours his wrath on me. Know me at the ramshackle barn
with battered stalls, dead pigs, dying cows with their
ribs showing, and hay scattered. Draw me to an old, brown
cottage with its rustic charm, nestled in breezy reverie, where
the cold, crisp air kisses and faith isn’t something that only holds
the stars together, but something incandescent, burning within
and fueling hope. Love me until I believe and see again.

© 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)