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

Wait for it!

Why should I care about the ramblings of a poetaster who suffers from acute schizophrenia?

Every line he writes reflects the disorder. There is poetic catatonia or the complete lack of depth, authenticity, and emotion. Dull and moth-eaten; leprous, and bland as insipid coffee.

There is the clinging and clanging, and neologisms when he says I serenade Siobhan.

There is a misconstrued, twisted paranoia that shrieks, ‘Oh! A love poem! How can it possibly engender originality! It’s a mutton bone I must feed to my pet dragon who appears on the 7th page of the 7th book in my series of 777 books! Hallelujah! Jehovah Jireh! Yes, it’s Catholic and shares a similar world with the brute, masculine, (hackneyed, overrated, devoid of intricate metaphor, empty) imagery of Tolkien!’ Yeah, I’m sure the deacon will be pleased while he’s defrocking the cantor and taking sacramental joy in his shrieks which are songs of joy to the presbyterate.

There is a false superiority, clearly evident in his rag-and-bone satire that he thinks, says, ‘I’m on par with George R.R. Martin!’ I’m sure you are, and Sansa loved it when you rode up to her on your unicorn dressed in nothing but a thong made out of hyacinths.

There is thought broadcast that makes him prattle on and on about myth and lore and keeps him warm at night thinking he dodged Zeus’s bolts with impunity while Aphrodite’s dove formed an unholy union with his cock bettering the union between Jacob and Rebekah, only because it’s sealed with white blood.

There is thought echo which takes him to strange metaphysics in which the Egyptian pyramid symbolizes the stages to self-actualization, and Kierkegaardian stages of despair are actually seeds of consciousness watered by the bad energy that comes from the obscure chanting of the people stuck in Plato’s cave.

Well, why should I care about this weirdo who treasures the opinion of a bunch of shallow (but pretending to be deep) giggly girls, or a self-proclaimed 21-year-old (now 34 or 35) lanky drug kingpin who shot at the police in the middle east of all places and lived to tell the tale!

I honestly don’t know why. I think I’m doing him a favor.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)

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

Dear Rebecca

This is an image of a walkway shrouded in mist. I've used it to signify carrying on despite the season, and moving forward despite a terrible past .

It’s funny how interest becomes repulsion
as an amber dying sun becomes the ugly
grey twilight augmented by croaking frogs;
when I was somebody, inching towards a career
with good looks and a ‘healthy’ personality,
you stood there transfixed like a wood-nymph,
stunned by the sight of an enigmatic wayfarer
and you wouldn’t go away though I was more
interested in the honeyed leaves and the green
velvety moss covering the barks, though my gaze
drifted from you to the reddish-brown earth,
broken here and there, and the soft drizzle that
the sunlight sliced with a sickle of
mild wrath, the mounds that peaked like statued
ogres with rough edges meant to split skin and
crack the bones of those who dared climb them;
it’s funny how you loathed the sight of me later,
after months of prescription gave me
false peace like the tranquility of an almost convert
to Christianity, it’s funny how my still healing skin,
having fought rash and pain, my ungainly walk,
my paunch and my drug-induced lisp
made me the right candidate for you to heap all the hatred
that you’d bottled up inside,
made me the perfect person to tear asunder with
a knife of bitterness, breaking jugular notch and then
turning sideways to split clavicle, before returning
to split the entire system by making a vertical
laceration right through the rib-body,
and I took it all, wondering why,
but time and wearing the roughest fabric of
the outcast, vagabond, and the idiot has taught me
more than a few adages –
the weak prey on the weaker because they lack the
courage to defy those stronger who wounded them,
the strong don’t like the weak standing up to them
because the last thing they want is a dagger
gutting their bellies of insecurities,
the vagabond doesn’t want to care, but society forces
him into this shitstorm,
but trust me, though I’ve suffered,
though I’ve spent six years battling a slow
deterioration of my will and senses,
though a cruel Sovereign places me in
situations of the angriest grief,
I’ll find a way.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)

The pugilist

Does fate enshrine a few in a temple of fame while discarding others more worthy?

I don’t know how I’m world champion with a 40-4 record,
my punches are mosquito stings,
my dance is an unhinged waltz, missing beat, and tempo
my flabby arms and swing are an ode to the spastic,
my jaw shatters into fragments of counterfeit ivory
when they strike me hard,
and I’m scared, deer-spotting-leopard or ostrich-spotting-lion
scared,
I have no personality and cannot sell a fight,
my insults lack a preacher’s fire and brimstone,
my eyes tear up after a stare-down when I’m backstage,
away from sulfurous reporters with caustic spittle,
my paunch is repulsive, white dough that I massage
before dropping a fart,
my nose is a smashed in, little car wreck that I never bothered to fix
I don’t know how I’m world champion with a 40-4 record.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)

For Real Toads and dVerse 

A hard knock life

This is a picture of wood burning. It represents a difficult life, trial and agony.

Whoever said, ‘Life is beautiful,’ was either caught up in grandiose delusions like green sunsets or sought solace in excruciating pain and became a tragic optimist of sorts.

Life isn’t beautiful, and it’s not fair. It’s bleak like an arid landscape devoid of any vegetation and tortured by the spiteful sun. It roars with pain like the waves that thrash madly and then sweep away the shore in their angst. It agonizes you like a throbbing hangover after a night spent drinking a bottle of rum. It tortures you emotionally and physically like a man with cancer who also happens to be on death row.

Life can ebb away before you know it, and all you’ll become is a redundant machine like an outdated computer with dust and grime coating its screen. Life can break you like a wrestler puts his opponent in a hold and crushes his arm. Life can gut you like a thief sneaking up on you and pushing that blade into your belly for just a little cash. Life makes its demands and when you don’t heed; you may not suffer the consequences now, but there will come a time when it’ll take every drop of blood from you.

Philosophers have sought explanations as to why there is sorrow, and as to why we live in a fractured world. Some have made that bold nihilistic statement – ‘God is dead,’ and have envisioned a world in which humanity has absolute freedom without consequences. Some have gone further and added that every human is responsible for every cataclysmic event that happens even though there is no purpose. These days we argue about the very nature of reality. ‘Are we living in a simulation?’ Some ask.

But theories meet theories and anti-theories, and ultimately the search for purpose becomes what it truly is – a never-ending struggle with time, space and our place in reality. ‘Everything is meaningless and just a chase after the breeze,’ said Solomon who was probably the first real nihilist.

The truth is that all his metaphors and exploits and wisdom gained him nothing. Then defeated, he wrote Ecclesiastes and projected his grimness while he did. I’ll end with a story of a prodigal son. Except in this one, there’s no closure, no catharsis, and no epiphany.

Once there lived a man who demanded his father’s inheritance and spent it quickly on buying himself an apartment. He believed he was absolutely free and spent more money on women, cigarettes, and alcohol. The money flowed because his father was rich, and he set up bank accounts and tried using it responsibly while maintaining his bohemian lifestyle. But pleasure always catches up and overthrows direction, and he fell into drugs and horrible company. Towards the end, battered and bruised, he said, ‘I’ll get my shit together,’ and tried, but he found his pattern of recklessness inescapable. He found himself becoming the man in the iron cage, the reprobate; abandoned by God and forsaken by men. His father passed away, and he went back to live with his mother. She showed him love, but he never reciprocated it. He’d become so used to getting what he wanted that now he projected his failures on her and verbally and physically started abusing the poor old woman. One day, he struck her too hard, and she collapsed and lay there, breathless. ‘Oh, mother! Oh, sweet mother! My angel! What have I done? What have I done?’ He sobbed bitterly. Then too cowardly to face the law and shame, he resorted to taking his own life.

Life isn’t beautiful because it always leaves you wanting more.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)

Fall

You see the gold flake leaves and Auburn blankets,
the cherry cream bloom covers trees like jackets,
the sunlight glinting through the glade like rosy
prophetic oracle: exquisite, cozy,
but Autumn is corrupt, a reject’s Prozac,
commotion simulating tranquil soundtrack,
don’t you see all things are abortive dry rot?
The very color of a dying man shot,
the picture-perfect social vodka glass smile,
that transient jubilation that lasts a while.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)