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)

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)

Shoeshine Timmy

This is an image of a man pushing a boulder while he's climbing a steep slope. I chose this image to parody optimism and herald realism. My poem does the same.

Shoeshine Timmy lived in a brownstone
near vacant parking lots, and a street lamp
that sputtered measly light on potholes
riddled with garbage and acid rain.

He lived beneath black starless skies;
prayed to a god who’d jilted him
and thought of Carla who’d married his brother
in the summer of ninety-eight.

‘Be thankful for each blessing,’ a thought said
‘Wake up, seize the day!’ Another yelled
‘Fight! It’s a new day!’ A third whooped
And Shoeshine Timmy muffled his cries
And listened to the same encouraging lies
And I doubt he’ll stop until he’s dead.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)

A sonnet by two musicians trapped underwater

This is a picture of an underwater wreck. I chose this image because it's surreal, haunting and captures the sense of confinement present in my sonnet.

As we lie in cold aquamarine perdition
with shoals of fish like daggers, glinting by,
as whispers from the ghouls of wrecked ships spy
on our unhealthy shrieks – a trite rendition –

of what was once a soaring orchestration
we wrote with strength, in rush and poetic high
while women held us, softly with a sigh
and satiated our thirst and addiction –

we dream of more than banal, bluish existence,
of what it was to see the sparkling stars,
of running down slopes in the mountain air,
of leaping to grab life with sheer persistence,
of more than barnacle strewn, soundless bars,
of more than this acutely harrowing lair.

© 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