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)

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)

The seasons of a tragedy

This is an image of eerie woods. I've chosen this piece because it complements my bone-chilling piece about the cycle of violence and abuse.

The conditional lover

Her laughter is gentle and naïve; not wild and capricious. It isn’t prone to vengeful quirks or caustic idiosyncrasies and doesn’t inundate the room like a swarm of buzzing bees. She hides her sorrow when she smiles. Beauty knows her deeply, but she doesn’t realize it as she laughs with jaded eyes. She laughs softly and slowly in a slightly nonchalant way, but underneath it all, there is a wealth of emotion like the richness of classical music. I’ve caused her pain, and don’t deserve her, but the light crescendo of her laughter moves even a hard-hearted man like me to tears.

The murderer

The winter is a season of intemperate red,
The blades of grass are frozen; stumps of trees subdued,
Through bouts of cough and phlegm, I yell, ‘You whore! You bitch!’
Forgetting all about her laughter that was spring.

The almost penitent

Forgive me, Father, for I’ve sinned against you,
Change me, Lord, from a man possessed by hate to a prophet of love,
I hate the man I’ve become, this man of rage and sin,
I knew you once, but I forsook you,
Let me not seek repentance like Esau, but never find it,
Let me be one of your elect,
Keep me, preserve me, love me,
Bless her Lord. She really loved me.
Bless her Lord.

The self-pity soaked mourner

All she wanted was love. All she wanted was her voice to be heard. All she wanted was acceptance. O wretched man who I am! Now, she’s gone! Left me to wander scarred roads with lifeless trees circumscribing them, and the miasma of death emanating from the potholes. Now I’m alone and have no one to turn to, and grief is my only companion, stabbing me when he sees fit.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)

Welcome Sheeple, welcome

This is an image of a cracked wall. I've used it to represent nonconformity and a stand against societal norms that cause so many people acute distress.

Welcome Sheeple, welcome to a place where pensive fires forge poet beards, giving them an authenticity that no hipster lounge bar shot can replicate.

Welcome Sheeple, welcome to a place where we delete an, ‘I’m so depressed,’ status message, written for a hundred likes and replace it with a black parade of fury and melancholia that sweeps away charlatans in a vortex of mad poetry and razor-sharp prose.

Welcome Sheeple, welcome to a place where gargoyles mounted on chipped off pillars roar with disgust at any histrionic poser who steps on the debris they face because it’s sacred ground for the loners and misfits who dance artlessly with no reason for treason because they bare their souls and wear emotion like new blue, red or black skin.

Welcome Sheeple, welcome to a place where Layne Staley still lives, pink-haired and skinny, and grunge is the norm, coating cheap motel rooms, smelling of fart and tobacco with the color of reckless, raw angst that screams, ‘Fuck society! End Hierarchy! Find Liberty!’

Welcome Sheeple, welcome to a place where Popularity is the new ‘faggot,’ bullied by Insanity and Idiosyncrasy, and Nonconformity abolishes selfies that don’t look like mugshots because this land is arid, riddled with brambles and despises the tattooed synthetic, AI manufactured flesh-and-bone nanobot who crawls over every surface, incessantly taking pictures and feeding them to the cult of Like.

Welcome Sheeple, welcome to a place where prescription pills and abuse and bullying have created a tragic optimism, a fight till the end though institutions, tyrannical patriarchy, and power whoring have hung, drawn and quartered us, outside the gates of the Temple like Gentile dogs.

Welcome Sheeple, welcome to a place where we castrate already neutered thought that relies on the support of ‘theories’ created by logicians, and rely on off-beat creativity that dances to the rhythm of odd-time signatures and the jazz of craziness.

Welcome Sheeple, welcome to a world distorted by altered perceptions where identity finds its birth in a void, free from religion, gender, ethnicity, caste, and creed.

Welcome Sheeple, welcome to a nation free from the rat race and hackneyed political debates and base sitcom sarcasm, but rich in individuality, solitude and the never aging gold grass of satire.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)

Life finds provenance and meets Death cradling Grief

‘Will things get better Ma?’ I’d ask her, once a fractured identity, found its cast of maternal iron and grit, determined to see the boy through shoves that split ears open – red drops of anguish finding an emotionally ramshackled Gethsemane – though he was too young to pray, to plead and to say sorrowfully, ‘If it’s your will, take this cup,’ and desperate to see him uphold integrity and become the antithesis of the man, who – when she had an early hysterectomy because blood and nearing death finds its provenance in sorrow and ashes: the grime of you’ll never be good enough as a wife, lover and a person – beat the boy on the way to the hospital for leaving a textbook in school. ‘God! God! You and your mother chant! Where is your God!’ He screamed trying to smash his face against the car’s dashboard. ‘You’ll fail your bloody exams, and even if you were to find your textbook don’t you dare tell me that you said so, you little bastard.’

‘Will things get better Ma?’ I’d ask her after they’d finally separated and she took the gamble and said, ‘I’d rather be on the streets with my son than watch him grow, wearing his father’s skin.’ She’d seen the rebellion, the blows delivered in the parking lot, but some shared idealism of knowing worse kept them. He’d pinned her to a bed when the boy was still five and tried killing her, and as innocence slowly left the boy’s soul and he let out a primal scream, he slapped the boy. ‘Shut up!’ He countered with feral ferocity and slapped the ground and shouted, ‘See I’m hurting myself too!’

‘Will things get better Ma?’ I’d ask her after disappointments on the football field and the wrong woman, who was never the yin to my yang, never the destiny, the truth or true love because these things find their birth in collective pain and strength to both wear and bear it. The girl had known pain but she suppressed it and marched to Hypocrisy’s parade: a salute and a stand at ease when Society barked on his platform held together by man’s strained, crooked limbs and knock-kneed stance. ‘Rip the veil and see,’ I’d tell her, but the traumatized often either worsen or slam the iron maiden shut on others like them, or swing, unsteadily somewhere between, where there isn’t darkness or light; just the false lull of addiction.

‘Will things get better Ma?’ I asked her, holding her frail limbs and bellowing, a sudden car crash of recollection. ‘Stay! Tell me! Please!’ And after years of separation and my relationships with worse women and flings with alcohol, she smiled a smile of togetherness, but it wasn’t a bittersweet ending for me; just a spear cracking skin, breaking arteries, piercing my organic core and rushing out from the other side.

‘Will things get better?’ I ask myself in this small town where the petrichor supposedly enlivens, the birds chirp, and Autumn tosses orange scarves as she drifts slowly in her gown of bristles and thorns, with ripened halitosis – a dethroned Empress, and she stares at me, never knowing where I’m heading, bleeding from the rocks of Reality thrown, and says, ‘Godspeed. I hope things get better,’ with a sad idealistic smile.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)

Originally published in Morality Park 

Prayer

This is a black and white picture of nature. I've chosen it because it augments the bleak, nihilistic tone of my poem. But I specifically chose nature since the poem ends on a hopeful petition.

I

As the mist sheathes the mountainside
like a scabbard its sword,
and the only sound heard is the
distant allegro of a street dog barking,
as the musty odor of half-smoked cigarettes
bleeds from the ashtray,
as the cold lingers outside this antediluvian
cottage, knocking, knocking and knocking
some more on the discolored door,
as the stars in the sky lower their choruses
to mere whispers,
as we lie under separate quilts
divided by oceans of guilt with their
white gushing waves of sorrow,
I ask you, is it fate or chance that
turned us on each other?
Our stories don’t have happy endings
and knowing that it’s bleak ash and brimstone
that meets us, while we flail and weep,
thrash and never sleep
in abysses of tomorrow only
augments the very substance of this pain
we hold, enmeshed with our soul,
scattered through our selves
like the lights in a kaleidoscope.

II

God, I pray that somehow our souls you’ll keep
and though we’ve wandered far from grace, your keep
you’ll spare us the rod, the ever-restless sleep
holding us through fear in blissful sleep.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)