Dear Jessica

This is an image of a beautiful wood. I've used it to represent positive change that a lover brings. Sometimes all we need is that one person who invigorates us and gives us hope and shows us love.

I used to wake up in a tumbledown room,
riddled with dust, the floorboards cracked,
nails coated with rust piercing through bone
and marrow, and I’d limp outside to a wasteland:
arid, full of decaying hyacinths like clusters of
rufuos rot and plagued with smog that caustically
hindered vision, I’d given up on life and death,
and morning and eve meant nothing to me,
but you came like a surreal storm magically
lighting up those dark corridors, giving
them a winsome flourish, fixing broken
tables and giving me more than hackneyed images,
you changed these sordid, littered, potholed streets
to beautiful asphalt that looked like a million
grey raindrops coming together under a blushing
sunset, you whitewashed the somber colors of
grief, giving me a fresh start, I’d sit and brood,
but you made me dream again, engraving each
wish with the will to try even if it seemed like chasing
the will-o’-the-wisp, you created new blueprints
which became strong foundations and I slowly
changed from being a passive-aggressive reckless
ne’er-do-well to someone less selfish, more
willing to give than take, more empathetic, letting
kinder emotion drift through those steep gorges
of the pain of others, I wake up
now with you sitting against the curtain, naked,
your petite frame silhouetted by waves of sunlight,
you’re looking at me, and I can’t help but faintly smile
and let a little of that wealth of emotion inside trickle out
because though we’ve had our share of ups and downs,
though we’ve sometimes felt like giving up on each
other, we never will, will we, because what’s
built with substance and honesty stands strong and
graceful, unlike something prosaic built with redundant
cliché.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)

A waste of time

This is a picture of nuclear waste. I've chosen it to represent doomed relationships that people cling on to for the sake of not being lonely.

So, I had a girlfriend nine years ago,
and we were the antithesis of ‘soul-mates,’
or ’till death do us apart,’ but we kept the
relationship going, adding layers and layers
of toxicity to a nuclear waste dump.

We’d say, ‘I love you so much!’ though we didn’t mean a word,
and we’d indulge in so much PDA
that made people think we were fucking like rabbits.

But the crazy part of the affair was that we never had sex,
sure, we got naked and explored each other’s bodies,
but we just never got down to the act.

I guess the truth is that I wasn’t physically attracted to her
and she thought I was prude pretending to be a player (which
was true then.)

Anyhow, the question I’m trying to ask is why
do we let ourselves get trapped in Sicilian Bulls of
doomed relationships, heated by the fires
of insecurities or false affection?

All those relationships are, are rose petals covering flick-knives
or a silky velvet drape covering a corpse
or a poorly written book that becomes a bestseller
or a shitty soap opera that manages to run for ten seasons.

It’s bullshit, and after I finally got a hold of myself, I broke up
and slept properly without hearing the phone ring at twelve in
the morning.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)

Pensive

You and I walk past brownstones, the color of rust, the melancholic artificiality endowing us with Plathian muses, making us wish for something more than facades and magniloquent odes lacking the depth and authenticity that only despair forges in the fires of harrowing experiences using a hammer possessed by death-spirits.

You and I walk beneath amber sunsets on potholed roads where buskers cut their fingers on sad but sharp violin strings, and the music’s an ode to obscurity. The call to oblivion is so strong then, and the waspish ache within makes us rage at tyrannical gods and hate humanity like anti-Bodhisattvas. But then a numbing that even an anti-psychotic can’t provide coats our hearts like the paper leaves of Autumn cover the mossy ground, and yes, there’s beauty in not feeling anything sometimes.

You and I perceive existential angst in ways that leave us devoured by madness, but also empathetic, and it’s this dichotomy within us that makes us unique and sets us apart from the half-baked crowd. It’s a roaring silence and a darkened light, but these hackneyed oxymorons don’t really give it justice. It’s the Big Bang of the all the lines we write, a sudden jolt of the consciousness leading to streams and streams of macabre yet beautiful thoughts like black rivulets under the gentle glow of a crescent moon.

You and I know tragedy intimately like Gnostics directly communicating with their gods through mystical experiences. But, this wealth of pain has taught us, even though it severed us from the magnetic throng – ostentatiously attracted to or bitterly repulsed by one another. We’re freaks and vagabonds, misfits and pilgrims with causes augmented by throes.

You and I connect in ways that supersede the yes, no, and okay though the weight we carry differs not in intensity, but in form. We grasp the deeper semantic that forms the undercurrent of good conversation, and we let it carry us to the shores of honesty, which is why we can pause talk today and restore it three weeks from now with the same ardor, and I’d like to believe that’s something precious.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)

For Mia

Real Toads’

I won’t give up on us, and I hope love doesn’t

I did create him after reading my pain and distrust
But all he did was spew fanaticism and used the rod
In wicked ways that torture weary minds and kill the soul.

But he was processed by red Calvinism and icy heart
His Cherry Blossom euphemism for biting words so harsh!
That spiteful torn design masked using a soft, milder hue.

Then studying him, I read words absent; and battered phrase
Those paradoxes and aporia that I couldn’t solve
And that calamitous voice frightened me and shook my core.

He held the gun and pointed; tricked me into mangy grunge
Lamenting profligacy using its depravity
In search of all the truth that’s lost, he said but never wept.

But when he said the honest might be dead, I had enough
I walked with him, exhausted, but resolved in mind and will
I plucked that gun from him in some uncanny, painful way.

And after, lay on grass and waited for that petrichor
And when it rained, I wept, went home, removed that stinging blog
And went to her and smiled when she embraced me in those arms.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)

A Wisteria now gnarled

At the edge in a small favela,
a maculate shelf with unclean tomes
you knew that there was no redemption
in that machine gun, gaudy, bland town,
and so you moved to the Elysian
Sierra with its minty peaks and
breeze that enlivens and white-rose sky
and there you knew true beauty, stillness,
but only for a day, a short time
and now you wish to rest again, sleep
but sadly walk afresh on the stain
at the edge in a small favela.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)

For Poets United

I need a glimpse of Glory

I hate writing. It makes me miserable, but I keep at it because I’ve made it my idol. I’ve replaced God with art, and worship at an altar of futility. I’m a hypocrite, a liar, a sinner and a vainglorious worm like William Cowper puts it. I write blasphemous things, proclaim that God is dead though I know he’s very much alive, I use language and imagery that goes against my conscience, and I do it for validation, the likes and the comments.

Self-pity courses through my veins and what is it but bruised pride? Me feeling sorry for myself because I don’t get what I want. I am a narcissist, but then again, who isn’t? You have the arrogant, sitting-on-a-pedestal, feelingless narcissist and the low-self-esteem fueled one, and then you have those in the middle with moderate self-esteem, but selfish to the core, and I guess I fit into that last bracket.

Humanity is totally depraved. There isn’t a single soul who’s good at heart. We may not be out there murdering people, but we’re as murderous as that death-row inmate inside. We fail to see this though because our self-righteous hearts deceive us into thinking we’re sweet and innocent.

I hate when I lash out at people using writing, but I do it anyway. I hate when I check, check and check some more if someone has liked or commented on my posts, but I do it anyway. I hate when my writing and comments are filled with lies, but I do it anyway. I hate being miserable but I do the very things that cause me the deepest misery. The truth is that I’m not addicted to the things of the world as much as I’m addicted to myself. Sin is eating me alive, and there isn’t anything I can do about it, except wait for a miracle of grace.

But will God redeem me? Me, the chief of sinners who has lost all direction. Will he abandon the 99 to find this black sheep? Will he restore me, and thaw this hard heart? Or is darkness my only friend?

I remember when I once walked with God, and he loved me and me, him. I remember having faith and knowing in my heart that Christ lived the life I never did and died in my place. I remember tears of repentance not for the things I’d done, but the man I was. I remember a picture of glory in my mind’s eye and chasing after that infinitely precious glory with my heart and mind. I remember how God found me and delighted in making me his own, despite who I was.

But here I am today, unsure of my election or worse yet, knowing I’m this reprobate heading straight to eternal perdition, and not being able to do anything about it.

Calvinism is one hundred percent right, and there’s so such thing as free-will. Having said that God works in mysterious ways and maybe one day I’ll know why he took away all the affection I had for him. Yes, I mean affection; overwhelming emotion for Christ which includes love, joy, peace, Godly grief, and even righteous hate. Without that, you’re a cold Christian or perhaps not one at all. I’ll end by saying, ‘Man, I need a glimpse of the glory of Christ again!’ Because despite how hard I try to do the right things, I’ll either only fail or pretend to be virtuous when I’m so full of vice.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)

Sometimes I look at the stars and just smile

Now, some of us aren’t prophets and barely
balance on these tightropes, often without elegance

We’re not ascetics who walk away from it all
and surround ourselves with the beauty of nature
because we know she isn’t ethereal

We weren’t born in tough, penury-ridden
neighborhoods where the sound of the skillet
meant everything, and do not speak of
truths we’ve not lived

We’re not veterans who’ve seen bloodstained
cruelty: corpses just as distorted
as the cacophony of glass shattering,
an irritating car horn played on repeat,
and pneumatic drills, remixed
into a ‘delightful tune’ if you’re into that sort of thing.

We don’t see celestial figures dancing
around us at night,
because of the muses that burn in our veins.
Please check for punctures, friend. It’s heroin.

But we’ve seen enough, and know that men
who call themselves feminists objectify
or stereotype women in their minds.

We’ve seen enough to know that men who
fast and preach non-violence end up having their
faces on a coin (and vice versa).

We’ve seen enough to know that the cause never
saved people, simply because it is as finite as the
men who instigate it, and we don’t have to
coat Murphy’s law with academic jargon
and stretch it into metaphysics.
Let those who do take their bows and win
their prizes.

But paradoxically, what some of us say becomes truth,
and then falling from the tightrope and bruised, we
seek nature just to get away but find no solace,
then starving we suffer and beg for the sound of the skillet
before fate butchers us, and we’re dog bitten corpses
with sardonic smiles on our faces.

Are those smiles one of victory or defeat?

You decide

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)