Fade

This is an image of the sunset coating a landscape. I chose it because it's very melancholic and represents grief, which is the central theme my poem revolves around..

When I met you, looked deep into those black-velvety eyes,
I knew I found my muse, a Blue jay: ashen, muted grief,
steel-blue quietude, and a mosaic brilliance concealed
except when you glided with your poetry, the Cherry
Blossom tunnel I walked through all those years, stooped, no
longer seemed dreary, and as I read between the lines
you wrote, knowing you and finding me in those spaces,
I stopped and looked up at the steeple of the old Methodist
Chapel at twilight in that quiet cul-de-sac not far from
where we lived, and looked at creation waltzing
with stern architecture with her golden auburn feet,
like you’d put it, I stood there and waited for nightfall
and for once looked at the stars in that simple
yet transcendent way you saw them and I felt
the beauty only you could capture,
but life has this uncanny knack of separating us from the people
we hold most dear: often they move away slowly like
glaciers and that hurt ebbs with time, but sometimes they’re
taken from us in ways we never fathomed and that grief
flows through our veins like lava, burning with reminiscence:
an indomitable regret, I should have done more, maybe
just a gentle hold of that cascading brown hair, or a soft
kiss at dawn, reminding you that I loved you enough,
I should have read deeper and found that though your
verse reflected love, there were these undercurrents of
hopelessness threatening to drown you, I should have
fought harder, but these words are silent sighs now,
just wistful hope like the Minister of the church gave me
when he said, “God took her in that dark way,” but he
wasn’t there when I came home and saw that diagonal
slash, the red puddle that still stains sleepless nights,
he didn’t hear my shaking plea for grace, and he didn’t
see the last love poem I ever wrote fighting both volatile anger
and calamitous sorrow: those last scribbles on a sheet
in which I enclosed the ring I gave you, placing a
pearl back in an oyster shell, and laid it on the brown
coffin, trying futilely to let everything fade.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

As if

This is an image of a plane wreck floating on the sea. I've chosen it because it augments the nihilism which is the central theme of my poem

I write poems of myself, as if there is a point of writing.
I wake each morning to the sight of the ceiling fan,
as if there is a point to sleeping and waking.
I breathe the fresh air, as I walk to the rhythm of
the thrush, as if there is a point to breathing and walking.

What is existence, but the dregs of the past carried
by the illusion of tomorrow?
What is solace, but a myth punched in our skulls
using a societal pneumatic drill of ‘thinking positive
thoughts’ and ‘high self-esteem’?

I walk on a cracked road, strewn with dead leaves,
crushed paper cups and the stench of over-ripeness,
the road is broad and here and there I find a tavern
or a whorehouse that only elevates my guilt,
the road is barren except for a few humps
like an old hag with sagging tits,
the road has stark tress, fruitless and leafless
on both sides, menacing, haunting, monstrous,
hideous like wooden upright cadavers,
the road leads to a murky horizon, askew
and blurry, never telling me what awaits.

The stories I’ve known, I’ve shared with no one –
because ears hear, but they don’t hear at all –
and so, I trudge alone beneath the sun –
embracing seasons dying – the filth – fall –

I write songs of remembrance, as if recollection
abets salvation, memories or flashes of them
forming a false beatific vision, lasting an hour
before the mind’s uneasy, unsettled, untidy,
unaided.

I write sonnets of love, as if I hold it in my heart,
which in truth is a headstone with an epitaph saying,
‘Here lies one unknown who died before he died,
here lies one obscure who never lived though he lived,
here lies one unseen who saw though he never saw.’

I write villanelles of ache, as if sorrow is the muse
that refines, coats hearts with the golden dew of
resilience, but my tears refuse to flood my eyes,
my pain has given way to apathy like that of a soldier who
first cries in sorrow over a dying friend before seeing
one too many fall and then desensitized and disillusioned
carries on.

I write prose both lyrical and anti-lyrical calling
the hyacinth layers of velvety tenderness or
calling it a myriad chopped off tongues stitched
together, but does it matter? I ask you, does it matter?

I can sing of myself, but I’m not myself.
I can rise to meet life, but I’ve never risen.
I can talk of rebirth, but I’ve never known birth.
I can talk of death, but I’m already gone.

And all this, the songs and their echoes,
the women and the cigarettes, the laughter
and the beer, the muted tears and the numbness,
the journey and the destination rises like
a monster with a scaly carapace, irises of fire,
a mouth with demonic teeth, sharp like needles,
four-footed, with vicious claws and wings with an
aura of a death-spirit, seeking to devour life, but
only to find itself thrown in the abyss,
only to find itself lost to obscurity and oblivion,
forgotten and erased.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

All we ever had

This is an image of the woods at dawn. It captures the emotion that piece conveys which is why I chose it.

When I married you, I didn’t think of bliss, but
something steady, sure, through the ups and downs
of our time and space, the clock ticking and our
stars sparkling, giving us more than we needed,
but time surprised me with euphoria, elation
and celebration, the first few years, walks in the
park, stealing kisses in the morning, watching
the twilight slowly seep through the gentle
gap in the burgundy curtain, together, and perhaps
expecting forever cost me, because you
suddenly withdrew, spiraling and spiraling
into your atmosphere, often catatonic,
sometimes laconic, and I remember the crushing
diagnosis, soon after she was born,
the horror of waking dreams, and
voices whispered, making, urging, beckoning
you to do things unfathomable, uncanny,
ugly, and I devoted myself more to little
Emma, and watched as she grew,
often sheltering, protecting, shielding her,
the burden draining my own atmosphere,
our ecosphere now a sepia photograph
of incoherence, and sleight of hand,
a fool’s game of cards, and then when she was
twelve she sank into something similar,
or worse, and care-takers, and prescription,
didn’t help, and I stood, watching the
two women I loved winding and winding
around a gyre of gargoyles,
and I wanted, I only wanted
to bring the structure down, make them see
the light again, and fall into my arms, but I couldn’t,
and it isn’t sorrow that kills darling, it’s a stage
further, a void that makes a man take complete
charge, free-will killing off fate, without the flip
of a coin, and I was no longer allergic to what
comes after, I don’t know if the two
of you were there, as they scattered my dust and
ashes, being finally becoming one with the soil
it sprouted from, but if you were, I wish you
shed no tear or even screamed, but understood
that I loved you both but stopped loving me.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

Pink Paper Lanterns

This is an image of pink lanterns. I've chosen it because my post is an allegory that revolves around pink paper lanterns. These lanterns have a sinister appearance and that augments my prose.

When I was younger, I passed by your house, faint beige with its pink paper lanterns and the aura drew me, made me want to know. You were rarely home, but you gave me the keys to that large gate, and trained your hounds to never bark at me. And so, after weary days, and idea and ideal driven romances with women, I sought refuge and sat on the plush couch and allowed myself to some wine. Sometimes you visited, being my friend, but our conversations were one-sided: Me lamenting, and reeking of self-pity like sour whiskey breath, and you listening. But I soon realized that you were only pretending to listen and had a sinister purpose: an ulterior motive to destroy me, but those paper lanterns, the rustic charm, the hearth and the smell of doors made of solid wood, made me return. I guess friendships are very rarely a mutual give and take, and I wished I learned that then. You set me up with a girl who was already in love with someone else, and then took delight as I wept, heartbroken and dejected. I finally tried freeing myself from our fake friendship, but the struggle was intense: those paper lanterns grew red, the walls a darker brown and the allure of comfort for a nomad more enticing, and then suddenly you seemed kind, even loving like a brother. And so, I listened to you though a voice within said you didn’t want the best for me. You said you knew enlightenment and I followed you, and for a while it seemed like you knew what you were talking about. The house seemed perfect, the paper lanterns dreamy and mystical, but then, just like that, you snatched the keys from my hand, the hounds barked, the paper lanterns became gargoyles with grotesque faces, and the house threatening. You wanted me trapped, howling and suffering, and foolishly, because of my naïvety I made myself beg you to let me in though you were more a monster than a friend. You didn’t agree because you delighted in my misery. You made sure all the women in my life turned against me, fractured the most beautiful relationships forged after years of suffering and sacrifice. But one day, I broke free of you and the house immediately turned beige again, the paper lanterns pink, and the rustic charm returned, inviting me. The dogs seemed like mute puppies, and the keys reappeared in my hands, and yes, I opened the gate, but the moment I did, I saw the ugliness, and threw them down while the dogs raged and hunted me down as I fled. I escaped and when I came back, the charm grew, but I kept saying no. The urges stayed until I said a flat no. And this evening, I finally saw a demolished house. I guess you’ve gone someplace else. So farewell my friend, because I’m done listening to you, and I know now that the deepest red lies within a heart you imprisoned, and it’s breaking free, slowly unleashing with a love unfathomable and I’m walking into a new age.

© 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)

Fate

This is an image of a lonely man walking the city streets at night. It portrays grief which is the central theme of my poem.

He was a teetotaler, but his wife drank,
now and then, a little gin to relax her
after a hectic day, counseling teenagers with
existential problems, unnecessary, unwarranted,
undying, then one day they went to a party
with their 12-year-old, and she was a little tipsy,
but he kept his discipline, and as he drove back,
passing winding curve after curve, the son
asking questions, the wife’s laughter making
him smile, he kept his discipline, but
reality often pivots the rules we make like a
top spinning, a car spinning after a truck
nicked the edge, memories spinning, lives loved
slipping, he woke up, his life spinning,
spiraling down, and moments
paused for a long sequence,
and a new cycle began, watching everything
he had coast in the grey and touch
the blue, cold river,
his discipline slipping, and he visited a shrine,
his sanity slipping, hoping to look for the
dead still waltzing, walking, waiting,
but found nothing, no Cadmean victory,
and red droplets of anguish turned a fiery
orange, and he lost his discipline, relationships
with widows, their children unattended to,
uncared for, flings with married women,
their husbands too old and prosperous,
and then finally a glass, no…two…three…
four…ten glasses of gin each day, justifying
it with the nostalgia of that last moment with her,
walking down winding curve after curve,
haggardly, horribly scarred by the pockmarks
of fate, looking up in anger, yelling, “You’re
responsible! You’re responsible!” Looking down
in self-loathing, whispering, “I’m responsible,
I’m responsible,” looking back in disarray,
asking a mute, “Why?” Having lost work and purpose,
and finally drifting in and out of consciousness…

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)