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 


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.


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.


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)

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)


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


Spring lost its luster
I stare at forlorn Autumn
My life ebbs away

I don’t know when I changed for the worse. Maybe it happened when paranoia gripped me, or when I tussled with fits of rage and madness. But now, there’s a beast within me, threatening to break rib-cage and tear flesh and destroy when provoked. I try suppressing him; I try bottling the raw pain like flayed skin, but I never succeed. He eventually consumes me and everybody around him, and then the guilt of hurting the people who love me the most breaks me like that picture of Spurgeon smoking a cigar broke him and forced repentance (or so they say).

I then resort to self-medicating and drinking and chain-smoking. A false euphoria envelops me as the antihistamines hit, the alcohol goes to my head, and nicotine rushes to my brain like soldiers rushing on a battlefield. But soon, that touch from a false god loses its potency and defeated, deranged, and damaged; I look at the wall opposite me and spend hours practicing a twisted anti-mindfulness.

Then comes the craving for more codeine or antispasmodics. I beg mother for money; I say, ‘Just this one time Mom. I promise I’ll never ask you again.’ But we both know that this redundant ruse, this scene on repeat is just a way for me to always get what I want. Nowadays, this charade leads to confrontation, which eventually unleashes the beast within. A vicious cycle has me trapped; I know I’ve lost sight of Spring and Autumn’s decay personifies me, but I refuse to change because it demands excruciating effort, and so I stay as the crimson refuse slowly envelopes me and my blood, spittle, and shit rupture even a semblance of beauty.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)

For dVerse 

A double-edged insight

I cannot fix the past, and myriad horrors await me, but I still haunt my castle of delusion, unwilling to change things. Each chamber in this monstrosity that my mind has created over years of maladaptive dreaming contains either an illusion of the future or fabricated memories. In one, I’m an accomplished writer, in another I’m bedding a beautiful woman, in the third I’m an accomplished musician, and these are just the fantastical tomorrows. The chambers of false pasts ignore the hate, the abuse, the bullying and see me lying on green pastures where a lilting wind caresses my features or replace yesterday’s whiskey with a pen and a finished sonnet.

I don’t know what’s worse: the imagined realities themselves or the insight that tells me I’m trapped in a chimera but gives me no hope.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)

For What Pegman Saw

All my father’s songs

The songs my father sang infused me with –
the deepest pain and I lay broken, not –
perceiving its height, length, scope, range or width –
the shrill shrieks echoing those battles fought –

The songs my father sang diffused me and –
I tried, on my knees, praying, Please! Help me!
But waves of silence washed away that sand –
of hope I fancied were rocks braving sea –

The songs my father sang refused me though –
I wanted to love them, make them my own –
and then, away to lands unknown, I’d row –
with broken boats and a deep dirge, a mourn –

I listen to songs my father didn’t sing now –
but in me, the pain questions, Why? Where? How?

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)

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