Three simple sonnets

This is an image of Constantine. I've used it because I've written three sonnets that revolve around him and the people associated with him.

A simple man

I saw a blazing sign in bloodless skies!
And so, I must obey! The shields they paint!
We won the war! I must erase the taint!
Both foolish men, and dirty pagan lies!
I fight for truth, and justice never cries
About men who hate blood and swoon and faint!
These idiots and their undue complaint!
But my son’s grief! That look! His sorrowed eyes!

No, I’ll not let inane fact govern me
And Licinius? Didn’t he warrant death?
They cheated Truth, they only claimed they’re mine
Now Jordan begs and I won’t let it be!
I must hear her and then that final breath!
I made the bloody sky and put my sign.

A simple law

I said he is immortal and I’m wrong
But didn’t he rescue us from tyranny?
If truth were told, he doesn’t need praise from me
But certainly, requires some potent song
And only fools attend the pagan’s throng!
The world is clearer now, can’t they all see!
But murder haunts my law and won’t let be!
I often wonder if he’s truly strong

My errors taught me I cannot revolt
Against raw power, all that does is kill
Poor Crispus, rebelling against the light
But look at him now hanging like a dolt!
Just for a horrid, thoughtless, carnal thrill
I said he is immortal and I’m right.

A simple truth

Is life a blessing or an awful curse?
I find a law in that inane, small phrase
As some say it is with each passing phase
when friends forsake, and painful wounds I nurse
I could allude, say that a hidden hearse
Awaits me; it was never truth that stays
That lifts anemic men to realms of praise
My name wasn’t written in ecstatic verse

I’ve tried to rage but dropped my fight to peace
I thought of love and looked at sparkling stars
I’m Crispus at the Emperor’s behest
What justice, fact is this? These thoughts don’t cease
And nothing changes that I’ve lost my wars
But no one answers the need for this test.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

Hope in desert places

This is a picture of a desert. I've chosen it because my post is about sorrow , pain and finding hope in desert places.

You and I amble past collapsing brownstones – circumscribed by decaying barks and withered grass – hand in hand, looking for a place where the common denominator is madness and the ecstasy that both pain and pleasure bring.

You and I see through ostentatious facades lacking depth and semantic: pretty, insipid Instagram photos and Facebook status updates, designed to impress.

You and I know the unknown and see the unseen, and that breaks us each day but ties us together with a fabric of blood that murmurs of a togetherness that transcends even the sweetest aubade of the songbird at dawn.

You and I haunt decrepit, tumbledown places, looking for solace, a place to sheath our swords until we fall to our knees and with red droplets of anguish creating our Gethsemane, we look at each other and know that the only way of battling the void is to embrace each other in that beautiful, twisted way that only we can.

Eden & Chernobyl, the Puppeteer & the puppet, the Wasteland & the Crucifix, the Glory & the Passion – these things we know intimately.

We’ve seen the horror that unhinges minds, alters personality and chokes with its paranormal tentacles, but we’ve come out both defeated and victorious.

We’ve felt the sorrow that kills, that feels like a spear in the side while the executioner hammers nail after nail, tearing skin and breaking bone, but we’ve come out both weeping and with renewed grit.

I look around me sitting on ruined pillars with broken gargoyles atop them and see the starless sky, the smog, the industry, but the thought of you making your way somewhere along these winding roads in a different space and time makes me think that there’s hope in desert places.

For Mia 

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

Emma

This is an image of a lonely park bench surrounded by withered trees. I've chosen it because my poem is about heartbreak and sorrow.

I visited mother yesterday, my eyes like backgammon pieces,
just as sharp as the black keys on that old piano
with its chipped corner that she still keeps,
I wonder why, I guess some miasma of sentiment rises from it
and clouds her vision of now, maybe it saves, I don’t know,
she’s frailer with wispy grey hair and a semblance of a smile
gives her integrity and keeps the clock ticking, I guess,
she asked about you. “How’s Emma?” and I said, “I don’t know,”
nonchalantly, I drank a cup of coffee and left with
a half-hearted hug, I wonder why mother remembers you,
only you, always you, I didn’t tell her about last year
when I visited the ashen cul-de-sacs and crevices of the internet
looking for your poetry, I didn’t tell her about how it
only made sense two years ago, when I found myself
in that white hall of hell, where demons masquerading
as angels in pristine gowns with spotless teeth sedated me,
I didn’t tell her about how my father fake-wept
like a statued cherub after sending me straight to
white chintz perdition because I foolishly wanted closure,
I didn’t tell her about the absent-spirit
that seeps through bone and bleaches marrow
these days, but worst of all, I didn’t tell her about
reading your verse and laughing after I left you in college,
you knew these broken truths of life well before I did,
I suppressed things, but you dealt with them using art,
I looked for you using that phone that now looks like
plastic, but couldn’t find anything except chalky screens
with monochrome search results, I guess I took fate’s gambit
when I naïvely thought I’d mastered
the game and now the queen of black judgment, and the
rook of dark circumstance pushes this dethroned
monarch into hopelessness, a double checkmate, and
I’ll just have to let myself be knocked off the board
after saying that I fucking love you.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

November

This is a picture of Autumn. I've chosen it because my piece revolves around the season and the colors grey and orange. My piece is symbolic and erotic.

I wake up at six, walk out of the faint orange apartment complex, breathing in the fragrance of the grey mist, letting it empower me, not comminatory, but swirling and swirling like a breathtaking vortex of tranquility, while I walk, without an edge, but an ease to my gait, my grey sweatshirt and skullcap complementing both the day and the season. I walk outside the gate, and the tone of the climate, which once felt nostalgic or lonely, now caresses me with the sweet anxiousness of anticipation. I hail a cab, and as I sit in the backseat and drift past grey road after road, occasionally looking at the Flame of the forest dancing vivaciously to the rhythm of the weather, I think of a better allure, a deeper spell that she possesses. I let the window slide down half way, not only to let my senses dance to the cadence of the morning, the sun slowly skimming over the horizon like anticipation rising to excitement. I reach the Airport, and though a part of me wants to smoke, I settle for Grey Tea, embracing the slow chill that still resides. I watch as the sky turns fiery, and watch as a throng of people arrive, a grey mass, indistinguishable, and look for her. My eyes meet hers, an orange whirlpool of depth beneath all that complements the greyish-orange twilight. She walks up to me, throws herself into my arms, and at that moment we’re one with the morning, the season, and separate from it all: our scent, our peace, our caress, our end to excitement, our beginning to something more surreal than this season of exhilarating, intriguing, beguiling beauty. We spend the day walking each grey-tinged street, looking at the dancing wild foliage juxtaposing the chipped off buildings like a city of mirrors reflecting all our intricacies, nonchalance, excitement, abstractness. We settle for lunch in this beige café, somewhere in middle of this city, the color giving us a balance, and after, we visit a lounge bar, the waiter bringing us a flaming martini and placing it on the grey table, while we gaze at the flames: darting, skipping, speculating, knowing, seeing, and the music has this slightly offbeat, cool vibe to it, the rhythm distracting us and then bringing us back to each other. We light our cigarettes, the smoke quickly cascading upwards, the grey ash speckling the tray, the orange glow, spellbinding, mysterious, and enticing. We leave to the hotel, the orange light drifting over the pale grey water of the heated swimming pool, and open the mute orange door of our room, and shut it behind us, the velvety gray aura of what’s unsaid, enveloping, covering, teasing and taunting us, as I plant kisses on her neck, and she tilts her neck up, her eyes betraying both orange and grey, and excitement turns to something deeper, profound, not just titillating and tantalizing, but both totalizing and unraveling sense and color; tender and revitalizing, smooth and energizing, as each mote of passion melts skin and hue, and there is no win or blue, but a mutual infatuation beyond just adoration, and this is a song of whispers and sighs, or more fervent, and she rests her head on my shoulder, while the curtains turn grey, and then a misty orange, and we kiss, and I drop her off at the airport, still stuck in November, and dreaming and waiting for another season while she does the same.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

The gravedigger’s son

This is an eerie image of a grave. My post is about a gravedigger who loses his sense of self because of the stress of his job, and I thought this image perfectly captures that.

I’m a gravedigger’s son,
the shovel and spade, nick
-snick-flick, earth as raw as putrid flesh,
movements and sequences, nick-
snick-flick, instinct, impulse, rationale, reason,
combining, conglomerating with each nick-
snick-flick, making my father weary,
and the eulogies for sons lost in
accidents, daughters dying of cancer,
got to him, and the fire and brimstone
spewed, unnerved, unsettled him, and
so, he drank and drank, and came home,
never abusive, but neglecting everything
and everyone, his surroundings a chorus
of the dullest beige, his song softer than
the mildest blue, his eyes red, his cheeks
crimson, giving no one, even a semblance of
green, and when he died, I took the spade
and shovel, not out of want but need, nick-
snick-flick, a slow monotonous cadence
settling in, standing in a corner, averting glances,
and then fine-tuned to them, the buzz and flow
of the traffic, the cacophony of horns
making no difference, nick-
snick-flick, coming home
to an aging mother, and a wife without
the alcohol and yet failing…falling short, nick-
snick-flick, each picture slowly turning
sepia and then a blurred black and white,
while everyone I knew or cared about,
or loved still breathes,
but is sadly dead to me.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

Autumn

This is an image of autumn. I've chosen it because my poem relates autumn to my personal struggles. The title of my poem is also Autumn

During periods of distress, I seek the season of mangled leaves
and barks undressed, the whalebone dully lighting the undergrowth,
a tincture of purple dusk a stark contrast to the auburn canopy
of the red maple, my footfalls a solemn crunch like that of a
weather-worn, debilitated infantry that’s trudging on,
and at that moment, that silence of realms both earthly and eternal,
I find a hush within too, not one durable, but enough to see
That there’s time without that’s just as weary as the time within.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

Ambiguity

This is an image of a road in the woods leading to light. I've chosen it to represent hope even though my poem ends on a note of uncertainty.

When I last met sister,
her reality was a Kafkaesque,
disjointed, dysfunctional
nightmare that gave me no
respite, rest, recess, I wanted
to let her pain sink in, empathize,
or at least sympathize, she lay on
a park bench, muttering, stuttering,
stammering, falling short,
“I’m…just…a…fucking…w..aste
of vo..lu..me,” she said Prozac
ridden, her hazy eyes,
speaking more than prescription,
“Turn…me…d..o..w..n, s..t..a..t..i..c,”
she said, but I couldn’t leave her
in that weedy reality riddled with scraps,
paunched men staring at her
like she was a whore, ready to prance,
pounce, prey, and that litter stinks more
than the debris in the outskirts
of this seemingly cosmopolitan, dark
eye-liner, dark red lipshade façade
that only people who know India smell,
and you can call it a messiah complex,
a Jack Shephard need to save, and yes,
I have a similar tattoo on my arm, or a
pseudo-Samaritan need to fake-help,
or just love, but I picked her up, despite
my nonchalance which soon splintered
into tears, a heart of shattered stars,
carried her home, with my little
lean muscle, and told her
there is no mute, or a tuneless
song, but a new dawn, day, a spark,
a speck of hope, and she listened,
drifting in and out of consciousness,
but soon walked away, dissipating, dissolving,
disappearing again, and I hope with all
my heart that she found a place
with her name engraved on a
good man’s heart, and not on
a pothole reeking of addiction,
where she’ll be a target without
a need for an aim, and that shakes,
splits my core, with a jagged,
rough-edged knife, because I may
never be able to save her again.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)