You and I

This is a picture of a railway track running through a beautiful wood during Autumn. There's a delicateness about it which complements my romantic prose-poem

I don’t want to place what we’ve built in a shoebox: parading our affection with embellishments like picture perfect Facebook lounge bar shots, or relationship statuses with a hundred likes, giving us reinforcement. No, I’d rather keep our little home, nestled in a reverie that only we know about, where passion echoes, and subtle grazes actually mean something substantial, carrying a depth like lines of well written poetry personifying the muted moon, and its soft reflections on the gentle tide – the ebb and flow stitching the iamb, and steadily building up the pentameter. You and I both know that what matters more than blood poured on a page is the actual give and take off-screen, the real absorbing and reciprocating when you’re sitting across me, and your laughter and your delicate smile giving me inner opulence and helping us both compose this ethereal sonata, notation after notation, bar after bar, and its beauty breaks dawn, makes the songbirds chirp, coats the leaves with dew, and scents the faint drizzle with petrichor. And with each tug of spring, the colors of effervescence bathe us, with each glow of summer, the waves of ecstasy overwhelm us, with each crunch of autumn, august serenity envelops us, with each mist of winter, a solitude of togetherness, keeps us huddled, comforted by blankets, naked but warm, skin against skin. I don’t want to constrain us to just the seasons or color though, because a plethora of underlying semantic makes this thing we call love, and yet when stripped of its bark, it’s vulnerable and simple, and I guess that’s a paradox we’ll never understand, and so, we’ll just keep loving each other, stripping our essences to bare minimums and yet finding in each other maximums.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

Forever and always

This is a picture of a lonely autumnal cottage. It conveys deep despair and loneliness.

When you read this, I won’t know if you’ll be shocked or just subdued. I won’t know if you’ll think I took the coward’s way out or had the courage to do something most people only dream or talk about. Life is filled with tragic curves and barely guarded hairpin bends and there’s only so much I could climb. You’ll ask yourself if what I did was the most selfish act someone can commit or if I said what I needed to, did what I needed to, left behind both rapture and devastation and quit on my terms.

Each day felt like an inner concentration camp, gripping my soul and squeezing hard, crushing my will and slowly and steadily I became a slave to forces beyond my control. I tried explaining this to you and if one person got me, it will always be you. But words are both spoken and unspoken and the latter always resides even after you think you’ve purged it all out. I felt like I was being a burden, a curse and a shame; thriving on my self-pity like a leech on blood; growing fat, drinking the blood of sorrow, and by and by I needed freedom and though I smashed the trapdoor with my fists, clawed at it even; it refused to open, and day became night and night became day and I lost sense of purpose like a walking cadaver doing his duty.

But I kept at it, until fate wrung me dry of emotion, and apathy kills darling, but also gives a man courage. I didn’t want to fake love, to fake sorrow, to fake that you meant something long after my heart grew cold. I wanted you to mean something always because nobody else gave a damn, nobody else fucking cared. I’ll remember your passion, vulnerability, elegance and fierceness if there’s an afterlife where sorrow lies defeated and we drink from the waters of beauty and rest on the shores of inner quietude.

Now, I don’t expect you to understand. And even if you do, I don’t expect you to forgive me. I love you and though they’ll say, “He never meant it because love translates into action,” and they’re right, I just want you to move on, to exorcise yourself of me if necessary. If what I did is cruel, then use it against me, but let me go right there. If what I did is difficult, don’t try solving that puzzle. If what I did is spineless, then remember me for being yellow and nothing else. I wish I could explain more but I can’t. I write this with dry tears and a dead soul and if that sounds harsh, remember me for being evil and for not walking hand in hand with you, and breaking ‘forever and always,’ even though paradoxically you are forever and always.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

Everyone

This is a picture of people silhouetted against a sparkling background. I've used this image to represent conformity and the dreams that fuel people and make them cruel.

Something special somewhere lies
out of reach of
everyone who longs to become someone,
frustrating, forcing
addled brains to know more incoherence
and then take their rage out on poor
nobody who knew no one and lived
nowhere.

Everybody looks up to somebody
who gives his umpteenth theatrical swansong
saying, ‘Oh! I’m depressed and can’t do it anymore!’
Amidst the clicks, flashes, cheers and claps
while poor nobody genuinely sings his song
to an audience of none.

Everyone wants to go everywhere –
fucking on wild tropical beaches
to the rhythm of the tide,
climbing the alabaster peaks,
just for the boisterous boast,
trekking through jungles with tribes
for a mugshot of an emaciated man
who crushes the serpent’s head with his foot before
the now famous ‘poverty’ or ‘education’ status
update, written on the spot, because voilà!
There’s connectivity! While poor nobody
knows no place except the thought of somewhere.

Oh devious, deceitful generation
with bloodshot eyes and zombie like fixation
on tips, taps, clings, rings, permanent vibration,
clicks, flicks, swipes, types, a cyber fake-salvation;
glued to the screen, books not read, dead attention –
the red light after a post, the ovation
you need – forever lost in fast transition

Everybody wants to live someplace better than
everyone else, and anyone who says, ‘no,’ is
nobody who’s tragically crying, ‘Anyone!’
While someone looks and laughs, saying,
‘Ha! Loser! He’ll never amount to anyone!’
And everyone joins in the chorus because
something special somewhere lies
out of reach of
anyone who wants to become someone.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

A sestina of madness

This is a picture of one man rowing. There's nobody else in the picture and it's in black and white. It represents acute despair.

I walked beneath a Maple tree arch
and knew appeal and something crimson:
the Painter’s flourish still surviving
despite the architect’s fierce madness;
returning I saw trees hacked: corpses
and gave up hoping for love and peace

They stood with candles wanting some peace
below a gaudy, dazzling false arch
and now we see the terror; corpses
the earth weeps since it’s not Fall’s crimson,
it’s finitude’s severe sheer madness
until no life is left surviving

I thought she loved me: we’re surviving;
thought life will give us solace and peace,
we just tore everything in madness,
we now live under a subdued arch,
love is soft, never something crimson,
these rings we wear now look like corpses

My friends are now remote, just corpses,
I thought we’ll walk this path, surviving
these tests and pains that just seem crimson,
perhaps I trusted in devout peace:
felt we’ll all race beneath a strong arch;
those cotton candy dreams are madness

I trusted my will till the madness
attacked it, left poetic corpses,
I stood beneath a perilous arch
and only thought I was surviving
until it dawned without intense peace –
the sky had turned a wintry crimson

My fate is sealed and only crimson,
I try but cannot fight this madness,
a mind cast down by war and not peace,
thoughts in the mud: they look like corpses,
I’m tired of fighting and surviving,
I only stood beneath a lost arch

I walked beneath a Maple tree arch,
the painter’s flourish still surviving;
returning I saw trees hacked: corpses.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

Finding my own

This is a black and white image of trains. I've chosen it because it represents life in motion, which is the essence of my poem.

I’ve often wondered if this tarmac path
now fractured — densely coated with fool’s gold
embodies my spindrift life — plague and wrath
the mirror now reflects what I don’t hold

It lies without — past costly flats and greed
past quilted beds and lives too far from home
I’ve pondered, wondered if there’s more to need
and would like walking its route — simply roam

But chairs stay still like ties we can’t break from
and light bulbs just glow with no feeling
and modern cabinets keep us lost, numb —
a life without approach to meaning

I’ve often wondered if screams coat my silence
or if it’s fading circumstance and hence —

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

I cannot make promises I can’t keep

This is an image of a path in the woods. I've used a picture of nature because my poem draws heavily from nature. The image adds to the realistic feel of the poem.

I cannot be your whimsical country cottage
with its beige roof, stone walls, and chimney,
against a breathtaking backdrop of Rainbow
Eucalyptuses with their postmodern barks:
The home you can retreat to whenever you
seek solitude,
I cannot be the solitary boat on the calm sea:
The one that always points you
to a saddened, Autumn-hued horizon
thereby empathizing with your every sullen state,
I cannot be the archway of cotton wool trees
under which you walk on a carpet of white clouds:
The winter vacation you need when it’s hot, humid
and unbearable to live with yourself,
I cannot be the layered tea-plantations in the drizzle
like pyramids, only natural and alive:
The elegance you suddenly desire
after a day like watery coffee,
you must understand darling that I’m flawed and finite:
just dice thrown not knowing where it will land
or what it will show,
a mote of dust sometimes suspended in the sunbeam,
a freshwater pearl that isn’t that valuable,
and you cannot expect a love that surpasses me,
because even the most beautiful people in one’s life are tragic,
but know this:
whether we’re ramshackle huts or idyllic bungalows,
whether we listen to the cock crow or the silence of the stars,
whether we’re eating in silence or walking hand in hand,
I can be the oak you rest under,
not always comfortable to touch, aging, losing its luster
and one day gnarled and leafless.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

What goes around comes around

This is a picture of lightning. I've used it because it complements the fiery style of writing I've used in this post.

Back then, I endured every insult you flung at me like poisonous darts and let myself be humiliated.

I spent years wallowing in self-pity because of your mockery and wanted your life to break into pieces like a flimsy porcelain plate hurled to the floor. I wanted revenge. I wanted you to feel pain – raw, real, debilitating, destructive pain.

But then I realized that revenge gets one nowhere and is not mine to take. I learned from my mistakes and triumphed over the bitterness that scalded my heart like hot water searing flesh. My rage became quiet sorrow. My self-pity became apathy, and my hate became love.

I realized that you would sooner or later fall into a pit and I didn’t need to wish for it. And I was right. You built those sand castles and dreamt that they’d last because you ‘believed’ that you’d used onyx and graphite when you’d constructed them. But look at them now – rubble and debris intermixed with the piss of the very people you thought admired you. They couldn’t withstand the first sweep of the waves.

You thought you were a Daenerys Targaryenesque ‘Mother of dragons,’ who’d crush her enemies in one swoop and rule on ‘The Iron Throne,’ but look at you now – the commoner’s laughing-stock, raging and ranting at the air.

You made a ‘list’ of the men you ‘believed’ you’d date – regardless of if they felt the same way about you or not – and said, “You were never on it,” when I politely asked you out, even though you were crazy about me in college. You said it out of pure maliciousness and a want to wound, but look at you now, unable to keep a marriage and trying to win everybody over with lies about your husband.

I guess you realize now that it’s painful to have a heap of garbage thrown at you. And I sincerely hope you’ve snapped out of a dream where nymphs, fairies, and elves adore and crown you. I sincerely hope that you’ve realized that we’re all placed here to suffer and to endure because enduring pain and torment produces the fruit of perseverance which is so missing in the millennial.

I wish you well and hope you transform into someone beautiful because I know that every person can be beautiful. They only need the courage to face their vices. Redemption lies waiting beyond sorrow’s turbulent sea, but you’ll need to row as hard as you can, enduring the harsh rain and the ugliness to find the promised land.

You’re now in a blurry place where naiveté meets realism. Cross over to the real side and realize that even though there’s nothing much to start with, there’s still something more than a cup full of maladaptive dreaming.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

Kaleidoscope

This is a black and white image of a couple holding hands and walking on the beach. The lack of color represents a flawed togetherness with its ups and downs which is the essence of love.

I know looking into your heart is like looking into a kaleidoscope, or maybe that metaphor’s a little showy, but I’m running with it for now. So, I look and find all these abstract patterns – bright and colorful, each representing a lover or a fling, and at the periphery, I find those one-night stands or slipshod ten-day sex without mental stimulation romances, but then I progress and find these blue patterns of a year or two-year old romances with ideas of a person or who you wanted them to become, and I guess that’s why they’re dreamy and resemble a hazy sky with abstract clouds, but then I’d like to find myself at the red core, which isn’t as vague as everything else, but not absolutely clear either, because darling, you and I know, that no relationship’s perfect.

Sure, I could bring you flowers this morning, and make you bacon and black coffee in that big glass, without sugar, just the way you like it, and then press you against the wall, while the hair you just did, cascades, and I know you like that – a morning taste of what’s coming, and then in the evening we could do the clichéd walk in the park, or a movie together, or laser tag.

And then, once we’re home, I could slowly unhook your bra (you know I’m good at that!) and then you could pull my shirt off, look at my scar, which you love for some strange reason, even though it’s this nasty keloid that looks like they sawed my stomach into two, and stitched it together, which they did, when I think about it.

And then I could kiss you on the neck and slowly, steadily and stealthily climb down, inch by inch, while you arch your back, and sigh, and before we know it, we’d be reaching for something so very electrifying; galvanizing each other with stimulation that isn’t purely physical, but emotional, psychological and surreal, and then exhilarating and relaxing, teasing and tantalizing in a way that’s not overtly flirty, but ‘mystical,’ if you like the term, and then, we’d find the warmth of two hearts beating as one, and each kiss that embodies a crazy, deep, insane rich feeling: the same red at the core of the kaleidoscope.

But that’s today, and tomorrow we might feel like doing nothing except slightly kissing, with the same emotion, but then the day after, something trivial might spoil things for a few hours, and hence, even at the core, what we have is never perfect.

We’ll always fall short of perfection, and then embrace the beauty of a perfect, almost-perfect togetherness, and I guess it’s just this thing we call love.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

The only way out

This is a picture of a path in the woods. It represents moving forward despite the tribulation fate bestows on us.

When I learned that she was going to breathe her last soon, that the disease was already in its fourth stage, I boxed the wall until my fingers bled, and then looked up. ‘Are you there? Do you even care?’ I asked the sovereign. Was this karma because I played God when I created characters and destroyed them using my artistry? Or was this judgement for each sin, consciously or subconsciously committed? I was left with these questions asphyxiating me, and the never knowing, making me smoke, giving me stained cotton lungs.

I smashed mirrors, the shards piercing through skin and bone while crimson soldiers of anarchy made their way to my wrist, staining the battlefield of my skin with their nefariousness. ‘Why are you silent?’ I asked him who predetermines. ‘Why do you turn your face away?’ I screamed with indignation.

I loved her. She was the only one who never judged me despite my idiosyncrasies and cantankerous temperament. She loved me selflessly and maybe the fact that I’d never reciprocated fully, birthed guilt, which birthed anger, and with a frustrated and devastated core, I took my rage out on him who’s supposedly omnipotent.

I spent days, negatively praying, and by that, I mean cursing him. So even though I believed, I succumbed to a spiritual nihilism and felt like I was carrying each cross of each broken person in this fractured world. Who are we, but dying candles braving the squalid winds of providence? And couldn’t all this be different? A world without the fall, without suffering, without Adam’s apple, and the serpent’s deception?

Watching her regress from a healthy, functional woman to a mass of tubes and bones impaled my faith with a spear of nihilism. ‘God is dead,’ I finally proclaimed, because I couldn’t handle watching the only person who meant something to me needing morphine to numb the pain, feeding off poisonous chemicals that kill more than save, smelling like a gangrenous mass of cells, and I drank, drank, and drank some more. I couldn’t visit her, because I didn’t want to see her intoxicated, but not being there made me drink more, and I wished for a way out.

And then something within, reminded me of my egocentricity, and rebuked me for playing the theatrical, ‘I, me and myself,’ card. She needed me, even if her essence was leaving her, and my pain was nothing compared to what she was going through. I learned at that moment what selflessness and humility meant. It meant giving and not self-indulgence, though the stones of tribulation strike you hard, and leave you bleeding.

But a part of me loved wallowing in my misery and did its best to enclose myself in a hazy room where my eyes burned, and the walls slowly closed on me. A part of me said, ‘You’ve got nothing left, so, why bother?’ And voices echoed, formed battle positions in my mind, and fought furiously while I looked at the liquor, and thought, ‘One more swig. That’s all, and I’ll be numb.’

But I lifted the bottle and smashed it against the wall. And threw on thrift shop clothes and ran to the hospital. I ran six miles. And sweating, I asked the nurse for an appointment, but was denied since visiting hours were over. ‘I need to see her. I’ve been here so many times before. Just for a few minutes. I love her,’ I said or partly screamed. But I was asked to come back the next day,

And so, I went home, and looked at the rum staining my floor, and a part of me said, ‘You fool! You wasted it,’ but another softly said, ‘Visit her tomorrow.’ And though I was an impulsive, reckless rebel, I listened to my inner voice this one time and spent the night fighting the urge to drink.

The next morning, feeling a conglomeration of love, withdrawal, hate and bitterness, I walked to the hospital again. And then I saw her, looking with tears in her years, wondering why I hadn’t visited. I fell to my knees and said, ‘I’m sorry. I love you,’ and she smiled through the pain. I visited her everyday though I knew she wouldn’t make it. I fought the withdrawal, though each iota of the flesh screamed. And finally, I stood in the back, when a family who’d abandoned her visited her, after she had deteriorated badly.

They transferred her to the ICU and one by one, people visited, perhaps trying to make closure, or to pretend that they cared. I was the second last. And there lay the woman who’d given me so much, and showed so much strength, now feeble and unconsciousness. ‘He gives and takes away,’ a part of me said, while another yelled, ‘Why?’

I stuttered when I gave my eulogy, but didn’t shed tears while people cried loudly; people who didn’t even bother to call her for years. Maybe they thought me cold, but I didn’t see a single one of them when I visited the cemetery the next day, and clutched the tombstone and engraved my own epitaph with my tears, literally screaming and howling, while the wind blew away withered leaves, and the sunset bathed me in the twilight.

Looking back, I found redemption from my demons because of her unconditional love, but I had to lose the most precious, beautiful person in my life to trudge forward. And that’s life: We live though we’re broken. We die though we’re happy, and through it all, despite the horrors and pain, some inner clock ticks, saying, ‘The only way out is through.’

Inspired by the quote, ‘The only way out is through’ by Robert Frost.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

Youth

This is an image of a young man skateboarding. I've used it because my humorous science fiction post is about being forever young.

Yes, I found the small potent potion
of youth, hidden in a cave named,
‘Transcendence,’ and drank it in one
gulp, oh now, don’t complain, I hunted
for it, and did the hard labor, and so it was all
mine, all mine, I tell you! And it was just a
little green elixir, and so, why share?
Well, I thought that way, years ago,
and for a while it soothed, relieved,
took away stress and grief, and I grew a
beard for a year, and then a Mohawk
the next, and the women drifted in and
out like thoughts in the consciousness,
alluring, attractive, brilliant, bright,
exotic, winsome,
because I journeyed from land
to land, savoring the Boza of Turkey,
the Butter Chicken Masala of India,
and hell, even the Balut of Philippines
which only takes a little getting used
to just like Kopi Luwak,
I went skydiving, swam the
Pacific, attended fashionable parties
on Yachts, and slowly and delicately
feasted on molecular gastronomy
served in three Michelin Star restaurants,
I worked every job from sales clerk
to CEO for the hell of experience,
and boy, those were the days! But soon
television became virtual reality and then
holographic virtual reality and finally
modulated telepathy, signals given from
movie post-brains sitting in post-Hollywood,
and post-minds taking whatever they want to
with the option of cutting and editing
bits, and changing the soundtrack with a flick
of the post-consciousness,
using another signal from
the post-Music Industry, and all this
was too much for me, because the potion
only gave me youth and not evolution,
and so, they threatened me, labeling me
an oddity, and since they couldn’t kill me,
they exiled me to another cave called,
‘Depravity,’ the very word an anathema
to the post-human, and they gave me
my old gadgets which they’d reconstructed
using post-science, way too complicated and
intricate for me to comprehend, and they
called it ‘mercy’, even though they hate the
spoken word and language now rests in
a collective super-consciousness, and so I type,
hoping somebody will hear me, but
nobody does, and I guess I’ll just keep typing
and typing with existential questions
haunting me, and the angst of my mistakes
clawing at my heart, tearing it uncannily,
and  I know now that the word ‘youth’ doesn’t
just mean young, but also connotes
a forever quarter-life crisis,
a forever pain of existing, outside time,
figuratively and literally! And a forever
madness of the millennial even though
three thousand years have passed,
and the Gregorian calendar is now as
redundant as me!

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)