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)

Rhythm

I’d like to know each quaver of masked feeling
that lilts past you, as you sit there composing
those measures, with the cadence of grace flowing
through each iota of you, quickly flaring:
creating an allegro of swift longing
for beauty that eludes; but you’re still hoping
though muses fade, and then left with soft yearning:
just an adagio of broken meaning,
I’d like you to find me here, always searching
not for crescendos that wound, but an ending
to your sonata and my lines: our meaning.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)

ADIDAS

All day-long I dream about sex. Well, that’s both a Korn song and my anthem every day. I never wanted to become the archetypal perverted, twisted artist with an animalistic libido, a wild, unshaven, unwashed, bearded man with an insatiable desire for the electric thrill that an orgasm gives you – cock and seed and wet cunt, but here I am, and here I stand, twisted with fetishes, mad with lust overwhelming me, like a Tsunami sweeping over a coastal town, possessed with a need for nudes like a raving sex maniac, overcome with an uncontrollable want to fuck the girlfriend until we’re both in some death-ecstasy, some terrifying high that’s both painful and exhilarating.

All day-long I dream about sex. Blood gently dripping as I bite her lips and she bites mine, fingers interlaced as tightly as a bond in the seraphic realm, sweat, and semen and fluid creating a raw togetherness, a bittersweet haven for us – two vagabonds who’re the dregs of a brutal, hierarchical society, two anarchists – man and woman who embody the spirit of grunge, augmenting it with downers and cheap booze, two anti-social, in- your-face, punchy as punk poets who’ve known the side-effects of psychiatric medication, the allergies like countless crimson soldiers rushing on a field of skin, pointing their guns down and shooting, two despondent pilgrims never knowing where they’re going, but ending each day with an intense session of rhythm and improvisation, laughter and sobbing, silence and moaning

All day-long I dream about sex. I do it when I’m not peddling rhymes for free or reading some dog-eared book coated with last month’s grime and dust. I do it when I’m not with her, the videos on the computer screen now accustomed to my chronic masturbation ending in mini-scale cataclysmic explosions, the sight of another in a tank top and jean sending shock waves to my groin and forming still frames in my mind which later become a motion picture of devilish fantasies when she’s not around. But she doesn’t mind because we’re two fucking angst-ridden people and being fundamentally and innately depraved is the way we cope.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)

Searching for you

In moments of profound despair and deepest pain
I long, I seek, I search for a lover’s heated embrace
But fate to man is cruel, conquering his gain
Displacing him so violently with no grace

In moments of profound despair and deepest pain
I write to you — these notes to my passion’s hardest support
But pages tear and everything seems so inane
And to lonely beds and painful reverie I retort

Must love be this hurtful and riddled with deepest, hardest pain?
Or do somber colors reverb with sheen, shine — some gain?

Originally published in Poetry Under Cover

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)

Abigail

Abigail and I walked to a ramshackle bar after her father’s funeral service. She wanted to get away from her mother and her brothers. She wanted to wallow in self-pity, and I guess she picked the introspective, brooding me because she thought I’d make a great companion and well…because misery loves company as the old adage puts it.

Paunched, sleazy cops and haggardly men with no purpose filled the bar. We ambled along to the counter where a man with a lopsided grin and a squint looked at us. Abigail wore a sari and didn’t look all that attractive, but that didn’t prevent the bartender from looking at her from top to bottom.

Abigail usually picked lounge bars or elegant restaurants, but both of us were short on cash, and so, we settled for this place where men belched, and masala peanuts were the only appetizers available. The acrid stench of the strongest and cheapest liquor overwhelmed us, but we braved it anyway.

We asked the waiter for two glasses of Old Monk and a bottle of Coke. We received our order in less than five minutes. That’s the only beauty of ramshackle bars in India. You don’t have to wait long for your order. Abigail suddenly decided to drink her rum raw and just gulped it down. She didn’t even look disgusted after she’d finished. I guess grief has a way of overwhelming us and killing what’s left inside.

‘He was the only one who truly loved me,’ she said, ‘The only person who stood by me despite me throwing my life away.’

‘I felt the same way when my mom passed, but even though the grief never subsides, you find a way to pull through eventually.’

‘Now, I’m left with a mother who hates me and two brothers who’re too young to understand deep emotion. She shields them from me, you know? She thinks they’ll end up becoming an addict like me if they hang out with me long enough.’

‘I don’t know what to say, Abigail. I’m a fucked-up person too. I threw away every opportunity fate gave me; handed it back to her like a spoiled, ungrateful child, and I guess that’s what I am: A man-child with zero sense of responsibility.’

‘At least your father financially supports you. I don’t have any support, and I can’t keep a job. Don’t you wonder what all this is about sometimes? The meaning of suffering and the final purpose? I’m tired of just going with the flow, but I can’t aim myself in any direction, and when I try, I’m more directionless than before. You get the drift?’

‘Yeah, I do. I think we fall into these inescapable patterns of recklessness that lead to the same tragic consequences again and again. I think it has to do with some deep-seated hurt that we suppress initially before bottling it up becomes unendurable, and it violently breaks free.’

Abigail looked at me with her brown eyes but said nothing. We never fancied each other even though there was a time when she couldn’t handle her mom’s incessant verbal abuse and lived with me for a while before her father took her back home. We just drank and did drugs then, just like we’d done over the years. We always opted for antihistamines and codeine. She got prescriptions from a friend of hers who was a doctor. We’d make sure we never visited the same medical shop thrice though. We made this decision after a pharmacist threatened to call the police if we ever visited his shop again.

Soon we were well into our fourth drink, and Abigail suddenly surprised me by placing her hand on mine and locking fingers. Grief does strange things to people. I wondered where our friendship would go if I gave in to her impulses. Will it end up in a garbage dump with the two of us feeling even more sorry for ourselves? Will a romantic relationship blossom? Will we go back to being just friends? I also felt guilty because she was replacing the bond we had with another more intimate one on the day her father died.

‘I can’t give you what you what Abigail, and besides, it’s the grief talking,’ I said and hastily removed my hand from the table.

‘We don’t love each other and we’ll never be attracted to each other, but let’s make an exception tonight. We’re both broken, and can never fix each other, but just this one night, please.’

‘Now it’s the alcohol talking. You need to stop. You can come to my place and sleep on the bed while I sleep on the couch. But that’s it. Besides, I have this on-off thing with Mary, and this is wrong, very wrong…’ I said, quite tipsy myself.

We managed to get to my apartment, wobbling and laughing randomly. Once there, we popped a few Avil, and soon we both had an ugly bad trip. We couldn’t laugh or suppress the pain anymore, and so, I just sat against the bathroom wall and looked up at the ceiling, a cigarette dangling from my mouth while she rested her head on my lap.

Suddenly, she plucked and threw my cigarette away and kissed me. I kissed back, and she led me to the bedroom where we got naked.

‘Are you sure?’ I asked her, ‘This feels wrong.’

‘Hush,’ she said and kissed me everywhere, and we soon made love.

I fell asleep and woke up, only to find her staring teary-eyed at me. I wept a little too. A maelström of guilt coursed through me, and I knew I had broken both our hearts; fractured them even more. I looked away and stared at the decaying cabinet, embodying all we were and all we were becoming.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)

I cannot make promises I can’t keep

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 (2018)

Goodbye Suzanne

I guess it’s time to bid adieu to this slipshod romance — a shared delusion that we allowed to suppurate over years and years of jaded flowers sent and lackadaisical love letters penned with dying ballpoints.

Reality cut us to the bone a long time ago, but we selfishly conditioned our eyes to not see the hackneyed chipped off desk, the cracked paperweight, the moldy paper and the leaking redundant ink pen.

We mooched off each other’s sorrow and self-pity for so long and believed that sorrowed, cracked shell which enclosed us — grimy and spotty — was love.

We reached a stage where bitterness coursed through our veins and arteries, tainting our hearts a sordid green and hardening them, but still pretended using forced tears, forced guttural wails, forced smiles and facades of affection like gaudy graffiti on a crumbling, hurting wall.

We thought we’d possess blueberry sunsets and halcyons; spirits of bountiful, beautiful forests; skyscrapers and pulsing fancy locomotives, but fate granted us what we deserved — a pseudo-Leprechaun’s empty beggar’s bowl.

I guess it’s time to bid adieu to this slipshod romance — this abstract pipe-dream like a chimeric vision of a torn slipper possessing the will to fasten our feet and prevent them from scraping the spittle riddled ground.

Originally published in P.S. I Love You

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)