Muse

When I saw that picture of you, naked, sitting on the armchair
with one leg slung over its side,
your breasts hard and aroused, your face projecting ecstasy,
your hand gently sliding down your underwear,
your eyes closed, alone in a room with half-opened wardrobes,
I knew you’d become my muse.

Now, we can never predict these things.
The grass is fresh, moist and the petrichor from the last hour’s
drizzle emanates from it today,
but it’s coated with mildew like talcum powder tomorrow.
The mystic dances and sways to the rhythm of nature’s beat today,
but he howls in an asylum, and tears his hair in rage tomorrow.
The lover walks with a steady gait, extending confidence, today,
but after she jilts him, tomorrow,
he crouches on all fours, wearing threadbare rags
and fills the air with the stench of bitterness.

We think we govern fate, but it rules over us with a scepter in hand.
We think we pluck the fruit of life and eat it, bit by bit, but it devours
us like a raging lioness attacks a dear.
We think we’re in control of desire, but we’re just slaves of the flesh
with insatiable lust.

So, here I am, possessed by the thought of you naked, wanting to breathe your scent, needing to reach wild madness with you, craving for your skin, sweat, electricity, and hungering for an ecstatic, utopian union through a night spent together.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

Eternal

This is a picture of Autumn. My collaboration with Emily revolves around heartbreak and rebirth which can be found in Autumn's colors.

I pass winding curve after winding curve with Ray LaMontagne’s Jolene playing; one hand on the steering wheel and another holding a half-smoked cigarette. It’s Autumn and the road’s barren except for some false gold leaves glittering, symbolizing the facade we’ve become. I still can’t find beauty in this season of aged whiskey trees and rum breath air. Maybe I don’t look hard enough, just like I didn’t try hard enough for us, but I sure did bleed hard enough to watch crimson sluice over our Spring and enthusiasm. I still carry a picture of you. I crushed it the other day but couldn’t make myself trample it with my mud-caked boots. I hate to admit it, but I’m still in love with you.

Driving the same old roads, in the same dim town, heart burning as I think of us, who we were, who we are now, apart within the same cold world. Ray sings of being Empty now, tears sting my eyes behind my shades, knowing what we had is gone, feeling the depth of what we made, locked in our tortured minds and souls, afraid of love in its whole form, all hues and shades accepted; you weren’t accepted as you are, I tried and was rejected. I drive and think of words to say, to bring you back into my realm, then quickly push the thought away, as tears within me drown.

They say love edifies and enriches, but that’s just one facet. It’s not always incandescent, flaring souls with dashes of color, nor is it always luminescent: hands clasped through the bluish chill, finding in each other all that’s needed when we despair. Sometimes love destroys, and sitting in this ramshackle bar, I’m worn with wistful reverie, and the raw whiskey doesn’t soothe or alleviate. It only elevates the feeling of separateness, making me feel trapped in a maze of a blurred what once was. I grope, try, but can’t find my way out. You broke my heart and I guess I ripped yours too. You’re not here anymore, having moved to another town and I’m crushed by a landslide of emotion. Speaking of landslides, I hear Stevie Nicks in my head, asking me if I can handle the seasons of my life, because I did build my life around you, but drunk patrons and vagabonds perhaps living a different shade of the same story are all I see now.

Now in my darkened room, head under cover from the sun, rejecting its brightness and warmth, it doesn’t compare to when we were Yellow, as Coldplay sings in the background; it’s like all the songs I’m hearing are meant to remind me of you. Sometimes I wonder if I should’ve stayed, waiting patiently for the days to end, waking with some newfound meaning, say the words upon my tongue, that I need you. I need you, now and then, maybe always. I drink this blood red wine, aware of the daily communion without you, heart bleeding with each beat and breath. What we had isn’t gone, just lost in mazes of thoughts that drain ceaselessly from the depths of past lives and current hopes and hopelessness.

I wake up in a dusty motel room, dank and dusty. I’m hungover. I throw on something I picked up in a thrift shop. I bought a Bible too, hoping that it’ll ease the pain of heartbreak. I flip through a few pages and put it down. A maelstrom of thoughts leave my mind in disarray: Why this broken world? Why the sorrow of loving someone only to find them walk away and leave you limping unsteadily between hope and hopelessness – the twilight of not knowing if they’ll come back or utterly abandon you? I must move on, I tell myself, but you never get over that special someone who sees past your guilt and mistakes, and makes a numb, callous heart feel again. And you were that person, that woman who made each heartbeat, each simple thing worth it. I part the worn chintz curtains and let the red dawn envelop me. It’s always that color now – the color of loss, passion and a Pyrrhic victory.

Remembering when we first met, the bliss I felt in your presence, couldn’t contain the heart on my sleeve, didn’t follow the rules of when to say what, didn’t wait for a space to contact you again, I was in heaven, after being in a muted hell. On that first day, I pulled you close to me, slowly, steadily moving past your walls, shyly grabbing your hands, easing into embrace, then kissing your cheek on that beautiful face, time tested and painted with disappointment, failure, abandonment. I made a pact with myself right then, I would never abandon you. I would see past the running away as a test willingly taken because I saw you. You, in all your majesty and grace, not just as the scars you so willingly wore. I wanted your pain, your burdens to bear, to become “us” unafraid together, to believe I was sincere, never dreaming of playing a game with your fragile, kind heart; I couldn’t convince you and we grew apart. Come back, we’ll reset, on The Edge of Desire, just like John Mayer says; flip your mattress on its axis and find me on yours, we’ll hang onto each other, stay closer this time, not having to live in what we’ve created. Come back, I forgive us. Will you? Please?

I’ve often wondered if my insecurities, bitterness and jealousy is in my blood or if it’ll wash out in the water just like that Mayer song, which was art to us. How could I have ever let you go? Is drinking myself to an end on sordid streets, littered with the debris of bad memories like crushed paper cups worth it, when all it takes is acknowledging responsibility? I guess I’ve made myself an archetypal anti-hero, a charlatan straight out of a comic book and it’s just my pride that’s keeping me from driving to where you are, and telling you that I need you – all of you, every inch of your soul and body, each iota of you that gave me a baptism of sorts: a rebirth in this world full of broken places where cacophony strikes people down with harsh drumbeats and the clanging of cymbals filled with hate. And I’ve seen enough and heard enough, and I guess it’s time to humble myself and just break down, look you in the eye and tell you that I can’t fucking live without you.

I’m calling you in desperation, dialing the numbers ingrained in my mind, I couldn’t forget even if I wanted to, can’t block you, I’ve tried in perpetual vain. Surrendering to possibilities of rejection, you may not answer, ignore my attempt, my heart not just on my sleeve, laid bare in my hands, bloody, wounded, full, aching, alive at the thought of our pride forsaking, envisioning a reunion where we shed our past skins and become reborn, us, again. Us, again and always. I’m hoping the sheer power of my needing you will create lightning bolts, somehow as a signal from silent heavens, that I’m ready for reckless abandon, not reckless at all when it comes to our twin flames. My anxiety creeps to crippling heights, as I hear the sound of unanswering silence, dreading hearing your voice only on a greeting, jovial and inviting, a mockery of my pain. I keep saying please with each eternal ring, “Answer, Answer, it’s me.”

I look at my phone, hoping you’d call, and then walk street after street, like I’m doing penance, hoping that once when I’m knock-kneed and engulfed by the raw pain that follows circumstance, you’ll call and give me catharsis. I guess I’m hoping on a miracle. I guess I’ve retreated into some golden shell of youth’s idealism, unwilling to come out, like a snail protecting himself, unaware that all it takes is one stomp to crush and kill. I can call you, but I’m teetering between red and blue: the red of a harsh hurt which I can no longer bear and the blue of hope. And then as I stroll aimlessly, past litter, potholes and ramshackle bars, cigarette shops and hotdog stands, I feel my phone vibrate and looking at your picture brings back so much that I’m tempted to not answer, but I decide to brave it all, take this last chance and say, “Hello.”

Your voice is live, electricity through phone lines, makes my head light, I lose my breath. “Hello?”, you say another time, and I respond in an almost whisper: “I’m not sure what to say, you know it’s me, this time away, unbearable. I can’t explain myself fully, make you understand, just want to be together again.” You respond, as if thinking of the next words is the most difficult task in a situation so fragile, then slowly say, in a tone almost defeated, “None of it matters, the past is gone, I’ve been thinking of driving to where you are, wordless, we’ll feel what words can’t tell, mend pieces still broken in embraces eternal”. Eternal, a word often heard in scripture or musings on life after this, now just us, the love I almost lost, a culmination of words said and unspoken, “I’m coming”, we speak in unison, and love handles the rest.

© Nitin Lalit Murali and Emily C. Poésie (2019)

This is a collaboration between me and Emily. You’ll find her at the Melancholy Spitfire. She’s a very talented writer who writes very honest, evocative and beautiful poetry, and she’s also a good friend. Do follow her blog. 

Shades of the same song

Meeting you, at that Indie concert, where a local band covered Marc Broussard, and being enveloped in the blue haze of the lighting, while looking at the dark beige of the cocktail in your hands gave me freedom from a society full of obscurantism, suspicions and superstitions. We were young, rebellious and carefree, so disintegrated and yet held together by our individual and collective red bands of anarchism. I think of then now, and though age has made me nuanced and more eloquent, toning down my Rabelaisian wit, and raw hunger for independence, making me want to give and take, forgive and respect, and no longer dismiss convention with a flip of the finger like I’d have done then, a part of me still wants the thrill of existing with you in motel rooms, making our own music – while some band performs downstairs – with each gentle bite of the lip, with me unhooking your bra, and you gently unbuttoning me. You always liked that scar on my stomach. A part of me wants us studying every inch of each other, while skin grazes skin, and whispers and echoes of something primal, something medieval, give us the pleasure and pain of becoming one, and our synergy gives us this heightened sense of both awareness and dissociation – the apex of our union. But this is just one facet of our relationship that I crave for. I also long for the subtle, spontaneous kisses, when you look at me with a faint lascivious smile, and I draw you closer and hold you. I long for impromptu dances in the slice of the moonlight, in closed parks, after we climb the locked gates and find in each other the courage and strength to dare to dream for more. And, I long to just see you again, because I know that who we’ve become won’t matter. There’ll always be an outpouring of laughter and tears and we’ll still love each other like we did then.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

Unfinished

This is a picture of a man silhouetted against a bright window. He's in a dark room and to me this image symbolizes both despair and hope and complements my piece.

I found you in a desolate place riddled with black mildew covered leaves and whirlwinds of dust.

I found you after I’d gambled away my years, chasing the will-o’-the-wisp.

I found you after all the women in my life walked out on me, and I was starting to wonder if their love was just a ruse.

I found you in a catacomb of distress — a broken tomb where the past echoes and there is no stairwell to carry us out into the future.

I found you, just as broken as I was, in the throes of heartbreak and depression, wanting more, hoping to leave your burdens at an altar of resurrection and walk out with the belfry behind you and dawn in front.

I loved you with all my heart, and remember kissing you in the moonlight while it drizzled, and little puddles snaked their way around our feet, and cars climbed winding curve after winding curve, briefly illuminating us with their headlights, before leaving us to the soft, ethereal glow of the moonlight.

I loved you because you stood by me when I found myself in an abandoned room with broken walls and smashed windows — the shards of madness embedding themselves in my flesh and resisting removal.

I loved you because you loved me despite my vagaries and my disposition; despite my eccentricities and hate. You never let me go despite time or season. You laughed with me during the buoyant Summer. You helped me create evocative poetry to rival Spring’s expressionism. You held me close and wept with me when our lives saw Autumn’s rust. You helped me see meaning when a bleak Winter enveloped us.

I lost you, and now I walk corridor after corridor screaming your name, hoping you’ll hear me again. I walk on the shore, and the spindrift pierces me like a thousand needles, and a part of me wants to lose myself in the waves.

I lost you, and my symphony lies unfinished without a coda, and there isn’t anyone else who can help me with it. The piano lies dusty and the guitar untuned. I’ve broken the mouthpiece of the clarinet, and I doubt I’ll ever play again.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

Silence

When you walked into that coffee shop, with its rustic strength:
the beige tables, the blotchy wooden benches, unadorned
and homely, you brought with you the allure of a Japanese
Maple: both a wild, orange liveliness, and a lacy stream of
thought, and yes, the side-swept medium length hair, the
rare hazel eyes, the blue dress, and the tattoo, curving down
the side of your neck but stopping in the middle of your
forearm, not overdone, made me call you again,
what transpired was a relationship
of strained passion, and cold reasoning,
you were so attached to the culture you left, and
I moved because I wanted no part of it, we called each
other hypocrites, but want kept us alive, you said that
I turned against everything that made me, and I hated
your blind faith in the imposters ruling home, we gave
up, you left, and it relieved me, I travelled for a
few years after that, finding joy in nature:
a simple Flag of Bavaria sky, hillsides painted in purple,
green, and fading red with a winsome flourish, parks
where you heard the sweet aubade of love birds
complementing the slow rise of the sun, and I knew I had
happiness that would sustain me until I met someone
who wasn’t you, but coming back to my apartment that
cold night, after a few beers, elated, made me want
to watch the news at home, to scoff at the inane
political debates, but when I saw the face of a young journalist
who was killed because she stood up against
intolerance and the strain of fascism, all
sense of beauty left me, the worn chintz curtain,
the threadbare couch, the motes of dust suspended
in the dim light of the bulb threatened to engulf me,
my thoughts were a swirling mass of chaos trapped
in a paperweight of dying restraint: I wished I had never called
you back, I wished that the silence between my words
didn’t say more than it should have, I wished I had
never let you go, but my thoughts have taken shape now
and my bloodshot eyes reflect the gun pointed at my
head that urges me to throw lead.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

Living and dying for you

You should know by now that I love you, even though I hardly say it. You should know by now that I’ll live and die for you, though my tears are dry. If only trial and circumstance didn’t make me hard, if only a cesspool of madness which fate baptized me in didn’t make me unpredictable, if only a vortex of apparitions didn’t carry me away and set me on a shore of agony, darkening each particle of my existence, making me unable to distinguish between reality and chimera, light and darkness, paranoia and angelic hope, I’d give you so much more, and love you with an intensity unparalleled. We’ve woven this story of togetherness and despite each inner window shutting, slowly barring my light, we’re clinging to each other: body to body, mind to mind, soul to soul. But if I’m gone tomorrow: a train wreck of a man with an arthritic mind, unable to grasp the simplest picture of you, I want you to move on. Life gives us hope, despair, recollections to cherish, and echoes of now to clasp and cling to with all passion and ardor, and in this moment, I’m crazy about you.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

Meeting November

This is a a picture of a meadow during Autumn. The picture embodies nostalgia and heartbreak to me. It complements my piece.

My love, life, dreams and fond reflections always meet November – the season of cinders, a period of transition between Autumn’s ripe melancholia and Winter’s mist and rattle. Didn’t I lie down beside you just yesterday, holding you in our nudity – skin and core? And here I am, walking the sidewalk and passing the throng – bearded, distinct, peculiar and still unnoticed. Walking on the mud, skirting the litter, and making sure I don’t step on that mongrel – sleeping, and oblivious to our lives that revolve around the clock – and pausing at the ramshackle cigarette shop, I pay the man for a few Marlboros. Didn’t yesterday give me lucidity? Didn’t each kiss shared, and the laughter that echoed in our space give me felicity? Well, I’m back in my zone now, the old inner ruckus – thoughts brawling like drunken football hooligans, and I guess a swig from the Old Admiral in the fridge lulls them. And then bloodied, they suddenly stop and erupt into rhapsodies of praise – a little bent, off-tune, interspersed with lilting and yodeling. Didn’t each sob when you took me in to our tempo, each sigh of euphoria when we reached that penultimate phase – before that deep moan of ultimate satisfaction, making us forget everything – tell me that here’s a woman to live and die for? But I’m just existing now, or maybe I keep regressing to some pre-existing state, huddled up in some fetal position, before birthing myself now and then for a smoke while the floor’s drenched with the blood of my brokenness, and the umbilical cord from this thing we call life lies severed and thrown in the dustbin.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)

Gomorrah

This is a picture of a cracked pavement. To me it represents the road sufferers from mental illness are forced to walk on. It's tough and excruciating.

My mind is a post-apocalyptic wasteland, riddled with disproportionate, cracked pavement ideas, and a consciousness like a filthy graveyard or derelict buildings, burning and crumbling. There are no verdant valleys here. I’m plagued by trauma and guilt, and crude madness blaming me severely for pathos that isn’t always my own. I hear echoes of lines straight from The Fall by Camus telling me that I’m responsible for all the misery I’ve seen, caused or endured; asking me to confront my duplicity. I only see my reflection in concave or convex mirrors giving me an out of shape picture when I look within. But through it all, you hold me, and our insatiable passion for each other isn’t always delicate with a childlike charm. We often go through the throes of lovemaking – the pleasure and the pain – even when we’re not entwined, becoming one. It’s difficult to distinguish love. It isn’t just feeling, though without it, it’s just cold false zeal. Perhaps, love is feeling backed by severe effort: a struggle to find in each other what’s unsayable, irresistible and luminous. A fight despite sweat and blood, and angst and grief. Whatever it is, it creates a balance, helping us move forward through November’s twilight. And perhaps one day Gomorrah will lie, reduced to ashes, but I’m more thankful that I’m in love with you.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

For RDP Monday

Clinkers of despair

This is an image of people walking on a street. It conveys the wealth of experience that life brings us. My prose poem examines just that from an angle of a relationship

The moon with her muted, ashen light partially illuminates my path, filled with clinkers of despair and hankering – an off-time, off-tune sequence with a murderous coda. I pass withered Jacarandas, hoping that I’ll find you after this battered car or after walking past the smog that coats the splintered sidewalks. I look yonder and see the mist coated peaks with snowflakes cascading. I dust off the grime that clings to me and keep walking though I look grey and everything looks like cigarette ash. I fucking love you, and I ask myself if the recollections and echoes of memories are worth the effort. But I’ve flipped this coin so many times before, over the years and regardless of how it falls, I can’t rid myself of you. You’re the green, vivacious wine that creeps over each broken, disjointed wall that personifies a fractured me. When we made love, did you only think of the now and completely discard the after? Was it something transient, and did the nirvana to the rhythm of that soft snare, slowly building up with the double bass and tom-toms and hi-hats mean nothing to you? I often think I need an exorcism – strapped, while a priest chants and rids me of you, but having loved you with the unmitigated desire of the Flame of the Forest, dancing to breezes of togetherness, having kissed you and having slowly slid down your neck and having gently bit you with both unparalleled sorrow and the pleasure of maniacal ardor, having slowly and fiercely found us on that peak I finally met after a long taxing sojourn makes these tough moments worth it, and gives me a plethora of new dimensions to explore, hoping one day they’ll be mine.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

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)