What can I say to the damned
who isolate themselves in dusty
rooms with grey walls and fading
brown curtains,
searching the Scriptures for
loopholes like an amateur mathematician
trying to solve the Riemann hypothesis?
if I say, “God understands,” they’ll retort,
saying, “He understands enough to judge us.”
If I say, “You’re trapping yourselves in this
room of spiritual horror where gargoyles
augment your fear,” they’ll say, “Our sin
has made us the very abominations
you talk of.” If I say, “There is freedom
in the lush pastures and solace in petrichor,”
they’ll say, “Freedom without is an illusion
if there is bondage within.”
So stricken by hadeophobia are these
insects that they already see fire
and rotten flesh, smell decay and gangrene,
feel the darkest despair of impending disaster,
and sitting with them is toxic because
miasmas of terror rise from their bones and
become maggots of hell that
eat my healthy flesh, until I’m like them –
walking past crumbling brownstones
where hyenas laugh and running from
the mysterium tremendum while being
pulled closer to it.
I don’t see a way out for us, except to
become arsonists who torch the imposing,
Gothic structure that looms over us,
frightening us with its pillars of dogma
and arches of vengeful doctrine,
but does it truly burn?
Flames lick it but does it become ashes
and ember?

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

Photo by Ian Espinosa on Unsplash


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