I live in a beige apartment with off-white curtains
and a grey marble floor. There’s an old piano in the living room
that I never use, and an untuned guitar and a screechy
clarinet stuffed in a cupboard somewhere with piles of
unread, dusty books. Dust from a construction site nearby
flits into the balcony and stings my eyes when I smoke.
I spend my days watching people walk by, but no poetic
impulse stirs me to think of their stories;
no muse from utopia makes me create Shangri-La
where immortal beings help me attain nirvana;
no aesthetic hand grazes me with ethereal fingers, helping
me create Álfheimr where the elves blaze like Marigolds.
I’ve only known broken walls and closed windows,
I’ve only seen the light of dim bulbs and computer screens,
I’ve only heard sirens and the noise of traffic.
The books I read teach me what I already know,
the poems I write only expound what I’ve already said.
I have an old Trek in the basement; it lies punctured
with a spoke or two missing. When I was younger,
I dreamt I’d ride endless tarmac paths, venturing off into
the unknown, but I’ve now realized that even if there
are infinite paths, I’ll only find one with or without the bike.
© Nitin Lalit Murali (2020)