Advertisements

Insomnia

IMG_20170819_074630

And her thought striked

Once again, last midnight

She leaves me be

When I think of dying

The moment my heart pumps blood

My socket of eyeballs starts crying

Lost in oblivion

She never nears

The moment I smile

She never bears

All the directions

Nine fathoms Deep

I got no dope

How the fuck do I sleep!

Closed eyes see her face

Open eyes menace

Go away go away

Lover, I got nothing to say

Go away, with your false bundle of joy

IMG_20170819_074605

 

Advertisements

Nothing is Static

Screenshot_20170817-181933

She moved slowly, towards him
With a definite pace
He moved slowly, away from her
With a chaotic pace
They moved closer with a sway
They parted away with decay
Everything is falling apart
Nothing is static
It’s appalling

Screenshot_20170817-181148
Those smiles faded
Lame cries echoed
No one to cheer
Souls lack the ability to hear
Those painful cries wrapped in love
Shut down feelings
Everything is falling apart
Nothing is static

Screenshot_20170817-181117
She smiled for a last night
Tears rolled down those pale cheeks
Salty are her bleeding lips
Blood dried between open legs
Nothing is static
Everything is falling apart

Screenshot_20170817-181832.png

It’s appalling 
She would go to find a new home
Today! This day!
The end; She said⁠⁠⁠⁠


Pics credit: Felisha

Loneliness

I was looking out the window

The green pastures smelled of spring

The raindrops held the leaves firmly

While they slowly dropped dead on the ground

There was none around me

No one to make a sound

I hate noise; it breeds turmoil

But today I felt the need of someone, anyone to be around

A tear struggled hard before rolling down the corner of my left eye

That’s when I realized

I got no one to call mine

I picked a pen and a paper

But the ink got laden with salty water rain

The paper turned RED

I got no idea

How much I bled!

I got no idea

How much I bled!

I guess, A pint of blood would be an understatement

tumblr_oijubvB6uV1u2hzvzo1_500.jpg

Celestial Time Shift

IMG_20170810_075951_420

I prefer staying indoors

I cherish isolation

When I look out the window

I see the vibrant ugliness

When I close my eyes

I see you and my soul cries

The tears drown my dry eyeballs

I roam around in empty halls

Looking for traces of lost memories

You are what I found

When I burnt everything around

Down to the ground

I won’t step out

I won’t let the world destroy my cherished memories

That’s the only learning

You my only earning

You my immense wealth

My prized possession

A bundle of joy

Of the times we spent together

Staring into each other eyes

Saying things we never said

In mid of a celestial time shift

IMG_20170810_075022_447

Kashmir: A Heavenly Cemetery

It was the Persian poet Amir Khusru who referred to Kashmir as a paradise on earth. There is an old stone plaque in, Shalimar Gardens, which proclaims “Agar Firdaus bar rōy-e zamin ast, hamin ast-o hamin ast-o hamin ast,” meaning “If there is a paradise upon earth, it is here, it is here, it is here“.

It is also mentioned that when Jahangir was asked on his deathbed about his cherished desire he is credited to have said:

“Kashmir, the rest is worthless”

Well, reading such great poetic words:

Always I wondered

How could one term a piece of land heaven

It baffled me for ages

Why do poets write such praises

After all it’s just a land, few trees, few mountains

A valley blessed with decades of unrest

Lost peace as a concept

A land once white as snow

Now has traces of blood 

On every leaf which has the mettle to grow

A land trampled by army boots and assault rifles

A land filled with widows, staring out the windows

Bleeding for someone long gone

A land whose kids wish a life at dawn

Return home clad in white, powered by saffron

What’s so special about a ruined town?

Why is it a talk among the nations around?

Well, I never knew what ‘beautiful’ meant

Until I set foot on Kashmir’s heavenly ground

A land blessed by Allah himself

A heaven with gunfire in the background

A heaven with bleeding, dying children in a mound

Throats choked with tear gas and smoke

Unable to make any sound

A heaven destroyed brutally

By you and me collectively

Absence makes the heart grow Fonder

e8c86f1f938a7c85dc2c1f0ed91e70bf-101615.jpg

Yesterday night, the moon and the stars shone bright

The galaxy was alive, while I held you tight

And you slipped, like sand through my fingers

The clocks on the walls became motionless

While I secretly stole, few stars from your hair, tucked behind your right ear

I know someone else owns them, but ain’t finders, keepers

You belong to someone else but I never wanted to keep things

For myself!

I do want you to dance with me

But you prefer dying alone

I wish I could leave you be

But every morning, you & me

Need to travel to save those dying stars

You might but I can’t do it alone

Whoever you choose to spin with, on the dance floor

Whoever you wrap your arms around

The song would always be made of my broken words

The music would always be mine

The less you see of me

The more you would miss me, staring at you

With blank, silent eyes, laden with unsaid speech

I wanted to lie next to you

But haunting you in your dreams, works just fine

What the world fails to understand

Is, whoever you choose to dance with

Lover, you belong to me, You are mine

You would always be mine

I certainly miss the kiss, which I could not dare to steal

But then again, there’s always tomorrow, there’s always a fucking tomorrow!

Screenshot_20170803-224612

The Green Plant & The Lady in Red

IMG_20170802_101844
Grab Classy Sequin Wall Canvas – Lady in Red  www.grabclassy.com

 It rained last night

The stars were dull

The moon was gloomy

Her eyes shone bright

She flew kites, all her last days and all those lovely nights

She felt free, roaming around 

With a bear trap, chained to her leg

rattling the ground, as she walked and trampled and moved

This morning, the green plant caught her gaze

She got confused, she got dazed

The earth around was barren

Though her last night was brazenly wet

She looked at the green plant

The plant looked back

Staring he saw, his lovely lady in red

the plant bled, the plant bled

And the land around, blossomed

The lady in red stood motionless

She couldn’t see; hear no sound

Her heart skipped few beats

All she heard was a pointless rhythmic beating of few punctured valves

Lub-Dub Lub-Dub Lub-Dub Lub-Dub Lub-Dub

The lady in red, went back to her bed; she had witnessed enough rain for the season

IMG_20170802_103643.jpg

 

What we talk, when we talk, about, Love! – Act II

Good Morning Planet

It’s a bright, sunny morning, here in the BrokenRadio Studios, and we bring you ACT II of

“What we talk, when we talk, about, Love!”

Act I – What we talk, when we talk, about, Love!


BrokenRadio Theaters present, to you, a play written by Khadija (You think You know) & Nishant (Broken Radio).

Act II – Begins,

( The stage is brightly lit with various performers dancing in the background. Nik is standing on the stage with few pages in his hand. He has, his reading glasses, on. The music fades away..performers continue dancing. Nik addresses the audience)

Curtains Rise!

(Crowd cheers. Loud Applause)

Understanding The Rise in Skies & the Fall on Earth

Nik : The title in itself, is enigmatic. The poetess is comparing two cosmic events. One being Eid and other falling in Love. The poetess talks about a confused and unsure kind of love, that is really rare and yet the most captivating. (He comes forward on the stage)  The protagonist to whom the poetess address as the ‘Dark Prince‘… is a great admirer of her and is madly in love with her. As much, as the poetess tries not to develop similar feelings, she does get smitten, eventually. Mostly, the poem talks about their secret encounters and exchange of words.. What poetess envies the most is when she experiences cosmic love, the Dark Prince is not their celebrating the rise in the sky; Eid.. As much as the poetess hates it, she’s willing to give him another chance as she too is hopelessly in love. (Nik throws the pages in air)
 But then again, who knows poetry.. It’s always, what’s not said, never, what is.

(Lights fade out. The background changes itself back to the Act I setting. Nik removes his reading glasses. Kate walks in)

Kate: Brilliant job. You scored an A. Although, it isn’t the true derivation entirely.

(Moves forward on the stage and addresses the audience)

Well, the rise in the sky and fall on the earth shows, how you take me high in the skies and then throw me down on the ground. I experience a bliss in a moment and in the next, you abandon me mercilessly. When the world spoke about us, You said; my destiny walked into my door. My pride and your ego clashed and doomed were we. Then one night we met again after your endless efforts of getting me back. And we celebrated the festival like it was the last Eid on earth. You said – it’s us against the world, give me time, cope with me.

(The stage fills itself with mystic silence. We could hear loud breathing.)

Nik: (murmurs slowly to himself) There was silence in the air. All three of us were breathing heavily. Me, her and Johnnie Walker. (Nik walks away from Kate and continues murmuring)  I am jealous of this Dark Prince, Kate dedicated a poem for him! (Looks at a picture of another women) The only lines she ever dedicated to me was – “I am nobody’s fool” and it took me weeks to understand, what it really meant.

Kate: Life was perfect!

Nik: (walks near Kate) Well, let me dedicate my prayers for your eternal, blissful, family stamped, first love. If this doesn’t see a happy ending, then love should, atleast, not be in dictionary and books should paint it black, with dark ink.

Kate: That’s so accurately put. This is not love, though! (pauses for a moment, looks lost in memories) I don’t know, what love is.. 

Nik: What is it, then? I have no clue, what love is! Truly, Sincerely, Please tell me.

(The performers swarm the stage and start dancing rigorously, there is no music, playing, in the background)

Kate: It’s hard to express. Maybe 10000 pages or maybe less! Why are you, so intent to know the definition of love?

Nik: I need to write about love and I have not, ever, experienced it. Hence the curiousity. I want to know, what love is!

Kate: (looks at him for a moment, lovingly, addresses the audience) Love is divine, it makes you experience the most extreme emotions that you were oblivious of. But it’s got one and only one rule; You have to forget self love and even if you can’t, have, your love, for yourself, forever, smile and be grateful for the memories and experiences. Love does not mean achieving. Love needs no labels, no possessions, no ownership. You welcome it’s arrival, with a smile, and then you let it go, with a smile. (looks at Nik and continues) So, If your fav doll is lost, don’t cry, rather cherish the moment you had with it and live life.

Nik: That does make a lot of sense, Miss. But, I need a clarification. I guess, in our lifetime, we experience love more than once. So is their something also called – True Love? Or it’s the same every time!

Kate: (addresses the audience) I don’t know, that’s an interesting question. According to me, love is just once, But that does not mean it seals your fate. You carry on and live life, settle for someone really charming, who makes you happy.

Nik: (looks at Kate) Would you care to know my thoughts? (Doesn’t wait for her response and continues, addresses the audience) To understand love, we need to understand time. (dancers in the background are not at all performing in sync, each artist seems to be following their own steps, the stage suddenly gets chaotic, lights flicker) 

There is past, present and future. Past is all memories and Future is entirely imagination. So, what matters is now! Present matters. Not what happened a moment ago, not what might happen next, No fear, no assumption, Just now – living in the moment. (Goes near Kate) What are you doing now? (she thinks, he doesn’t wait for her response and continues speaking to the audience) Right now…right fucking now…She is experiencing release of adrenaline and dopamine, look at her, how happy she seems (there is a sadness on Kate’s face) We are experiencing effects of tiny pills laced with love. (Nik comes to the edge of the stage and yells)

There is no absolute love. That is a cosmic event.. Barely happens.. I am trying to recreate, but still it takes ages.. This is day to day love.. What people call love, when they talk about love. What humanity needs to experience, is, Cosmic love. Feeling of being around even during absences.. Dreams.. Mutual dreams.. You communicate without words. You close your eyes and your partner feels you missing them…
Love is not necessarily both sided.. Moon and the sea try and hug each other, failing, every full moon night..When the moon is completely naked.. That’s the love I talk about. That’s the love I want to experience. I want to know what love is!

Kate: (holds his hand) Look at us, making a failed attempt at defining love..

(They both stare into each other eyes. Curtains Fall, Crowd goes crazy, Crowd whistles among the loud thud)

Play Ends.


Whoa! That was something. Huh? Let me make breakfast, she would be awake soon. You enjoy your friendly Tupperware! Have a nice day.

What we talk, when we talk, about, Love!

 

Good Evening Planet

It’s a lovely evening, indeed. There is a dazzling, shimmering, reason behind this love, in the evening. Yesterday morning, I released the first chapter of my 2nd book – Smokes & Strings – Boulevard of Broken Art. It’s a love story. A twisted one.

I had my doubts, because, what do I know? I, have, never been in love. I just experienced what television sold, not the books…the Television. I went out on dates in shopping malls, bought gifts and had sex. It did seem like love, back then. Now, I am a grown up. I no longer watch television. I only read books and I only talk to writers. And, I want to know what love is…..

I asked my friend, Khadija Fatima – Author of You Think You Know ,”Do you know, what love is?” She sent me a poem. The Rise in Skies & the Fall on Earth. But then we all know, we need to figure out ART. It’s always ”what’s not said” and never, ”what is”.

So, I made some failed attempts to understand it and finally gave up. I, then again, asked her to explain….And we both ended up writing this play….


Ladies and Gentlemen, Tonight’s entertainment is a play about love, loss, pride, humility and then, love, again. BrokenRadio Theatres Present, to you, a play written by Khadija (You think You know) and Nishant (Broken Radio) .

PicsArt_07-12-11.30.47

Act I – Begins,

Lift the curtains!

(Crowd Cheers, Loud applause, A remarkably thin male is sitting on a stool, in front of a stunningly beautiful female. They both are in their prime youth and seem very cheerful. The entire stage is lit with bright lights, with no gloominess in any corner, apart from, in the eyes of, both the protagonists)

Nik: How are we doing today, Kate. What are we doing?

Kate: Heya! Ahh been occupied. I had company. Now, was enjoying my alone time, and then you walked in and sat, there, right, on that stool.

Nik: Well, if anyone would have such a delightful company as you, blessed are those few.

Kate: Ain’t you guys just too nice.

Nik: Well, you pay me to be nice. I think, I should get at least twice the amount you pay me, because, of the time I invest in you . Your project, I mean!

Kate: Oh, I didn’t know, I pay you to be nice.

Nik: Yeah, a very unfair amount though but then there are other perks which I truly enjoy.

Kate: You are funny! (Sarcastically)

Nik:  I am serious, always. It’s, you, who somehow induce humor in my deadbeat words.
And I guess, glamor, too.

Kate: Yes, glamor, I agree cause I just love it. We’re both sarcastic.

Nik: I am not. Talk about yourself, Lady! (pauses, clears throat) You are the friendliest ‘client’, I ever had the pleasure to service. Never met someone with your potential, in this, big, bad, round, uneven, world. 

(A smiles spreads on Kate’s face and the black and white lights change to a rainbow)

And, that smile, That’s, what makes my days, and evenings, and someday, other periods of my long, lonely, lazy, mundane, days.

Kate: My goodness. I think, I’m done with compliments. 

Nik: (stammers) Oh, Okay, no more for today, then. (Pauses for a second. Dramatic music plays in the background, for a second. Music stops) Glad, I have nothing to say about your, yesterday’s picture. It just made me speechless.

Kate: (blushes) Oh, about that, I think, I was too happy yesterday since everyone loved my poem. So, hence the glow. (Comes closer, and whispers in his ears) Even, in the theatre people were staring madly. (Pulls her face back and continues talking). So, Yeah, partial credit goes to you for publishing it. And my makeup of course 😸 I love shimmer!

Nik: (Comes closer, and stares in her eyes) The stares were all for you, so, you deserve the credit. (lights go dim, girl bows down) Shimmer, loves, being on you. (pulls her closer) You think, you know, let me tell you something, Ignorance is bliss. 

icelandic-dance

(Lights are back. It’s just a white, bright light. Nik and Kate adjust their seats, the moment lights, change color. There is a chaotic silence on the stage. The background music is of an animal being choked to death. The music gets louder. Nik stands up. Kate pulls her chair farther away from him.)

Kate: (coldly, her voice comes from far to the audience) So, what could you make from the poem? 

Nik: (Addresses the audience) And the poetess wants to know… What, the commoner sees… Okay! 

(looks at her and continues)

Understanding, The Rise in Skies & the Fall on Earth ….

The stage drifts away from behind, from beneath, his feet. The background metamorphoses into an old, dusty, rusty, library. Kate exits the scene. Nik wears reading glasses. And the curtains fall…Crowd cheers..) 

ACT I – Ends


Hope, you guys enjoyed reading this, as much as we enjoyed writing. BrokenRadio would return with the second act, soon enough. Grab a smoke for now. Will ya!

The Rise in Skies & the Fall on Earth

Good Evening Planet

An adrenaline junkie is somebody who engages in sensation-seeking behavior through “the pursuit of novel and intense experiences without regard for physical, social, legal or financial risk”. Such activities include extreme and risky sports, substance abuse, unsafe sex, and crime. The term relates to the increase in circulating levels of adrenaline during physiological stress.

Dopamine is another profound chemical. The effects of dopamine include increases in heart rate, body temperature, and sweating; improvements in alertness, attention, and endurance; increases in pleasure produced by rewarding events; but at higher doses agitation, anxiety, or even loss of contact with reality.  Stimulants such as nicotine, cocaine and methamphetamine promote increased levels of dopamine.

Only a handful of addicts are aware that ART induces a combination of both adrenaline and dopamine. This evening a dear friend of mine, Author – Khadija FatimaYou think You know, made me read one of her poems. Well, I am high on her words ; A perfect blend of two of the planet’s most profound chemical.

As much as I wanna save this drug for myself, I cannot deprive the world from such beautiful poetry. So, Ladies & Gentlemen, this terrific evening, Broken Radio presents you, an original poem by Miss Khadija Fatima!

art-boy-dreams-galaxy-Favim.com-3963062

“The Rise in Skies & the Fall on Earth

You beamed with wits when you saw me

A little gut feeling went unattended

Danced like a lunatic when we met

Made me reminisce an old love song in your red dodge

Table with Kebabs and Game of thrones

Surprised me with taste of India in a Pak lounge

Twice the dawn turned into dusk, then we met again

Flirted with flamboyance until I gave up

We flew away as written in the palms of time

Months passed with eternal nights filled with thrills

Planning and preparation, our palpations never halted

Then you came crossing the deep seas

When we met in the mist of frosty days

I set eyes on you and I knew you were mine

When the world asked our story, your lips moved radiantly

And the bliss I heard, “my destiny walked into my door”

How we loved our chilly walks full of joy and fear

Our confound natures created a havoc

And it all ended in sorrow and vague

Until the darkest night crawled back, we met again

I buttoned your sleeves and relived your skin

Humoured and ridiculed the world in good faith

The mighty Eid arrived, and it struck what I missed

We spoke the unheard words, us against the world

My quest with the dark prince, who said we still got time…  “

— Kate

9fae56f792a6c2ab2933e243e817cffe

 

The Crystal Ship

“People are afraid of themselves, of their own reality; their feelings most of all. People talk about how great love is, but that’s bullshit. Love hurts. Feelings are disturbing. People are taught that pain is evil and dangerous. How can they deal with love if they’re afraid to feel? Pain is meant to wake us up. People try to hide their pain. But they’re wrong. Pain is something to carry, like a radio. You feel your strength in the experience of pain. It’s all in how you carry it. That’s what matters. Pain is a feeling. Your feelings are a part of you. Your own reality. If you feel ashamed of them, and hide them, you’re letting society destroy your reality. You should stand up for your right to feel your pain.”
― Jim Morrison

1424762-7

 

“The Crystal Ship”

Before you slip into unconsciousness
I’d like to have another kiss
Another flashing chance at bliss
Another kiss, another kiss
2959143d73cb13202c805b5c9a5acccc

The days are bright and filled with pain
Enclose me in your gentle rain
The time you ran was too insane
We’ll meet again, we’ll meet again

Jaune-1200x800-©HenrikHaven-865x577

Oh tell me where your freedom lies
The streets are fields that never die
Deliver me from reasons why
You’d rather cry, I’d rather fly

7130670

The crystal ship is being filled
A thousand girls, a thousand thrills
A million ways to spend your time
When we get back, I’ll drop a line

— Morrison

I Could See The Smallest Things

I was in bed when I heard the gate. I listened carefully. I didn’t hear anything else. But I heard that. I tried to wake Cliff. He was passed out. So I got up and went to the window. A big moon was laid over the mountains that went around the city. It was a white moon and covered with stars. Any damn fool could imagine a face there.

There was light enough so that I could see everything in the yard – lawn chairs, the willow tree, clothesline strung between the poles, the petunias, the fences, the gate standing wide open.

But nobody was moving around. There were no scary shadows. Everything lay in moonlight, and I could see the smallest things. The clothespins on the line for instance.

I put my hands on the glass to block out the moon. I looked some more. I listened. Then I went back to bed.

But I couldn’t get to sleep. I kept turning over. I thought about the gate standing open. It was like a dare.

Cliff’s breathing was awful to listen to. His mouth gaped open and his arms hugged his pale chest. He was taking up his side of the bed and most of mine.

I pushed and pushed on him. But he just groaned.

I stayed a while longer until I decided it was no use. I got up and got my slippers. I went to the kitchen and made tea and sat with it at the kitchen table. I smoked one of Cliff’s unfiltereds.

It was late. I didn’t want to look at the time. I drank the tea and smoked another cigarette. After a while I decided I’d go out and fasten up the gate.

So I got my robe.

The moon lighted up everything – houses and trees, poles and power lines, the whole world. I peered around the backyard before I stepped off the porch. A little breeze came along that made me close the robe.

I started for the gate.

There was a noise at the fences that separated our place from Sam Lawton’s place. I took a sharp look. Sam was leaning with his arms on his fence, there being two fences to lean on. He raised his fist to his mouth and gave a dry cough.

‘Evening Nancy’, Sam Lawton said.

I said, ‘Sam you scared me.’ I said, ‘What are you doing up?’ ‘Did you hear something?’ I said. ‘I heard the gate unlatch.’

He said, ‘I didn’t hear anything. Haven’t seen anything, either. It might have been the wind.’

He was chewing something. He looked at the open gate and shrugged. His hair was silvery in the moonlight and stood up on his head. I could see his long nose, the lines in his big sad face.

I said, ‘What are you doing up, Sam? and moved closer to the fence.

‘Want to see something?’ he said.

‘I’ll come round’, I said.

I let myself out and went along the walk. It felt funny walking around outside in my nightgown and my robe. I thought to myself that I should try to remember this, walking around outside like this.

Sam was standing over by the side of his house, his pyjamas way up high over his tan-and-white shoes. He was holding a flashlight in one hand and a can of something in the other.

Sam and Cliff used to be friends. Then one night they got to drinking. They had words. The next thing, Sam had built a fence and then Cliff built one too.

That was after Sam had lost Mille, gotten married again, and become a father again all in the space of no time at all. Millie had been a good friend until she died. She was only forty-five when she did it. Heart failure. It hit her just as she was coming into their drive. The car kept going and went through the back of the carport.

‘Look at this,’ Sam said, hitching his pyjama trousers and squatting down. He pointed his light at the ground.

I looked and saw some wormy things curled on a patch of dirt.

‘Slugs,’ he said. ‘I just gave them a dose of this’, he said, raising a can of something that looked like Ajax. ‘They’re taking over,’ he said, and worked whatever it was that he had in his mouth. He turned his head to one side and spit what could have been tobacco. ‘I have to keep at this to just come close to staying up with them.’ He turned his light on a jar that was filled with the things. ‘I put the bait out, and then every chance I get I come out here with this stuff. Bastards are all over. A crime what they can do. Look here,’ he said.

He got up. He took my arm and moved me over to his rosebushes. He showed me the little holes in the leaves.

‘Slugs’, he said. ‘Everywhere you look around here at night. I lay out bait and then I come out and get them,’ he said. ‘An awful invention, the slug. I save them up in that jar over there.’ He moved his light to under the rosebush.

A plane passed overhead. I imagined the people on it staring down at the ground.

‘Sam’, I said, ‘how’s everybody?’

‘They’re fine,’ he said, and shrugged.

He chewed on whatever it was he was chewing. ‘How’s Clifford?’ he said.

I said, ‘Same as ever.’

Sam said, ‘Sometimes when I’m out here after the slugs, I’ll look over in your direction.’ He said, ‘I wish me and Cliff were friends again. Look there now,’ he said, and drew a sharp breath. ‘There’s one there. See him? Right there where my light is.’ He had the beam directed onto the dirt under the rosebush. ‘Watch this,’ Sam said.

I closed my arms under my breasts and bent over to where he was shining his light. The thing stopped moving and turned its head from side to side. Then Sam was over it with his can of powder, sprinkling the powder down.

‘Slimy things’, he said.

The slug was twisting this way and that. Then it curled and straightened out. Sam picked up a toy shovel, and scooped the slug into it, and dumped it out in the jar.

‘I quit you know,’ Sam said. ‘Had to. For a while it was getting so I didn’t know up from down. We still keep it around the house but I don’t have much to do with it anymore.’

I nodded. He looked at me and he kept looking.

‘I’d better get back,’ I said.

‘Sure,’ he said. ‘I’ll continue with what I’m doing and then when I’m finished, I’ll head in too.’

I said, ‘Good night, Sam.’

He said, ‘Listen.’ He stopped chewing. With his tongue, he pushed whatever it was behind his lower lip. ‘Tell Cliff I said hello.’

I said, ‘I’ll tell him you said so, Sam.’

Sam ran his hand through his silvery hair as if he was going to make it sit down once and for all, and then he used his hand to wave.

In the bedroom, I took off the robe, folded it, put it within reach. Without looking at the time, I checked to make sure the stem was out on the clock. Then I got into bed, pulled the covers up, and closed my eyes.

It was then that I remembered I’d forgotten to latch the gate.

I opened my eyes and lay there. I gave Cliff a little shake. He cleared his throat. He swallowed. Something caught and dribbled in his chest.

I don’t know. It made me think of those things that Sam Lawton was dumping powder on.

I thought for a minute of the world outside my house, and then didn’t have any more thoughts except the thought that I had to hurry up and sleep.

Source: Raymond Carver (1985) The Stories of Raymond Carver, London, Picador/Pan Books, pp.204-7


“What We Talk About When We Talk About Love” is not only the most well-known short story title of the latter part of the 20th century; it has come to stand for an entire aesthetic, the bare-bones prose style for which Raymond Carver became famous. Perhaps, it could be argued, too famous, at least for his fiction’s own good. Like those of Hemingway or any other writer similarly loved, imitated, parodied, and reviled, these stories can sometimes produce the sense of reading pastiche. “A man without hands came to the door to sell me a photograph of my house.” “That morning she pours Teacher’s over my belly and licks it off. That afternoon she tries to jump out the window.” “My friend Mel McGinnis was talking. Mel is a cardiologist, and sometimes that gives him the right.” What other writer ever produced first sentences like these? They are like doors into Carverworld, where everyone speaks in simple declarative phrases, no one ever stops at one beer, and failure or violence are the true outcomes of the American dream.

Yet these stories bear careful re-reading, like any truly important and enduring work. For one thing, Carver is one of the few writers who can make desperation–cutting your ex-wife’s telephone cord in the middle of a conversation, standing on your own roof chunking rocks while a man with no hands takes your picture–deeply funny. Then there is the sheer craft that went into their creation. Despite their seeming simplicity, his tales are as artfully constructed as poems–and like poems, the best of them can make your breath catch in your throat. In the title piece, for instance, after the gin has been drunk, after the stories have been told, after the tensions in the room have come to the surface and subsided again, there comes a moment of strange lightness and peace: “I could hear my heart beating. I could hear everyone’s heart. I could hear the human noise we sat there making, not one of us moving, not even when the room went dark.”

Much of what happens in What We Talk About When We Talk About Love (1981) happens offstage, and we’re left with tragedy’s props: booze, instant coffee, furniture from a failed marriage, cigarettes smoked in the middle of the night. This is not merely a matter of technique. Carver leaves out a great deal, but that’s only a measure of his characters’ vulnerability, the nerve endings his stories lay bare. To say anything more, one feels, would simply hurt too much. –Mary Park

%d bloggers like this: