Elsa & the Mug

An empty Harley Davidson coffee mug stood on my writing desk, and I wondered why. It looked as if it had something to say, but it said nothing because it was a coffee mug. I liked it though; it was sexy. So I picked it up and threw it on the floor, shattering it to pieces. I was the kind of guy who liked to break stuff. Don’t ask me why.

My mom must have heard the mug being shattered from the living room, because she shouted: “What now, Chris? What did you break?”

This happened either in mid-June or early July last year, a few weeks before Elsa and I broke up. I hated Elsa, to tell you the truth, and for many obvious reasons. For instance, when we went to Gemmayze for drinks, she always ordered a Bloody Mary.

“That’s what old people drink.” I used to say.

“No, Chris.” She would say. “Bloody Mary is a mature drink.”

And while drinking it slowly – taking tiny sips once every five thousand years – she kept chewing on celery sticks for some reason. I didn’t like that about her, not at all – chewing on sticks and stuff. Celery sucks.

So this coffee mug I was telling you about was a present from Elsa. I didn’t know it then, when I first found it standing there on my writing desk, I mean. But I broke it anyway. Later, when I knew it was from her, it all made sense and I felt good about myself. Elsa sucked, and her gifts sucked, too. I didn’t even like coffee then.

My mom once told me to be nice to her. I don’t know why.

The only reason I went out with Elsa was that she had a car. She drove me around and all. I was seventeen, she was eighteen. I was funny and all, but she was all too ugly. My friends always said that I was too funny to be with such an ugly girl. But I didn’t think I was funny though; I was dead serious. I told my friends that she had a good personality so that they would leave me alone. But that was a lie. I lied about her personality. Her personality sucked.

I put all the broken pieces of the coffee mug in a plastic bag and kept it in my closet. I don’t know why.

My mom once told my dad that I needed to see a psychiatrist, or a psychologist, or someone who could help. She said I’ve been reading The Catcher in the Rye over and over, and she didn’t think that was healthy. She said that Chapman, the guy who shot John Lennon, was obsessed with the book, too.

Anyway, I couldn’t sleep that night, all the while thinking about the broken coffee mug in the closet. For a moment, I felt sorry for Elsa, for her Jewish nose and sad Palestinian eyes, for her moustache and all. So I called her.

“Hello?” It was her mother who answered after three or four rings. Elsa’s mother was so hairy that she could keep a legit goatee. Elsa’s mother was a man.

“Hey, Ma’am. It’s Chris. Can I talk to Elsa, please?” I swallowed my saliva.

“Do you know what time it is? Elsa’s asleep.”

“I know, I know.”  I said. “It’s two-thirty. I’m sorry. But it’s really important.”

A minute or so later, I heard Elsa on the other side.

“Chris?” She asked. “Are you crazy?”

“Yeah, listen.” I said. “I’ve been thinking about us and all.”

“And?” She waited.

“Well, nothing really. It’s just that I wanted you to know that… that even though you’re ugly and have no personality, it doesn’t mean that I have the right to break stuff, especially the gifts that you get for me. I mean, you’re really nice. Only you look like a Jew and…”

(I never knew that J.D. Salinger, the guy who wrote my favorite book, was a Jew.)

As you might have expected, the conversation I had with Elsa that night didn’t go so well. But, after that night, I never broke stuff for fun again. Ever. I don’t know why.

© Chris Khatchadourian and World of Gauche, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Chris Khatchadourian and World of Gauche with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Bonanza’s Never Spoken Stanza

The pretty lady in the poem farted.

It was funny because

You do not always come across a lady farting in poetry.

In fact, as the poet writes, he thinks twice

Whether he should or should not take the risk

to include her butt – her sexy ass – in this big, lousy mess.


“Do it!” The rapist at the bar shouts.

“This one’s unique.”

And the poet nods.

(Lately, every girl I know claims

to have been raped by somebody.

It’s trending.)


As I dance with funny smelling noodles,

Singing ‘The Slaughter of the Poodles’

These particular events are taking place

In a parallel universe,

In a Chinese restaurant called Little China

Located in Downtown Beirut.


All sorts of people who can afford

a Tuesday night dinner

go to Mono.


Dumb teens in tight jeans and high heels

around a round table

discuss matters of great importance:

cocktail parties, good careers and dicks doused in gold.

“Boys want tits but men want ass.”

“Never kiss a guy who can’t dance.”


The polo shirt society members sit in one corner.

One of them will have the waitress for dessert.

“That sexy thing is something, ain’t she?”

“My biceps need the protein, baby.”


Now, the poet stands up swiftly

(by the way, his name’s Bonanza)

and jumps on the dining table

to recite the lousy stanza.


“Listen, ladies and boys,

to the sounds of the future.

Listen to the tap-dancing thumbs on touch screens,

to the smart phones and smart bombs and ATM machines.

Get your noses out of your telephones and listen.

Listen, because I speak what I see and…”


That is when the poet slips and falls from the table.

As his butt hits the floor,

the once bamboozled crowd starts laughing.

Some hands start clapping,

but it’s no round of applause.


Mega-pixel pictures of the crying poet,

who has Sweet & Sour sauce in his hair

and soy sauce on his pants,

are taken

while the rapist rapes the pretty girl

who farted earlier in this poem.


“Get your nose out of that phone

And listen to what I’m saying!”

The poet shouts at one of them,

but the tap-dancing thumbs on touch screens

keep on dancing.


© Chris Khatchadourian and World of Gauche, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Chris Khatchadourian and World of Gauche with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

A Pint of Blood

“Poetry is the devil’s inbox.”


But daytime was no time to philosophize.

So we hung about cheap coffee shops

Sipped espressos on dirty sidewalks.


We, five poets with empty wallets,

The modern prophets,

Lived our lives in between big brackets,

Smoked cigarettes,

Wasted sunsets,

Et cetera, et cetera…


Now Time

For the sun to sink into the silver sea

And die.



For the son of sin to feel her skin

For the snake to slither between her thighs

And why

Not post it on Facebook

Or be a Twitter god?


And Time

For us, the poets with bad habits,

To invade the pubs and bars of Hamra Street

Looking here and there if someone’s rolling

Weed, hashish, Red Lebanese…


But nighttime was no time to philosophize either.

So we hung about cheap bars and pubs

Drinking beer on dirty sidewalks.


And then the girls with no names came,

Their laughter: sex notes

And R&B

Champagne and pain

And misery


“I think that one’s from AUB.

I did her at the dorms in November.

She needed money…

to pay for her courses.”


“You bastard! That’s my sister.”

A non-poet cried right then

and broke that poet’s nose.


Blood in the beer

A pint of blood!

A toast for our brave, bare sister.

Knives and chairs and broken beer bottles…

A fight

A war

A massacre

In which I did not take part.


And all this time, I was thinking,

Eyes wide open, without blinking,

About how a fellow poet

Could pay so much to fuck

When I was paying for his beer.


© Chris Khatchadourian and World of Gauche, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Chris Khatchadourian and World of Gauche with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

A Happy Death at the Beach

A Happy Death at the Beach

  Some books are read over and over while others – even great classics and magnum opuses – collect dust on your shelves and are, sooner or later, forgotten.  That is the way with books, I suppose: some touch you and others don’t; some call you back for you to love them all over again while others sink deep into your subconscious ocean and sleep, like haunted pirate ships on the seabed.

  But I am not here to grieve over them. Today, I decided to revisit one of the novels that I have read throughout the years and loved but never had the chance, or the will, or the drive to read it again.

  So I blew the dust off A Happy Death, Albert Camus’ posthumously published novel, believed (by those who point the obvious) to be a precursor to his exemplary, existentialist novel, The Stranger. I first read A Happy Death, about two years ago, on a hot summer day, at the beach. It took me three to four hours, four piña coladas and a whole pack of Marlboros to finish the book. I loved it!

Here are some of the sentences that I have underlined:

1-      ‘I have my life to earn. My work – those eight hours a day other people can stand – my work keeps me from doing it.’

2-      ‘And in almost every case, we use up our lives making money, when we should be using our money to gain time.’

3-      ‘Happy nations have no history.’

4-      ‘Don’t think I’m saying that money makes happiness. I only mean that for a certain class of beings happiness is possible, provided they have time, and that having money is a way of being free of money.’

5-      … to come to terms with time was at once the most magnificent and the most dangerous of experiments.

6-      …it seemed that by caressing this life, all his powers of love and despair would unite.

7-      ‘On good days, if you trust life, life has to answer you.’

8-      … happiness born of their abandonment of the world.

9-      Unintelligence must be earned.

10-   At the point where the mind denies the mind, he touched his truth and with it his extreme glory, his extreme love.

11-  ‘Yes, I’m happy, in human terms.’

12-  Conscious, he must be conscious without deception, without cowardice – alone, face to face – at grips with his body – eyes open upon death.

  Now I remember why I loved this book so much: it gives good advice.

A Stanza for a Friend

An old acquaintance texted me the other day, and asked if we could meet up and catch up on things. The purpose of it, he claimed, is to get to know me better. I said: “Sure, brother, but! First you must tell me why you have this sudden urge to know me better.” And so, he finally confessed that – through a mutual friend – he had the chance to read a few of my short stories, and that he wanted more. (How happy I was when he said it! Hence, I pickled the moment.)


You know me well (already);

You’ve kissed my pen – before.

You drink the ink I spill on dead leaves,

Which I bring back to life,

And you still want more.

On Water I Stood


(A Creative Reader-Response to The Rime of the Ancient Mariner By Samuel Taylor Coleridge)

It comes to thee at night

When thou least expect a fright.

Like a spider’s web it grows,

Whilst thy body’s paralyzed!


From beneath the seven seas,

It brings forth nine mysteries;

One of which becomes a dream

To be dreamt this night of sin.


Here, the music rests in peace.

‘Tis where the saddest silence speaks!

Come! Let it tell thee what it should

‘Tis all for the better good!


Now, the muses came to thee –

‘Tis thy turn to make a speech.

“Tell us, please, what the mariner sees

And we shall tell thee what it means.”




Here is my spirit in the mariner’s psych.

The mariner’s asleep; the winds are alright.

Thus I float in an ocean of dreams

And, so far, I have seen what I see.


But suddenly an albatross,

A dead bird I came across

Then a monster from underwater

Warned me to go no further –


“Why?” Said I. “Dost thou,” said he

“Wish to see the devil’s burning eyes?”

“No!” Cried I, “But why, tell me,

Does the devil so dwell here?”


The sea-monster gave no answer

And like it came, it disappeared.

So I quickened pace, walked on water,

And left it all behind me.


On water I stood, ‘tis true.

Yes! So did Jesus, too.


‘Tis said that the ancient mariner passes,

Like night, from land to land, he passes

And till his ghastly tale is told

This heart within him burns with cold.


But suddenly an albatross

A good omen he came across

Yet, once again, with his cross-bow

He shot the albatross!


“Why?” Said I. And the mariner laughed.

“Time’s a circle, can’t you tell?”

“No!” Cried I, “but why, tell me,

Didst thou make the same mistake?”


The ancient mariner had to answer

And so he came a little closer

And to my heart with a silent whisper

He spoke… his final treasure!


On water I stood, ‘tis true.

Yes! So did Jesus, too.



I dreamt that I woke up from a dream

But in the dream of a dream I still

Hear the mariner scream: –

“Keep thy books for ever open, for we all deserve to live!

Even though we live to make – and tell! –

The same mistakes again.”


Note:  The first two stanzas of the third part include lines taken from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner



Quotes from Machiavelli’s ‘The Prince’

Machiavelli Quotes

I have not adorned this work with fine phrases, with swelling, pompous words, or with any of those blandishments or external ornaments with which many set forth and decorate their matter. For I have chosen either that nothing at all should bring it honor or that the variety of its material and the gravity of its subject matter alone should make it welcome. – Niccolo Machiavelli

  Last night, as I couldn’t sleep, I revisited Machiavelli’s The Prince. I have read it a long time ago and it seems that I have forgotten a great deal of key observations. Luckily, as is my prominent habit, I had underlined my favorite sentences and had marked the most significant passages. I believe that in order to understand today’s politics one should be familiar with The Prince. In this post, I am simply going to share a few quotes of his, the ones that I think concern the Arab world most, since I am from Beirut and people are absurdly dying next door.

1-      “… In the beginning the disease is easy to cure but hard to diagnose; with the passage of time, having gone unrecognized and unmedicated, it becomes easy to diagnose but hard to cure.” (Chapter 3: Mixed Principalities.)

2-      “He who causes another to become powerful ruins himself.” (Chapter 3: Mixed Principalities)

3-      “He who builds on the people builds on mud.” (Chapter 9: Concerning the Civil Principality)

4-      “A prince must have no other objective, no other thought, nor take any profession but that of war…” (Chapter 14: A Prince’s concern in Military Matters)

5-      “Anyone who has no fear of dying can harm them.” (Chapter 19: How to Avoid Contempt and Hatred)

6-      “Here it ought to be noted that a prince should avoid joining forces with someone more powerful than himself for the purpose of attacking another unless necessity compels him to do so.” (Chapter 21: What A Prince Must Do to Be Esteemed)