In a war-torn country

by Manuel Buen Abad (2014)

In a war-torn country I was alone,
at night shutting the awful doors
where Death Herself had made Her home,
the war-torn men forever gone.

In a war-torn country the days went on
and nothing new they ever brought
for nothing new ever occurred,
but screams and guts and gas and blood.

But in a war-torn country I found my love,
I was staring at the mud one afternoon;
a fair young man that marched from home,
a sweet young boy they’ve sent to kill.

In a war-torn country he sat with me,
and spoke of songs and jokes and tea
and for a second then I could forget
my tired hands, in thick red drenched.

And in a war-torn country we made love
inside an old house by the road
and while outside rained shells and blood
we merged ourselves, both drunk with joy.

We saw each other bathing in the moon,
one flesh, one story, one powerful soul;
and as he ran his fingers o’er my skin
my moans escaped me from my lips.

But in a war-torn country some men are fools
and they took their men and took mine too;
and they sent them to be slaughtered at the front,
they sent them to be slaughtered far from home.

And in a war-torn country I couldn’t sleep
at night, other moans I heard and I feared
that in this fretful country I was to be
alone, and he’d be gone.

And in this hateful country I cannot leave
I heard the fire and smelled the rain
and when they brought the boys to me,
although I sought, no one was him.

For in this war-torn country I’d lost my love
outside an old house by the road,
his pierced body sinking in the mud,
I stared at him one afternoon.

In a war-torn country I lost my love,
his smell still hidden in my clothes.
In a war-torn country I walked alone
and took my life there, by the road.


A strange little ache (It must be the coffee)

by Manuel Buen Abad (2014)

“What is this?”, I say to myself, “this strange little ache just above my stomach?” “It must be the coffee”, I answer, “you had plenty last night. And quite some funny coffee if you know what I mean. Very… energizing. Plus you haven’t had breakfast, and we all know that’s the most important meal of the day. As my dad (your dad, our dad?) used to say: ‘Break your fast like a king, have your lunch like a bourgeois and eat your dinner like a beggar’. You should never, ever skip breakfast.”

“I’m no stupid”, I reply, “It can’t be the coffee. I only had six cups, black, no sugar (pretty much like every day…), and you and I know it has never bother us so much as now. Maybe if I could get my hands on some milk…”

“Hold that thought, my dear”, a third me intervenes, wearing a wig and a cane, “It must be the coffee. You see, at your age (o, your youth has come and past, my dear) one mustn’t drink that much of strong beverages. So forget about that milk. And coffee, though a wonderful and miraculous drink, capable of doing marvelous things for your health, must be drunk in moderation, like everything else. And don’t even think for a second that you can fool us. We have seen what you add to that coffee. Funny coffee, indeed. Your mother would be so disappointed…”

“Stop that!” I say, a little louder than intended, “and let me remind you that you’re the same age as myself. I’m still in my prime, let me tell you, and whosoever claims otherwise shall lose his head. I stand by my previous affirmation: it can’t be the coffee.”

“Easy now, boy”, yet another one speaks, one with a hat and cowboy boots, “let us not lose our heads, nor our tempers. I remind you that if our dear fellows here lose their heads yours rolls with theirs too. Not a very good deal, is it?” I quickly shake my head. “Good boy. Now, don’t be a fool and reason. It must be the coffee. What else if not? There was nothing special last night. Nor any other night of any other day. There was nothing then and nothing now. But yesterday you had coffee, you sneaky boy. It must be the coffee. So logic says.”

And when I’m about to draw my gun and shoot at me below the town’s tower (though it’s not noon yet and I haven’t had breakfast), I hear a voice from inside the tavern. A sweet, beautiful voice (not delicate though, never delicate) dancing with a guitar, that sings about clowns and skies and smiles.

And then I feel it, a strange little ache just above my stomach. Like an empty spot where something ought to be, although I never had it to begin with. And I’m afraid to enter the tavern, for if I see that voice, her eyes will make me weep.

And thus, like remembering, I say to myselves, with a strange little smile and a nod of the head “You know, my dear me? I think you were right: it must be the coffee”.

What did you do?

by Manuel Buen Abad (2014)

What did you do?
Before you were nothing and now you are all.
My dreams were pure joy,
And now they’re destroyed.

What did you do?
That my days are but pain
And my smiles are all fake,
While the best of my life I spend on a bench.

What did you do?
Before I was true
To my friends, and I rued
All of sadness and gloom.

But now I despair
And can never repair
What my old heart went through;
Every treason I do,
Every lie I have put:
It is all because you.

I want to choose

by Manuel Buen Abad (2014)

I want to choose
Between your love and your hate;
Your touch and your gaze;
Your words and your taste.

I want to choose
Between the night and the day;
The drink and the spell;
The sleep and the death.

Because doubt paralyzes
And the sun never sets
And thus never rises.

Because kindness ran out
And all that is left
Is a corpse on the ground.