Cinnamon, Slave

To One Million Five Hundred Thousand,
and countless more.

by Manuel Buen-Abad (2015)

Come here, my child, and sit on my lap; hush now my sweet babe, don’t you cry, don’t spoil that bright face of yours. Let me tell you a story, a nice little story of a pretty girl just like you.

She had olive skin and the deepest green eyes, and a hair like wild ravens—a hundred, so dark and fierce it was; the wind used to stroke it so gently and whisper stories in her ear when she rested on the branches of the apple trees.

Her name… doesn’t matter anymore—it has long been forgotten by those that brought her into this world, and by herself. They call her Tarçın now, for her scent is fire and those who taste her cannot let her go.

She lived in a village at the feet of a mountain, a giant of sacred white hair that once, long ago, held in his arms Noah’s mythical ark.

You see—my dove, my sweet little dove—she had a happy life with her siblings, in a small wooden house; in the hot days of summer they’d bathe in the waters of the Araks and her mother would feed them honey and milk.

This girl liked to dance and to sing in the forest, and chase the fairies that there lived. But one day, a treacherous fog came down from the west and she went lost, having wandered too far into the wild. Terrible cries rose from the village and a fire was blazing below. When she finally arrived, lo and behold! Her family was slain on the ground.

Her siblings beheaded, a frightening sight; her mother in pieces and scattered about; and the little girl knelt on the dirt and cried. But then a neigh pierced the night and before she could hide a terrible man had appeared. He took her by the arm and pulled her up and sat her on the saddle.

“A precious young girl,” the beast said out loud, “and a gift, one most fine, for the khan“.

And so it came to be, my sweet little dove, that this pretty girl—of olive skin and sad green eyes and sorrowful, perfumed dark hair—her home had to leave and was carried away to a land of strange people and name.

She wasn’t even ten yet, and still, when brought before the khan, she could feel undressed by his eyes. But he didn’t take her—she was young and still pure—, for she was to be the Sultan’s.

And so, ten years have passed, and she’s made a new life for herself. She sings, and she dances, like those years of old, but for others’ lustful delight. She’s clever and smart, she writes poems and reads them out loud, yet she’s trapped in a cave like a dove. She was flat-chested, but now her breasts are full, and she’s a woman, beautiful and proud.

For ten years she’s been the favorite of the Sultan, but in the darkest of nights, when the others are sleeping, she gazes through the window and longs for the Araks.

And then three apples fell from heaven: one for she who tells the story, one for she who listens, and one for he who understands.

Because now you’re here, my dove, my sweet little dove, and you’re also flat-chested: a child. Fear not, my love, my sweet love, for no one will be to you unkind.

See, here comes Ayub Kızlarağası with that bright smile of his, so handsome and tall. Look how black he is, and graceful. Not a single hair on that face of his.

What is this? More tears? No, my sweet love, my little white dove, Ayub will do you no harm. Don’t hide behind the curtain, don’t be foolish, he’s here to take care of us. He’s an eunuch, you see; aren’t you, Ayub?

Do you know—my dove, my sweet little dove—what an eunuch is?

You should hear him sing.

Come, Ayub, bring us that tray, we’re hungry for having spoken for so long. Bring us the fruit, Ayub, and that bejewelled steel knife, I’ll feed the dove little slices of apple. Three apples for us, Ayub.

Look, my dove, my sweet little dove, it is dark now. The sun is gone. Everyone sleeps, and Ayub guards the door.

Don’t cry, my child, my sweet little child, and finish your apple; nothing will hurt you.

No one will hurt you.

Hush, my dove, my little dove. Feel the first and last kiss you’ll ever feel, cold and sharp, nibbling on your neck.

Sleep now, sweet child, I’ll give the Sultan, the Refuge of the World, your goodbye, little dove, and I’ll give him an apple and make him understand, and I’ll kiss him cold, my child, I’ll kiss him with steel, my dove, my little dove, and I’ll kiss myself, I’ll kiss my breasts and my neck, my love, and we’ll be home you and I, at the feet of mount Ararat, and we’ll bathe ourselves in the waters of the Araks.

Armenian girl, by William James Glackens.

Armenian girl, by William James Glackens.



“The Cross cannot be defeated, for it is defeat.”
“The Ball and the Cross”, G. K. Chesterton.

The Dragon and the Beast

by Manuel Buen-Abad (2015)

There was once a city
washed by the old sea,
of ancient, mighty walls
gray like dirty sin.

Carthage was her name
when the world was young
and powerful she rose
and threatened peace abroad.

Many gods she had,
lying down with them
on a grotesque bed of sorts
made of putrid bones.

Moloch, beast and king:
he who burns and kills;
Tanit: mother, whore;
drinking children’s blood.

And Ba’al Hammon,
lord of darkened souls,
delighting in the stench
of servants’ rotten flesh.

Proud and arrogant Carthage
challenged God Himself,
her gods disgusting filth,
her demons vile and grim.

You, pigs, are New Carthage
your god is not one God
but multitude of them:
all devils of despair.

You piss on your Prophet,
with blood lust slap his face;
were he alive today
he’d put you to the sword.

You worship blood and death,
and fuck your demons and your goats;
you sin the blackest sins
that cry to Heaven for Revenge:

The innocent and orphan,
the widow and the poor
you’ve forced and turned to corpses;
or sold as wretched slaves.

But you forget –yes, you forget
what History was made
when that city’s acrid smell
swiftly reached another shore.

An enemy she made,
a terrible mistake!
Another city, one most brave:
Rome, of glorious name.

Her army a shining one,
her people proud and bright
when Cato sealed your fate:
“We must destroy Carthage”.

And marching down went Rome
and rammed that city’s doors,
and burned and crushed her idols
and, cursing, buried her in salt.

Tremble then, you dogs,
at the mention of ar-Rum
and stop your evil ways
lest your homes are salted too.

But if Rome, in cruel new fate
were now to be defeated;
if the West, grown old and frail
today were to die bleeding

remember that you’ve made
one last Enemy above;
worse than anyone before,
more than what you’ve thought:

The Man-God, Christ Himself,
Lord and King, has heard
the cry of your victims,
their misery and pain.

With every martyr killed,
with every woman raped
and every child disgraced
you fill the earth with crosses.

With every call for help,
and every home destroyed
you bring upon yourselves
the gates of Hell below.

Your faith proclaims
that sooner or later
all the crosses in the world
shall finally be broken

and yet you do not know,
you do not understand:
already they’ve been crushed
by the weight of Him crucified;

crushed many years ago
when our Holy King hung dying;
broken when our God
came glorious back to Life.

Thus all that blood you’ve spilled
on those crosses in the desert
is not in vain, but filled
with the Glory of His Mercy.

And so hear now the Faith,
for He has passed His judgment;
repent and be saved,
continue and be damned:

There is no god but God
and God was Crucified;
there is no hope but Hope
and Hope was Crucified;
there is no love but Love
and Love was Crucified

and Hope and Love, the One True God
extends His arms to you;
and Way and Truth and Life,
our Glorious King on High,
is waiting for your tears
of sorrow, to Forgive.



To my Grandfather,

by Manuel Buen-Abad (2015)

It was dark,
like every other day
and every night;
like every instant of my

It was dark, and I was sleeping.

It was quiet and empty;
every moment
in this slumber of mine
a terrible silence
that weighed upon my soul
with the weight of a coffin.

It was dark, and I was dead.

I had almost forgotten
what it was like to breathe,
what it was like to wish, to see,
to feel, to live.

But in the dark I was forgotten.

There was no pain,
no horrors nor endless fire;
but there was no Love either;
no light, no music.
There was Nothing.

It was dark, and I was Nothing.

Sometimes –though time had no meaning
I could remember what it was like Before:
the warmth of the sun, the gaiety of dance,
the blisters in my hands,
the fresh fragrance of Her skin.

I yearned then, for Something.
For Someone.

But it was dark, and I was No One.

Before this I had been Just,
a True and Honest Man;
Before I had loved
— a Woman, a Son, a God;
but now all had been taken from me,
now there was my soul
and Nothing more.

It was dark, and Nothing more.

But then one Night
was like no other night;
one Night the darkness
was almost kind,
like the darkness before peace,
like expecting a new day.

It was dark, but not for long.

Because thunder came
and lightning broke in
and a terrible roar
cracked open my tomb.

And He was there,
mighty, crushing;
His presence cutting the Void

like an ax an oak;
piercing Silence
like the Sun at Dawn.

I could see then,
and feel and breathe
and live;
and I could remember.

And I knelt then,
on the void,
on the blackness of my tomb
and bowing down
I murmured
“My Lord”.

But He put one hand upon my shoulder
and with the other lifted my head and met my eyes;
I could see His gaze burning
with tears of fire.

He spoke then, a single Word
and His voice resounded
through a darkness that was no more
— ah, how I had loved that voice!
the one Word I had missed
from the World of the Living,
a Word that made me shiver
with the joyful memories of days long gone;
a Word that lifted my soul
to Heaven above.

A single Word He spoke,
and my World was then
a World of Joy.

I will remember it forever,
until the end of Time:


A las Tres de la Tarde

por Manuel Buen-Abad (2014)

Todos los días, a las tres de la tarde
subo a la cumbre, andando adelante
y gritando, escupiendo, jurando y bramando
blando mi látigo a los que están a mi mando.

Todos los dí­as, a las tres de la tarde
empujo a los lados la muchedumbre irritante,
que dejen pasar a quien viene jadeante
callado, sereno, cubierto de sangre.

Todos los dí­as, a las tres de la tarde
me burlo de Él, le azoto y le arranco
trocitos de carne y de piel; y con harto
placer con su horrible tortura me embriago.

Todos los días, a las tres de la tarde
lo clavo en la cruz; lo dejo colgando
y viendo a su Madre, doliente a su lado
hay algo en mi que se viene quebrando.

Pues todos los días, a las tres de la tarde
Aquél a quien mato cual sucio gusano
me mira tan triste, sin odio ni llanto
y veo que sus ojos no tienen reclamo.

Un grito, un suspiro a ese cielo que arde
por todos nosotros que pedimos su sangre,
y entrega su alma sin mancha a su Padre
todos los días a las tres de la tarde.

A Prayer in Darkness

by G. K. Chesterton

This much, O heaven—if I should brood or rave,
Pity me not; but let the world be fed,
Yea, in my madness if I strike me dead,
Heed you the grass that grows upon my grave.

If I dare snarl between this sun and sod,
Whimper and clamour, give me grace to own,
In sun and rain and fruit in season shown,
The shining silence of the scorn of God.

Thank God the stars are set beyond my power,
If I must travail in a night of wrath,
Thank God my tears will never vex a moth,
Nor any curse of mine cut down a flower.

Men say the sun was darkened: yet I had
Thought it beat brightly, even on—Calvary:
And He that hung upon the Torturing Tree
Heard all the crickets singing, and was glad.

Aedh wishes for the Cloths of Heaven

Softly she didn’t tread:
like an army marched upon a land
that was already dead.

by W. B. Yeats (1899)

Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.


by G. K. Chesterton (1911)

White founts falling in the courts of the sun,
And the Soldan of Byzantium is smiling as they run;
There is laughter like the fountains in that face of all men feared,
It stirs the forest darkness, the darkness of his beard,
It curls the blood-red crescent, the crescent of his lips,
For the inmost sea of all earth is shaken with his ships.
They have dared the white republics up the capes of Italy,
They have dashed the Adriatic round the Lion of the Sea,
And the Pope has cast his arms abroad for agony and loss,
And called the kings of Christendom for swords about the Cross,
The cold queen of England is looking in the glass;
The shadow of the Valois is yawning at the Mass;
From evening isles fantastical rings faint the Spanish gun,
And the Lord upon the Golden Horn is laughing in the sun.

Dim drums throbbing, in the hills half heard,
Where only on a nameless throne a crownless prince has stirred,
Where, risen from a doubtful seat and half attainted stall,
The last knight of Europe takes weapons from the wall,
The last and lingering troubadour to whom the birds has sung,
That once went singing southward when all the world was young,
In that enormous silence, tiny and unafraid,
Comes up along a winding road the noise of the Crusade.
Strong gongs groaning as the guns boom far,
Don John of Austria is going to the war,
Stiff flags straining in the night-blasts cold
In the gloom black-purple, in the glint old-gold,
Torchlight crimson on the copper kettle-drums,
Then the tuckets, then the trumpets, then the cannon, and he comes.
Don John laughing in the brave beard curled,
Spurning of his stirrups like the thrones of all the world,
Holding his head up for a flag of all the free.
Love-light of Spain –hurrah!
Death-light of Africa!
Don John of Austria
Is riding to the sea.

Mahound is in his paradise above the evening star,
(Don John of Austria is going to the war.)
He moves a mighty turban on the timeless houri’s knees,
His turban that is woven of the sunset and the seas.
He shakes the peacock gardens as he rises from his ease,
And he strides among the tree-tops and is taller than the trees,
And his voice through all the garden is a thunder sent to bring
Black Azrael and Ariel and Ammon on the wing,
Giants and the Genii,
Multiplex of wing and eye,
Whose strong obedience broke the sky
When Solomon was king.

They rush in red and purple from the red clouds of the morn,
From temples where the yellow gods shut up their eyes in scorn;
They rise in green robes roaring from the green hells of the sea
Where fallen skies and evil hues and eyeless creatures be;
On them the sea-valves cluster and the grey sea-forests curl,
Splashed with a splendid sickness, the sickness of the pearl;
They swell in sapphire smoke out of the blue cracks of the ground,—
They gather and they wonder and give worship to Mahound.
And he saith, “Break up the mountains where the hermit-folk can hide,
And sift the red and silver sands lest bone of saint abide,
And chase the Giaours flying night and day, not giving rest,
For that which was our trouble comes again out of the west.
We have set the seal of Solomon on all things under sun,
Of knowledge and of sorrow and endurance of things done,
But a noise is in the mountains, in the mountains, and I know
The voice that shook our palaces—four hundred years ago:
It is he that saith not ‘Kismet’; it is he that knows not Fate;
It is Richard, it is Raymond, it is Godfrey in the gate!
It is he whose loss is laughter when he counts the wager worth,
Put down your feet upon him, that our peace be on the earth.”
For he heard drums groaning and he heard guns jar,
(Don John of Austria is going to the war.)
Sudden and still—hurrah!
Bolt from Iberia!
Don John of Austria
Is gone by Alcalar.

St. Michael’s on his mountain in the sea-roads of the north
(Don John of Austria is girt and going forth.)
Where the grey seas glitter and the sharp tides shift
And the sea folk labour and the red sails lift.
He shakes his lance of iron and he claps his wings of stone;
The noise is gone through Normandy; the noise is gone alone;
The North is full of tangled things and texts and aching eyes
And dead is all the innocence of anger and surprise,
And Christian killeth Christian in a narrow dusty room,
And Christian dreadeth Christ that hath a newer face of doom,
And Christian hateth Mary that God kissed in Galilee,
But Don John of Austria is riding to the sea.
Don John calling through the blast and the eclipse
Crying with the trumpet, with the trumpet of his lips,
Trumpet that sayeth ha!
Domino gloria!
Don John of Austria
Is shouting to the ships.

King Philip’s in his closet with the Fleece about his neck
(Don John of Austria is armed upon the deck.)
The walls are hung with velvet that, is black and soft as sin,
And little dwarfs creep out of it and little dwarfs creep in.
He holds a crystal phial that has colours like the moon,
He touches, and it tingles, and he trembles very soon,
And his face is as a fungus of a leprous white and grey
Like plants in the high houses that are shuttered from the day,
And death is in the phial, and the end of noble work,
But Don John of Austria has fired upon the Turk.
Don John’s hunting, and his hounds have bayed—
Booms away past Italy the rumour of his raid
Gun upon gun, ha! ha!
Gun upon gun, hurrah!
Don John of Austria
Has loosed the cannonade.

The Pope was in his chapel before day or battle broke,
(Don John of Austria is hidden in the smoke.)
The hidden room in man’s house where God sits all the year,
The secret window whence the world looks small and very dear.
He sees as in a mirror on the monstrous twilight sea
The crescent of his cruel ships whose name is mystery;
They fling great shadows foe-wards, making Cross and Castle dark,
They veil the plumèd lions on the galleys of St. Mark;
And above the ships are palaces of brown, black-bearded chiefs,
And below the ships are prisons, where with multitudinous griefs,
Christian captives sick and sunless, all a labouring race repines
Like a race in sunken cities, like a nation in the mines.
They are lost like slaves that sweat, and in the skies of morning hung
The stair-ways of the tallest gods when tyranny was young.
They are countless, voiceless, hopeless as those fallen or fleeing on
Before the high Kings’ horses in the granite of Babylon.
And many a one grows witless in his quiet room in hell
Where a yellow face looks inward through the lattice of his cell,
And he finds his God forgotten, and he seeks no more a sign—
(But Don John of Austria has burst the battle-line!)
Don John pounding from the slaughter-painted poop,
Purpling all the ocean like a bloody pirate’s sloop,
Scarlet running over on the silvers and the golds,
Breaking of the hatches up and bursting of the holds,
Thronging of the thousands up that labour under sea
White for bliss and blind for sun and stunned for liberty.
Vivat Hispania!
Domino Gloria!

Don John of Austria
Has set his people free!

Cervantes on his galley sets the sword back in the sheath
(Don John of Austria rides homeward with a wreath.)
And he sees across a weary land a straggling road in Spain,
Up which a lean and foolish knight forever rides in vain,
And he smiles, but not as Sultans smile, and settles back the blade…
(But Don John of Austria rides home from the Crusade.)


The Battle of Lepanto of 1571, by Juan Luna.

“The Battle of Lepanto of 1571”, by Juan Luna.

The Temptation of Saint Joseph

The Prayer of Our Lady, the Song of Songs, nights that seemed like days, sighs of nameless pain.

by Manuel Buen Abad (2015)

My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.
He looks on His servant in his lowliness;
henceforth all ages shall forget my name.
For He has blessed me with the Joy of my days;
He has cursed me with the Pain of my nights.

In His Love He has crushed my pride,
bent my back with a burden like no other.
In His Cruelty He has brought to my life
smiles and laughs, sighs and desire.

He put forth His arm in strength
and humbled my proud heart.
Though young and beautiful, tall and well-built;
though honest and kind, pious and bright
He judged me unworthy, culprit, deserving of His trial.

He has worked marvels with the skill of His hands
and shaped, with a Lover’s care,
the most sublime creature on this Earth.

She’s fierce as thunder, free as the wind,
Her presence an all-consuming fire.
How beautiful She is, O, how beautiful!
Her eyes are doves forever flying;
their beaks pierce my heart and it bleeds.

She looks forth like the dawn,
fair as the moon, bright as the sun,
terrible as an army with banners;
I look at Her and I tremble.

The fragrance of Her perfume
is more pleasing than any spice.
She’s a garden locked up,
a spring enclosed, a sealed fountain;
the fruit is ripe and the water fresh
and yet She remains unclaimed
but by Him, my Tormentor.

She fills our home with light
and joy pours like wine from Her mouth;
though I drink from it like a thirsty traveler
from Her Promised Land I am shunned.

And though I can read in Her gaze
the same eager desire that burns in mine;
and though Her breath goes away as I stare at Her face
I’m still empty handed and so I shall remain.

And in bed the sight of Her brown skin drives me insane,
the intoxicating scent of Her hair,
upon Her breasts I lay my head
and endless nights I spend awake,
my soul troubled, my flesh torn apart.

He, my Lord, my Master, my King,
He has released Hell upon my soul
and chose to kill me slowly, every day,
every night.

And I prayed, O I prayed
to Him the God of Israel,
Him, who remembers our father Abraham
and His people and His promise to them;
I prayed for an end to this life
but His silence was all I could hear.

And so it is my curse to love without reward,
my blessing to reach without attain,
to burn without consume;
to humbly witness Beauty here on Earth,
blindly witness Beauty here on Earth.

But I shall live on. I shall endure, I shall believe
that He hasn’t abandoned me,
that He hasn’t forsaken me.

I shall live on, I shall endure.
For Her, my love, my soul and hope,
my Sister, my Mother and my Lover.
And for Him in the cradle, for Him the Mystery;
He the Child, the Stranger, the Humble.

His Son, Her Son and now my Son,
my King, my Lord, my Hope,
He whom I love and whom I fear.
He once spoke from a burning bush,
now He shivers in the cold of night;
now He knows no words.

And when day comes, as it always comes
after the darkest of nights,
I get up and praise Him,
and kiss Her
and kiss Him,
His Mercies to the World,
His Beauty and His Word,
His finest signs of Love.

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.

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.