Come near, and let us speak again;
perhaps your ancient wisdom now
can help to solve a great dilemma.
jealousy drove you to attempt to show –
shedding brother-blood without a shudder –
your offering was beyond penultima*.
sons of Seth, we nonetheless retain
your inclinations, and so we seek to know,
from you, what drives our fratricidal ways.
What criterion did you use as you assessed
your brother’s worth-less-ness?
Did you merely hate his other-ways?
endorsed by church and state; no need to bother
with a conscience grieved, no need to seek to hide.
Your kindred, thusly badged, are celebrated.
bear, nonetheless, your mark, and seek to gain
by killing, what God intended them to make
through honest toil and not by force appropriated.
in church or school or homes or motorways.
We walk, armed with fear, prepared to strafe
a street, a market – our own home – in self-defense.
Perhaps through centuries of contemplation,
watching sons slay sons down through the ages,
you have thought to cure our lethal inclinations.
Master Cain, can you reverse the curse that sages
in their wisdom can’t, and teach us common sense?
*penultima = next to last in a series. Meant here as