Sunday, April 7, 2013

Uncle Cain

by Jim Rapp

Do not fear us, uncle Cain.
We see the mark upon your brow.
Come near, and let us speak again;
perhaps your ancient wisdom now
can help to solve a great dilemma.

We know, or think, at least, we know
what caused your meditated murder;
jealousy drove you to attempt to show –
shedding brother-blood without a shudder –
your offering was beyond penultima*.

Do not fear us, we are “brothers,” Cain.
See! We too bear the mark upon our brow;
sons of Seth, we nonetheless retain
your inclinations, and so we seek to know,
from you, what drives our fratricidal ways.

What did Abel lack that you possessed
that made his life, compared to yours, worth less?
What criterion did you use as you assessed
your brother’s worth-less-ness?
Did you merely hate his other-ways?

You may be glad to know, o haunted wanderer,
that today your mark is worn with legal pride,
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.

But back to that dilemma, uncle Cain;
know that more, endorsed by neither church nor state,
bear, nonetheless, your mark, and seek to gain
by killing, what God intended them to make
through honest toil and not by force appropriated.

And you must know your murderous ways
are now the human norm; that none are safe
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
           “second best.”

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