Anger for Abel
Billows of smoke slowly curling into the sky
Rising from what I know must be the east
Where my white marble altar points,
Hiding it reliquary full of dead saints’
Divinely sacred dust –
And I hear a voice
Coming from somewhere
Not nearly so close to heaven
As its tone suggests:
Clearly we have not completed our mission.
But if we only throw
A little more of your native green into the dessert
And spend just enough native red,
Yes fully slather the sands
And all that sun-baked mud with red
Surely we'll resolve this crisis once and for all.
Isn’t is funny how that red
Starts off dull and purple until it mixes with the open air.
Funny how one can never tell by looking at it
Or smelling it festering in the beautiful noonday sun
Whether it came from the east or west.
So, talk to me, slain keeper of the flock.
I'm looking straight down at the earth –
The same earth from which your blood
Called up to the skies for vengeance.
Can you hear me?
Or was your blood washed away by the Flood?
Or maybe it’s that by now so much blood
Is down there, all screaming at once
That nothing can be heard.
Well if you can hear me,
Let me ask you this,
What if it had been different –
What if you had kept your better sacrifice to yourself,
Just between you and Jehovah?
Did you really have to put it out there
Where everyone could see it?
You must have known your brother was a jealous man,
After all he was the one who had to till the cursed ground
While you got to play with your pets.
Why couldn't you have leant your brother a lamb or two?
Obviously you were as convinced as we are
Your Maker loves the savory odor of burning flesh.
But no, you had to go and show off
And get yourself killed.
And look what's happened -
You left your brother to be our great grandfather
And sure as shootin'
We're all just like he was.
Black billows of poison smoke rising from the east
And nobly, so very nobly we send our children off
Ah, listen, someone is singing a hymn:
"Onward Christian soldiers
Jews and Muslims too…"
This world will turn to crimson
Long before the moon ever does
And somehow the sign upon his forehead
Still protects the murderer,
And God almighty,
Why on earth should I be in any way surprised?