Monday Poem


Am I my brother’s keeper?
…………… —Genesis 4:9

Not Abel

At first I was able, then I was not Abel,
I’d walked with Cain. I was battered off my feet
—but before?

Before I became a name of biblical proportions
I just tended sheep, then suddenly
my lambs stood bleating as I lay bleeding

The world had changed. No longer Abel
I became a metaphor among metaphors,
a theological thing, the crux of a yarn
told and told again, whose blood
cried from dirt, from amongst my brother’s
cabbages and grains, seeping down through roots
while farmer Cain, my fratricidal brother,
sobbing, muttering, also became a mythic
meaningthing

Then I was not Abel, though Cain
was ever marked as Cain

…………………. —the stuff of me driven down
like a stake beneath a hammer, Cain and I became
characters of tales, companions, occupants of verses,
a breeze a minstrel’s breath disperses

……… echoes in a clamor
……… two coins in priestly purses

……… Abel the innocent
……… Cain the stuff of curses
.

by Jim Culleny
4/19/20

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