Prompt 11: The Mark of the Wanderer

I was a simple man


Couldn’t bear the cries

of the lambs at the slaughter

So much largesse, the earth

Generous in her gifts

bounteous fruits, ripe and round

as a mother’s bosom.


My brother–he was the brute in his

dominion over the animals.

Slitter of throats, sanguineous spiller.

He was the first professional killer.

Funny how no one remembers that.

All my years of labor, bent in the sun

sowing, weeding, harvesting

While my brother lazed in the grass,

then slew the babes of the beasts in his care.


When I made sacrifice, I offered to G-d

the sweetest, the ripest, the juiciest

The best of what grew from the sweat of my brow

My brother, his crooked smile,

His pile of rotting meat on the altar–

Pleased G-d more. Of course.

The scent of roasting fat

Exquisite, delectable,



To whom can one appeal

when G-d is unfair?


I was not even allowed to be downcast.

G-d himself chastised me.

Sin is crouching at the door.

Yes, I opened the door and sin sidled in.

It’s a sin to hate your brother

But hate him I did, smug face, second born

Favorite son, beautiful boy.

Everything given to him because

I was the first fruit of my mother’s sin.

So perhaps sin was ever my lot?


The rock in my hand felt correct

Felt true, the crushing of his skull

a mellifluous crack, a satisfying shatter

In that moment, I understood my brother

For the first time, the joy of the kill

The power, the potency

The way the earth drank of his dark liquor

Avid for it–the greedy earth, so familiar to me

I’d fed her before, I feed her again

The blood of my brother, his brains, all that he was

All that he would ever be.

The greatest gift it was indeed.

I left him there to nourish the earth.


Then, a voice in thunder:

“Where is thy brother?”

The All Knowing, the Sky Father, asked of me.

I said, in my rage,

“Am I my brother’s keeper?”

Turns out that G-d is as fond of sarcasm

As I am of loaded questions.

He denied me the fruit of the earth.

The earth cares not, I thought. The earth is indifferent

And now she’s indifferent to me.

It’s fitting. There’s nothing I could give her

That would taste as fine as Abel’s meat.


Then G-d passed His sentence upon me

Touched His finger to my forehead

oh how it burned, the torment of His judgment

A sign, a diadem, a Mark

That I should walk and all should quake to see me

First born, first murderer.

But none should ever touch me, lest he

suffer the wrath of G-d.


A punishment? This? An eternity to walk

This land that despises me

To bear sons, to build cities

To rest never, to cease never.


The truth? The final secret?

In the end–

G-d approved my sacrifice.

The blood of Abel was delicious

And G-d supped on it and found it good.

A better sacrifice than lambs–

So now I Am Who Am

Has an unquenchable appetite

For the gore and essence of mankind.


Because of me.


So I walk, unburdened by family

To bear witness to a G-d

Who loves blood, who quaffs it

As ravenously and indifferently as the earth.

The distant stars my roof, the furious earth my bed.


None must  harm me. All must quake to see me.

That is my punishment.

That is my reward.

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