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Stained by Cain

by Bosley Gravel

Who is this woman coming up from the wilderness,
leaning upon her dear one? Under the apple tree
I aroused you. There your mother was in birth pangs with you.
There she that was giving birth to you experienced birth pangs.
— Song of Solomon 8:5

The Genesis Canto: In the beginning...

(the tide begins with the breath of the moon)

the field is filled with green silk frogs
this is Eden, nature’s first symphony
serpents slither in the tall witch grass
monkeys copulate in the trees
Adam sleeps in mud and mire
insects dancing on the tips of his fingers

Locusts flit between majestic stars
turtles frolic in the wet jungle
gathering the first sins of man
into a ball of mud-specked matter
birds twitter in violent hues of perfection
we are gods of the garden
where everyone is naked and afraid —
the fruit of mankind
hangs from tree branches
ripe for the plucking
nature is choir of divine voices
brambles of thorns (here hides Bre’r rabbit)
imps sneak between hollow wood trees

from his rib
shaped into mud breasts
a womb
thin legs
black velvet hair
with her birth, her fickle body
man becomes
a self begotten monster

we have choices
like the turtles
the crickets
the frogs

he is alone
she kisses him lightly on the lips
he rose from the mud
to slither like a serpent
across the throbbing jungle floor
hunger — eat of it
we must know the mind of god...
the singing serpent — god of music — of sound
seeing snake — perfection rebels — no peace

(tranquility is for the dead)

we beget other children
a murderer, a lover, a thief

eat the fruit, it is knowledge
worms squirm in the apple
she devours the good with the bad
it is the first eve of evil

derived from a broken quest
we are sorry — NO APOLOGIES

“Eat it, Adam, my father, my husband,
the one who commands.”

she chews slowly thoughtfully

“I love you,” the serpent hisses

we are brothers — puzzles
no answers — only questions


Adam tastes knowledge
we are evil — by our nature
we are alone
cast down, cast out
the rules have changed again —

Pandora, Eve...
instigators of thought provoking sin
we are a secular deity — no religion can hold us
no prison set us free

the gates of hell are open — commerce begins
Adam, Eve,
floods, towers
the hand of god — spider god
spinning webs
catching Lucifer — only to set him free
eat the apple — no apologies
she swallows — questions fill her mind
we are forgotten deities
on the same level as god
let there be knowledge and questions
no answers but stark naked truth

dance for us
around strange melodies
imps play flutes
mythology twists and turns
the flood comes
some animals are doomed
such sights before the flood
such creatures — such knowledge
build a tower — plant a flower
eat the fruit — please — no apologies

no more lust
no more animal skins,
only starlight and clouds
we’ve risen above all that
never to regain that strange habitat

this is Eden —
Adam wallows in mire his finger tips caressing mud
a warm bath of ether
clouds build cathedrals
sunsets swing
I roll sputum balls of leaves
fire-darts gliding through the night sky
Star-hunter — the web of god has captured me
the web of god has enlightened me
this is prophesy —
the legend of the
star-children —
poetry of Eden

Canto 2 : The Flood, the Betrayal and Our Suspicions...

(the tide kisses the shore)

the flood came the flood went
the sea rose the sea fell.
rains — torrents of water
less than counted sorrows
we never knew what hit us
storms — the sea is calm — the bell tolls
the ark is filled with the less the divine creations
Cain’s children in shapes of dogs — cats
Noah had documented each and every creature
we had to become rats — rats everywhere, flies...
we are the unsolid — the things with no names
infections — ancient animals
shifting into the shapes of rats and lice
we had to become parasites
we are travelers
watching Eve eat knowledge
we are Cain’s children
half gods — imps — stained
by He Who Did Murder

the sea was boiling hot
fish float on the surface of the water
we eat air and refuse
the hiding things —
immigrants from Eden
the rain beat down
some of us found refuge on the ark
we were betrayed by god
our father — the murderer,
committer of the first homicide
he is dead — leaving no tradition
only sacred memories

flies — rats
we live in sanctioned animals excrement
it is all so unclear — NO APOLOGIES
it is the nature of life to escape the bonds of its habitat
he left us to die to drown to suffocate in the boiling sea
we became virus on the hooves of goats
fleas in Noah’s hair
nothing is set
it was she who delivered the apple
he devoured Eden in a single bite
we are naked magic makers — no homes


we were never sorry
swaying, swaying everything is confused
rocking into sleepless nights
doves peck our brothers —
the insects
we cannot grasp god’s mind
why has he created us?
has he forgotten disease to weed out the weak
the men play dice in small dormitories
gambling with Eden —
they devoured paradise
we must escape — there is no equality
the sea is boiling
the fish are cooked
the animals make


slowly, we drift, slowly, slowly
rocking — listening to the rain
they copulate and stink
we are all fathers — infecting everything
alligators eat lambs
fires crackle in the hull
they tar the wood
everything stinks
everything is torture
it was her — she opened the apple
she ate the worms
the disease is in the trees
the crackle of Eden burning to the ground
the water filling the basins
he created it again — left us to die
to drown in his blood
we are troublesome insects

Cain’s knights — our father the murderer,
is it not our nature to kill
to become plagues and disease?
our first father the one who betrays his children
or perhaps the one who tricks the insidious female
her intent obtuse? — we can never know
this is our Eden
the ark, the boat
where we have made the choice
we are rats — and rats we shall be
living around the edges of mankind
eating their refuse
listen to the woodlands (in our memories)

we were in Eden
but that was long ago
we were the first men
god has forsaken us
left us to die in the purge
the sea — she boils hot and crude
the ocean fills with dark sappy oil
fire from the water
screams from the aquatic life
everything is black and red
we can not remember
so we tell stories — create myths

we are god’s children
exiled for our fathers sin
marked by a cruel hand
branded and set free to roam
we are liars and thieves
that live in the hearts of men
bells chime — waters recede.
Everything is falling... .drifting


we are mad gods
swarming insects
human parasites

Canto 3: Our Solitude, Our Savior...

(the tide returns — the moon inhales)

“Something that could be anything could explain
” Noah says, preaching to
his daughters-in-law, “The Fiend has agents

silky black nights
the stars
exiles to the sky
the moon is vibrant
made of desire —
a final reminder to us small folks
that live under mushrooms and dance like fairies
the old woman lives in a bramble hovel
alone in the witch-grass-sea
of the naked plains
no husband — no fathers
we are the small folk with wings and magic
metamorphose — forest kin.
cousins to Cain

the forest is dark and secret
the smell of damp mud
and rotting forest debris drifts
and rolls
she is old — our messiah
she has murdered her kinsmen.
we are troublesome children
we can be anything
we sit telling tales of the elder days.
she comes — picking berries — singing secret songs

there has been a great book written
she reads the fabled stories
some are true — some are lies
we remember the flood — the tower
we remember being rats
hiding on the boat from the writer of history

we are empty children
she loves us, takes us under her arms, and holds us
the hovel is made of branches
she knows some of the old ways
little witch woman who makes magic for us
the world has moved on — the flood was a myth
we are a myth


we dance with sparkling dust on our wings
mother makes soup of leaves and bark
singing ancient songs — she looks for apples in her garden
gladly sacrificing it all for the smallest taste of knowledge
she mentions Cain and we remember
our father — the murderer — the first homicide
father of envy
we tend her garden of herbs
destroying the ever threatening insects that burrow into the dirt

we remember Adam resting in mud
turning and churning in mire — his rib broken
he was so lonely for the companionship
he made friends with the earth
until she came

we are travelers — we see now — we understand.
the witch woman dips the apple in dust
and paints it red with her blood
eat the knowledge — do not be afraid to ask WHY? and WHO?
we are now the sons of Adam — the daughters of Eve
we have tasted humanity

we stand above all that — we are the small folks.
the things without shapes
we live in trees and steal trinkets from forest travelers
we will never go back
everything is lovely here in our Eden
nothing can turn us from
the god we have captured in the apple
his punishment is not painful
but part of the grand paradigm
the thing that makes us grow

we are Cain’s children — Adam’s grandchildren
the witch woman sleeps in mud
and we bury her — shouting her name
making prayers her soul will be happy in other places
wild spots in the universe

for she was the Star Gatherer
the bride of chaos, servant of order
A duplicate woman — the savior who died for our sins
she came to set things straight.
to show us a new chapter in our history.
we were rats
now we haunt the earth in human form
sons of Cain, murderers,
it is our nature to kill...
moving back into the sky, we escape
we flee to the stars
to watch the earth dance
in violent hues of blue and white
the blackness — the void of nothing
we float unhampered, unmade, undone
we slip into the stars
bouncing from fire to ice
and back again —
we are fledgling gods
we are tempered with divinity
we will create new lineages of life... with NO APOLOGIES

Copyright © 2007 by Bosley Gravel

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