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Thursday, March 17, 2022


by Kyle Gervais

To be or not to be, the president 
asked all the world today, and chose the first.
And if he reached for the obvious, I don’t
begrudge a player of many parts his thrift.
But I in my distant unpolitical ease
have time to mine a deeper buried gem,
a coward king’s belated penitence:
It hath the primal eldest curse upon’t,
a brother’s murder.   
                    They weren’t the same, of course,
Abel and Cain, and Vladimir is not,
can never be, Volodymyr might say,
his brother’s keeper. 
                    But the men who crossed the line
on the map from west to east met men (and more
than men) with names like theirs, with songs and food
like theirs, with roots that reach, tangled, chafing,
downward deep in a fertile common soil.
And when the guns are stilled and angels’ mouths
have sung so many brave souls to their rest
above the earth that cries out with their blood,
one man will turn, and hide his face from God.

Kyle Gervais teaches Classical Studies at the University of Western Ontario in London, where he lives with his husband and two cats. He has poems, published and forthcoming, in Arion, Canadian Literature, Defenestration, Eunoia Review, Literary Imagination, PRISM international, and Triggerfish Critical Review.