By draughts of fire and death that fall like rain.
One poisoned acre poisons all the field.
These are my crops. We harrow my domain,
The one who pays counts all for which he's billed.
A phantom harvester stacks phantom grain.
To own such wealth as this my heart I've steeled
And all but stilled the tumult in my brain.
My poisoned acre grows a poisoned yield.
Unable to be dispossessed by Cain,
In his accounts my civil tithes are sealed.
And now renounce the poisoning of this field,
Or be forgiven the reaping of its grain?
Daniel Hoffman, who lives in Swarthmore, is a former consultant in poetry for the Library of Congress. He recently was awarded the Arthur Rense Poetry Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. This poem is included in his most recent volume, "Beyond Silence: Selected Shorter Poems 1948-2003."