We long to distinguish mistakes
From intentional cruelty,
Malice aforethought from error.
Oh, it’s so important to us,
From toddlers deploying the phrase,
On purpose, to writers righteous
When mistaken, which means taken,
For someone of some similar
Sound of origin, shade of sin.
Even stating as much feels wrong,
A shamefully provocative
Invitation to punishment.
Life sentences hang on judgments
Of intentions, signed confessions
Procured by torture are precious.
Did you mean to betray the state?
Knowingly insult the God’s truth?
Flagrantly violate taboos?
Once, mistakes grew wild as grasses,
And the guilt that could nourish groups
Flew away in the lightest winds.
But we domesticated them
Into these heavy-headed grains
Bent with responsibility,
Patiently drooping to the blades
Of the teams of fellow humans
Sweating to cut and consume them.
Oh, but the back-breaking labor!
Why haven’t we yet perfected
Machinery to thresh our sins,
One flawless, rational method
That can justify our systems
For proving which sins have reasons?
We will square this circle one day.
We will prove we can distinguish
Our schemes from all our accidents,
Can show that the cosmos meant us
To care so deeply for our pure
Righteousness concerning purpose.