The Sin Seller


street beggar or mystic?

Image by Makz via Flickr

The Sin Seller

A funny little man with a screwed up nose
came pedaling down the street.
“Seven sins have I that you’ll want to buy,
seven sins, but they’re not what you think.”

“I’ll take some lust and a pinch of pride,
just a touch of greed will do.
A scoop of anger is enough today—
hold the sloth—I’ve got lots to do.”

He looked at me with his rheumy eyes
and tried to lift his head.
“You didn’t hear what I said to you—
there’re things that you’ll want instead.

“Envy’s not for sale, gluttony non plus—
those are all for free, you know.
Look inside your heart and I bet you’ll find
you can order them ‘to go.’

“But what I’ve got you will recognize
though you might not call them sins.
Check this out, it’s called blame, gets you off the hook.
It’s okay. Take a second look.”

“I’ll go for that, doesn’t seem too bad.
Shouldn’t send me straight to hell.
What else have you got that can help me out,
something light—to my conscience quell.

“Ah, then you’ll want this.” He held out his hand,
Crooked fingers clasped a glass.
“Take a sip and you’ll see (with veiled eyes)
those in need—then walk blithely past.”

“Oh, the poor—those who beg—they are everywhere.
Always looking for something more.
It would be a relief not to have to care.
You know, they’re just looking to score.

“What else do you have that I could use—
Anything to bring joy to my heart?”
His smile should have warned of the slippery path
I was sliding down from the start.

He wrung his hands and his words hissed out
through the gaps in his crooked teeth.
“Here, I’ve got a book that will help you learn
how to use others who believe

“that by helping you they are serving God.
They’re so easy to deceive.
Use them all you want, they will never guess
they are tools to meet your needs.”

“I think that’s all that I want for now,
I’m a little low on cash.
How much do I owe for all these sins?
Let me know and I’m gone in a flash.”

“Not so soon, my friend, these sins are cheap
and I have much more to offer.
Take a look in this box and see what you think.
You can add this one to your coffer.”

He lifted the lid and I peered in.
The box appeared to be empty.
“What the heck is this—do you think I’m dumb?
I suspect that you’re out to contempt me.”

“Can’t you see what this is?” he said to me.
It’s a place to hide your talent.
Once you put it out there for all to see
you cannot find time just ‘to be.’”

“Ah, I like that,” I said to the man.
I want to hoard my gifts.
I’ll take a dozen, put them in the bag.
What more to give me a lift?”

He pulled a watch from his bag of tricks.
“You’ll want this one for sure.
It will store your time for you alone
to use at your leisure.”

“I’ll go for that, I could use some rest.
I’m really tired from living
with those who expect me to be aware
of everything that they’re giving.”

“Then you’ll want this, it will free you up,”
He said with a glint in his eyes.
He reached out his hand and gave me a cup
with a message engraved on its side:

Forget about everything that you hear;
you really don’t need to be grateful.
Ignore those gifts and the joy that they bring.
Don’t pretend that you are thankful.

“That way no one will wait for your return
on whatever they’ve invested.
You won’t have to give of yourself to them.
Love’s easier if untested.

“Take these drugs,” he said, “then I’m done with you.
You’ll want to have this treasure.
Be sure that you remain always unaware
of beauty, joy and pleasure

for if you see what God has done
you will want more of Him
and then you’ll live in consciousness
and not enjoy your sin.”

I paid the man and he ran off
carting his merchandise.
But when I got home and saw what I’d bought
something opened wide my eyes.

Things just were not as he said they were,
these were not just harmless vices.
Within each one I could see the seed
that would lead to darkest crisis.

I’d been terribly fooled by his evil lies.
I saw it now all too clearly.
It’s bit-by-bit that the soul dies.
It doesn’t scream, it simply sighs.

And so I took his bag of tricks
and tossed it in the ocean
of God’s good grace and cleansing love.
It’s little things that will do you in.

Linked to dVerse Poets’ Pub Open Link Night: http://dversepoets.com/ This poetry community is open to all. Visit, read, post your own poem. On OLN, there is no theme…it’s truly open! Drop by and enjoy.

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41 thoughts on “The Sin Seller

  1. “It’s bit-by-bit that the soul dies.
    It doesn’t scream, it simply sighs.”…How true and how well expressed those lines are. The degradation is so subtle and slow that we can quite cleverly convince ourselves that we’re very wholesome . Takes a lot of honesty with our own selves to see how much of those dreadful drugs we have bought or bartered . This is an excellent reminder, Victoria.:-)

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  2. Mike says:

    What a marvellously clever poem.
    A great read. Thank you.

    Like

  3. mish says:

    This is superb ! I also loved the second-last stanza : “It’s bit-by-bit that the soul dies … it simply sighs ” because this is exactly how humans let good morals/values/beliefs slip … little by little … morality is eroded bit-by-bit … it’s barely noticeable as more previously unacceptable behaviours become the norm … things like laying the blame elsewhere , not taking responsibility for ones actions/decisions , self-absorption … you’ve highlighted it perfectly !
    I will return to read it again … it’s the kind of piece that requires more than one reading .

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  4. rmp says:

    you sucked me in just as well as your “sin seller” sold his wares. wonderfully crafted.

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  5. I was telling Brian yesterday that I mentor a young woman who was incarcerated but was released on Friday. I’ve been visiting her every week for a year and yesterday we were able to take a walk together for the first time ever. We decided on an improptu visit to the amusement park near her home. I hadn’t been to an arcade or on rides since I was younger than she is (17). She smiled from the time we left until the time I had to leave to come home. She giggled (never heard her do that before) and told me she felt like a kid again, doing something any teenaged girl might do. These small kindnesses, these connecting points to other human beings (anathema to the sin seller and his wares) can fuel entire galaxies of happiness. Often we turn away from things because we don’t know how to make a difference but we forget how powerful it can be to simply be there for one another. My role in her life is to show up (she’s been abandoned but never will be by me) and to encourage and love her. We’re all qualified to spread love in the world. We are born with everything we need to become fully human, fully present, fully loving, we just have to engage. Your poem is a deep accounting of our responsibility to ourselves, our gifts, and one another. Thank you. (I’ll take my soapbox with me unless someone else would like to use it 🙂

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    • Thank you so much, Anna, for sharing this with us. You will make all the difference in this girl’s life. You inspire me. We never know how an even small kindness can change the world.

      Like

  6. Amanda Moore says:

    this is ummmm Amazing! the detail in this, you’re very good at the epic tale! And BTW you’re right new blog the other crashed (that makes twice now) so I give up on my own domain going back to the blogspot.!

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  7. Claudia says:

    victoria – this was awesome and clever…and yes…once we tasted his goodness…we want more of him..was just working on a worship poem before i came here.. loved this…

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  8. Wonderful poem. Excellent message!

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  9. Jamie Dedes says:

    Bravo! Wise and wonderful and authentic. I will have to come and read it again … and perhaps again. I love it. Thanks, Victoria!

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    • Jamie Dedes says:

      Wonderful! Maybe this is my fav … They’re all good. I hope you collect them one day into a chapbook…

      There’s so much detail here and it’s such a clever spin on what has become rather trite.

      Like

  10. leslie says:

    you’ve told your parable well, and i agree, it is God’s grace and love that saves us from that bag of nasty tricks…

    “It’s bit-by-bit that the soul dies.
    It doesn’t scream, it simply sighs.”

    nice.

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  11. Kim Nelson says:

    This piece conveys what the great fables and moralists attempt, and does so in an entertaining way. Nicely done, Victoria.

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  12. David says:

    Each of these “little” sins are so many pebbles that eventually form a great millstone around our neck. Jesus warns of each of them at various places in His parables. The “sin seller” thus gives us a tour of the Gospels with his aggressive sales pitch. Perhaps he’s an angel in disguise! 🙂 Wonderful poem, Victoria, and a timeless lesson.

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  13. Laurie Kolp says:

    Lots of wonderful life lessons within this beautiful piece. I love the ending. = )

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  14. Ravenblack says:

    Enjoyed this tale very much. Those things for sale are quite subtle and tempting, but such poison to the soul in the long term.

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  15. David says:

    Hi Victoria,

    This looks like a fascinating poem … unfortunately it’s late here and I cannot do your poem justice. I look forward to reading it tomorrow. Thanks for visiting and commenting on my strange poem! 🙂

    Like

  16. David King says:

    Just wonderful. Not my usual style of poem, not at all, but I make an exception for this. I could list so many good things, but none of them are really why I likke it so much. To find out that, I’m going to have to read it again! Thank you so much for this.

    Like

  17. Reflections says:

    Love the words of wisdom held within your tale. How easy it is to decieve ourselves if only for a little while.

    Like

  18. Bodhirose says:

    Wow, I was spell-bound with your tale here, Victoria. It has much wisdom–and warnings–don’t let those little nagging thoughts go unheeded–it’s our conscience trying to wake us up.

    I had to laugh–you’ve tried numerous times to encourage Jaye to write poetry and now the tables have been turned on you…

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  19. True, true, the little things will do you in. Excellent job. Missed ur words Victoria.

    http://henryclemmonspoet.blogspot.com/2011/08/look-away-please.html

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  20. Gay says:

    Victoria, this is epic. I wanted to stop by for a visit, this evening. One read-through of this important work is not enough and I’m multitasking a bit tonight. I’ll come back again soon and give you a more appropriate comment. It was stirring on first read, but I know I’ll get more subsequently.

    Like

  21. Kelvin S. M. says:

    …an absolute pleasure to read this… gripping and full of wisdom that are worth pondering for… your title for me is too perfect to go with your words.. adorable write.. thanks for sharing!

    Like

  22. This is gripping! You sure can tell a story! Amazing penning!

    Like

  23. zongrik says:

    I got that you believe that there are more than seven sins and that it bothers you that certain religions only identified these seven, and left people to believe that the other behaviors, which may be just as “sinful” are not considered very bad.

    Like

  24. Pat Hatt says:

    Wow this piece was amazing. Such truth and allusions to some very real issues, very very well done!

    Like

  25. hedgewitch says:

    Lots of lessons here, Victoria which we all could use reminding of. Well said.

    Like

  26. souldipper says:

    After this read, my soul settles on a cushion of contentment, licking out its wrinkles – pausing as consciousness drops its liquid wake up pills.

    Like

  27. Mama Zen says:

    Dani quoted the same lines that I would have chosen. Marvelous write.

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  28. Mindy says:

    I absolutely love this….wonderfully written! ~M

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  29. dani says:

    “It’s bit-by-bit that the soul dies.
    It doesn’t scream, it simply sighs.”

    stunning, Victoria! the entire poem is amazing and creatively unique! thanks for sharing. ♥

    Like

  30. This is a wonderfully wise poem, whose message should be blazoned from the rooftops. It is especially moving at this time of worry about events in England.

    I love that you are still thinking in French!

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  31. Good old temptation… we mere mortals are such suckers, aren’t we?
    A very good story told here of how we are usually our own worst enemies.

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  32. jgavinallan says:

    Victoria:
    This is a novel waiting to be written…the inspiration in each stanza…
    and then you’ll live in consciousness
    and not enjoy your sin…oh come on…there is an epic here.
    lovely and brillant…and a little supernatural…
    Jaye

    Like

  33. ayala says:

    I have to say that I feel the way Brian does. Epic write filled with wisdom.

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  34. brian says:

    epic write and filled with truth…how easy our hearts are decieved with the minor sins you highlight and the man sold…epic and well told victoria…

    Like

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