The Sin Seller

Photo Credit: Alice Austen

Photo Credit: Alice Austen

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.

A really old one, linked to dVerse Open Link Night. I’m in the process of working on editing old poetry so you may be seeing some re-runs…and hopefully some new ones, too. Enjoy your visit to the poetry pub.


26 thoughts on “The Sin Seller

  1. few know about the definition of sin in Hebrew ! Fabulous story !


  2. Sara v says:

    Victoria, this is an excellent tale–one we all need to heed, the little steps that trip us up and keep us from joy. Well done!


  3. Jamie Dedes says:

    Reruns are just fine. This is especially wonderful both as poetry and parable. It would be a nice one for “Bardo,” if you’d care to share it there, Victoria.

    I hope in all the wonderful fiction writing, you will not be tempted to give up poetry.

    Be well …


  4. Beth Winter says:

    It takes a lot to leave me feeling inadequate to comment. I bow to you. This is astounding.


  5. janehewey says:

    Even though i don’t even believe there is such a thing as Sin – this one rocked me, Victoria. Your steadfast voice and cadence rang with human truth. So, even though the word Sin might be far from my lingual box, I completely appreciate the metaphor and the need to lay waste, or let go of that which is unfit to live with. thank you for the thought-provoking read.


  6. wolfsrosebud says:

    really enjoyed this… i bet it was a little fun to write


  7. Myrna says:

    Victoria, this is precious. What a lesson for us all. Thank you for republishing this.


  8. viv blake says:

    I couldn’t keep on reading this, Victoria, it upset me so – in my low state I took it literally. Then I found the last stanza and had to laugh! How could I have imagined Victoria would buy those horrible sins! Slapped wrist, Viv


  9. Kelvin S.M. says: Victoria… this is a poem at its best… chockfull & redirecting in so many ways… ah, need i ask for more? i wonder if i could write a lengthy poem like that without losing your elements & sacrificing consistency in voice, character, & / or theme… perhaps the longest ever i’ve written was sestina back. at dverse when Gay introduced it… smiles… loved this!


  10. Lila says:

    Such a powerful poem, Victoria. Loved how you used the idea of the sin seller, and his “arguments” for how good the stuff he’s selling. Ouch, they sound way too familiar.

    Thank you for reminding us to be better with this wonderful poem.


  11. The master of deceit strikes again
    His only aim is to fool all men


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

    These are the words that jumped out at me. Perhaps if it screamed, we would notice as we slid down the slippery slope. Lots of food for thought in this one, Victoria. Thank you for sharing.


  13. wow, Victoria. loved the story, each verse was a gem – K


  14. nico says:

    The little sins–they make us heartless, cold, selfish, but without allowing us to see it. Great work, it’s fun to go back to old poems to see what can be done with them!


  15. Pamela says:

    Wow, Victoria, this is excellent storytelling and I love how it cascades down the page. We must always try to do the right thing and never abuse this beautiful life we have been given.



  16. Truedessa says:

    I thought this was an amazing write from start to finish..thanks for sharing this piece of art..


  17. Poet Laundry says:

    Masterfully crafted Victoria, and convicting! It is the little things, bit by bit, isn’t it? So enjoyed this read.


  18. Laurie Kolp says:

    Glad you saw the light!


  19. LaTonya says:

    I, too, have been revisiting older works. enjoyed.


  20. Delightful tale about human flaws–that we have them and that we have difficulty seeing them in ourselves (perhaps our biggest flaw). 😉


  21. I love the story here–and this is so well written Victoria–a pleasure to read!


  22. Oh, the slippery slope. Good bag to throw away.


  23. brian miller says:

    i love it…love the lyrical form to this as well..reminds me of an old story telling sone…the little sins we dont notice as sometimes the worst…the ones we overlook or think little of since they are not the big seven but will just as suredly errode your base…..excellent write…


  24. claudia says:

    ha – that reminds me of the screwtype clever how sin can put on a mask and deceives us again and again if we’re not careful… write victoria..much enjoyed…and don’t ever put your talents in that box…just saying…smiles


  25. Mary says:

    I really like the story AND the message in this poem. Yes, indeed, it is the little things that will do a person in….the things we do that we think are ‘not so bad.’ I like the idea that a seed in each of them can lead to a dark crisis. So true. There MUST be somewhere you can publish this poem…really good!


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