Take in this poem by Maria Melendez Kelson.


Jesus, I want my sins back.
My prattle, pride, and private prices —
climbing, clinching, clocking —

I might loan you a few for the evening,
so you don’t show up at your own crucifixion
naked of all purpose.

But for God’s sake, don’t spill any
redemption on them! They’re my
signature looks. Body by Envy.

Make up & wardrobe provided by Avarice. Lord,
if you take away my inordinate cravings,
what the hell’s left? Do you know

how much I paid for my best rages?
I want them all back if they’re
so To Die For. Else shred my palms,

wash my face with spit, let the whip
unlace my flesh and free the naked blood,
let me be tumbled to immortality

with the stew of flood debris
that is my life.

(You can find it on the Poetry App by the Poetry Foundation, a regular go-to of mine).



Pride, greed, envy, sloth, lust, gluttony, wrath.

Melendez Kelson’s got ‘em all: the Seven Deadly Sins.

And she’d like to keep ‘em.

And darn it, wouldn’t we all, at any given moment?

Isn’t that in part why Good Friday still matters?

We could just as well say, same time, next year.

The poet’s got it absolutely right: we like our sins.

To be sure, there are times when we want to not want them.

And we might even know it and regret it when, nevertheless, we sin and sin again.  “Just when I thought I was out…they pull me right back in.”

Point is, Good Friday, you see, still has purpose, still has heft, lo these 2,000 years later.

It is the bet-on-able Bad News flip side of the Good News coin…though we might not feel too bad about it, depending on the sin, and depending on the day.

To that point, this poem just gets at the day from the sinner’s perspective.

Good Friday’s Bad News is also that people suffer from these sins (and…so does sinner, though we’re fairly good at repressing that bit).

The day, that is, isn’t just for sinners: it’s a day also for those sinned upon.

Every day, death is wielded.

We don’t need to wait for our Annual Good Friday to know that truth.

We keep killing.

We keep being killed.

We keep dying.

And therefore, we keep walking, year after year, to Good Friday, to hear again that we don’t know what we’re doing, even when we think we do.

Pride, greed, envy, sloth, lust, gluttony, wrath.

Maybe if we did know what we were doing, we wouldn’t cling to our sins.

We’d briskly leave them at the Good Friday altar, in the dark, where we’d prefer they’d stay.

Maybe we would do that.

Maybe we wouldn’t.

But maybe, maybe that we keep coming back, maybe that alone is a sign that we yearn for forgiveness, reconciliation, and justice more than keeping The Seven.


Let’s read the poem together same time, next year, and see.