The Wages Of Sin

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"Wages Of Sin" tattoo stencil

"Erudite Muscovite Washington Brue, complained to the world he had nothing to do." popped into my head one morning in bed as I was remembering "The Jumblies" by Edward Lear. The idea rattled around in my head for 2 days before the theme crystallised into a series of vignettes covering the various sins. I had been thinking about objective morality at the time and the idea of this poem forced me into action, analysing the nature of sin and the Church of Infinite Dimensions' position on it. You can read the details here.

Suffice it to say that each of the sins detailed in the Doctrine of Infinite Dimensions is covered here, except that only 2 examples of the various addictions are covered here at present.

The title of this poem is a biblical quote, Romans 6:23 - "For the wages of sin is death...". Many of the cautionary tales presented below end in an ironic death.


Moronic, chthonic young Sarah O'Shane,
Sadly was born with just half a brain.
"I want it! I want it!" and "Hee, hee, hee, hee!"
Dancing and prancing and singing off-key.
Her parents put up with their overweight toad
And wistfully thought as they shouldered their load:
"God knows why this creature was put here on earth,
Perhaps she should have stayed strangled at birth."

Irrationality/Wrong Headedness

Illogical, anagogical Martin McPhee,
Spent years meditating from under a tree.
He saw the world in one grain of sand1,
Said "Twice one is three if that's what God planned.".
The people asked Martin if he could explain,
Why strawberries only grow in the rain.
He quietly answered as he thought sound:
"To fertilise herrings that live underground."2


Avaricious, pernicious Sylvana Dolore,
Picked up her necklace from out of her drawer.
"I want one with diamonds to go with my coat.
Get me one now or I'll cut out your throat."
To support her rich lifestyle she swindled and swore,
And lied to the cops when they knocked on her door.
When she tried that approach with the mafia head,
She was greatly surprised to find herself dead.


Mendacious, loquacious Alvaro Malherb,
Dressed up in satin and looking superb,
Schmoozed up to a lady with far too much cash,
And flattered and teased her with daring panache.
He offered a deal on a proven cash cow,
At half market rate if she just paid him now,
But astonished was he and his charm tank ran dry,
When she showed him her badge and said: "FBI".


Indolent, impotent Washington Brue,
Complained to the world he had nothing to do.
He tossed and he turned as he watched his TV.
"Isn't there anything gripping to see?
I fancy some spuds and I fancy a chop,
But I just can't be stuffed walking down to the shop.
I could get a job and bring in some bread,
But first I would have to get out of this bed."

Addiction to Food, Drugs, Sex Danger, Gambling, Games

Addicted, afflicted, young Suzy McQueen,
Sold off her soul while only sixteen.
She made her big eyes as she pleaded in vain:
"Can't I have just one more line of cocaine?"
The answer was swift, the answer was clean:
"Cut out your shit and stop causing a scene!
If you want some more blow, you'll do as I say:
Now go please those men that have come here to play."

Addiction to Food, Drugs, Sex Danger, Gambling, Games

Overweight, head of state Alfred P Bate,
Looked up from the paté that sat on his plate.
He said as he turned a crouton about:
"I assure you I once was as fit as a trout.
But these dinners and banquets go on without end,
And that wonderful food is no longer my friend.
The last thing I need is a plate full of sweeties,
I barely can walk and I've got diabetes."

Overweening Pride/Arrogance/Vanity

Arrogant, decadent Marmaduke Lowe,
Assured everyone he was someone to know:
He understood everything under the stars,
He could fiddle and sew and diagnose cars.
He had a flash house on the coast of Japan,
Where he entertained guests like the Shah of Iran.
He insisted he was the best man on the spot,
Except, that as everyone knew: he was not.


Sadistic, fascistic Augustin Bouchard,
Thought of himself as passably hard.
He had a great vice that he couldn't explain:
The fierce desire to cause people pain.
The power he felt when he made someone squirm,
Made up for the time when he was the worm.
To make folks unhappy he sure had a knack,
But he only chose victims who didn't fight back.

Willful Ignorance/Small Mindedness

Myopic, misanthropic Matilda Morel,
Didn't know much but she knew it damn well.
No need to travel; her town was the best,
No need to read; she'd passed her last test.
She didn't like Asians, she didn't like blacks,
She didn't like anyone south of the tracks.
She spent her last years in a hospice confined,
Matilda Morel and her closed little mind.

Weakness Of Character/ Cowardice

Pathetic, aesthetic Sophia Petit,
Had trouble deciding just whom she should be.
She dithered and panicked, stressed and delayed,
When e'er a decision might have to be made.
This watery girl went nowhere quite fast,
Her demeanour remaining demure and downcast.
She spent her time hiding from trouble and strife:
A timmidy, schmimmidy3 waste of a life.


Soulless, goalless Alba Perez,
Stared at the mirror from under her fez.
"I can't do a thing these days with my hair.
And I wish I had something that's decent to wear.
The geeks that I see hanging round the canteen,
Say I've no soul. I don't know what they mean.
If I had a boyfriend that spoke like a wiz,
I wouldn't need one coz I could use his."


Inhumane, hurricane Archibald Cox,
Made a great fortune from housing and stocks.
He sold people houses they couldn't afford,
And honest investors he'd blithely defraud.
"It's only a game." He said from his tower,
"The bankrupt are nothing! It's I have the power!"
He didn't believe he could possibly fail,
But he made a mistake and he wound up in jail.


Intolerant, debutante Martin O'Dea,
Hated the greens and he hated the gay.
He sat at the ball, his partner held near,
Who whispered arousing things in his ear.
He whisked her outside, put his hand up her frock,
Where to his chagrin he found a man's cock.
His face turned to beetroot, stared down at his shaft,
As all his companions stood round him and laughed.


Boring, adoring old Eva De Wit,
Was dull as dishwater but wouldn't admit.
She was oft found in church of her own fool accord,
Where she'd fall to her knees and worship the Lord.
She'd never had sex and she never had lied,
And she'd never been cruel and drugs hadn't tried.
She was proud to have lived a life without sin,
Where never a skerrick of fun had got in.


Irresponsible, poncible4 Oliver Potts,
Swanned around carelessly, calling the shots.
"We'll build our new factory here on the shore,
Out through this pipe the pollution will pour.
The fish will be killed and the greenies will twitch.
But none of this matters as we will be rich!"
But Potts was surprised and so was his spouse,
When they pumped that pollution right into his house.

Unpreparedness/Lack of research/Lack of planning

Ill-equipped, nondescript Yussuf Hussein,
Was given the job of digging a drain.
The drain was a big one: Way over his head,
"No need to research, it's easy!" he said.
He got in his bobcat and worked all the day,
Piling the dirt by the trench on the way.
"This thing is a doddle." He said with a grin,
But he smothered in sand when the cutting caved in.

Jumping to conclusion without sufficient evidence

Presumptive, consumptive Bartholomew Lee,
Turned to his friends as they watched the TV,
"That trial we've seen is a bloody disgrace:
You can tell that he's guilty. Just look at his face!"
But Bart had a problem not easy to see,
His urine passed slowly when he went to pee.
He assumed that "old man's disease" was the answer,
And it was too late when he found it was cancer4.

Lack of pride in one's work

Slipshod, tightwad Lucas de Vries,
Was a plumber who liked to work at his ease.
"Do it quick and do it cheap!"
Was the motto which he liked to keep.
Gutters fixed with screws and tape,
Fittings left all out of shape.
He wished his mechanic had been different though,
When he drove down the hill and the brakes let go.

Warren Mars - January 2018

  1. A reference to a line from "Auguries of Innocence" by William Blake. To see a World in a Grain of Sand / And a Heaven in a Wild Flower"
  2. A response to a Nursery Rhyme from Mother Goose: The man in the wilderness asked of me, / "How many strawberries grow in the sea?" / I answered him as I thought good, / "As many as herrings grow in the wood."
  3. Ok, I made up these words... Poetic licence.
  4. "poncible" - capable of being a ponce - another made up word. I had no choice here since there are no suitable words to rhyme with "irresponsible".
  5. Prostate cancer.