The Father Empties His Coffers

This past Sunday at St. Benedict’s Table took a slight sidestep from the traditional Anglican Liturgy.  Instead of the typical readings / song structure, an exploration of the prodigal son was done through poetry.  Alternating between poems and songs, we went through a series of poems by Kilian McDonnell, O.S.B., S.T.D. from Saint John’s Abbey, in Collegeville, Minnesota.  This series of poems is published in a collection of poetry by Kilian McDonnell entitled Yahweh’s Other Shoe at

I really enjoyed the poetry, and looking at the story of the prodigal son from a different perspective.  I won’t go into too much detail here; I just want to share one of the poems:


The Golden Nothing creeps home.

The kid who siphoned off your blood,
slit your purse, is back expecting
bows and offerings.  You’ve crumbled with joy.

     He trashes your new ox
     cart, burns your barn,
     comes purring back once more,

rubbing his adolescent fur against
your boney leg, waiting or your petting
hand.  You wince, smile. The cycle
of eternal return.  Your fault, only yours.

     Tell me, just tell me why
     this heedless, selfish cub
     all claws and smiles, can

charm away the jagged slash upon
your face.  The cut goes deeper than
the scar.  No leash, no cage will do.
He scampers free to booze in back-

     strip brothels.  This son
     of yours has the brass, cold
     brass, to ask you for his portion

while you live.  And now he’s back,
hungry, broke, mauled by city cats,
leaving a trail of chaos and copulation,
licking self-inflicted wounds, scratching

     at your front door to see
     if he had left some loot
     behind last time around

Once more, the tattered plumage, polished
tears.  You suggest I sing the kid
a Hallel psalm to celebrate his passing
over.  But, I, too was trapped.

     For years I bled fidelity
     unsung.   No new rags upon
     my back.  Am I an alley mongrel?

No, I will not join the joy.
I’m weary of forgivness.
Let the lost stay lost.
Next month, he’ll be gone.