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Word(s) . Light . Life


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Sunshine…by Larry K.

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Anyone who visits this blog soon meets up with Larry, a street corner poet who often sets up ‘shop’ in a public square near my downtown neighbourhood. Larry suffers with drug-induced mental health issues. Raised in a Christian home, he ran away in his youth, lost his mind to drugs, then tried taking his own life by leaping from a 2nd floor Salvation Army hostel. In a wheelchair ever since,  Larry has come a long way. No longer unwashed and homeless, he lives on his own, surviving by means of a disability stipend and whatever cash he ends up getting for his poems. Larry also tells me he now attends a local Baptist church. He loves writing poems…you…pick the topic…Larry scrawls words. On this last long weekend of summer, the city was quiet. I was Larry’s first visitor. I noticed he’d come prepared to stay the day, with an umbrella strapped to his wheelchair and a rain slicker tucked away. Atop a heap of paraphernalia Larry somehow totes around, I notice a crumpled paper cup with a faded garden flower struggling to survive. Next to his wheelchair, stood something Larry’s quite proud of having retrieved from a garbage heap, a portable chess board/table set.

Here’s a poem Larry wrote for me today…


SUN SHINE

It is a cool day
and you cannot pay
the sun to shine
for that is in the hands
of the Divine
who makes rain and sun
to come on the just and unjust
just as we must follow the day
into night, and we depend
upon the sun’s light
sunshine is a blessing
and like everything
we cannot obtain
by our own power
when we get sunshine
instead of showers
we are blessed
for we cannot determine
what will be next
nor can we roll back
the clock, to the weather
that is now lost
to the passage of time.
So in the moment when
we are blessed with sunshine
or in the moment we are
blessed with rain or
any other thing…
thank the Divine
from whom all blessings flow
and know that life
is composed of both happiness
and sorrow, and we do not know
what may be tomorrow

Larry K.  August 5, 2013 A.D.


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Larry’s Blessing

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If you’ve followed this blog for awhile you know about Larry. My street corner poet. Larry is in a wheel chair. He adds to a meagre disability pension by writing poems for a few bits of change, anything a passerby is willing to give. You name the topic. Larry writes. Larry also suffers with a mental health disorder which was brought on by rampant drug abuse in his youth when he led a lifestyle of unabashed corruption and pimping in Vancouver’s rough east side. It led him right to the edge of despair. After plunging from a 2nd story Salvation Army building with hopes of ending it all, Larry awoke to find he would be in a wheelchair for the remainder of his life. A tragic life all around, but Larry doesn’t complain. Mostly he writes poems and often broken or jumbled words that somehow end up sounding profound.

I hadn’t seen Larry for awhile, but with Spring finally warming things up a little, I spotted him yesterday under a large golf umbrella which he had rather handily attached to his wheelchair, “Found it by a garbage can…” he explained rather proudly. “Just needed a few minor repairs.” The wide blue and green umbrella touted a  logo of some kind, with the rather out of place words ‘Palm Springs’. The cool day had brought driving rain. I peeked under the umbrella to say ‘hi’ and invited Larry to write me a poem…about…’Let me see, how about ‘Blessings’?’ I suggested, handing Larry a five dollar bill.

‘Thank you,’ Larry said politely, then rummaged through an impossible assortment of bags and backpacks he somehow hauls around with him and got writing. I said I’d catch him on my way back from getting some groceries. ‘Okay,’ he said.

I returned about 20 minutes later with a hot sandwich wrapped in foil from the grocery store deli counter, along with a couple of Mac apples and a Snickers bar. ‘Thank you,’ Larry said, as he handed me my poem. Larry’s often formal with his responses. He’s all about ‘doing business’. And as usual, his poem had something to say…something I had never really expected…about ‘blessings’…

Blessings   by Larry Peter Klippenstein April 29th 2013 A.D.

Blessings are thought of as things that are pleasant.
Blessings are not always things that make you happy or content.
And perhaps these are the most important blessings.

King Solomon spoke of those things which are pleasant or amusing, yet he gave more value to the house of mourning…

The faithful wounds of a friend…are a blessing…
An honourable enemy…is a blessing…
Rains in their season…are a blessing…
Winter cold which gives the land rest…is a blessing…
Summer heat which gives us the fruit of the ground…is a blessing…

The limits we may face which hold us back or bar us from injuring either ourselves or others…are a blessing…

The consequences of wrong choices which can serve to turn us back to truth…are a blessing…

Each of these is a blessing in spite of how we feel about them. The need they fulfill makes them a blessing whether or not we find comfort in them.

So, if one receives the chastisement of God, one receives the blessing…of children who God dearly loves and for whom He wants to provide a hope…and a future…


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Cardboard Memo

Rain washes clean

Morning sidewalks

No breakfast dishes

No rinse cycles

Here, where the girl

In the ratty parka sleeps

Hour after hour

Hope took a vacation

The mangy mutt

Heinz 57,  her only friend

Gone. An empty plastic dish.

There’s a homemade sign

Laying flat and abandoned

Middle of the sidewalk

The only evidence

Anyone was here

Green ink blurred

Everywhere, cold tears

On dark pavement

Heartbreak city’s

Cardboard memo reads:

Anyone got any

$$$ for food???

Some say she was called

Angel

©2012 S. Michaels
Five Star Notebook


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Las Cruces

Winter skies faded dusty gold
Reaping a rich sunset, scarlet-red
In somber silence, a stranger stood
In the shadow of three rugged crosses

At the church of Las Cruces

The stranger stared.  At the first cross.
Planted in hard ground. The second nailed.
Firmly to a wooden door. And gazing upward
His bleary eyes saw a cross raised high.

Upon a belltower.

In the shadowed gloom of night
The stranger shivered while windows glowed
Warmth beckoning him in, instead he halted
And feeling unworthy as any soul on earth

He fell to his knees.

And relived in his mind life’s blows.
I am not worthy to rest here, he cried.
As a voice echoed to him in the night
And where the first cross stood a story unfolded
Most profoundly rendered to him aloud

A story of true faith.

Faith that lived not within four walls
Or in great religious halls of wealth or grandeur
But within any quiet believing heart.

The heart of a child.

As he listened, the second cross shone
Shimmering bright, purer than silver
And telling the story of a blessed Saviour
Whose love surpassed all earthly measure
And as the night chill deepened icy cold
The stranger slept softly on snowy ground.

Startled, as the third cross awoke him.

With songs of saints and angels in the air
And stories of the One who died upon a cross
Who rose forever from death to save lost mankind
And from the stranger’s mouth came words
He’d heard somewhere along life’s winding way
Jesus, will you remember me
when You come into your Kingdom?

And then came an incredible reply

Words sweeter than any earthly flowers
Reached his ears, and warmed him through
I tell you, you will be with your Lord
this hour…in Paradise.

By dawn’s first light

A padre rambled up the trail
Leading to the church at Las Cruces
And there discovered a lifeless homeless man
Clutching in his palm a few worthless coins
And something else most rare. A white rose.

No one knew where he’d come from

But where a sad tale ended a legend was born
And from that day onward a thorn grew
Just outside the church’s narrow back door
And bloomed but once a year, in December.
Reminding all who saw it – of truth
And how often in life’s darkest days and hours

God’s greatest miracles are birthed.

Copyright 2011, S. Michaels
Five Star Notebook


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Speaking of Angels

The least of them the greatest was what Jesus once said
Not realizing how I seemed destined to meet unlikely saints
Like the big guy in blanketed trash and dingy stairwell
As black nights rained on Toronto’s mean streets
I handed him a dollar or two as he stared hopeful
You’re a lady and a scholar he quietly thanked
Walking home I felt strangely encouraged as if
He had helped me not the other way around
I often wondered…

Then came the glaring coldest day of January ever
No one moving in such weather but the homeless guy
In my head I heard he needs your help today…
Down to my last dollars…how? But I stopped
Rolled the gritty window down on the old VW
Crumpled bill rippling on north wind as he waved
Broken thank yous and grins that stuck around
Days and days…

Long ago in abandoned times a guy named Lado
Ran into him out of the blue in threadbare coat
Journeyed from Africa to Canada some years ago
No family and a small room rented near a church
Smiled like sunlight and prayed and prayed
In his home language a strange blur of words
Said he didn’t know his age or date of birth
Explained how his Father had never told him
And when his prayers for me were answered
A miracle I had to tell him and track him down
But no one had ever heard of him I was told

That’s when I began speaking of angels

Copyright 2011 S. Michaels
Five Star Notebook – Life Poems


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from James, ‘The Message’

James 1: 26-27Anyone who sets himself up as “religious” by talking a good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air. Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world.