The Living Word



This poem is inspired, in large part, by my conversations with the homeless. We should never underestimate the power of acknowledging with a kind, life-affirming, word those who feel invisible. This poem is for the invisible, and for those who fight battles within the mind. There IS hope.


The sun has burned me
Scorched my very being
Left me dry and brittle
Eyes blinded, hardly seeing

Blisters, sores and scars
From years of constant exposure
My gaping wounds, they bleed
In desperate need of closure

I am unsightly, most UN-beautiful
To the casual passerby
I desperately long for covering
Yet here in nakedness I lie

Attempts to regain dignity
Now a thing of the past
No words of comfort, sympathy,
From those who now stroll past

Instead they laugh and mock,
I can still hear their voices
No pity for my condition
"It's the consequence of his choices.”

Or so they think
How little they really know
The reason for my wounds
The things that laid me low

They never saw the beatings
Those demons that came at night
That sliced me flesh from bone
Like a butcher's fillet knife

Those vicious words and lies
Fired like poison darts
Driven ever deeper
Into my breaking heart

Words that enslaved
As I believed, became my prison
The jailer threw away the key
Now, no one will listen

A shadow falls across my form
My eyes struggle to see
Who is this stranger
That now stands over me?

A strong but gentle voice speaks
Words I've not heard before
These words like a cool stream
Leave me longing for more

This shadow standing over me
Offers sweet relief
From the unrelenting, burning sun
That makes a furnace of this street

My heart is heavy
Like a cloud laden with rain
My tears, like precipitation
Begin to release the pain

They fill the cracks and crevices
The dry places where it hurts worst
Like parched tongues my wounds cry out
For something to slake their thirst

Rough places being made smooth
The tears now soothe my affliction
The desert I wandered, now an oasis
Like some divine benediction

Again the voice speaks
The words fall, a gentle rain
I’d forgotten who I am
That, perhaps, the source of the pain

The hands of a skilled surgeon
Each syllable a life-giving incision
The wounds of the past being sealed
Words, like stitches, heal with precision

The voice carries me, then sets me down
Beneath the shade of a tree
The words a healing salve
Like ointment, restore me

My sight now returning
I am horribly self-aware
And yet I see a glimmer of hope
In the midst of my despair

Who are you kind stranger,
Please, will you tell me your name?
Of all those who passed by me
Why do you not look at me the same?

Am I not hideous and broken,
Grotesque in your sight?
Why would you stop,
Even consider my plight?

Filthy and dirty
My body caked with blood
Your words have bathed me
And carried me with love

What is your name, kind stranger,
From where do your words come?
Words like trees, streams and rivers
That provide relief from the sun?

I wait for an answer
In the silence where truth is heard
Then deep inside me I hear a whisper
"I am the Living Word.”

The Living Word © 2014 by Kris Peterson. All rights reserved.

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