The Vagabond And His Dog.

By Robert X Leeds.

It was another Christmas day
And God looked out to see
What scripture promise came to pass,
What promise would not be.

Andturning aside, HE turned his eyes
To those who'd dwell inside,
To those who'd warm by Heaven's hearth
And those who'd be denied.

And HE saw a man at St. Peter's gate,
A mongrel dog at his feet,
And a line that reached to the dark of night
As far as the eye could see.

And St. Peter looked at the disheveled two
And challenged the wretch to say,
What deeds he'd done, what praise he'd won
To walk in Heaven's way.

And the vagrant stood in his shabby robe
And not one word he spoke,
As though he heard not a single word
This man in the tattered cloak.

"What deeds have you done to think you've won
The grace of Heaven's line?
What honors earned? What evils spurned?
Pray help me be inclined."

But the wretched soul and his shepherd hound
Stayed on without a sound
As though no deed could come to mind,
As though no reason found.

"Can you not find one deed so fine,
To merit entrance here?
Can none attest some honored quest,
A challenge still unclear?"

And still he stood and but held the leash
That stayed the mongrel hound.
Until he knelt to feel the ground
And kiss the furry crown.

As love was cast in skin and bone,
He held the dog around,
And Heaven watched and Heaven judged
This vagabond and his hound.

"What seeds were sowed that a flower'd grow
When you'd depart the scene?
A single tree? One slave made free?
One clean and shining sea?

Was not one life made free of strife
Along the path you strolled?
Was not one child encouraged to smile?
No good that can be told?"

And all looked on at the vagabond
Who held the unkempt hound.
But not one voice to sway the choice,
No plaintiff voice was found.

when at last, his patience past,
St. Peter bid unkind
And motioned on to the dark beyond,
"No reason you can find?"

"Not one but simple virtue be
That all of us may see?
Not one redeeming act of faith
Did bring you here to me?

In all your time can you not find
One voice for yours to plea?
In all your time can you not find
One voice to vouch for thee?"

And now at last his time though past,
The vagabond turned to speak;
And his eyes were filled with tears that spilled
And coursed the craggy cheeks.

And from his heart the speech did start
To argue not his sake,
But to plead the cause of the mongrel dog,
That lay in Heaven's wake.

"Perhaps it ain't for me to see
The paradise within.
I was a simple soul on earth
This hound's my only kin.

But if the children's smiles count,
His cup's filled to the brim.
Oh, I can vouch for this hound, your grace.
I can vouch for him.

You should' a seen them laugh and run
When he was all their game.
You should' a seen the love he gave
And never once complain.

And when the tide of time arose
And naught was there to eat,
He shared the taste of an empty plate
And stayed at these failing feet.

It ain't for me," he whispered soft,
"It ain't for me I ask.
But don't deprive this poor old hound
For what his master lacks.

If caring and sharing and loyalty
Are virtues of your size,
Consider one who lacks of none,
Let Heaven be his prize.

It matters not what comes of me,
Or what may come about.
But it just ain't fair. It wouldn't be fair
To keep my poor hound out.

No friend has ever been so true.
No man has walked a line,
Who never strayed, but not this dog,
This hound that I call mine."

His fingers stroked the shaggy coat
And the dog licked back the hand;
And as much was said in the silence there,
Than since God's quest began.

And then abrupt, the hound looked up
And labored with its head
To lick this face of human grace,
This man of tattered thread.

And suddenly a calm would be
That tethered every sound.
And a warm breeze blew that embraced the two,
This vagabond and his hound.

And St. Peter turned to the mist beyond
And paused with uplifted head.
To heed the voice of Almighty God
And to do as HE has said.

I've set the task and I have asked
For virtues held and shared.
To dwell in a world of every kind
And for every kind have cared.

And now I've seen dimensions dreamed
That seldom I've seen before,
A simple man and his faithful hound,
Denied at my own door?"

With pen in hand, St. Peter began
To enter on his list,
The names of those whom God had chosen
To dwell in Heaven's bliss.

And one belonged to a vagabond
And the other he called his kin;
The man who vouched for an old hound dog
And the hound dog who vouched for him.

Submitted by John Chandler

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