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The old lag

His laughter bright and true
was filled with innocence.
Strange how innocence would
dwell in such as he:
not only dwell, but flourish,
infecting hearts of others.
How blessed to have possessed
such rare ability.

And he a man whose face was
marked and scarred.
Whose arms were heavy,
aspect unappealing.
Tattooed with names
of half-remembered lovers.
His only interests
alcohol and stealing.

But laughter can make cherubs
of us all,
transcend the low
to pinnacles undreamed.
I listened as his laughter
broke, wave after wave,
and watched his soul swim forth
to be redeemed.

by Stephen Hirons

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