by Frank Weltner. All Rights Reserved.
The Immigrant in the Hold of the Ship
These blue-green Oceans peer around the bow.
Their foaming edges slide against shipís edge
Like sensuous moisture cats that rub
Their sides against a sleeping masterís leg.
This hold is dank with breaths, the smells of men
Unwashed for many days, old vegetable smells,
Like stench of war inside a womb-like foxhole.
This ship is like my mother shuddering
The night she bore me. I sleep inside
Her dreams, for in this journey, dreams are all
I have, except a bag of clothes, one book,
A picture of my mother just before
She passed to her New World in Heaven where
She nods in Jesusí arms and watches me.
Hopes and Dreams
My hopes and dreams on this New World, I keep
Within my soul, for if I speak them, they
Will fade, their magic gone, dissolved into
A thousand dreary ears. I tell them to
Christ Jesus, Who resides inside my heart,
Who holds me in His arms of Grace and loves
Me with His heart. He feels my own heart
Beating in His hands and knows each thought
That I possess. I never have to worry what
To do, for God will let me know. I close
My eyes and dream of lush green fields where cows
And horses move, necks bending toward the grass.
I dream also of cities reaching high
Above the land into Godís warming eyes.
Choices of Free Men and Women
My child was healthy, so was I. We went
To Ellis Isle, were processed quickly and
Released into cantankerous New York.
The trolleys rattled on their rails, horse-drawn,
Inebriated in the crushing scene
Of noises everywhere. I could not speak
Their language well. I moped about from work
To my apartment where my son grew up
And broke the law. He sits in prison now
Bemoaning what heíd stolen. I sit here
Alone, in tears. I came here to be free.
My son chose otherwise. We both eat meals
Three times a day. He eats with men, I eat
Alone. America is our new home.
The New York Irish Cop
I am a cop from Irish Town, I walk
The beat where heads need drubbing with my club.
These kids are mean who steal the purses of
Old women, push them down, so I was hired
To push the kids around, make them behave,
Arrest them when they steal too much, send out
A message to their brothers not to steal
At all. If I arrest too many, it
Will quiet down, but then, Iíd lose my badge,
For we are here to work these fields of woe
To heartís content, as long as woe itself
Is not extinguished, sent to Hellís hot gates.
The Devilís in the dancing, not their crimes.
Kids run from me. I know that this is good.
I wake at two oíclock in morning's gasp
For sunlight when thereís only stars around.
Inside my ovens rise the best cakes in
The land, or so my buyers say. They come
At mornís first light, unmindful Iíve
Been working here for five full hours to bake
These warm delights. I do not eat these things.
I only knead and bake. My breads are round
And flavorful. My torts are not for courts
Of law, but mouths of many persons who
Require their energy to work their bones
All day. This life is like a trade. We make,
We sell, we buy. We sleep, we love, we wake.
Each day we bake our loaves of life anew.
The Ditch Digger
This shovel turns another clod of dirt
Down in those deepening holes Iíve dug
From them. Iím paid to dig too many Hellís
Inside the Earth. My back hurts constantly.
My armpits smell. Sometimes, I dream of days
When I might walk along the riverís edge
And see small fishes idling in the smooth
Sweet estuaries, nibbling air, atop
The waterís silvery edge. Their eyes seem so
Resplendent, large, just gazing to their sides.
It seems that they are searching for the walls..
The holes I dig are hidden from their world.
We tread far different paths, one free to swim,
The other free to dig the deepest pit.
The Undertakerís Prayer
The Lord is good to me, for these are deaths
That never end. Each man is called to die,
And I am called to serve their cold, stilled hearts.
I bother that they look their best inside
These little coffins that I sell to wives
And husbands to enshrine their last remains.
I feel the power of God inside my hands
As I embalm their flesh. Eternity
Begins with my embalming. God is but
The balm that saves the soul which is not seen.
My balm insures the body will survive inside
The cold, encasing grave, so, when Christ comes,
He'll raise them up to Heavenís Gate enshrined
In perfect forms above this twisted realm
The Slaughter House Worker
My knife cuts hogs and bulls the same. I slice
Into their lifeless meat to find the cuts
That sell. My hands are covered up in blood.
I am a Jesus on a cross of gore.
Each day my hands are working here. I feel
Relaxing muscles yield before my blade.
A bull will make a hundred steaks and more.
I am the gore I deal with and its stench.
I pray to God while I am working, for I am
A Christian man. The Lord stands by my cuts
And guides my every move. He is my God
Who loves each thing I do. Because of Him
I am a cut above the rest. My blade
Cuts true as that lone spike in Jesus' side.
The Taxi Driver
I drive the streets in search of paying rides.
The green light is my enemy, the red
Light drives my meter high. The people sit
In that back seat and bore me with their tales.
Their lives are drab and dreary. I am not
So much impressed. But tips come largely from
An attitude of interest, not disdain.
I wish that I were driving in some place
With mountain peaks. These buildings seem to dull
My pain, yet keep me from the world at large.
So, in my heart, I feel a prayer to God.
He is not always here. My wheel will steer
Me home and back the day I die. Iíll drive
Toward Heaven and request God pay my fare.
On the Death of My Dog, Frito, 1988-2003
My dog has curled inside his masterís lap
Where good pups romp. I buried his limp head
Inside the garden out behind the house.
That is his favorite spot. Now, it is his.
Impaled by his ambiance, his tail deliciously wags
Inside my heart, rubbing the misery of
His dying yelp against a vast eternity
Of catlike silence. Close to home, he rests
His head inside. I feel him nudge me close,
His wet nose sniffs within me. We are still
Together beyond time. Forever, shall my hand
Rest against his ears, rubbing just the way
He wants. In death, he chews inside my mindís
Eye. I am his master and his place of rest.