The dark and moonless night at sea
reflected well his mood,
from where he stood out by the rail
the ship seemed not to move.
He was gazing far away
into years gone by,
where there resided youthful joy
to recapture if he’d try.
He wore a paper around his neck
dangling on a string,
three letters there made an acronym
and such horror they did bring.
Put there by an officer
blue uniformed and stern,
because he had no documents
to his homeland…. he must return.
Turned away the very day
he landed on the island,
destitute and paperless
being denied asylum.
He watched the statue fade astern
after seeing her rise at dawn,
a goddess from the sea of hope
and all of his was gone.
The tag he wore about his neck
was his last and final doom,
WOP spelled “none for me.”
as he stood there in the gloom.
“With Out Papers” the letters meant
said the officer who put them on,
America’s milk and honey
was not for everyone.
Hustled back aboard the ship
without the means to pay,
no bunk no cabin or meals to eat
on deck all night and day.
His homeland would not welcome him
he was on the wrong side of their fight,
dispossessed and on the run
returning filled him with fright.
With only one place left to go
he was filled with true regret,
but the decision was an easy one
so over the side he leapt.
His body washed up on the shore
not uncommon for Ellis island,
there he was buried for eternity
finally finding his asylum.
Copyright © Bob Quinn