‘Boat People’

Boat People

Mine is a seafarers history

And my heart

Like the dead of pirate ships and clippers is carved from oak.

Numbed by an the Atlantic crossing and an Arctic chill

I have long since lost all feeling.

I am the carrier spreading my human cargo across the earth

And my diseases in the forests of ancient civilisations,

I have taken the boat people on my rafts

And have abandoned them on Ellis Island.

Press ganged as a child

And tied to the mast in the service of a king

Speaking the language of the mainland

I learned to despise the huddled masses

Puking up their trials on the wave washed decks.

I taught them well and they have erased me from their memories.

Cold as their teacher

They act like they came by horse and carriage,

Talk of economic refugees

And look with astonishment at the ragged families

Clinging to a makeshift raft

And the helmsman

Who steers a passage between the coastguard and the beach.

Without a glimmer of recognition

They change channels

While I take my thirty pieces of silver

And spend them in the whorehouses of Babylon

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