Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Boat People - Summer Special

inflatable on Kos Beach 01
Inflatable on Kos Beach 01

new series old episode

what's novel about reality
is how its never-ending reruns
get us hooked on the heebie-jeebies

meek as lambs braying in abattoirs
mechanised murder goes round the malls
church & school halls its ring o'hell's bells

broadcasting from built-in cameras tells
all from the bombers' Facebook pratfalls
to their teenage genocide boudoirs

just think what flat screens have done for war
what war has done for car sharing pools
how few real men are left now their souls

skit or scat with the heebie-jeebies
for oh what sitcoms are fan fiction's
take on fake this broke reality

inflatable on Kos Beach 02
Inflatable on Kos Beach 02

10,000 years of improvised seafaring


the turning point came late in the 70s
until then Boat People
were a neolithic eco-culture
archaeologists had conjectured
from log canoes preserved in the silts
of North European estuaries
museum pieces that dated them
to between the 4th & 8th millennia BCE

as the last great Ice Age receded
the Boat People were deer hunters
who adapting to the warmer climate
perfected the antler adze
constructed vessels from tree trunks
& navigated coastal waters as sea-fishers


then came the fall of Saigon
after which reporters applied
the term Boat People to refugees
fleeing in overcrowded craft
across the South China Sea
a narrative preserved in press cuttings
on film & through oral history archives

moreover actual memories live on
in flashes of those lost overboard
of others who failed ashore
& in longings for ancestral lands
which nowadays are exploited
by the succeeding eco-culture
whose folk tales also recall the departed


apparently escaping religious bigotry
politics & poverty today's Boat People
are POCs taking to the waves again
this time via PVC inflatables
which in typical cases they paddle
from Afro-Asian peninsulas to islands
under Western economic condominium

the quality of pity & revulsion
attendant on these intrepid voyagers
has already entered urban nomenclature
causing the term Boat Person to be vocalised
both as insult & compassionate expression
depending where a speaker's empathies
have taken root or are nurtured


whether arising from act of god
or in human intervention the drive
to call folks Boat People is commonest
amongst politicians pundits
coast guards & reporters
in whose tracts the term survives
insistent as waves persistent
as the surge in ocean levels

we must wait to see if Boat People
undergoes further metamorphoses
as profounder geophysical shifts
& sharper swings in religious politics occur
or if the term acquires universal currency
when the tide of human settlement returns

Inflatable on Kos Beach 03
Inflatable on Kos Beach 03
this human project

as someone press-ganged into the movement
& bound to admit most of its mistakes
were mine I must be pushing it to write

yet all along I felt when opening
the daily gazette Jesus wept who said
nothing could or should be done about it

folks are going down & the world is too
unconcerned about this human project
to save us as a species like so what

they come they go dragging others with them
or not soon it'll be some other lot

Discarded Lifejackets on Kos Beach 01
Discarded lifejackets on Kos beach 01 

Discarded Lifejackets on Kos Beach 02
Discarded lifejackets on Kos beach 02 
Discarded Lifejackets on Kos Beach 03
Discarded lifejackets on Kos beach 03
Inflatable on Kos Beach 04
Inflatable on Kos Beach 04