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The Illegal

This song is by Beau and appears on the album When Butterflies Scream (2017).

The day it began, no one escaped -
Lives systematically being reshaped;
A homeland of riches and so many dreams,
Like many before, came apart at the seams
Through can't and corruption and everyday lies.
Something was surely about to arise.
Nothing was organised, there was no plan;
The day became dark, and the killing began.

Neighbours and friends that he thought that he knew
Stood in a drunken, disorderly queue.
His wife and his daughters were raped and then killed
And blood ran in rivers wherever it spilled.
They stripped him, then started all over again -
Scarified him with a rusty old chain -
And finally left him for dying or dead.
The madness ran deep; the insanity spread.

He took to the woods while he still had a chance,
Weakened and traumatised, still in a trance;
Riding by night on the roof of a train,
He finally made it to sparser terrain
Where he met fellow-travellers who told of escapes
From the mass executions and the genocide rapes
They drifted through frontiers like so many ghosts,
Always avoiding the frontier posts.

The refugees searched in the local bazaars
For clothing to hopefully cover their scars.
Experience had taught them, and quickly they'd learned;
'Don't be discovered, don't be returned...'
And that's where they came across owners of boats
Who'd organise things for a few thousand notes;
Or even the promise of a payment in kind,
Highly conveniently left undefined...

From an uncharted cove and with no guarantees,
The vessel set out to a freshening breeze.
A couple of hundred were crowding her decks;
Whatever they were, they were risking their necks.
Death and destruction, or freedom from fear?
It's even worth paying a black marketeer
When sheer desperation is all you can find
In the dark and the deep of a crucified mind.

Day upon day spent appeasing their Lord
As dead and as dying were thrown overboard.
Others boats left at the same time as they;
Several had foundered the very first day,
But somehow the vessel still kept them afloat
Then, just as they'd almost lost faith on the boat,
A military plane passing high to the west
Sent out a message to detain and arrest.

A rusty old freighter, the "Panama Pride",
One by one, hauled them up over the side.
Diverting for twenty-four hours at most,
She landed them up on a faraway coast
Where men in dark glasses were looking askance
At the desolate outcasts who'd taken their chance.
They herded them out into some kind of camp,
And counted them in by a kerosene lamp.

Then came the discussions of what to do next -
High-level diplomacy; email and text
Flew over continents. Arguments raged,
With more politicians becoming engaged;
"We're not in the business of profit and loss!"
"Sort out the doctors and leave out the dross!"
"It's wrong to infer that we're lacking in care,
But we're over here and they're over there!"

But it was those rumours from outside the wire
That ran through the huts in the camp like a fire;
Stories about an elaborate charade
And how many migrants were being betrayed.
Tortured by guilt for his daughters and wife,
The Illegal got lucky this once in his life.
The instinct he'd so much depended upon
Told him again; it was time to move on.

An hour before dawn, when the dark was intense,
He scrambled beneath the perimeter fence;
It seemed by the earliest glimmer of light
The Illegal was literally fading from sight.
By the time that the sun brought its heat to the day,
Like a Cheshire Cat smile, he'd melted away.
In the camp, it was hours before he was missed;
Whoever he was, he'd ceased to exist...