The Grenfell Tower Beatitudes

The Grenfell Tower Beatitudes

Is this the moment? Is this the hour? 
When all our ungerminated seeds of justice flower?
Is this the day our myopic consumer bubble finally bursts?
Is this the moment the sublimated cry of those whose voice
Is stepped on, stopped up, silenced, sidelined
Breaks through and slakes its thirst?

Might this be, for all its visceral, pain and loss
And all its tears and grief and monumental human cost, 
All the hideous detailed traumatic tales and horror stories, 
All its blackened, choked up smoked inferno
Of misery, cheap industry, colonial history, ignominy,
All its horror at the thought of flames rising rapidly on those
       who never had much choice, 
Might this be the moment where people of poverty, dignity
       and community find our voice?
And when we do – clearing our collective lungs, 
Coughing up the blackened phlegm, 
Crying past the pain of burnt out throats, 
We would cry and we would sing the protest song,
The long- suppressed lament of those
Who have for too long been the nation’s prisoners of hope.

Who cry

 “Woe to you the fattened corner cutters!
You praise the logic of the spreadsheet before the dignity of others. 
Woe to you the high priests and priestesses of austerity!
You discredit those with the temerity
To catalogue the real-time, lived severity
Of what it is to live in the nursery of your love-child, poverty. 
Woe to you, you authors of deregulation’s hymn
That sang a strident song of local responsibility and reaped a whirlwind. 
Woe to you the ordinary metropolitan urban woman and man
Working blindly for the false prize of luxury – but who didn’t give a damn!”

But blessed are those who cry for action
The ones who fill church halls and stores and mosques and boxes with rations
Those whose thought is only humanity and compassion
Those who are meek and brave and humble enough to meet
Pain and anger full in the face and not feel they have to speak. 
Blessed are those who mourn. 
Blessed are those who grieve
The ones whose tear-streaked, sooted faces may yet achieve
What the politician, the prophet and the poets of justice 
Have for generations sought to weave.

And blessed are the meek,
For whom maybe, this is the moment,
This is the hour, this is the week,
When the kingdom of the mustard seed
Outgrew its neglected emblematic burnt-out frame
And burst out on the streets. 

8 thoughts on “The Grenfell Tower Beatitudes

  1. Hi Paul- this is a fantastic poem, that does something very difficult- it protests but avoids propaganda whilst remaining full of humanity. I am collecting some poems for a Proost collection- submissions are closed, but if you fancy a late entry, let me know!


      • grand! Feel free to edit as you need. But no poem is ever quite ‘finished’ in my experience! If you could drop me the poem by e-mail that would be great-

        Not sure you know much about what we are trying to do with the collection but I’ll fill you in by e-mail hopefully…


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