Rip Bulkeley and a poem for Grenfell

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In a series of nationwide events to mark the tragedy of the Grenfell Tower and following on from my previous Write Out Loud article from a few days ago, I met and spoke to the organiser of "Poems for Grenfell Tower" Rip Bulkeley who is spearheading a continuing campaign supporting the official "Grenfell United" organisation with funds and awareness raised through poetry.

It was a humbling experience to have come a step or two closer to the tragedy even if just for a few moments, but Rip, as well as being a formidable character who is driving forward the project very strongly, sent me this new poem of his own which I decided to share with you



Like any and every other day

this one was filled with happiness,

with loss and crime and ice-cream vans,

with lovers' confessions and catastrophes,

with hopeless refugees, with foolishness and failures,

with traffic shunts and garbled texts

and delicious meals shared with friends.


Nothing extraordinary was supposed to occur.

Our online lives were already too full for that,

too crammed with coping, fears, and change,

with the wanted birthday of a partner

or the unwanted anniversary of their dementia.


But it happened, because like childbirth it had to happen.

It thrust its evil way into the evil world

which we had built especially for its theatre,

ending scores of lives and changing those of thousands.

No flights into or out of Heathrow

were grounded by its column of charnel smoke.

Ramadan though, Ramadan was deflected

even perhaps enhanced for some who rushed to help.


We cannot should not put it back, do it justice, or move on.

The self-syled 'great'

are remembered for a century or two,

but 72 Hashims or Glorias or Biruks?

That's not even a single day of national mourning.


Rip Bulkeley   13 June 2018

◄ ‘The Videomatic Tutor’ by Keith Jeffries is Write Out Loud’s Poem of the Week

Editor's Review: Benjamin Zephaniah at the Hay Festival ►


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