Michael Docker is a Baptist minister in Bristol, who generously served as poet in residence during our Launch Workshop on 4th June. This is one of the poems he read, written in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire.

Guest blogs are invited to stimulate thought and comment. They do not necessarily reflect the view of the Centre for the Study of Bible and Violence.


Thirty years

Going up in smoke is thirty years.
It began when whoever wanted
Little more than a wage and a home
Found themselves reviled for not wanting more –
But underneath something was already smouldering.

It continued when money-machines roared
Into life around the world; London, New York,
Beijing, Moscow. They roared,
But unseen they were overheating.

It flamed when banks were shown up for the
Gambling dens they had become;
Tying up loans in pretty ribbons of words
And selling them, with fingers crossed, to each other;
Till high leveraged towers of agreements began to burn And promises blew away like cladding.

It spread rapidly as billionaires put their
Manicured hands in pension tills the world over,
Raiding accounts and ruining lives to provide
More and more for themselves.
But their secret schemes were charring.

Soon it was out of control;
Companies in tax havens added fuel to the fire.
Fraudsters stoked the flames with ponsy schemes.
Councils ignored warnings and awarded smoke-filled contracts.
Committees produced reports on ignorable, flammable paper.
Combustible material was used to clad poverty to improve the view.
And no one was alarmed; no one was sprinkled; no one was fire-proofed.

And now, see.Babies fly through the air like chaff;
Hands wave at windows like terrified queens;
Onlookers see horrors meant for CGI;
Fire fighters cannot fight this fire
And the fuel-fodder
For this thirty year freedom who cook and
Clean and carry and cope with the international
Misery-making, slave-owning, life-shortening,
Piss-taking project that dares – very dares – to
Warm itself with words like freedom, peace,
Security, protection, trade, profit – our words –
Are burning.

Now other words will, briefly, be heard,
‘Regret’, ‘lessons must be learned’,’ thorough
Investigation’, ‘heads must roll’,’ no stone left unturned.

But watch; when the smoke clears multi-million pound lives
Will start another conflagration that will burn for another thirty years.

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