Inferno of the Poor by Carolyn O’Connell

I remember when the space was fenced, a home for rats
a steel fenced scar cutting through the “saved” houses
and above the concrete bulk of the new urban motorway.

They built towers on the space replacing the erased homes
by sky streets, homes for the poor, without gardens
for children to play, adults relax. Some left in fear for the future.

Slowly the area changed, the skilled artisans, labouring builders
migrated home or died, the “saved” houses became “desirable”
and celebrities, bankers, politicians moved in to homes built
a century ago for aspiring families or newlyweds.

It became “Notting Hill” though the hill was far away!

Today the News has resurrected Ladbroke Grove
for the poor have been killed in Grenfiell Tower
and they can’t call this carnage “Notting Hill”!!

Media  tries to convey the horror, tears of the displaced
survivors of the inferno, searching for family lost in the night
or mourning those whose voices fell silent as flames rose

and firefighters ran into the blazing tower, climbed outside
trying to save those trapped behind hot glass, bubbling plastic
falls away – refurbishment to change the style –
but no sprinklers or stairs to save the poor

who like the people I knew, or me, are immigrants fleeing
war, drought, disease, or their children or grandchildren
of those who came before – born here but part of the global family
that is Ladbroke Grove.  They sought safety but died

and now the people give freely while politicians
come with promises, agape at their resourcefulness,
stunned by the horror they encounter, abashed, silenced

but will, when the dead have been recovered, the cameras
moved to new sensations, they build homes with gardens
solid and safe on the ground they stand for everyone????

Or will they forget, move on in inquiry, build again towers that burn,
and call this place “Notting Hill”.

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