Requiem 4 Grenfell

As the scenes of the Grenfell Tower tragedy bring back memories from his own past, Julio Etchart composes Requiem 4 Grenfell: photos and a poem for those whose lives we have lost

The eerie structure
haunts the clouds,
its charred skeleton
arrests the rush-hour traffic
and confuses the migratory birds
who seek a nest
amid the debris.

Residents of Grenfell resume their daily pilgrimage. Requiem 4 Grenfell

Exhausted neighbours resume their daily pilgrimage
past a gallery of faded photographs
whose innocent faces
contemplate another day in limbo,
their drained hearts
trying to tune into
the latest episode
of this never ending saga.

Requiem 4 Grenfell.

Corporate manslaughter
decree the masonic suits
giving another turn
to this absurd
But corporate has no faces
and bestows a convenient anonimity
to the real culprits;
and MANslaughter
falls so short of including
the women, children
and those of mixed gender preferences
who, along with cats, dogs and parrots
disappeared on that terrible night…

My strong empathy has a history
for I, too, was not accounted for,
during many weeks in my younger years,
forcibly hidden behind a dirty hood
in a concealed basement
in a distant corner of the world.

My comrades missed me in the barricades
which we erected
against a cruel dictatorship,
my loved ones moved heaven and earth
in the hope that I would be still alive…

They finally found me,
and freed me
and sent me into exile
to these cold islands
where decades later
I had to witness the sad irony
of seeing so many who also came here
to escape an abysmal past
or an uncertain future
finding themselves betrayed
by indifference
and inequality…

Ashes to ashes
is written in ancient folios…
The names of the Grenfallen
are also recorded
in the Book of Life,
a memory that no one
can erase;
and they will be remembered
and honoured
with the dignity
that they could not find
on this side
of destiny


by Julio Etchart
London, 2017

Author and photographer Julio Etchart says:

‘As you can see from the poem, my empathy with the victims has a history, for I was also “disappeared” for months in a secret detention centre during my youth in Uruguay in the 1970s, after protesting against one of the worst Latin American dictatorships of that time.

‘I came here as an exile, and I have a natural affinity with those who have followed a similar path.

‘The tragedy of Grenfell is that many of the victims were also trying to escape a similar fate, only to end up being erased from the face of the Earth.---’