By Colin Dardis
"The fire safety measures you outline are additional
rather than essential.” As if fire is fictional
and only dreams can catch fire. We watched people burn
and saw a government extinguish in return.
“It is the landlord’s responsibility
to ensure that people are safe.” Security
must be secured by your voice and your vote;
If you want to raise an eye, burn a banknote
because here, they put money before people,
where eighty deaths becomes unspeakable.
“Support will not include general improvement
and enhancements to buildings.” We need movement
and we need faith: We can't stop believing
that the value of another human being
is worth less than a sprinkler system;
if this is now policy, let us condemn.
The above quotes are by Housing Minister Alok Sharma, addressed to the City Councils of Nottingham, Croydon, and Wandsworth respectively in the wake of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry.
An earlier version of Building a Coat in Russia was exhibited as part of artist Brian Kielt's Alternate State exhibition, March '15, in Duncairn Arts Centre, Belfast.
For a source of the quotes mentioned in After Grenfell, see http://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/oct/06/ministers-refusing-pay-improvements-fire-safety-grenfell
This poem was awarded runner up for the Aryamati Prize 2019. Thank you Colin for your stunning and moving work.