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Thursday, July 27, 2017


by Zara Raab

Disaster: the charred shell of Grenfell Tower a month after a fire in the building claimed 80 lives Getty Images via The Standard, July 27, 2017

To keep tenants warm
or impress rich neighbors,
builders wrap a London tower
in sheets of shiny tin,
and post notices that warn:
“Stay inside in case of fire,
and close your doors.”

Whisked up twenty floors
fire came this hour from outside in,
for the London tower is higher
(twenty stories to the roof)
than the fire man’s tallest ladder,
and the cladding, no proof
against Armageddon.


Pakistani residents carry an injured man after twin blasts at a market in Parachinar. Photograph: STR/AFP/Getty Images —The Guardian, June 23, 2017

Every river, its sault.
Where you gather on market
days, or pray in temple pew,
you couldn’t be the target
of doom, but come, still, to bombs
like all unwelcome fate, hidden,
one of many, lit back-to-back

in towns like Parachinar; a photo
of ruined streets will show
just what can happen,
you’ll see, just watch the news.
So too in Baluchistan--
the crucible of guns--in Orlando,
Cincinnati or Syracuse.


The damaged USS Fitzgerald sits in dry dock in Yokosuka Photograph: Spc. 1st Class Leonard Adams/AP via The Guardian, July 22, 2017

Once an old oak held a platform
in its gnarly arms
where we children played.
With gumption, we added a wall
or two with our kit of tools,
but spiders soon swarmed by the dozen
to spin, and drove us away.

What comes even as we sleep?
On auto pilot, one big ship
rams another, midnight. As men
sleep in their bunks, the sea pours in,
flooding the sealed rooms where,
un-waking, un-watchful, they’ll be, later,
when we count the drowned.

Zara Raab's books are Fracas & Asylum, Swimming the Eel, Rumpelstiltskin, or What’s in a Name? and The Book of Gretel, narrative poems of Northern California. Her work, including reviews and essays, as well as poems, has appeared in Mezzo Cammin, Verse Daily, River Styx, Arts & Letters, Crab Orchard Review, Raven Chronicles, and The Dark Horse. She lives in western Massachusetts.