Flaming Tower

towar inferno@KaremIBarratt



Sometimes you just run out words,

Out steam, out of tears.

Sometimes you become a dried river,

And your heart a cracked piece of land

Where no seed can grow.

Sometimes the world is just too much.

And although you are faraway,

You can hear the screams, the crackling

Of the flames, slithering up the building

Like a winding snake, a fire snake,

Searching for it wings and take flight,

Caring not for a little child, an old man,

A family of five. The fire snake wants

To become a dragon and fly.

Was it the gas? Was it the cladding?

Was it the alarms? Was it the policies?

What turned a gigantic block of flats

Into a torch, lighting up the night,

Breaking it with shatter windows and shirks,

With the sum of all fears,

Falling down with the debris?

And amid the emptiness and broken heartedness,

The anger and the pain, they see us, in shades of grey,

Plastered faces on a wall, scrawled names and post-it prayers.

A glimmer of impossible hope.

And sometimes the world is just too much.




Dedicated to the victims of Manchester and all the Britons affected by terrorism


In this land of green valleys,

In this land of white faces,

And yellow and brown and

Pink and black, and hundreds

Of tongues, singing like birds

The stories of journeys that

Ended in this home,

In this land of tea and beer

And pubs, and curry and pizza

And sweet and sour pork, of

May poles and Chinese New Years,

In this land of bangles and boots

And flouncy dresses and green tattoos,

In this land of discontent at times

And silly football fights,

Of bookers and charity volunteers,

Of summer festivals in the mud

And druids around the Tor

And scientists writing their quantum

Music of the spheres, and robot and

Man muscling together to create a car

A train, a super plane, soon a rocket

To reach the heights where the stars

Of yore inspired a pen to call a boy Romeo

And his girlfriend Juliet,

In this land that feels as old as time

And yet so new, where it takes a walk

Or two to find a cow or a sheep on

The borders of steel and brick cities.

In this land when some have it good

And some quite not so, in this

Land where no politician is ever

Taintless and we can argue for ages

About left and right, in this land

When sometimes the shadow of

Hatred sneaks between the roses,

In this land we look and talk and think

And hope so differently, yet alike.

In this land, there is no fear.

For time and time again

Those who tried and failed

And those who tried and hurt,

Have found that, in this land,

We take crap from no one,

Not even our petite selves,

When it comes to stand together

And defend this land of grace.

And we will weep for our children

And young and old, killed cowardly

By a freak with a bomb, an assassin with a car,

An idiot with a machine gun on a Turkish beach,

A traitor with a knife.

We will weep and cry and pray, if pray

If what we do. We will hold each other

And hug a stranger. Light candles in

City centres and lay stuffed elephants

And pink hippos on a carpet of flowers

On the middle of the street. And we will

Remember, but never give in.

Not once shall we give up

That which make us unique:

The values forged by millennia of

People coming together from every

Corner of the world. And of all

The names we are called, United and

Great are engraved in the centre

Of a core, wherever we have been

Britons by birth or by choice, by a

Lineage extending 20 generations or

By a grandpa that came 30 years ago,

Seeking the British dream.

And in this land, our land,

Some of us will take our tea

And some of us will celebrate Ramadan,

And some instead of quiz night will

Hold Salsa nights.

And we’ll remember our dead children,

In this land.

And our mums and dads taken away

In an act of senseless rage and pseudo-revenge.

But in this land, we stand together, come what may.

And no matter the storm or the violence

Or the threat of the fear,

Together we will keep this land great,

United in a cheer, a beacon of freedom and

Hope and peace and beauty and innovation.

For we are Brits and when we fall, we

Breathe, we swear, we shed a tear, we dust off  our knees,

Get up, stand tall. And  then we go and carry on.



Dear Ukrainian Friend



Ukrania Venezuela


Dear Ukrainian friend whom I never met,

I want to apologize for what I never did.

For those days of darkness when

Your roof tops where nest for snipers,

Hunting your youth and your elders.

Those days when you when out to fight

Armed with make shift shields, bicycle

Helmets and baseball bats, to return the

Bombs, the gas, perhaps the fear.

I bet you posted pictures on Facebook,

Showing the bravery and the blood,

The face of your friend, now gone,

The granny running holding hands

With a boy she never met before.

I bet you told the world in tweeter

And Instagram what was going on,

You reported, you showed, you screamed

You beg for a minute of air time,

Because the suffering of your people

Was more important than the fate

Of the poodles of a movie star.

It took time for the world to notice.

It took longer for it to care.

Perhaps I saw one of your pictures

And just scroll down, because my day

Was sunny or maybe just too

Cloudy and you and your people

Were neither my circus nor my clowns.

I’m sorry.

I am so, truly sorry.

If I weren’t brown my face would

Go red with shame.

I understand now your frustration

Of those days, the feeling

Of crying in the wilderness of

A life too busy, too full, to stop

For anybody.

I guess when you think about it,

You kind of understand, don’t you?.

The world is so crazy and there are

So many things going on, all time,

In all places, like if the fabric

Of time and space had ripped and

All the “heres” and all the “nows” have

Collided into a single point. Become

A singularity once more.

But it hurts, doesn’t it?

It hurts when your pleas,

when your explanations

When your story is met by silence.

Sometimes a sad emoji.

Rarely a “this so sad”.

And you are grateful for every

Crumb of compassion.

Your good side anyway.

Because what you want,

What you really want, is people

To scream with you, “this is bad, this

Is wrong, this is murder, make it stop!”

You want the political version of Green Peace

Telling the world that, you, potential

Polar bear, are about to die.

That the country you love and grew in

Is melting faster than any ice cap.

You want some brave photographer

To take q picture of you, alone, floating

In a flimsy sheet of ice in the middle

Of the sea. May be then they will

See before is too late,

Before the purple rivers of blood

Flood the streets and you become

A horror story, like Syrian and Uganda.

But I guess there is a quota of corpses

You got to pay before networks grant you a minute

Or two of their precious time. Before

They send their bravest journalists,

With their bull-proof vest and iron hats

To your corners, to the park where

You used to play, to the ruins that was

Once your school, to the hallow buildings

With ghostly eyes, to tell the world

About what when wrong, and how it

Got right.

Because it will get right.

Will it get right, my Ukrainian friend?

Does it get right for everyone at the end?

My silent war is at the north of the south

Of what was once the New World -but

It now feels so old, so crappy, kids dying daily

For something called freedom, something

They belief worth dying for. Kids that have

Not known any world but this, of red tyranny

And false paternalism. But Father government

Has shown its teeth, long and sharp

And like and angry Saturn is devouring

Its offsprings. And yet they stand, still.

Steadfast. Going their protest, their battle fields,

With their makeshift shields and flags,

And Grandma’s baking gloves to throw back the bombs.

Old and young. Resolute. Dying and falling.

But standing still. Not turning back.

And in my Facebook page, in my version

Of SOS and screams for help, of

Any kind, I get the odd comforting message,

A sad face here and there. And the silence,

The emptiness of that rectangle that

It’s supposed to be the mouth piece

For my friends, my acquaintances, those

Who care for me. And I never dislike

The colour white as I do now, looking

At the blank space created for comments.

It must have been like that for you

In those dark, scary days. I think

It was Banksy who said that people

Would watch anything with a kitten

In it, and painted a giant, cute one,

Over the wall of a destroyed home

Blown up by a war.

I am sorry I chose the kitten over you.

Or the flower, or the meme, or

The last joke, or the recipe of the pineapple cake.

I’m sorry if humanity, as a whole,

Did not stand by you until the very end.

By I am holding on to you,

My dear Ukrainian friend.

Holding to the hope against hope,

Holding to the dream that justice,

Like Morgan Freeman would probably say,

Will prevail. That Venezuela will prevail.

That the blood on the sidewalk would

Become the blood of a new day,

And all this pain, all this loss

Will not be for nothing.




dragon fly 21


There was a boy at the pond,

Sitting quietly, lost in thought.

There was a sun ray at the pond,

Anchored to the water.

There was a cloud over the pond,

Engraving her ethereal self on

The still, innate well.

There was a dragon fly at the pond,

Catching rainbows with her wings.

There were rushes around the pond

Singing silences to the heart.

There was a sleeping puppy

At the pond, wrapped by

Flowers and grass.

There were pebbles by the pond,

Painted by dew and dust.

There was a curled leave on the pond,

Sailing softly into the eternity

Of the round cosmos that was now its home.

There was a perfume on the pond,

Lingering with essence of water and morning

And wild flowers and croaking frogs.

There was a beauty at the pond,

Made of child and wind and leave and dog,

And Art Nouveau dragon flies, and murmuring

Rushes and specks of light, and dancing flowers

With skirts of grass, and totem rocks,

And ethereal, cloudy mantles from above.

And I saw God.




woman lakefc


Sometimes I am trapped inside my skin.


My muscles shrink and expand,

Without me having a saying in the matter.

I shake.

I freeze.

I twist.

My eyes close and for a minute or two

I am blind.


A serpent tied to an electrocution chair.

But inside, I am singing lullabies.

I tell myself stories.

I remind the inner me that I am alive,

Well, in my very own, particular way.

And I’m hearing everything,

Aware of it all, in spite

Of my convulsing body,

My rolling eyes, my twisting tongue,

And my funny snores.

I exist.

In the middle of the storm.

I am more than a condition,

A mental health code.

I am the shaking, sleeping, confused

Woman, who apparently

Cannot control herself.

But inside I am floating on a lake,

Looking at my own sunset,

Alive, alert,

Knowing it will well, somehow.

I will be well.




The Void


(The girl in the image is Genesis Carmona. She was killed by the Venezuelan government for daring to protest for freedom and a better life. This was three years ago. In the past three weeks, almost 30  Venezuelans, between 14 and 60 have been killed by the government forces for protesting)


The parent of a dead child

Learns to live with the unimaginable.

Echoes of a voice walk by her side,

The phantom of a laughter

Rests upon his shoulder.

The parent of a dead child learns to

Live with an unfillable void.

A gaping wound that never quite heals.

A hole around which she and he have

To learn to build a new life.

The parent of a dead child sometimes

Wishes the world would stop,

Become quiet, frozen. Slow, until

There is no motion and life becomes

A still shot from an old film.

The world never does.

It never complies.

It cannot afford to stop rotating,

Moving, changing, making leaves fall

And then bloom again.

And the parent of a dead child

Must learn to live with this:

With this going on, this flow,

This life that stops for no one.

No even a grieving parent

Trying to come to terms with

The unimaginable loss.

They tend to walk a bit slower,

The parents of a dead child.

They tend to stop more, watch

The roses, see the bees come

And go among them.

They tend to sit longer.

In the park, on the bench,

In the garden.

Eventually they smile again,

A little at first. A resigned smirk

That sometimes grows like a

Waxing moon, showing all the teeth.

And yet, at the end of the lips,

Where the top and bottom one meet,

There is a sigh, a longing,

A desire to reach out and get her

Back, embrace him once more,

Hold them tight, the dead children,

Breathe life-force into them,

See them grow in one minute,

Watch them go, whole, sane, into

The shadows of the people enjoying

The sunset, the end of the summer,

The bonfires on the beach.

The wish that will never come to be.

And they walk home,

Back to the little hole in the soul,

Sometimes so minuscule you

Could miss it, sometimes so huge

It could swallow you in one gulp.

Big, small, visible, intangible,

But always there.

The void.





The Water Wind




The water wind rolls down the mountain waves.

The day’s forgotten wash fights it bravely, like a bull.

Out side, a bomb-less war of flashes and blows.

Inside, chicken and corn, my bored head hanging

over late homework, while Mama stirs the soup,

Humming to herself, and the babe watches

the kamikaze rain splatter over the window pane,

Andrea hugging her battered doll,

sucking her thumb, furiously.

‘It’s alright, child,’ Mama chants, undecided,

between thyme, celeriac or parsley, the beads

Of the rosary gleaming, as she rolls them

Incessantly around her left hand.



Mangoes at Saffron Sunsets


house beach white


There is a house nested like a fat white dove

In front of the Caribbean Sea,

And when my world was new

I used to dance there, barefooted,

To the notes of the braided, thundering waves.

I raced the echo of my steps in the long veranda,

And shouted, pleased, as I touched the warm snow

Of the wooden wall, coppery at saffron sunsets,

When we would sit, my sister and I,

Scratched knees and wild grins,

And eat ripe, juicy mangoes under the green

Hood of the wide studded door

-Our fruit-smeared fingers mixing gold with gold,

As we pretended to touch the melting, sizzling sun.

I hardly see her anymore, my sister.

But when the grey city bites my soul

And life starts fires in my eyes,

I dream us back to the house veiled

By bougainvilleas and coconut trees.

We are sitting, in the glossy,

Ivory tiled kitchen, making tamarind juice,

The wooden spoon tinkling against the icy glass,

Like tolling bells on a Sunday afternoon

From long, long ago,

When the world was so new

Some things had no name.

Our eyes were so very young.






He drank from me,

Until my essence dripped from his lips,

As he smiled, satisfied,

And left me.

Empty, unloved, unwanted, alone.

Just me and nothing else,

Me and not one more,

Too weak to crawl out of the hole

Where he threw me.

My soul a jungle of horrors

That puff like magician’s dust

Into bonfires of smoke.

No warmth, no glow.

Just charred wood and ashes.


Three Hours Before The War

@Karem Barratt

Venezuela soldier aiming at civilians

(This is an image from a Venezuelan march, violently repressed by the government. Dozens of people have been killed for daring to protest, 28 alone in the past three weeks. Hundreds have been detained, there are political prisoners and some detainees have been tortured, according to Human Rights organizations, both from Venezuela and abroad.)


Cinnamon dreams fly from porridge bowls,

In the cool, early morning light.

To the music of a xylophone, the radio

Announcer chants the bargains of the day.

Humming, she goes about, in the warm

Embrace of the kitchen I don’t want to leave.

But the bus is coming, driving slowly

Over shaded lanes, the sun spinning

Delicate laces through the canopy

Of the acacia trees, birds singing sins

(My father used to say), choiring with

Crickets and tea pots, while iron pans

Fry merry dawns out of humble eggs.

The bus honks, and she calls my name,

Her eyes bright with dreams

That will not come to pass.

But she believes, and I believe with her,

Because last night I saw a man

Walking on the moon, weaved in

A tapestry of grey blinking stars

That sounded, at times, like the sea in a shell

-But the bus is waiting and she kisses me, hurriedly,

Her breath a waft of mint and honey

And toasted corn bread.

I wave good-bye and run off to my last day

Of innocence, three hours before the war

And the absence she is to leave.

The bus turns at the corner of King’s road.

The paper man sits, bored,

On a table of news tainted red.