Have You Seen Jessica Urbano? A Poem

June 21, 2017 at 5:45 pm (Commentary, News, Poetry) (, , , , )

Josef Stalin was alleged to have said, The death of one is a tragedy, the death of millions is a statistic
Words uttered by someone who ought to know
So the Grenfell Tower fire we are told was a major fire
at a 24-storey 220 foot (70 metre) high tower of public housing flats
in North Kensington, west London which started on 14th June 2017
resulting in a high number of casualties and severe damage to the building
Such do the gods at Wikipedia tell us
As of this date 5 fatalities have been identified
and a further 74 people are presumed missing
bringing the presumed number of fatalities to 79
the deadliest fire in mainland Britain in over 100 years-
statistics, statistics, statistics,
so let me ask you this?
Have you seen Jessica Urbano?

Jessica Urbano was a schoolgirl on the 20th floor of the Tower
when she was separated from her family.
She last spoke to her mom when she borrowed a phone and said
that she was on the stairs with other people.
She was never seen again
although some people thought they had seen her being put into the back of an ambulance
all unconfirmed.

So I ask you,
Have you seen Jessica Urbano?

Studio E. Architects who oversaw the 8,7 million British pound refurbishment of Grenfell Tower, have you seen Jessica Urbano?
Rydon Ltd. of Forest Row, East Sussex who undertook the refurbishment, have you seen Jessica Urbano?
Artelia who administered the contracts, have you seen Jessica Urbano?
Max Fordham- specialist mechanical and electrical consultants, have you seen Jessica Urbano?
All those who were responsible for putting in the new aluminum composite rainscreen cladding to improve the appearance of the building on the outside (now believed to have been responsible for rapidly spreading the fire from floor to floor), have you seen Jessica Urbano?
All those who neglected to put in smoke detectors and sprinkler systems into the building, have you seen Jessica Urbano?

All those rich people in the borough of Kensington and Chelsea who complained about the outside appearance of Grenfell Tower as an eyesore (leading to the 8.7 million British pound refurbishment on the outside), have you seen Jessica Urbano?
Or are your eyes still sore?

British Prime Minister Theresa May, when you visited Grenfell Tower on June 16th but were in too much of a rush to actually stop and speak to the residents who lived there, have you seen Jessica Urbano?
Did you ever stop to look if Jessica Urbano was there when your limo sped away?

Jessica Urbano represents the face of the faceless in every tragedy
Jessica Urbano is the voice of the voiceless in every tragedy
In tragedy, we tend to remember the names of the perpetrators
but never the names of any of the victims
because usually the perpetrators are few
and the victims are many
The victims are… statistics.

So the next time you hear the Grenfell Tower story on the news,
will you see Jessica Urbano?
(If only in your mind’s eye?)
The next time you encounter tragedy on TV, in newspapers or on the Net?
Will you think of Jessica Urbano?
And all those like her… single, unique, who want to be able to live the rest of their lives…people like you and me… people struck by tragedy… and are then forgotten…
because they are one of many.

So the next time tragedy strikes, please see Jessica Urbano
And if you’re doing a job where ultimately people’s lives are at stake,
please see Jessica Urbano.

-A poem written by Christopher
Wednesday June 21st


  1. Nicholas C. Rossis said,

    Very poignant–one of the best posts I’ve read on this tragedy.

  2. doesitevenmatter3 said,

    This is a poignant, important post. Well written, Christopher. Thank you for this post.

    It is so sad the large number of people who go missing every year and people forget too quickly…but, not their family and friends. They live with the pain, sadness, and worry.

    Prayers for Jessica and those who love her.

    I still see the faces of the missing…one example, Johnny Gosch. 😦 I saw his missing poster in CA in the 80’s and have never forgotton his face.

    • Dracul Van Helsing said,

      I’m glad you haven’t forgotten Johnny Gosch, Carolyn.

      I remember there was a girl that went missing in Edmonton back in the ’80s- Tanya Murrell whose picture was on posters and milk cartons.

      I haven’t forgotten her face either.

  3. Christine Valentor said,

    Dear god, this is powerful.

  4. Dracul Van Helsing said,

    Reblogged this on Dracul Van Helsing and commented:

    My friend and fellow writer Sherry Valeria Hilles recently wrote a blog post in which she asked her fellow bloggers to re-post one of their own favourite blog posts they had posted in the past once a month on their current blogs.

    Here is her blog post:


    This post I wrote a year ago in June a few days after the Grenfell Tower fire happened in London.

    I remember at the time I was absolutely haunted by a poster that a family had posted of their young teen-aged daughter who went missing in the fire.

    The poster showed her face and had the words in bold HAVE YOU SEEN JESSICA URBANO?

    I was so haunted by the photo and the words on the poster that a few days later I wrote a free verse poem called Have You Seen Jessica Urbano?

    When I first posted it, I had the photo of the poster and words included in the blog post.

    But WordPress in its infinite wisdom (I’m being sarcastic here) and infinite stupidity (I’m not being sarcastic here) have sought to delete that photo for some reason which I thought added a lot to the effectiveness of the message of the poem.

  5. Orvillewrong said,

    Exactly as it should be, very thought provoking!

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