This is one of 3 or 4 that I wrote for a remembrance of the Spanish Civil War – and Hull lads’ participation in it – last year – especially pertinent these days.
Stunted cacti, shrubs,
Blasted tree stumps
Scarcely high for a man
To stand and pee behind,
Dry gullies to hide in – or die in,
Cast razor fragments of flint
Over dun grit beaches
The withering sun beats hot.
Harsh unrelenting hot.
Flies feast on corpses,
Blooded bandanas and bandages.
Close to la Placa de l’Eglisia,
Rich crimson blood spatters
An arching pattern on
A whitewashed alleyway wall.
Owing to a sniper’s gun
A slogan reads, “No pasará…”
Flies cluster the fresh corpse
Lying in a red mud puddle of blood –
And paint from the pot-shot can.
Fascist forces crushed “No pasarán.”
But the dream lives on,
Etched fresh, undimmed,
In still-life memories.
As old men smoke in la Placa shade,
Squawking hens dodge cockerels,
Cats stalk pigeons,
Pigeons scrap for crumbs,
Stray dogs fight and children tussle.
The scrubbed-clean, sun-bleached,
Blood spots remain sequestered in that
Cement-rendered once bullet-pocked wall
Communing down decades yarning
Tales of Hessle Road and Boulevard.
Growing up, Mam and our kid
In our end-terrace Bean Street sham four*
And dad away at sea.
*A sham four is a two up two down terrace house – usually filled with 14 kids 🙂