Y Viva España

One of my Spanish Civil War poems 

Who struck the lucifer

That fired the touch paper,

Lighting the rocket that shot Morris Miller

From his Hull chemist counter

To die on ‘the hill of the devil’,

Hill 666 of the Ebro Front

October 1938?


Was the spark lit in July 1936

On Corporation Fields, Park Street, Hull.

When Mosley’s Blackshirts swaggered into town

And steel-toed and black leather jackboots

Reinforced with Blakey’s at heel and toe

Flashed like sparklers on loosened cobblestones?


Those cobble missiles cracked teeth and noses

Razor-brimmed caps slashed hate-fuelled faces.

As “Jew boy” commies and left-wing comrades

Chased the Blackshirts out of town

With bloodied shirttails hanging down.


Or did socialist fire always course the veins

Of the son of Jews fleeing ‘Black Hundred’ pogroms

Sheltering and thriving in Kingston-upon-Hull?


No first-class Pullman carriage

No deluxe charabanc on a spree

Whisked International Brigade volunteers

Across the Pyrenees


They hiked instead.

Struggling smugglers’ tracks

Too sheer for pack mule riding.


Hot scree burned holes in their soles.

Each bloody blistered step

A pilgrim martyr’s penance.


Wounded, all but fatally,

Eight months past at Caspe

But patched up fit enough to die beside

Half-starved comrades,

Morris Miller was donkey-stretchered

Up the hill of the devil,

To face unseen foes

Holed up across a deep ravine.


Who knows the name of the Roman soldier

Who gave the order to pierce the palms

And crucify the half-dead

Flayed Christ at Calvary?


Who knows the name of the Spanish fascist

Who issued the order

That fired the mortar

That blasted Miller’s slit trench

Sending the junior commissar

Jewish former pharmacist of

Morpeth Street, Spring Bank,


Into eternity?


Eight local lads set off for Spain

Only four came home again.



© coolhermit 2023
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