Roadside Poppies in Andalusia by Joan Leotta

spain aagje de jong licensed

Roadside Poppies in Andalusia
by Joan Leotta

Poppies cluster near the road
after cutting wide red swaths
through olive groves and pastures.
Blood- red, the poppies drape
fields and barrows
like matador capes,
marking, covering,
scarred places on the land
where blood once flowed.
Their beauty makes a
bright balm for those lost-
in-battle souls while
quietly crying out for
remembrance of those who
shouted, shot, and died here.

PHOTO: Poppy field near Granada, Andalusia, Spain, during spring with snow on the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Photo by Aagje De Jong, used by permission.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem was written as I watched the road go by on a recent trip (2016) to Spain. I lived in Spain under Franco, in 1969, and was acutely aware, especially in the south, of the ravages wrought by the Civil War of the 1930s.

NOTE: Andalusia region is an autonomous community in southern Spain. Citizens of Andalusia experienced repression, torture, and death during Francisco Franco‘s reign of White Terror during and after the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). The Nationalist rebels bombed and seized the working-class districts of the main Andalusian cities in the first days of the war, and afterwards went on to execute thousands of workers and militants.  Francisco Franco (1892–1975) was a Spanish general who led the Nationalist forces in overthrowing the Second Spanish Republic during the Spanish Civil War, and ruled Spain from 1936 to 1975 as a dictator. This period in Spanish history, from the Nationalist victory to Franco’s death, is commonly known as Francoist Spain or the Francoist dictatorship.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joan Leotta is a writer and story performer. Her poems have appeared in Silver Birch, When Women Write, Verse Visual, Verse Virtual, The Ekphrastic Review, Yassou, Stanzaic Stylings, read at the Ashmolean, and have won an award at the Wilda Morris Challenge. Her first chapbook, Languid Lusciousness with Lemon, is available from Finishing Line Press. Her essays, articles, and stories are also widely published. On stage, she presents folk and personal tales of food, family, and strong women. She loves to walk the beach, cook, and browse through her many travel photos. Visit her at and on Facebook.

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