Seven poems on the fortifications of Cartagena, Spain

The Batteries of Aguilones and Conejo

2 batteries, abandoned villages
on hillsides looking out across the sea
linked by the tunnel of the wind, a pass.
Conejo as the name implies is full
of rabbits breeding merrily
Nobody shoots them there. It´s far too near
refineries. A spark could send those up
Did eagles fly over Aguilones once?
The only eagle left there is mosaic.

A peaceful corner high above the fumes
That linger in the valley down below.
Its guns wore out during the Civil War.
Replaced by others that were little used.
Cyclists and walkers populate it now

Cabo de Agua

The best projector of the lot illumined ships,
making them targets for the guns nearby.
It´s reached via an ancient cliffside path
and hours of walking by a crumbling edge,
invisible to almost all, these days.
The former military road that brought in troops
a loop to nowhere now, runs out beside
gated kilometres of industry.
Weeds force themselves between the broken stones.

Somewhere nearby a tiny spring still flows,
exempt from the pollution down below


Some to illumine enemy craft at sea,
others to dominate the sky at night,
searching for aircraft that could be shot down.
Small buildings, mostly circular,
with generators running them nearby,
powering these distant spots, far off the grid.

Several decades of them, before Defence
changed fashion and dismantled them,
sending the parts to other distant spots.

Light is a two-edged sword,
exposing you as you illumine them.

Projector of Algameca

Much used by fishermen who sat inside,
cast through the gap where powerful lights once shone
targeting ships or planes that passed that way,
so other batteries could shoot them down
Its tired concrete smelt of pee and salt.

Dozens of charges rent the air nearby
in peaceful Algameca where it lay.
Those failed explosions showed its inner strength.
It took a week or two to finish it.
At last the stones imploded to a heap
Another scrap of history cast down.

The Projector of Cala Muñoz

It´s almost in the sea, hangs by a thread.
A zigzag route connects it to the cliff.
The zigzag´s gentle but the cliffside path
is not for those who suffer vértigo.

I wouldn´t want to go inside these days.
Seems like a lift that´s waiting to descend
and take you to the waves that crash below.

Trincabotijas Baja

The oldest part is now entirely gone
One building´s still occasionally used.
And strange sounds emanate from it at times.
Magnetic callibration´s what they do.
A mystery to us civilians.

Above, barbettes where once large guns were lodged,
a space that´s almost garden-like
reached through old passages, a perfect place
for looking out to sea.

The slatey soil is sliding off the edge,
a lower zigzag with a safer wall
leads down to a projector near the waves.

The Battery of San Leandro

It has a certain eighteenth century charm,
perched just above a beach that´s mostly used
by pensioners looking for a quick swim.
Close to the port, accessible by road.
A hundred years ago, a bathing spot
that figured in old postcards of the place.
It´s bathing huts and restaurant have all gone.
The council owns it now. It´s left to rot.
Some steps beside lead down on to the rocks.
I´ve fished for sea bass there.

It´s hard to take a photograph most days.
The darkened maze is used for cottaging.
And junkies piss where history was made.
Always a man lurks in its passages
and heads look out where cannons once were placed.

Fiona Pitt-kethley is the author of more than 20 books of poetry or prose. She lives in Spain with her chess grandmaster husband, James Plaskett and their son, Alexander. They have adopted a colony of feral cats. She is currently working on prose and poetry books on Cartagena and the Sierra Minera.