Benjamin Cornford (continued from previous
The Room of Kings, Barcelona
You arrived before me, tired from Buenos Aeries,
lean with a dancer's strength,
and when I saw your bags beside the narrow beds
I'd booked from England, I apologised
for the humidity of this cupboard,
four flights above those human canals
of the old quarter, stained like a rectum.
"This is the room of kings!" you said.
We shook moist hands
and went to the beach of rough and dirty
sand and sea
that frothed with warmth and garbage.
The afternoon was copper-hazed and stretched
towards a smog horizon; something in its
smoky glare spoke of a faded postcard.
The colours by night won us over;
soft umber pools between pitted arches
olive fronds, sagging, pointed,
and fountains, seeping, margarine grey.
In Placa Real we sat drinking and listening
to ragged Dylan and Marley songs
while the super-strength lager
turned our stomachs, growling.
At midnight we fled the demanding
hookers, back to "la Sala de los Reyes"
though the streets still screamed with drunks.
From above, below, in an ugly show,
the cleaners hosed and shouted
and the rubbish men made karate sounds, tossing
bags and bins with evident hatred
for whoever dared to sleep.
Furiously a man called for Davide, his dog
and out the next door window, an American
yelled back at the street then lit
a hashish joint which he dangled,
taunting passers by.
I rested my elbows
on our shared pane, and smoked shoulder
to shoulder, hoping for a knockout punch.
At four-thirty the delivery began;
the supermarket shutter below
banged like a wrecking ball of shivered tin.
I heard you groan, lying, wincing,
tortured by this thrash and bubble, sweating
this molten night through. The air
pressed close in a pillow smother
and through it we squeezed laments.
"The room of kings indeed," you breathed,
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