Thursday, May 03, 2007

24 hours in Barcelona (with a backache), 2002

By Adam Gibson ©

abducted by a barceloneta,
i walked every backstreet:
the cobblestone street prostitutes,
the black dim square

and the pimps,
and i drunk beer in a sawdust floor bar
with dusty bottles on the roof and
had at least one
(possibly two)
panic attacks and
i drunk tea in the hot night and
slept on a mattress,

paralysed by backache,
and woke with
mad street conversations
directly outside the window
behind 1pm shuttered shutters and
i staggered out into the bright day and

ate tortilla in a café and
i just watched her mouth move
as she ordered and
we entered the subway

and caught endless trains and
i found myself in her new apartment
watching from a high tower as
a storm broke

and heads popped out
from a dozen windows to haul in the washing
and later we rode for a long time towards the coast
where i saw the Mediterranean for the first time,

glimpsed down cobblestone streets to the water,
hot and humid and,
dying with the backache,
i swam in that ancient sea for the first time

and later we had seafood tapas
and thought it might kill me
and i got a dose of what i thought was food poisoning
and i vomited in the train station toilet and
got asked for money by a boy
who said he was a romanian refugee
with five brothers

and got asked for money by a girl
who in sydney would be a cool indie chick
but in barcelona was rattling a milkshake container
thudding with coins and
had ghastly black sores on her face,
one right in the middle of her forehead,
and I kissed my barceloneta goodbye

with a broken heart already
and waited for a cab to whisk me away
after a strange argument

about something i still can’t ascertain
and had a half hour conversation,

full of thrilled scared excitement,
with cabbie who couldn’t speak a word of english
while i spoke no word of spanish

and i caused a stir in burger king
when i bought a coke for 10 euros
and somehow i found the right train
back to where i was staying,
unable to breath in one lung and
bent over with excruciated back and
sweating every drop of moisture out of my body and

my heart fractured into a million fragments,
dispersing at that point inside of me,
and my back wrenching me
toward a flat surface,
any flat surface,

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