Thirteen Reviews of the New Babylon Inn
for Nicholas Lehmann
“The world’s eighth worst hotel?
I vote it Number One!
I’ve known better in the back-blocks of China.
I was offered heroin at the entrance.
The narrow stairs shake when you tread on them.
I couldn’t get my door to lock
and the sheets have holes and strange stains.
Read the reviews before you book.”
“The manager yelled at me
when I asked where’s the free internet.”
“Don’t be deluded by the photos and location.
My room was like a horror film,
dank, the tiniest I’ve ever seen.
I could hardly wrestle my suitcases through the door.
To sit on the toilet I had to twist my legs around
or have one foot in the shower.”
“Their free American breakfast!
A small piece of white bread, a droplet of jam
and microscopic package of cottage cheese.”
“No cold water. Both taps had hot water!
And a power point in the shower cubicle.
See the photo I’ve posted.”
“Six panels were missing in the ceiling –
something to look at when you’re lying in bed.”
“My wife woke up thinking I was tickling her feet.
I felt a tickle too,
and switched on the light.
Two beady eyes of a small rodent!
Grabbing bits of our pizza
he vanished through a hole in the wall.”
“I complained about mice eating our chocolate.
‘What do you expect?’ the man at front desk said,
‘Mice like chocolate.’ ”
“Extra friendly staff
found my lost passport under the bed.
They attend you like a princess aus Deutschland. Five stars.”
will never book for me again.
My secretary isn’t going to be my secretary. ”
“I didn’t expect pre-warmed bed linen,
residues of bodily fluids
sandwich wrappings and cigarette ash.
A hooker and her john
pulling their clothes on
hurried out the door
as we checked into our room.”
“Just out of college
we were sucked in by the price and location,
and were review-skeptics.
OMG, they were right!”
Dreams are explained.
81/2th Avenue has five lanes
of bumper to bumper, humid traffic.
The beautiful grid
of this flat, granite island,
its horizontals and verticals of space,
are a psychic phenomenon.
I step out from my air conditioned limousine
with tinted windows,
and recognize the facade from the photos:
a fire escape zigzags down the front,
the New Babylon Inn
is backed by a tangerine sunset.
A young price-conscious family with luggage
is staring from the sidewalk.
I walk up and open the glass door
They pick up their things and follow.
Management greets me
and my credit card
like a friend back from the dead.
Here is another poem from The Best Australian Poems 2012 edited by John Tranter. It is not that I am not reading anything else at the moment (I am enjoying Radar by Nathan Curnow and Kevin Brophy and hope to get permission to put up some of their work soon) but I did find so much to like in this year’s Best Of.
Geoffrey Lehmann has published seven collections of poetry and a Selected Poems and Collected Poems. He has edited two anthologies of Australian comic verse and co-edited (with Robert Gray) several anthologies of Australian poetry, the most recent being Australian Poetry Since 1788. He has been a member of the Literature Board of the Australia Council and continues to write as a literary reviewer for The Australian newspaper. His poems are widely published, most recently in The New Yorker.