Budapest

By Peter Gajdics

Poem

Stewed plums in cottage cheese
dumplings squirt sweet explosions in
my mouth. I left my flat on Wesselényi
utca beside the Dohány Street
Synagogue and this is what I found,
taste. Also mined into the roots beneath the
surface of my life is what most
frightens. I am at odds with what’s
inside. The isolation
each day is palpable, and when night arrives
like a visitor I cannot derail, I am hardly
ever able to sleep at all. Blue dreams in
boxed neon beds. I left the room of my
life and look out the same window on another
strip of floor. Son of the displaced, homeless in
the birthplace of my father. Everywhere I
walk my shadow flocks two steps before
me. I am anticipated by ghosts. My blood caught
fire before I was born, I say, and so the rage is not
my fault. And still inside my chimney lungs I
breathe the ash. No matter whose was fought
or won or lost the war still eats its way through me
now. Rich chocolate layered Dobos, vanilla
krémes, paprikás csirke. Roma prostitutes
in candy-colored wigs on Váci utca
gloat on me in English, I am their meal
ticket and so I ward them off with Hungarian.
I am no one’s food. No one bites their way into
my mouth. My sex is chained and bridged from
all who walk near me. Like this city I
am not quite West and no longer East. If only
like a flagpole I could stand inside my middle.
Speak my island. Browned bodies litter
the Ferenciek tere underground that smells
like concrete bones and cold stale
urine, splashed with semen. One legless Gypsy
cups his hands for forints while another with
democracy in his wallet perched wide-kneed on
a two-legged bamboo stool strings Csárdás songs
for euros. Clouds of fleas sweat hot
humid rain and I am cleansed and dirty, hungry
and brimming. Bowls of piping goulash on the
Szent István körút and my lips are hot with
childhood. Bull’s blood sells my soul on this Saturday
night in the heart of a city that looks for itself as I do the same.

TAGS: ,

PETER GAJDICS has been published in numerous international journals, including The Advocate, The Q Review, New York Tyrant, The Gay and Lesbian Review/Worldwide, Gay Times, The Printed Blog, and Opium, where he won their 2009 500-word memoir contest. Peter has received a fellowship from The Summer Literary Seminars, and is an alumni of Lambda Literary Foundation's "Writers Retreat for Emerging LGBT Voices." He lives in Vancouver, Canada, and can be contacted at [email protected]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *