A Summer’s Night in Budapest

A Summer's Night in Budapest


Two years ago, I had the opportunity to go interrailing with friends. I joined them in Prague and from there we went on to several different European cities. The routine was fairly simple. By day we enjoyed the local culture, by night we enjoyed the drinking culture. Every two or three days we would hop on a train and go somewhere else. These days I would probably spend a lot less time and money on drinking and a lot more on exploring the beautiful towns and cities. Anyhow, this poem is a slightly fictionalised account of one particular night in Budapest.

There were a great many homeless people in Budapest and some of them seemed to have quite severe mental illnesses. That being said, most were also very drunk. On the night in question, I had had a wee bit too much to drink and stumbled out of the club my friends were in. I decided to go for a short walk and disappeared for three hours. I was incredibly drunk, and completely alone in a foreign city far from home. It was only when I checked my phone afterwards that I realised people in various parts of the world had been calling and texting me, the general consensus being that I was dead.

While I had no hat or collar, passed no crack dens, and was too drunk to feel the cold, everything after the first two verses is a more or less truthful account of what happened to me on that walk. 

A Summer’s Night in Budapest

A Summer’s night in Budapest
I walked the streets alone
A bitter wind blew through me
And it chilled me to the bone

I turned my collar up
I turned my hat down low
I walked on past the crack dens
Where the lonely people go

Muttering a curse
And mumbling a prayer
I strode about a corner
But a horror met me there

As I rushed between the columns 
That held up a balcony
I spied a lonesome wanderer
Who had not yet seen me

I spun around and hid myself
And watched him walking on
‘I’ll stay here for a while,’ I thought
‘Until this man is gone.’

His ragged jeans were dirty
His face bore a scraggly beard
His shirt hung on him loosely
And what happened next was weird

He moved towards a door
I was bemused and unaware
Of what was now to meet my eyes
He dropped his underwear

I looked round for salvation
I saw to my surprise
Ten feet back, a lady
With terror in her eyes

We shared a single moment
We shared a silent tear
We shared a sense of helplessness
We shared a crippling fear

The homeless man bent over
And spewed from his behind
A spray so rank, so dark, so foul
I prayed to be struck blind

The torrent was unending
The flow could not be stopped
He grabbed his chest and groaned in pain
Then to his knees he flopped

I stood there paralytic
Couldn’t bring myself to run
I realised that I was trapped
Til this dark deed was done

I can’t say how many minutes
How many hours passed in this way
By the time the man had dressed and moved on
I could just see the first light of day

I emerged from my seclusion
To face the sordid mess
The stench hit me, I wretched, I gagged
I wept in my distress

The lady stepped towards me
I looked at her and smiled
But saw in her a darkness
Her eyes looked black and wild

I thought we’d shared a moment
Nothing too complex
But she placed her hand upon my arm
And boldly asked me: ‘Sex?’

My head by now was spinning
My stomach tied in knots
The terror and confusion
I have never since forgot

I brushed her cold hand off me
Her grip was only slight
I turned to the horizon
And I fled into the night

I'm a big fan of travelling

I’m a big fan of travelling


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