Posts Tagged ‘Belgrade’

In Between Belgrade and Budapest

July 31, 2014

As I am about to embark on another month-long European journey, I have been looking back at some of the things I wrote and picked up along the way when I last did this. That was back in 2007, when I was on the verge of turning 19. That time, I spent all year saving up, and had my interrail pass ready and so many plans that ended up ignored. This time I’ve been far less prepared, pretty much doing the whole thing on a whim.

Back then, I had had a difficult few years leading up to that point, and this was my first true taste of freedom, and my first solo travelling trip. I suppose you could say it changed my life – in that I realised that travelling was going to be a big part of me and my life. But then again, I was still me: I didn’t feel different and I didn’t find any inner strength that meant I could escape the troubles I returned to afterward. That came a lot later, after a lot more poetry.

Anyway here is a poem that I wrote on a night train from Belgrade to Budapest. I was in a cabin with these cackling old hags (for want of a better word) – in my mind they are almost pantomime versions of the witches from Macbeth, the floor between us their cauldron. Across the horizon lightning cracked through the sky over and over again in intensely close dry storms, and all I could hear was the lightning, thunder and their laughter, non-stop, all night. LJ

In Between Belgrade and Budapest (2007)

Jumping along rickety track
Window held open
With a ball-point pen.

Sharp shrieks scatter
Across the silhouetted landscape.
Straining to escape the confines

Of the carriage and open myself up
To the cracking sky,
I push down rounded-plastic
And tap a roll-up into the breeze.

Flashes of exposure engulf my
Awaiting skin. Impulses of awakening
As lights dim

From towns propped up on the edge
Of the horizon.

Momentarily, I glare into the cabin:
Smiles from women with broken teeth;
Cigarettes hanging from broken mouths;
Destitute little dots returning
Or leaving, ricocheting through the static.

They are
Deep in foreign conversation so
I return to the opening chasm above

Ignoring the decaying butts and composted dust
Wiped into the fraying green rug
Beneath my feet.

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