For Tibor Gábor Gajdics, 1930-2014

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 and so the rage is not my fault,
I say. 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 apart 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
broken 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.

GajdicsPeter Gajdics has been published in The Advocate (on-line), New York TyrantThe Gay and Lesbian Review / WorldwideGay TimesThe Printed Blog, thisThe Q Review, and Opium, where he won their 2009 500-word memoir contest. He is a recipient of a grant from Canada Council for the Arts, a fellowship (for fiction) from the Summer Literary Seminars, and an alumni of Lambda Literary Foundation’s “Writers’ Retreat for Emerging LGBT Voices.” Peter lives in Vancouver, Canada.