Poem a Day 2013 #17: Nightmare 3 – Trapped in a Strange Town

Poem number 17.

I’m just back from four days in Melbourne. It was a good weekend, people were friendly, the hotel was o.k. I had a good time. But in any strange town, I sometimes feel ‘strange’. As Jim Morrison sings: “People are strange, when you’re a stranger, faces look ugly when you’re alone”.

Most of these lines, and some of yesterday’s poem as well, came to me on a wet Monday morning run around the rather bleak Docklands area of Melbourne. Some of it happened.

Nightmare 3 – Trapped in a Strange Town

The road looks vaguely familiar, but isn’t

Cars drive to different road rules

The rubbish bins are bursting

The wet pavement is strewn with fast food discards


Posters half ripped off the windows of empty shops

The oppressive air is sucked of ions

An elderly woman in a purple dressing gown grabs your lapel, mutters curses

You escape her grip and enter a coffee bar


You are invisible to the staff

When there is no-one else to distract them, a waitress takes your order

The coffee is bitter and hot, and burns the roof of your mouth

You are overcharged but lack the will to argue


Thirty minutes pass. Your stomach cramps

You search urgently for a toilet

You find one but the cubicle is occupied

Someone inside fiddles repeatedly with the lock


A syringe rolls out from under the door

You rush out and find a pub

You relieve yourself in the functional, tiled men’s room

The barman watches you as you emerge. You feel obliged to buy a beer you don’t want


A drunk at the bar accosts you, claims you owe him a drink

You give him five dollars and make your escape

You are overcome with a vast weariness but there is nowhere to rest.

It is ten in the morning. The day stretches out like a gun barrel highway.


Copyright Mike Hopkins 2013


5 thoughts on “Poem a Day 2013 #17: Nightmare 3 – Trapped in a Strange Town

    • The dressing gown lady happened, though she didn’t grab me. The overcharging yes, the stomach cramps yes, the cubicle with the rattling lock and the syringe yes (very creepy).

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