* Explanation: I have deep Hungarian roots in my ancestry, and I’m sure somewhere along the line, some of them spread out to gypsies wandering the homeland making their living telling the fortunes of others. However, it’s been my experience that unlike some “Chinese” fortune cookie fortunes, my Hungarian relatives tended to expect the worst and find the negative, no matter what the prediction, what their traditions. (Every real Hungarian knows for a lucky year, a person needs to eat pork on New Year’s Day, because pigs move food toward them when they eat and don’t scatter it like chickens and other animals. ) The first verse of their national anthem contains the lines “Long torn by ill fate/Bring upon it [Hungary] a time of relief/This nation has suffered for all sins/Of the past and of the future!” for heaven’s sake. So it’s been my observation that no matter if a Hungarian says hopeful sentiments, that’s not what he or she is feeling on the inside. Therefore, for my poem, I’ve written fortunes one might find inside a fortune cookie and in parentheses is what the fortune really means to a Hungarian.
Chinese may own
the fortune cookie,
but a Hungarian gypsy,
travels with wisdom . . .
(The Chinese have taken our
good ideas and made a pile of dough.)
What I know to be truth
is true, even if others see
another truth . . .
(Even though I am smarter,
stupider people still think I’m an idiot.)
A hidden truth is a sin against humanity . . .
(Why can’t the world give us even a little credit?)
Always, someone will listen
if your words ring true from
a pure heart . . .
(Go ahead, just try to explain!)
If a family memory is packed,
however deep, among
your mind’s possessions,
you are home . . .
(Your family will hound you for money
no matter how far you run.)
Love deep and live long . . .
(Expect a broken heart; it’s perpetual persecution.)
Even when you are silent
the echoes of spoken words
resound like the ringing
of a bell . . .
(Even when you don’t make a peep, the authorities will
arrest you for lying.)
Every soul requires music
to awaken the spirit . . .
(If the band plays too much polka at the wedding dance.
you’ll be grumpy for days.)
Your spirit will rise to reach your wishes . . .
(It’s best not to expect too much)
Wish for blessings you do not have, but cherish
those you do. . .
(You’re lucky if you find a smidgen of good
in what you have; you’ll not get anything better.)
Always thank your god and your god will be shocked into mercy . . .
(Go ahead, celebrate Thanksgiving; your neighbor
is still going to win the lottery.)
The shock of seeing the destitute electrifies
benevolent deeds . . .
(No matter your good deeds, you’ll
Remember the deeds of those who
have treated you well and reflect them
to others . . .
(You only need to do a little good
each day; someone else will get credit
Your reflection shows you one face
while those around you see another . . .
(No matter how long you take in the bathroom,
someone is always going to think you’re ugly.)
Your greatest efforts bring the highest esteem.
(Why am I putting my heart and soul into this
pathetic poem? No one will “like” it anyway.)