Geocaching with Grant

I am still jet-lagged as we stand around a telephone booth on Andrássy street,
Grant, my sister, and me. 

We have just come from visiting the home-turned-shrine of composer Zoltán Kodály;
My sister and I once attended a school named after him. 

The telephone booth stands in front of a museum of artifacts from the Far East,
Collected by some Hungarian explorer-anthropologist—

Like Bilbo Baggins bringing dragon treasure to the Shire. 
This Hungarian and the hobbit were geocaching before geocaching was a thing. 

A set of coordinates on Grant’s phone have led us from Kodály’s house to here:
A chipped-paint green and yellow telephone booth with plywood interiors—an artifact, a relic.  

We do everything we can except take the booth apart.
No cache—nor cash—is found. 

I pace and look around, from the stone Chinese dragons on the museum lawn,
To the pedestrians giving us funny looks: 

Three American youths scouring a telephone booth in front of the Far East museum on Andrássy street,
A few blocks away from where Kodály’s personal affects reside, 

Searching for a geocache that is no longer there.  

We console ourselves with a trip to Burger King. 

(Summer 2016)


“The world is fairly studded and strewn
with pennies cast broadside from a generous hand.”

Annie Dillard
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek


Think on the little girl who buries coins,
Draws arrows for the passerby to find
Them. Wonder that she does not care who does.

Oh artist, you have lost the wonder, joy
Of humble offerings. Your drive to impress
Has only made you stingy, fearful, cold.

So cast your pennies on the roadside, cast
Your bread upon the waters, sow your seed
With a liberal, gracious, gift-giving hand.

Who receives the gift is less important.
The joy of being one who gave is more.
A benediction: May you be one. Bless.

(Spring 2016)


The mind’s a multiverse, imagining
A thousand alternate realities
Wherein I am a thousand different me’s.

The mind’s a library, a history
Detailing all the things that I aspired
To be, to see, to do, to have acquired

In life. This library is always full,
And grows, but I can only choose one book
To read until eternity. I took

The only one I could, the only one
That comes with empty pages, pen and ink.
The others are illusory, I think.

The mind’s a multiverse, a hall of dreams.
I’ve dreamed a thousand lives, lived only one.
To live that one life well? A fight hard-won.

(Spring 2016)



I hear the sounds of drums rise from below,
From the depths of the cellar of the school, the music school,
The school where I, back then a boy of ten—
An awkward scrawny boy of ten—first made
Acquaintance with that ancient instrument
That makes the heart to race, the head to nod
Along, the feet to tap, the hands to clap,
The fingers snap: the drum, and all his friends:
Marimba, xylophone and vibraphone,
My friends. To hear them now is to descend
Again those steep steep steps, transported back
Into that heart-race head-nod feet-tap hand-
Clap finger-snap world, where the pianists
On the second-floor complain about the noise
As if they got here first. The drums were here
Before us all, the basement bass line still,
Foundation for this house, the music school.

(Spring 2016)


“Yesterday is history,
tomorrow is a mystery,
but today is a gift.
That is why it is called the present.”

Master Oogway in Kung Fu Panda


An ode to Po, the kung fu panda bear:
If only you were real. The world needs you,
Not because it’s overrun by jealous
Leopards, peacock warlords, or yaks returned
From spirit realms, nor for your gravity-
Defying fighting skills, but for your joy:
The way you eat a dumpling, praise the Five,
Appreciate with true disinterest,
And overcome “the darkness with delight.”
Show me an action hero who pursues
The good, the true, the beautiful with more
Contagious zest and zeal. An antidote
For antiheroes, Po, your joy’s your strength.

(Spring 2016) 



I missed your booming baritone today
While standing in the pews and singing hymns.

Your family was there, and I sang loud
Just like you would. It brought back memories

Of visiting the churches where you served,
Of standing next to you as you stood up,

Hands resting heavily on the pew in front.
I’d hold the hymnal up for both of us.

I sang “Amazing Grace” with you that day
Before I left. We were off-key, and you

Were out of breath, but still we sang it best.
You looked ahead, beyond me, past us all.

You glimpsed eternity. “We’ve no less days
To sing God’s praise than when we’ve first begun.”

(Spring 2016)




We want what we can’t have because we can’t.
No intrinsic value in the object but
The fence, the prohibition, threats of pain
And consequences for transgression bless,
Bestow upon the thing that unholy glow
That draws us all like flies, idolators.


The taking not the having is the goal,
The price tag unaffordable the snare.
It’s that and not the object tagged that makes
The fingers itch to snatch, to steal. We scratch
Until there is an open sore, the tag
The only cure. A genius trick. We’re fooled.


It’s the lie of stolen water, secret bread.
It’s the discontented voices in our heads.
It’s the law of Adam’s fruit, Augustine’s pear.
If the sign weren’t there we wouldn’t even care.
Contented godliness is gain, and yet—
I’d rather be a thief than be an heir.


Give us this day our daily bread, and lead
Us to pure streams. In you we shall not want.

(Spring 2016)


A meditation on an image: Christ,
His body cold and dead—yet strangely clean,
While inexplicably the crown of thorns
Remains upon His brow—brought to his tomb
By Joseph, Nicodemus. One holds him
By the knees, the other by the armpits. See
The body sag between the two. The Lord’s
Limp fingers lightly drag along the ground.
The weight of death. 
                                            Yes. Death. 
                                                                     The Savior died.
How easy to forget the Word was flesh.
The Word had pulse, heartbeat, would breathe, would bleed
Out, suffocate, surrender soul. A corpse.
There was no hope on Saturday. No pulse.
Just a body torn, like curtains, like lambs.
The artist won't allow us to ignore
Bare facts. His image seizes eyes, grips hearts.
The eyes must see such things, the heart believe.

(Spring 2016) 


Utilitarians will not accept
The calculus of heaven’s kingdom come.
How many would agree with Judas’ quip,
This oil could have been sold to feed the poor?
How many would agree with Martha’s plea,
“Mary, there is work to do—come help me”?
Her sister shirks her duties, must not love
The poor, she saved this treasure up for years
While there were beggars at the door. That man’s
A thief—a traitor too—but aren’t there truths
In liars’ mouths? If Mary loves the Lord,
Why not her sister? Martha toils to love
And serve the King. Is that not pragmatic?
The King does not agree. The greater lot,
The finer portion goes to she who sits
To hear the Master teach, and now anoints
The Son of David, come to die. The oil
Is for His burial. Cost-benefit
Analysis cannot quantify love.

(Spring 2016)


We must be careful what we say. I say
You are not speaking graciously. You say
I said it condescendingly. I see
Hypocrisy in me, and reel. You see

I am not careful what I say. Oh God,
Forgive this fault. We’ll give account to God
For every careless word we speak, it’s true.
That’s no excuse for how I say it’s true

We must be careful what we say. The pain
You feel I’ve caused while trying to ease the pain
Of words sent out in haste. I failed to take
The time to find the proper words that take

“You must be careful what you say” and set
The message in a frame that you would set
Up in your “heart’s apartment.” So you find
The picture unfit for decor. I find

I must be careful what I say. I must.

What better way to say “speak lovingly,”
Than say it that same way? Speak lovingly.

(Spring 2016)