Why Matzah is Stale – A Poem for Every Generaration by Rick Lupert


In every generation it is the duty of every person
to regard themselves as though they had each
personally come out of Egypt.

There’s a reason the freshest matzah tastes stale.
We brought it out of Egypt three thousand years ago.
Conventional bread loses something the next day.

You can imagine what three millennia did to the dough
we stuck on our backs, that baked in the sun,
that never rose.

We’re still eating it. We must have made so much
in that flash of an eighteen minutes. It never runs out.
I remember my first bite, as I fumbled for

my Egyptian passport, which turned out to be a
Green Card. You’d think we would have been naturalized
after four hundred years, building someone else’s cities.

We have memories longer than our physical bodies
can stand. Some of us are still dumping sand out of
our shoes. Some of us have reeds stuck in our teeth.

Some of us have brick-making blisters that will
never heal. I think this is why my mother made me wake up
on Sunday mornings. I know this is why we

make our son wake up on Sunday mornings.
This has been going on for as long as we can remember.
Since a frightened King forgot who Joseph was.

Since a bush burned in the desert.
Since we stood by as the water supply turned red.
Since we pulled our babies out of the river.

I use the word we with a vengeance.
That stale taste in our mouths. This is personal.
This is our obligation.


Los Angeles poet Rick Lupert created a the Poetry Super Highway (an online publication and resource for poets), and hosted the Cobalt Cafe weekly poetry reading for almost 21 years. He’s authored 20 collections of poetry, including “I’m a Jew, Are You” (Jewish themed poems) and “Feeding Holy Cats” (Poetry written while a staff member on the first Birthright Israel trip), and most recently “Donut Famine” (Rothco Press, December 2016) and edited the anthologies “Ekphrastia Gone Wild”, “A Poet’s Haggadah”, and “The Night Goes on All Night.” He writes the daily web comic “Cat and Banana” with fellow Los Angeles poet Brendan Constantine. He’s widely published and reads his poetry wherever they let him.