Jewish Journal

The Sandwich of our Affliction – A Poem for Passover by Rick Lupert

Thousands of years ago, when I last set foot in Egypt
when I built pyramids out of the materials that were
available to me, when life was bitter, and sweetness
was a burning bush away

I first connected brick to brick. I rushed out of the
narrow place. I began this journey of memory.
I remember it every time I sit at a table with flatbread.
Some of me stopped for a while in Poland
where apples grew in the forest like weeds.

Some of me wandered into the olive-belt where
the streets ran humid with dates and honey.
The grass is always more of a delicacy on the
other side of the Mediterranean.

Now, at tables where strangers are welcomed
and doors are opened, and our memory is longer
than our physical lives, we mix bitter and sweet
like our first head of school did, a Roman ruin’s

lifetime ago, in Jerusalem, where they still dig down
before they build up. The sweet ingredients depend
on your original neighborhood. They marry the bitter.
One tempers the other. One is arms and one is legs.
One is heart and one is lungs. Everyone does their

own thing but disappears without the other.
These are the tastes that connect us to those we are
named for. And those who will be named for us.
This is the sandwich of our affliction.


Los Angeles poet Rick Lupert created 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 21 collections of poetry, including “God Wrestler: A Poem for Every Torah Portion“, “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 “A Poet’s Siddur: Shabbat Evening“,  “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.