November 12, 2018

A Tale of Beards and Stars – A poem for Parsha Toldot (Aliyah 1) by Rick Lupert

Two nations are in your womb, and two kingdoms will separate from your innards,
and one kingdom will become mightier than the other kingdom

This is the kind of information parents shouldn’t be given.
You want the best for all your children and try not to

play favorites, but you’ve been given an inside track here
and when you utter phrases like I love you both just the same

it falls flat in your own ears. How do you explain the
different sized college funds when you know one will

end up owning the college, and the other will just
grow a beard? This is the knowledge that let’s you

go back in time and change everything. This is
not the way it’s supposed to be.

And the first one emerged ruddy;
he was completely like a coat of hair

Such a bold color for a child
Esau, the human fashion statement
a face like blood, a body like winter –

A pinch in his foot as he burst into the world.
Dumb like a beard. Already hungry.
Already glad not to have to

share air with his brother.
Esau, red as the day he was born.
Already ready to give it all up.

Jacob was an innocent man, dwelling in tents

Jacob, quiet – a tent dweller, soup cooker
inheritance trickster, birthright stealer –
Destined to own the farm.

Jacob, the thinker, momma’s little boy
You thought two kids was a lot –
wait ’til you see what he can do.

Jacob makes the lentils. Jacob of the
kempt beard. Jacob, never quite let go
of his brother’s foot.

And I will multiply your seed like the stars of the heavens

There’s that promise again
The prenatal care of our dreams

A forever glance up to see
the impossibility of keeping up

with holiday cards.
It’s okay. You can always

see the stars, but
it’s not your responsibility

to reach them. You couldn’t
if you tried.


God Wrestler: a poem for every Torah Portion by Rick LupertLos 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 “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.

Fear: A Poem

I am different
I am unique
I am Jewish
People think of me as an outsider
People want to kill me
Because of my religion
Because of who I am
Hiding in the back of my house
Afraid and lonely
Terrified that the Nazis will break down the door
Horrible and vicious people
They killed my friends
Tortured them
They took their belongings
Fearing that they will steal my identity
Grasp my belief in God and shatter it
Like plucking all the feathers off a chicken
They will strip me of my religion
Taking my away from me
Who had dreams
Who once had dreams to travel the world
My is the town’s rabbi
A stout man with a silver beard that drops down to his chest
Passionate about Judaism and angry at the world
Praying every night
Praying that our family will be safe
A sacred, meaningful scroll to us
A piece of junk to them
The Torah
Hiding in a secret compartment in the back of our house
Guarding it with all of our lives
A scroll constructed ages ago
The Torah defines us
I am Jewish


Paul Kurgan is an eighth grader at Mirman School.

The Old New Math – A poem for Parsha Chayei Sarah

And the life of Sarah was one hundred years
and twenty years and seven years;

The Torah is no place for a new math joke
but I understand this almost as well as I do
my ten year old’s homework.

I’m sometimes asked to check it and
the best I can do is verify that it does indeed exist
and that things are written where

there were formerly blank spaces.
But ask me if it is correct and I’ll refer
you to his teacher.

The new math is like the ancient math.
Somehow my generation got away with
just saying one hundred and twenty seven.

I see the holiness in the work my
son brings home from school
and I understand it just as well.

Give me burial property with you, so that
I may bury my dead from before me.

There’s no Jewish publication that doesn’t
include advertisements for the final plot of earth –
Often highlighting lovely hills, and

spots beneath trees, and views of the city –
None of which (I think) I’ll need when I eventually
find my home in the dirt.

I get suspicious about the idea of paying for this
in advance. What would they do with me if I simply
refused to make an arrangement while still taking breaths?

Probably stick me in the back with the other death-beats.
It’s hard enough to save for retirement without adding in
a cost for the hereafter.

I guess I need a place to hang my bald spot.
Something nice that people can visit when they
miss everything silly I had to say.

Yes, underneath a tree, and on a hill and
with a view. You can only stare at a headstone
for so long.


God Wrestler: a poem for every Torah Portion by Rick LupertLos 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 “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.

Let’s Welcome the Stranger and Have Children – A Poem for Parsha Vayeira (Aliyah 1)


Please let a little water be taken, and bathe your feet,
and recline under the tree.

This is how everyone should greet the stranger –
With offers of water and comfort.

With fingers pointing to a place to rest.
Not with suspicion or deceit.

Not with a fear of the other.
Take my hand, whoever you are.

What can I fill you up with?
My pillows are your pillows.

This tent yours to come and go
as you please.

And Abraham said [to Sarah] “Hasten three seah of meal
[and] fine flour; knead and make cakes.”

In these days where the idea of patriarchy
stings like an ancient wasp

I can’t imagine telling my wife to
get to the baking after strangers

showed up at the door. Strangers
who I begged to come in

Strangers who I knew needed
fresh cake.

I like the old ways, the weight of tradition
is like a magnet to the past.

But I’ll make my own cake…as soon as I
figure out what a seah is.

And to the cattle did Abraham run, and he took a calf,
tender and good, and he gave it to the youth,

Finally! The youth are getting
the cattle they deserve!

And it happened so quick, I mean
Abraham ran to the cattle
like it was Pamplona and he

wanted to get them going.
Cows…running to the youth

hoping to get milked, hoping
they can stop all this running.

I will surely return to you at this time next year, and behold,
your wife Sarah will have a son…And Sarah laughed

That wasn’t the reaction I had when
Addie told me she was pregnant.

(That’s not an announcement,
I’m referring to ten years ago.)

I stared at the note. The only
thing that was in the empty box –

I had taken off the bow.
I’d removed the tissue paper.

It was confusingly not gift season.
You’ll get your present in nine months

it said. I didn’t laugh. I was speechless
for nine months. Eventually,

I built a crib, I sold off the futon,
I cancelled the trip to Japan.

I didn’t laugh or say anything.
No reaction, or any of my

famous words, could have changed
this eventuality.


God Wrestler: a poem for every Torah Portion by Rick LupertLos 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 “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.

He’s Leaving Home, Bye Bye – A poem for Parsha Lech Lecha by Rick Lupert

Go forth from your land and from your birthplace and
from your father’s house, to the land that I will show you.

My main question is, if I leave,
will my father repurpose my room?
I’ve given him no indication I’ll be back
and he’s still bitter about all the dust
in his workshop.

Though it was in the making of this dust
that this deal came along. I should
pack all my things as a courtesy.
He’ll need the space when
all the false gods
come to visit.

They grow up so quick I imagine him saying
as I look to see what’s behind the curtain.
I’d wonder if my mother will miss me too
but no-one ever mentions her name –
Like she doesn’t even exist.


And I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you,

and I will aggrandize your name

I’d like to see my name in lights.
I’m not sure I deserve it, but
just once let the stars spell out my name.


And Abram took Sarai his wife…and all their possessions that

they had acquired, and the souls they had acquired…

How does one acquire a soul
beyond the one we’re lucky enough
to have returned every morning?

Do we even have space for
a second or third? How do we
carry them? What do they eat?

Do souls make small talk?
Do they even talk? Do they
have possessions of their own?

Abram, the soul shepherd,
traveling to a promised land –
His name not holy yet.


[Abram] said to Sarai his wife, “Behold now I know that

you are a woman of fair appearance.

You’d think this would be
the first thing he’d notice
or maybe he did and waited

until this road trip to say anything.
It’s superficial but nice to hear
anyway, sometimes. Even as a

precursor to a warning.
As a safety measure to save
his own life –

To make sure everyone
gets where they’re going.
Sarai, you are of fair appearance.

See how they’ve been
dealing with this since people
started writing things down?


God Wrestler: a poem for every Torah Portion by Rick LupertLos 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 “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.

You Otter Build an Ark – A poem for Parsha Noach by Rick Lupert

You Otter Build an Ark - A poem for Parsha Noach by Rick Lupert

Now the earth was corrupt before God,
and the earth became full of robbery.

I’m not sure if I’m reading the Torah
or the news. Or if all of this robbery

I see on the news is just the criminals’
attempt to reenact the beginning of times.

Just the other day I saw the water driving
up the road typically reserved for not water.

It took houses and confidently parked cars
with it. It took the eyes of the believers

by surprise. It took the word tsunami and
threw it up against the memory of

an ancient promise.

 

Make for yourself an ark of gopher wood

I appreciate the confidence but does it
come with instructions? I can barely build

something from Ikea without subsequent
days of blisters, what with my lack of the

right tools and my general preference to
hire people who know what they’re doing

to do the things I don’t know how to do.
And who am I to take the Earth’s resources?

What will the gophers do once I’ve
taken all their wood? And, as an aside

isn’t it amazing that, back at the beginning
of history, there were already gophers?

 

And I, behold I am bring the flood, water upon the earth
to destroy all flesh in which there is the spirit of life

This isn’t the direction I would go in
but I barely deserve a capital I when I say that.

I never liked that so close to the beginning,
they just finished setting the scene, the whole thing

gets destroyed. And all the people on it.
Talk about awkward conversations at the

neighborhood party – Oh, you weren’t told to
build an ark. Oh, can I borrow all your gopher wood?

 

and of all living things of all flesh, two of each you shall
bring into the ark to preserve alive with you

I can relate to this more than you know.
Every time an animal of any kind comes onto T.V.

a lion, an elephant, a friendly chicken, a family of otters,
I turn to Addie and say We need one of those for our house.

No is usually the answer that comes before I
even finish the declaration. I relate to God, the

lover of animals. The One who couldn’t go into the
pet store on kitten adoption day, without coming out

with a box full of them. In a way this is how I am
preparing for the flood. Otter chow in stock

ready for the waters to rise.


God Wrestler: a poem for every Torah Portion by Rick LupertLos 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 “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.

Like, is this really all happening again? – A poem for Parsha Breisheit by Rick Lupert

The Earth was astonishingly empty

Like a blank canvas
Like no-one had thought darkness and light
needed to be different
Like a flyover state
Like someone bumped into something
and said I should
really do something with this.

Let there be an expanse in the midst of the water,
and let it be a separation between water and water.

Like the water was too close to the water
Like the invention of the reverse canal industry
Like this should be the base ingredient
for everything
let’s stir this up

And God called the dry land earth, and the gathering
of the waters He called seas

Like you get to be the Guy who names everything
Like everyone will need either shoes or a boat
Like when I say everyone, you should know
at this point, there was no-one.
Like a population explosion is going to need
a place to hang its hat

Let there be luminaries in the expanse of the heavens,
to separate between the day and between the night

Like the separation between night and day
was the original dimmer switch
Like the biggest things in the sky are
not always the closest
Like I can stare directly at one, but not the other
Like the gravity of this situation is
just coming together

And God created the great sea monsters,
and every living creature that crawls

Like the word monsters wasn’t inserted into
the beginning of the oldest text
just to keep our attention
Like anyone can tell you this wasn’t
the very first genre fiction
Like our fear of monsters was seeded
at the very beginning

Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness

Like He’s either talking in the royal We or
there are some characters we
have yet to be introduced to
Like this isn’t the very first evidence
of Vanity
Like you could make a self portrait
that could take on a billion
lives of its own

And [God] abstained on the seventh day from all His work

Like the two day weekend doesn’t
extend Shabbat beyond
its natural boundaries
Like a forever pillow that stops in
every week
Like the vacation they told you to take
before you were born
but never do
It’s time


God Wrestler: a poem for every Torah Portion by Rick LupertLos 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 “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.

Dancing with the scroll

To turn the page in a book
All you need is one hand,
A motion like a tiny rainbow.

On a screen, kal v’chomer,
A single finger-swipe
Will suffice.

But a Torah scroll
Is heavy, its
Wooden handles
Remember the tree they
Came from, its parchment
Still marked with the patches
Of a once-living animal. 

And when you stand
To chant from the scroll,
Your body curved at the top
Like the letter vav,
You feel the tree, the animal;
You feel the hours of love
Some forgotten scribe poured
Into this small patch of the world,
Marking it with letters
To make it infinite, from the
Simple meanings to the
Secret ones, from the first
Stirrings of creation to the mountain
Where Moses saw, but did not enter,
The Holy Land. 

In fall, the time comes
To rewind back to the first bet
Of beginning, that letter open
Only to the future. We open
The ark, we gather;
You cannot turn a scroll alone.

Each year we perform this dance,
Holding the stories God gave us
With the bodies God gave us.

We wrap the scrolls like babies
And carry them into the streets.

Then our feet begin to move, too.
With a story this heavy, this beloved, 

Who can read without dancing?


Alicia Jo Rabins is a writer, musician and Torah teacher. Her most recent book of poetry is “Fruit Geode” (Augury Books). 

The Final Singalong — A Poem for Haftarah Haazinu by Rick Lupert

Since I spend so much time singing ancient Jewish words
with the children of the San Fernando Valley, I was so pleased

to see King David wrote a song…like Moses before him
wrote a song. A song I thought you’d never hear on the radio

because of it’s staggering 945 word count with no refrain at all,
until I realized they’ve been playing the 2633 words of

Alice’s Restaurant for decades, not to mention the encyclopedic-
lengthed 5083 words of R. Kelley’s Trapped in the closet.

Why can’t we set the whole thing to music and demand
heavy rotation? Is that what David had in mind? Is that why

he included the word nostrils twice, so it would have
more of a quirky pop-appeal?

This is the last song of the year. A duet with Moses who
sings posthumously. They were the first two to do this.

To sing of strength. To sing of the source of our comfort.
Their songs are our songs and we are still collecting

the royalties. This music, our inheritance. I say always
end with song. Ideally one everyone can sing.

We’ve got one more chapter before we start this
whole thing over, and sometimes because of the

peculiar ways in which the days of the week land
on the calendar, we don’t even read it. We find ourselves

at the beginning again, wondering how we got here.
So sing this song. Repeat parts of it to extend this cycle

beyond its natural boundaries. And ha-azinu…listen.
Let all the voices go into your ears. They’ve been

echoing from generation to generation, ever since
they first left Moses and David’s lips.


God Wrestler: a poem for every Torah Portion by Rick LupertLos 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 “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.

A Prayer for the New Year

I pray that I will find humility
When I’m sure I am right.

I pray that I will find compassion
When my heart feels indifference.

I pray that I will find energy
When my body tires.

I pray that I will find serenity
When my mind races too fast.

I pray that I will find music
When my day has no melody.

I pray that I will find courage
When my conscience is tested.

I pray that I will find the right words
When all I hear are the wrong ones.

I pray that I will find humor
When my spirit is broken.

I pray that I will find holiness
When it is most hidden.

I pray that I will find love
When my heart can barely see it.

I pray that I will find me
When all I can see is you.

Promises Worth Breaking – A poem for Kol Nidre by Rick Lupert

All vows –
This legal document
written in unholy language

a prenuptial agreement
for our inevitable failing.
This relationship with

the year itself
a contract awaiting
the biggest signature.

Please, cancel my subscription
but charge my card anyway.
I don’t deserve the content.

Every promise I make
a guaranteed broken one
between today and

a year’s worth of
Jewish days from now.
The next time the shofar

is dusted off,
we’ll have this conversation again.
Forgive me this year

and last year and next.
Forgive everyone who ever
stood at the mountain.

Forgive our promises
our oaths, our vows, all vows
You made the whole world

and on this day and every day
You knew this would happen.
Pardon me. Please.


God Wrestler: a poem for every Torah Portion by Rick LupertLos 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 “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.

When I Grow Up – A Poem for Haftarah Vayeilech by Rick Lupert

When I grow up I want to be a rose
I want them to compare my roots to trees.
My branches too. I’ll be on the cover
of all the magazines. Pages with
just the word blossom.

When I grow up, I want the shade
I provide to shield everyone from
the harshness of mid-day light.
I want nostrils to open wide in
anticipation of my arrival.

When I grow up, I’ll never
run out of fruit. The hungry and
the righteous will walk in my circles.
The rebellious too. Though their actions
will make them stumble.

When I grow up, anger will be
only temporary. Love, forever.
My foibles will be considered texture.
My sins, tossed into the ocean.
When I grow up, if I grow up

It’ll be like Woodstock again.


God Wrestler: a poem for every Torah Portion by Rick LupertLos 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 22 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 “Beautiful Mistakes” (Rothco Press, May 2018) 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.

Turn my Oy to Joy – A Poem for Haftarah Nitzavim by Rick Lupert

Oh, consolation
I’ve got seven weeks of you.
Oh, holy hug

Oh speak up those
watching over me
Oh Right Hand

You so strong
You smite the enemy
You clear the stones

You un-desolate
the Holy home
Oh, Jerusalem

We’re coming for you
Oh, Jerusalem
I can hear your watchmen

Look how our enemies hunger
Look how our red clothes turn white
Look how our children’s children

til the soil, bloom the desert
sing when they land
kiss the ground.

Oh, consolation, Oh, holy hug
You turn our oy to joy
You make me want

to read this text again.
I am standing.
I am ready.


God Wrestler: a poem for every Torah Portion by Rick LupertLos 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 22 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 “Beautiful Mistakes” (Rothco Press, May 2018) 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.

I Need a Camel Like I Need an Umbrella – A Poem for Haftarah Ki Tavo by Rick Lupert

These are the benefits entitled to us, according to
the prophet who speaks on behalf of the Benefit Giver

A gross darkness [shall cover] the kingdoms

Eww. The implication here is we are not part of the kingdoms
and a whole special light will, hopefully, light that grossness
right out of the realm of our perceptibility.

your heart shall be startled and become enlarged

I’m no heart-ologist, but is this medically sound?
I realize You’re the One who invented all this biology
but I had a cat die once and the veterinarian told me
his heart was too big. So as long as you know
what you’re doing.

A multitude of camels shall cover you.

A couple things here: Would it be alright if I
stick with an umbrella, or a blanket, or even just
the clothes I’ve got on. Living in the shadows of
camels feels weird to me. Also, if you have to go
in that direction, I’m not that big and think only
one camel will suffice.

All the sheep of Kedar shall be gathered to you.

Okay. You make it sound like that’s going to be
a lot of sheep. I’m not allowed to feed the outside cats
anymore as that’s how it started with the five we have
inside now. Can I just pay a fee to make sure the
sheep are taken care of, or go to someone who
has unlimited room for sheep?

to bring to you the wealth of the nations

This sounds great! I’ve got a lot of funds I’ve been
meaning to get going. There’s already the meager
college fund for our nine year old. But then there’s the
move to a nicer neighborhood fund, and the buy a
hybrid car fund (I’m only thinking of the planet).
All the wealth of the nations could really help out here.

And you shall suck the milk of the nations.

OK, is this mandatory to get the wealth? I feel most
humans are lactose intolerant after we’re weaned
from our mothers. The whole Got Milk campaign feels
like a bit of a sham. Oh Creator of biology, is this
the phlegm you had in mind?

I shall make your rulers righteousness

This sounds great right about now. The news keeps
reminding me, our rulers don’t even know how to
spell the word righteous, let alone act in a manner
that lives up to that word.

Your sun shall no longer set, neither shall your moon
God will be an everlasting light.

Is this what it’s like in Alaska? I hear black-out curtains
is doing a killer business up there. I’m going to visit
just to get a taste of what You’re offering. I’ll think of you
when I see the Aurora Borealis.


God Wrestler: a poem for every Torah Portion by Rick LupertLos 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 22 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 “Beautiful Mistakes” (Rothco Press, May 2018) 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.

They’ve Got Pants Just for Floods – A Poem for Haftarah Ki Teitzei by Rick Lupert

Promises are easy to forget when the Promiser
has hidden Their face. This is why sometimes

we wear pants that are too short, in case Noah’s flood
comes again, despite the occasional rainbow reminder.

It’s a fear we’ve taken so seriously you’ll find hundreds
of results on Amazon if you search for “flood pants.”

I’m glad someone’s making money off our lack of faith.
We’re told God’s wrath was only there for a moment

as we wept on the wrong side of the Babylonian border.
But a Biblical moment is long enough for an entire generation

to die out in the desert; for riverside city after riverside city
to have to appeal to FEMA for post-rain relief;

for millions to die at the hands of people with radical ideas.
It’s easy to see why we sometimes feel forgotten.

We’ve got two more weeks of divine consolation
before the cycle begins again.

Don’t hide Your face from us. Just a glimpse
will keep us in line.


God Wrestler: a poem for every Torah Portion by Rick LupertLos 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 22 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 “Beautiful Mistakes” (Rothco Press, May 2018) 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.

Direct Contact – A Poem for Haftarah Shoftim by Rick Lupert

Oh, how we’ve changed.
An Exodus ago we saw a light so bright
and asked Moses to be the one to
do the looking.

Now, an Exodus later,
we’re inconsolable by human voices,
even those who wrote the famous books.
We need personal contact with that Light.

We need a hug from the Almighty.
We need to know it’s going to be okay.
We need to know the cup of weakness will
be put in the hands of those who made us wander.

Our sons and daughters are fainting in the streets
we need a Divine rain to wake them up.
Nothing Noah-like…rainbows not required.
Just a splash on the face in this corner

we’ve found ourselves in.
Wake us up in Babylonia with news that
the freeway to the promised land has been paved.
We’re ready to shake off our dust and roll.

If it’s not too much trouble, we’d like the drive
to be casual. None of this flat bread on our back
kind of situation. No time to pack the collectibles.
Give us a moment to say our farewells

to put in the forwarding address
to update the paint so we don’t lose our deposit
to tell the unclean, we’re so sorry, this wasn’t
going to workout anyway.


God Wrestler: a poem for every Torah Portion by Rick LupertLos 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 22 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 “Beautiful Mistakes” (Rothco Press, May 2018) 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.

Everything’s Alright, Yes, Everything’s Fine – A Poem for Haftarah Re’eh by Rick Lupert

the earth is My footstool

This explains the smell in my neighborhood.
I don’t mind doing double duty as comfort
for the Almighty, but, please, Isaiah,
what’s the holy sock situation?

he who slaughters a lamb is
as though he beheads a dog

I couldn’t agree more. Enough slaughtering
of anyone with any amount of legs. That’s
personification, if you know what I mean.

Will I bring to the birth stool and
not cause to give birth?

I don’t want to put actions into Your mouth.
The truth is, You might do anything other
than what I’d like You to do. This is Your show.
We’re merely the ones You, sometimes,
see fit to console.

and your bones shall bloom like grass

This feels like something I’ll need to involve
my doctor and landscape maintainer in.
Those two have never collaborated,
to my knowledge, but I expect they’ll
blend it together like music and poetry.
I sense an elevation coming on.

For behold, the Lord shall come with fire

This explains what’s happening in California.
I’m not sure this is the kind of consoling we’ve
been looking for. When you look at our map,
it’s all orange and then the ocean. You’re
going to have to do more to convince me
this is a sign of the impending okay-ness
of everything.

…for their worm shall not die…

Finally! Something
for the worms!


God Wrestler: a poem for every Torah Portion by Rick LupertLos 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 22 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 “Beautiful Mistakes” (Rothco Press, May 2018) 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.

The Divine Ink of Forever – A Poem for Haftarah Eikev by Rick Lupert

You have to take the good with the bad.
The ups with the downs. The sickness with the health
The exile with the occupation.

You have to understand sometimes
you’ll spend time apart, sometimes you’ll
spend time together when you’d rather be apart.

Sometimes, the two of you in the same room
is better than a free chocolate fountain. Better than
a perpetual pool-side vacation.

You have to know sometimes you’ll feel abandoned
when it’s really just a matter of scheduling. Sometimes
you’ll want more of the air to breathe yourself

and there’s the other party taking up their
share of oxygen in the very same room. Sometimes
you’ll have to change the diaper when you were

the last one to change the diaper and you were
sure it couldn’t possibly have been your turn.
This is a partnership. This is ongoing.

It couldn’t be any more forever than this.
That ring on your finger, that pillar of smoke
you followed in the desert. That Ketubah

you signed is still hanging and you can see it
on the wall, all the way back home, all the way
from this exile, all the way reminding you

that ink you used – It’s divine.
It never erases.
It never will.


God Wrestler: a poem for every Torah Portion by Rick LupertLos 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 22 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 “Beautiful Mistakes” (Rothco Press, May 2018) 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.

And Now I Know There are Fields of Cucumbers Somewhere – A Poem for Haftarah Devarim by Rick Lupert

The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz

Everyone has a father, or had a father
who hopes they’ll grow up to match or
increase their success. Little did Amoz
know his son would have a whole book
named after him we’d be reading for
thousands of years after his own children
were gone.

An ox knows his owner and a donkey his master’s crib

…but Israel seems to have trouble
remembering the great Father in the sky
who, literally, laid down the law for us to
read and refer to on the daily.

And the daughter of Zion shall be left like a
hut in a vineyard, like a lodge in a cucumber field

It never occurred to me there were entire fields
of cucumbers, but now I realize there couldn’t
be any other way. I understand the isolation implied
by stationing oneself in a lodge in the middle of
a cucumber field, but I’m having trouble wanting
to do anything else.

You shall no longer bring vain meal-offerings,
it is smoke of abomination to Me;

We keep stopping by the House of the Book
with our offerings, like the modern day Jews
who show up only on Yom Kippur with the
cutest baby goats we can find only to learn
it’s not working anymore. The Divine is
not seeing past the bribe. Is not willing to
erase the behavioral debt.

Your New Moons and your appointed seasons
My soul hates, they are a burden to Me

This isn’t good news. Wasn’t it You who
made the moon, and us who just waits for it
to show up every night? This is the kind of
paradigm shift that shakes the foundation
that makes us sit up in our sins
that makes a Jerusalem fall.


God Wrestler: a poem for every Torah Portion by Rick LupertLos 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 22 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 “Beautiful Mistakes” (Rothco Press, May 2018) 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.

Ancient DNA – A Poem for Haftarah Pinchas by Rick Lupert

When I had not yet formed you in the womb, I knew you
Jeremiah 1:5

Jeremiah – still, still, still not a bullfrog
afraid of his Father, cowers like a child
afraid the words that will emerge from
his mouth, will be the words of a child,

has forgotten Who put the words in there
has forgotten Father has known him
since the womb, since before the womb.
A bond formed by an incomprehensible

fusion of holy DNA. Jeremiah, the
forever child, sees the almond tree
Father planted, sees the bubbling pot.
Sees the trouble brewing in the north.

Is given the confidence to prevail there.
And so too it is with our children.
Our children who we know since
before they the womb. Our children

whose words we parse like scientists.
Our children whose DNA is our DNA.
We just travelled through the south,
through cities our northern friends said

we should boycott, whose people we
found to be more friendly than family
only to arrive home and reacquaint

ourselves with the ancient trouble
in the north. Trust your ancient DNA
when you go to where you go.
The north shall rise again.


God Wrestler: a poem for every Torah Portion by Rick LupertLos 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 22 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 “Beautiful Mistakes” (Rothco Press, May 2018) 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.

I am a Remnant of Jacob – A Poem for Haftarah Balak by Rick Lupert

I am a remnant of Jacob.
His blood and flesh, part of
my blood and flesh.

I see him in my toenails and
whenever I need a bandaid.
I am a remnant of Jacob.

Whenever I go to Temple
I begin to see how I can
piece him back together.

I am a remnant of Jacob.
I’ve got Egypt and Canaan
coming out of my nostrils.

I’ve got memories of
cities destroyed for my kin
the other remnants of Jacob.

I am a remnant of Jacob.
I don’t know from graven images.
If you ask me to do sorcery

I wouldn’t know where to begin.
I am a remnant of Jacob.
I hold memories of promises

to be lifted above my oppressors
to have my enemies vanquished
to be made like rain upon the soil.

I am remnant of Jacob.
Call me Jacob when you see me.
I’ll know what you mean.


God Wrestler: a poem for every Torah Portion by Rick LupertLos 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 22 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 “Beautiful Mistakes” (Rothco Press, May 2018) 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.

The Globalist Strikes Again – A Poem for Haftarah Chukat by Rick Lupert

In the midst of the troubled centuries
After we arrived in the promised land
Before a king arose to organize us all

We were still figuring out our borders
Using our theological claims to orchestrate
the ongoing holy land-grab.

Our God, the One God is better than
your god, the no-god. I can’t imagine
telling my Van Nuys neighbor

I’ll be taking your house now.
Leave the door unlocked, and try not
to mess up the lawn on your way out.

Wasn’t it enough we were taken out of
slavery? Isn’t freedom enough of a gift?
Why do we need what’s theirs?

And now, thousands of years later
I’m thinking of of Jephthah – The man
with too many h’s in his name.

The man who you don’t want to set loose
in a Palestinian neighborhood, lest he
return with the keys to their homes

and an airspace filled with flying rocks.
Nothing is simple about the details.
Except the one in which we are all

flesh and blood, no matter which side
of the human-drawn lines we are on.
I think of this as I fly over the

vast empty spaces of the world and
watch the news about how people
still can’t get along.

I’m sorry your family didn’t want you
Jephthah. Every little boy deserves
to be nurtured.

The globalist in me prays for
an atlas without country names.
A world without passports.

The primary human interaction
holding hands…everyone given
all they need.


God Wrestler: a poem for every Torah Portion by Rick LupertLos 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 22 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 “Beautiful Mistakes” (Rothco Press, May 2018) 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.

The Second Election – A Poem for Haftarah Korach by Rick Lupert

When the election was not convincing

When the litmus test is whether or not
he stole a donkey

When thunderstorms had to be brought in

When the words peace and slaughter
appear in the same sentence

When a physical king is installed to
separate us from the divine

When the ancient chads are hanging

When we need to be convinced again
Someone is on our side

When our candidates have not robbed us
or oppressed us

When we have to check our hands to
see if they’re still full

When the wheat calls to us to
rip it out of the ground

When the thunder is so frightening
we ask to not die

When we have done all the evil and
are still met with a heart
bigger than a holy land

Then, and only then will a human
occupy the palace
speak on our behalf
make the rain go away


God Wrestler: a poem for every Torah Portion by Rick LupertLos 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 22 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 “Beautiful Mistakes” (Rothco Press, May 2018) 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.

The Woman Who Lived in a Wall – A Poem for Haftarah Shelach by Rick Lupert

In the fields of oppression
thousands of years after the fact
they sang of the famous battle

Joshua, Jericho…and inside
those walls that came down
a righteous woman

Shielding our inside men
from the king’s would-be captors.
She paid attention to the news

Heard the tale of the parted sea
The lands whose inhabitants had
melted away.

She knew which horse to bet on.
Our secret agents hid on the roof
covered in stalks of flax.

Sent the counter agents
to the river, chasing phantom spies.
A debt paid with a scarlet thread

meant to work like ram’s blood
during a flyover. A life for a life.
Go tell it to the mountain.

Then to Joshua.
Joshua whose face knew Moses.
Joshua would fight the battle.

The battle that still
comes out of our smallest lips
like a song.


God Wrestler: a poem for every Torah Portion by Rick LupertLos 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 22 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 “Beautiful Mistakes” (Rothco Press, May 2018) 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.

No-one’s Out of Order When the Lord is Your Lawyer – A Poem for Haftarah Behaalotecha by Rick Lupert

This is the Holy mashup between
Law and Order, and Project Runway
we’ve all been waiting for.

The Lord God, Adonai, Holiest of holies
doing time as a trial lawyer, argues
in favor of the laws that

wouldn’t exist without Her, Him, It,
They, Them, Spirit, One, Guru, Fire,
Trial Lawyer in the sky.

Joshua on trial for failing to
dress up for the occasion. Covered
in filthy garments. Accused of

breaches of decorum, visual civility,
lack of respect via no-time to do
the laundry. Might smell too.

The Solicitor on High waves a
magic finger and Joshua is like
a newborn who the nurses

have taken away and polished.
A headdress to rival a Pope’s
laid on his head. (Maybe this

is where those who dress the Popes
got the idea?) It’s divine trickery,
changing the accused’s situation

in the middle of the trial. But if
You’re the One who makes the rules
surely you can bend them too.

There are bigger fish to fry.
And by fish we mean Jerusalem and
maintaining the eternal favor.

A strange candelabra to build
with seven tubes and seven lights.
You may not know what it is

but if you ask, the angels will ask
if you are asking what you are asking.
Be humble about it.

They just want to make sure
you’ve asked the right question.
So you have the information you need.


God Wrestler: a poem for every Torah Portion by Rick LupertLos 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 22 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 “Beautiful Mistakes” (Rothco Press, May 2018) 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.

Good News Comes from Angels – A Poem for Haftarah Naso by Rick Lupert

The unnamed wife of Manoah is the real story.
Just referred to as his wife or the woman.

She is the one whose barren womb
is filled with prophecy.

She is the one who must abstain for
months from wine and

all the good stuff, while her gift,
her burden, the boy whose hair

must never be cut, grows inside her.
By default she calls her husband

when the angel arrives. I’d mention
his name again, but, hardly seems fair.

She is the one who comforts
her frightened husband when the

angel exits through the fire.
The angel who never

told his name. The angel who
refused to eat. She is the real story –

This women, this angel, this
protector of life, who

met a stranger in a field, who
called him an angel.

Good news comes from strangers.
Open your doors, women and men.

You never know when your visitor
is one of them.


God Wrestler: a poem for every Torah Portion by Rick LupertLos 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 22 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 “Beautiful Mistakes” (Rothco Press, May 2018) 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.

Forbidden Love in the Desert – A Poem for Haftarah Bamidbar by Rick Lupert

In the desert I spent forty years and
they tried to count me like grains of sand.

In the desert I was tempted by gold and fire.
I became a harlot and its male equivalent.

In the desert I was called to task and had
all my clothes removed.

In the desert I couldn’t take the heat. I rushed
to those who had given me bread.

In the desert my way was blocked by thorns.
My children never knew their fathers.

In the desert my corn and wine were taken.
This happened when it was supposed to.

In the desert everyone saw what I really was.
The fig trees were laid to waste because of me.

In the desert the names of false gods were removed
from my mouth. They were not spoken again.

In the desert the sand and the Sky reconciled
We got married again. I was just one grain of sand.

You can imagine who the Sky was. We said
this is forever this time.

In the desert we’ve since put up buildings, but
we still live in the desert. We still struggle with

our Number One. In the desert we stray, but
we always come back.


God Wrestler: a poem for every Torah Portion by Rick LupertLos 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 22 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 “Beautiful Mistakes” (Rothco Press, May 2018) 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.

The Lord Now Offers Dialysis – A Poem for Haftarah Behar-Bechukotai by Rick Lupert

Only lies have our fathers
handed down to us

Jeremiah’s in a sour mood again and
our behavior is the issue. My father was
absent so I can’t say this has been
handed down. He’s back now so I’m
not saying I need sympathy either.

Can a man make gods for himself,
and they are no gods

What can’t we do with today’s technology?
I could make a statue, a meal, a building,
a God. I have the gift of everything’s possible.
Though what I do in my tent by myself
has little effect on anyone else.

you have kindled fire in
My nostrils that shall burn forever.

And for this I apologize. I can only
imagine the discomfort, or at least the
mundanity of the same scent, every day
until the end of Your nostrils. A familial fire
breeds ashes, and there is a history worth
not repeating.

I, the Lord, search the heart,
test the kidneys

There is so much more to the science
of creation than Your magic. Oh Holy Doctor
oh First Responder, oh Sacred Dialysis,
oh they never mention the capillaries
at the synagogue; But here You are
confirming them.

The cuckoo calls
but has not laid

Would someone please get the cuckoo
another cuckoo of its preferred gender.
Is there an app for this? In what direction
does the cuckoo swipe? Would someone please
answer the cuckoo when it calls?

Heal me, O Lord, then shall I be healed;
help me, then I shall be helped

I realize I have to keep my part of the
bargain. Your emissaries keep telling me
I’m not keeping my part of the bargain.
That’s why I’m reading this Book. Every word,
every day, until my eyes no longer work.


God Wrestler: a poem for every Torah Portion by Rick LupertLos 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 “Beautiful Mistakes” (Rothco Press, May 2018) 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.

I Hear the Third Temple is Hiring – A Poem for Haftarah Emor by Rick Lupert

I’m going through the list of things required of priests
for jobs in the third temple and realize I’m, probably,
not going to get the job.

I’m okay with not letting my hair go wild, but that
definitely rules out my son who, if you mention
the word haircut is ready to join the other team.

(the team of people who don’t cut their hair.)
I’m okay with not going near a corpse. Honestly
I have so little to talk about with dead people.

But with wine so intertwined with my every
Jewish movement, I don’t think I can roll with
its prohibition during priestly duties.

I’m okay with not eating things that died of
natural causes, but to be fair, I already make
a point of not eating things that were killed.

I’m not sure I’m okay with wearing a linen hat
instead of a wool one. Just feels like we’re getting
awfully picky with the uniform.

I can’t say it’s an issue for me to only marry a
descendent of the House of Israel as I think I’ve
already got that covered. Do they take

married people into the priesthood? I don’t see
anything about that in the job description.
I’m a little concerned about the salary too.

I see the point about not receiving anything but
God. I’m all for God’s presence but I’m not sure
the bank will accept that as a mortgage payment

and, though I’ve never tried to buy a sandwich
using only the Lord as collateral, I’m not sure that
would go well. Is that like a higher level of Apple Pay?

Finally, it seems like it may be a risk taking this job at all.
I don’t have the heart to tell the search committee, there
may never be a third Temple.

And even if there was, if they’re going to put it
where I think they’re going to put it, I’m really not
willing to relocate. Can I telecommute?

My third temple comes when people lift their voices.
It comes when song spills from their breaths.
This is the holy place I will build.


God Wrestler: a poem for every Torah Portion by Rick LupertLos 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 22 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 “Beautiful Mistakes” (Rothco Press, May 2018) 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.

A Conversation – A Poem for Haftarah Acharei Mot-Kedoshim by Rick Lupert

Did I not bring Israel up
from the land of Egypt?

I think that was You.
They keep telling me
over and over that
it was You.

I will destroy [the sinful kingdom]
from upon the face of the earth.

Is there a way we could teach
without destroying?

I will not destroy the
house of Jacob

I have every confidence this
delights the descendants of
the house of Jacob, and
terrifies the missing descendants
of everyone else.

I will scatter the house of Israel
among all the nations

I know you mean this as
a punishment, but it feels
kind of briar patch to me.
There’s nothing I like more than
to see the spectacles of
other nations.

I will close up [David’s] breaches,
I will raise up its ruins

We’ve all been wanting to
say something about David’s
open breaches, but no-one has
had the balls. As for the ruins,
thank You for that too. Construction
costs have made the project
inaccessible to us.

Behold days are coming, says the Lord,
that the plowman shall meet the reaper

I had a feeling about those two
and I can’t wait to see what comes
from their collaboration.

and the mountains shall drip sweet wine,
and all the hills shall melt

How will this affect the property values?
We’re so fond of the hills and…well, I
guess it will make the bicycles easier
to ride. Would it be alright if we
gathered the wine drippings for
our own purposes?

and they shall plant vineyards
and drink their wine

I didn’t mean to interrupt. I see You were
just getting to the details about the wine.

and they shall no longer be uprooted from
upon their land, that I have given them

I’m ready to lay down my hat.
I’m ready to put my feet in the dirt.
I’m ready to re-familiarize myself with this gift.
I can’t thank You enough.
This is the system the banks
never told me about, but my
father-in-law has been speaking of
this whole time.


God Wrestler: a poem for every Torah Portion by Rick LupertLos 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.