Photo from Pexels

Art


Art is like the sleep
a mourner resorts to
on the first night without his beloved.
In the morning he must come back to the world
to empty the closet of her blouses and belts
and give them to strangers.


Yehoshua November is the author of two books of poetry, “God’s Optimism,” winner of the Main Street Rag Book Award and a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and “Two Worlds Exist,” a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award and the Paterson Poetry Prize.

7 haiku for Torah Portion Pinchas by Rick Lupert (Is it Kosher if I tune my guitar?)


I
After the foibles
of the Midianites – time
to do some smitin’

II
Nothing stops us from
making babies – Over six
hundred thousand now

III
Plots are divided
We all get a piece of a
land we’ve never seen

IV
Moses, not long for
this world, endows Joshua
with a promotion

V
Summertime….and it’s
time to lean more about the
laws of sacrifice

VI
Don’t burn the fruit – Don’t
put the goat in the fruit bowl
So many details

VII
Is tuning guitars
considered mundane work ask
all the song leaders.


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.

7 Haiku for Parsha Balak by Rick Lupert (Ohmygod a talking donkey!)


I
Meanwhile the king
of Moab tries to hire a
wizard to curse us

II
The wizard agrees
to go – but only nice words
will leap from his tongue

III
A talking donkey
scolds the wizard – You heard me
a talking donkey

IV
Balak thinks Balaam
doesn’t quite understand the
mission – Curse strike one

V
My family rises
like lions. Just try and curse
a lion – You can’t

VI
The curse turns into
words I say every morning –
or am supposed to

VII
Yeah but the world will
end says the failed curser who
wants to seem useful


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.

7 haiku for Parsha Chukat (The Red Cow Cures All) by Rick Lupert


I
It just takes one dose
of perfectly red cow to
cure what ails you

II
Forty years go by –
What happened during those years
was not written down

III
You can understand
the hesitation when told
to speak to a rock

IV
Howdy neighbor – Mind
if we pass through? No problem –
We will go around

V
You have to admire
Storytellers who kill off
major characters

VI
This is where all God’s
water comes from – Spring up, oh
well – and sing to it

VII
I think we will pass
through after all – that Land is
forty years coming


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.

7 haiku for Parsha Korach (my almond blossoms are bigger than yours) by Rick Lupert


I
Moses heard and fell
on his face, it says – It was
all very slapstick

II
The future will be
decided on the scent of
rebellious incense

III
Does killing all the
dissenters always have to
be the go to plan?

IV
It’s become clear I’ve
underestimated the
value of incense

V
Always men and our
contest of staffs – My almond
blossoms are biggest

VI
And the descendants
of Aaron shall forever
live in apartments

VII
Levites – Your temple’s
professional staff – Give them
the best from your vats


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.

7 haiku for parsha Shelach (it’s our own personal fringe festival) by Rick Lupert


I
Spy instructions: Check
out the land we may invade –
Also, bring back fruit

II
Any excuse to
go back to Egypt – Life was
hard but familiar

III
Once again God is
talked out of killing us all
by a mere human

IV
Seize the day or you
could end up wandering the
desert forty years

V
A recipe to
serve bull to God is
here if you need it

VI
Even the Lord likes
the smell of homemade bread as
much as the next guy

VII
These hanging fringes
keep the light of the righteous
always by my side


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.

7 haiku for parsha Beha’alotcha by Rick Lupert (Apparently you can have too much quail)


I
All the things in place.
Levites shaved head to toe. Time
to leave the mountain

II
Now the Levites are
hallowed, because the first born
built a golden calf

III
Oh good, there is a
second Passover in case
we need more Matzah

IV
A lifted cloud says
it’s time to go – Importance
of weather reports

V
Freedom has its one
year anniversary – Just
decades more to go

VI
Let the meat-centric
complaining begin – Not to
mention the tough walk

VII
She may have talked smack
but a sister is family –
Please God, heal her


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.

7 haiku for parsha Naso by Rick Lupert (in which everyone brings the same gift to the party)


Bonus introductory Haiku

Kick back with some wine
unless you’re a Nazir – This
the longest Parsha

I
And so forever
the Gershonites will carry
the curtains around

II
Numbers from last week
spill into this week – I was
told there’d be no math

III
Our obligation
to vocalize our sins came
before Catholic booths

IV
This Priestly Blessing
from ancient desert to our
millennial hands

V
Everyone brought the
same gift to the party – Good
then – Awkward today

VI
Seven more people
showed up with identical
gifts – and no receipts

VII
Finding God proving
difficult – look for the voice
between two angels


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.

Photo by T. Anthony Bell, Fort Lee Public Affairs

Shabbat prayer, on the occasion of war


beginning with a line from Siegfried Sassoon

A flare went up; the shining whiteness spread,
as though it were a match bright enough
to light the room, but not so bright it snuffed
the residue of darkness overhead.
There once was darkness signifying calm —
our candles glowed
beside the window, the nights did not explode,
or bullets ricochet, or firebombs
turn streets to ash. We drank a glass of wine.
The night served as the complement to day,
like salt on something sweet. And, in this way,
we tasted syrup mixed with brine.
And, in this way, we learned a prayer
that joined the shadow with the shining flare.


“Shabbat Prayer, on the Occasion of War” appeared in “Stateside” (Northwestern University Press, 2010). Jehanne Dubrow is the author of  the poetry collections “The Arranged Marriage” (University of New Mexico Press,  2015) and “Red Army Red” (Northwestern University Press, 2012). Her sixth book of poems, “Dots & Dashes,” won the Crab Orchard Review Open Competition and will be published by Southern Illinois University Press this year. She is an associate professor of creative writing at the University of North Texas.

7 haiku for parsha Bamidbar by Rick Lupert (in which everyone counts and is counted)


I
Four books in and we’re
counting everyone because
everyone does count

II
The biggest desert
festival – God headlines for
six hundred thousand

III
We hope you like the
direction you’ve been given –
yours for forty years

IV
Tabernacle chores
given to post golden-calf
Levites – Second chance

V
You’ve made the inner
circle Levites! North, south, east
west. Holy roadies.

VI
Attention newborns
You need not apply – Counting
just one month and up

VII
It takes a skilled son
of Kohath to properly
wrap up this Holy

7 Haiku for Torah Portion Behar-Bechukotai by Rick Lupert (There are a LOT of Jewish laws)


I
Every seven years
free the slaves, or better yet
don’t have slaves at all.

II
This land is your land
this land is my land, but no
this land is God’s land.

III
Property values
differ inside and outside
the walls. Real estate.

IV
All we have to do
is follow the laws of God
to get many perks.

V
It doesn’t look so
good if we reject those laws.
Let’s start with disease.

VI
And the Lord spoke to
Moses, laying out contracts
no lawyer present.

VII
Be strong with these laws
these many laws and we are
sure to be strengthened.


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.

Praying to God’s Smaller Face: Parashat Behar-Bechukotai


Parashat Behar-Bechukotai (Leviticus 25:1-27:34)

In this week’s Torah portion, it is written: I broke the pegs of your yoke and led you upright. (Leviticus 26:13).

On this verse, Rabbi Dov Ber of Mezeritch (one of the early leaders of Chasidism) commented: “An animal walks with its face to the earth, for earthiness and materiality is all that it knows. Man walks upright, for man was born to gaze upon and aspire to the heavens.”

In the ancient threefold priestly blessing, there are two mentions of God’s face. When I think of the first mention, “May God’s Face shine upon you and be gracious to you,” I think of that face shining like a sun, radiant and coaxing you to grow, drying your tears and painting your world gold. It is incomprehensibly grand, and yet, even from that royal height, that face is looking at you! With favor!

In the second mention, “May God’s Face lift up to you, and grant you peace,” I imagine that face small, such that you have to look down, searching the earth, amid the tiny things, the building blocks of our biosphere, and from that place of the itty-bitty, that place of single-celled life and tiny blinks of hope, from there the face lifts up to you, because you are grand and a wonder to behold!

In most of our prayers and theology, we focus on the first face, the face of the heavens. When I wrote this prayer, “Prayer for a Cure for Cancer,” I wrote it to the smaller face.I wrote it facing the earth, addressing earthiness and physicality, calling upon the God of small things, for the same God who took us out of Egypt amid signs and wonders also mended our sandals all along that long journey.

 

Prayer for a Cure for Cancer

We are sometimes mistaken
when we fear that which is big.
Godzilla, King Kong
Asteroid, Armageddon
At least we can see it when it comes.
We are sometimes mistaken
when we fear that which is big.
Change, birth,
death, love.
At least we can throw our arms wide around it.

God of big things,
God of great deeds,
God of the drama of the Exodus,
the parting of the seas,
the fire on the mountain,
the creation out of nothing,
we are wonderstruck by You,
dazzled by big things.

But are You not also the God of the small,
God of the turning leaf,
God of the grain of sand,
God of the passing shadow,
God of the rotting fruit?

I address You now
as God of the small,
because sometimes we are mistaken
when we fear that which is big,
when that which is most frightening of all
is small,
the size of a melanomic cell,
the size of a metastatic pinpoint,
the size of a golf ball,
the size of a grapefruit
growing where there is no tree.

That immutable danger
that makes us victims of our own
soft tissue, lymphnodes, and blood,
that devastating fear
that stalks us out of passing shadows,
out of the mist of pesticide,
tar, benzene, p.c.b. toxicities,
out of the glow of gamma-rays, x-rays, ultraviolet rays, aluminum foil,
out of the silicone, the tobacco, the skin of an apple,
the high saturated fats, the low fiber,
the vegetable hair dyes,
out of nothing,
out of nothing.
You are good at that God,
Creation out of nothing.
I pray to You now, God of small things,
God of miracles-barely-perceived
by the naked, mortal eye,
I pray to You now, God of small things,
for a spontaneous global
remission.
For erasure of that word that lurks darkly
behind our words.
When Moses’ sister was struck
Moses spoke five small words to You.
El na rafa na la.
God please heal her please.
You answered, and You healed her.

Whether you are looking down or looking up, whether your world has narrowed with constraints of health and age, or your world has widened with possibility, may you feel the warmth of God’s smile upon you, and may the pegs of your yoke be broken that you may walk upright, with dignity, and gaze upon and aspire to the heavens.

7 Haiku for Parsha Emor by Rick Lupert (again with the showbreads…)


I
Stay pure, priests. No dead
people. And for the High Priest
we’ll need a virgin.

II
It feels like the guy
with mismatched limbs gets a tough
break in this story.

III
Rejoice animals!
You will not be castrated!
No ugly ones though.

IV
and for the rest of
us, there are holy days to
observe and to count

V
We still atone but
how do we offer a fire
to the One above?

VI
After the heavy
we go into booths. The air
and sky shelter us.

VII
Twelve showbreads on the
Shabbat table. I hope the
judges pick the best.


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.

7 haiku for Parsha Acharei-Mot-Kedoshim by Rick Lupert (resist your urge to combine animals)


I
Only the High Priest
has ultimate back stage pass,
Holy of Holies.

II
On the seventh month
on the tenth of that month, it’s
self-affliction time.

III
You know it’s pretty
serious, when they tell you
again – don’t eat blood.

IV
It’s not a good time
to bring up gay marriage. The
Torah steers us wrong.

V
As exciting as
a llama-leopard might be
you may not make one.

VI
When one says they feel
descended from Abraham
we love them like kin.

VII
So many things to
do and not to do. Bottom
line is be holy.


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.

7 haiku for Parsha Tazria-Metzora by Rick Lupert (Plus a comforting video that involves potatoes)


I
How can a birth make
a woman unclean? When life
begins, it’s holy.

II
Priests with no degree
in medicine use their eyes
to divide the sick.

III
Road Trip! cried the man
with the discolored skin as
he left the city.

IV
Any excuse to
shave my entire body.
Plus give me two birds.

V
Of course if you can’t
afford two birds, discount fowl
are available.

VI
May have to tear down
little boxes when covered
with ticky-tacky.

VII
In encouraging news:
if you jump in the pool, all
will be forgiven.


And here’s a friendly poem video that focuses on potatoes which I hope you’ll find comforting after the imagery in Tazria-Metzora:

New Potato by Rick Lupert


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.

7 haiku for Parsha Shemini by Rick Lupert (Rejoice, there is no rice that is forbidden!)


I
So much to give up
before the thing we want will
descend upon us.

II
Look, up on the sky,
A cloud of holiness. We
could use that today.

III
I can see the Lord
is pro-the death penalty.
Sons burst into flames.

IV
These words read like the
menu at Kentucky Fried
Chicken – Legs and thighs.

V
Got to know when to
hold ‘em, Aaron tells Moses
explaining a sin.

VI
Line up, animals!
Some of you can be eaten,
and some of you can’t.

VII
Snakes and insects on
the forbidden foods list, but
not Forbidden Rice.


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.

Next Year in Jerusalem – a poem for the waning moments of Passover by Rick Lupert


As long as I’ve been alive
the words next year in Jerusalem
have left my mouth

at the end of every
Passover seder my ancient bones
have reclined at.

My bones in New Jersey cried
next year in Jerusalem and the very
next year I was in Florida.

My bones in Florida cried
next year in Jerusalem and the very
next year I was in Syracuse.

My bones in Syracuse cried
next year in Jerusalem and the very
next year I was in California.

My bones in California cried
next year in Jerusalem and the very
next year I was in Allentown.

We’re holding steady in
Pennsylvania, still crying for the
holy land.

I could just buy a ticket but
the rest of the family has declared
Jerusalem to be in the Rust Belt.

We don’t even gather in
the east end of the house.
This is the funk of diaspora.

This is the Jerusalem we
create in our North American
living rooms.

This is the holy city
whose golden bricks I see
whenever our eyes intertwine.

I’m going to keep crying
next year in Jerusalem.
A promise kept

in whatever city
that cushions
these old bones.


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.

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.

7 Haiku for Parsha Tzav (where the priests learn to love meat) by Rick Lupert


I
Before anything
clean the ashes up from the
altar. Day begins.

II
Don’t forget to tip
your priest well. They can’t live on
all this meat alone.

III
In case I wasn’t
clear last week, do not eat blood.
It just ain’t Kosher.

IV
You know you’ve arrived
when your costume designer
is Moses himself.

V
Not a good day to
be a bull. Oh, how complex
to welcome our priests.

VI
Unleavened bread and
a ram’s thigh – recipe for
sanctification.

VII
Seven days covered
in oil. Both a fantasy
and mandate from God.


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.

7 Haiku for Parsha Vayikra (in which your sin is dealt with) by Rick Lupert


I
Any good book starts
with a long discussion of
animal innards.

II
A fistful of fine
flour – we’ve come so far in
how we measure things.

III
Deep fried, gluten free,
and no honey – This is how
the Lord likes to eat.

IV
Reading this is like
going to medical school.
P.S. Don’t eat blood.

V
We use every part
of the disassembled bull
to atone for sin.

VI
Why do animals
have to pay for human sin?
He sprinkles the blood.

VII
Why do animals
have to pay for the ancient
sin of Jewish guilt?


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.

14 haiku for Parsha Vayakhel-Pekudei (involving a major construction project) by Rick Lupert


Vayakhel

I
An all staff meeting.
Building instructions given.
Not on Saturday.

II
This tabernacle
funded by all the people.
The first Kickstarter.

III
A miracle! This
over-funded project is
with the artists now.

IV
Here in the dream lab
curtains are connected and
loops of wool appear.

V
Planks and sockets and
cubits. This is what it takes
to build a Mishkan.

VI
The holiness is
in the details. A golden
Menorah appears.

VII
Who doesn’t love to
see a project completed.
Now, the inspectors.

Pekudei

I
Let’s name all our kids
Bezalel, so that they may
become artists too.

II
Priests looking for the
latest accessories – look
no further: ephod.

III
Pomegranates and
bells. Twisted blue. This runway
will be off the hook.

IV
Laying out the wares
Moses gives them a blessing
for a job well done.

V
With all the pieces
the Mishkan is almost here.
Assembly required.

VI
Like a complex set
of Ikea instructions
Moses builds it all.

VII
A cloud comes. Not one
of gloom and rain. This is the
cloud that strengthens us.


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.

7 Haiku for Parsha Ki Tisa (God’s got “back”) by Rick Lupert


I
An artist hired
for a major project. Here
is my half shekel.

II
Three thousand idol
worshippers executed.
Lesson of gold calf.

III
Moses is selfish.
He tries to sign God to an
exclusive contract.

IV
God’s got back…and that
is all any human will
be able to see.

V
The One with thirteen
merciful attributes has
got our stiff necked backs.

VI
You should not cook a
kid in its mother’s milk. Don’t
worry. They mean goats.

VII
Moses comes down the
mountain with the new tablets.
Hide the molten gods.


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.

A Poem For Purim in Which Our Happiness Gets Bigger by Rick Lupert


It is the Hebrew month of Adar and my
happiness is getting bigger.

That’s not meant to sound dirty.
It’s a traditional tradition, as old as Purim itself

as old as eating cookies shaped like human ears
as old as wearing Venetian masks

I think Purim is where Mardi Gras got the idea.
As Purim approaches, our happiness gets bigger.

On this day we march down the Bourbon Streets
of our lives, imbibing whatever it takes

to blur the lines between what’s wrong and what’s right.
(or what’s left if you’re feeling politically charged)

Hoping, no mandated, to see how close we are
to evil, and still land on the good side of the line.

I have to be honest, when I first heard the word
Megillah, I was disappointed to find out it didn’t

have anything to do with Gorillas. The cartoon of
my youth informing my understanding of Jewish History.

I’d always wanted a monkey of any kind and to
find out Purim only led to a cookie, was a tragedy

of King Kongian proportions. It was like someone
was saying Haman to me as loud as they could

next to my ear which I’m lucky enough to
still have attached. And can we all just agree,

There should be a much higher proportion of
chocolate Hamentaschen? (no offense fruit)

This is all getting a bit silly, but that’s Purim.
Straddling the line between good and evil.

A dizzying balance to maintain. I’m standing
on one foot. Hoping the other one lands

in a respectable location. My happiness is
getting bigger. I’d draw you a picture, but

I’m out of time.


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.

7 Haiku for Parsha Tetzaveh by Rick Lupert


I
If you’ve seen Raiders
of the Lost Ark. A lot of
this is familiar.

II
Four rows of three stones
one for each tribe. Beware the
Breastplate of Judgement

III
If you do not like
to wear a uniform, then
don’t become a priest.

IV
If you put on the
uniform you should expect
a consecration.

V
If you, impending
priest, like sprinkles of blood you’ll
love this ritual.

VI
Burn the lamb, burn the
lamb. That’s twice a day. Do it
for the Holy One.

VII
All the incense they
used to build this place. It was
like Venice Boardwalk.


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.

7 Haiku for Parsha Terumah by Rick Lupert (Ladies and Gentleman the Showbread!)


I
Let them make for me
a sanctuary. The first
Jewish contractors.

II
This bread is so cool
it gets its own show. It’s still
in syndication.

III
Six golden fingers
will light the way. Don’t forget
the purple curtains.

IV
No wall on the east
side of the Tarbernacle.
Learn from that Orangy.

V
How many curtains
does it take to get to the
holy of holies?

VI
If you encounter
an altar with four horns. Odds
are God is close by.

VII
It is a good time
to invest in copper and
all materials.


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.

7 Haiku for Parsha Mishpatim by Rick Lupert (Treat your donkeys well.)


I
The Torah says let
your slaves go after six years.
I say don’t own slaves.

II
Eye for eye, tooth for
tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,
and so on and on.

III
Virgins. Animals.
So many rules on who you
can’t get jiggy with.

IV
You don’t have to tell
me twice to help the donkey
of my enemy.

V
I wonder if the
gluten free worry about
the unleavened feast.

VI
Anyone you meet
could be the one who was sent –
angel among us.

VII
Up he goes to write
down all that has happened and
all that will happen.


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.

7 Haiku for Parsha Yitro (it’s the really big show)


I
At Mount Sinai, a
family reunion. The
whole story is retold.

II
You can’t do it all
Jethro tells Moses.
Learn to delegate.

III
Moses chose men of
substance so they could judge the
people at all times.

IV
We’re finally at
the mountain, this kingdom of
princes and holies.

V
Are we prepared for
the thunder and lightning
of revelation?

VI
The big show begins.
We get a top ten list to
end all top ten lists.

VII
The sound and light show
left us shaken and afraid.
We were not prepared.


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.

7 Haiku for Parsha Beshalach – Just like at Universal Studios


I
If only they had
stopped and asked for directions.
Less than forty years.

II
Tough choice: Succumb to
approaching Egyptians or
walk into the sea.

III
Walls of water, and
a cloud pillar protects us
from the swords behind.

IV
Egyptians think the
space between water walls is
for them too. It’s not.

V
One of our oldest
traditions began in the
desert – complaining.

VI
Manna encased in
layers morning dew. A
sandwich from Heaven.

VII
If your parents said
not to talk to rocks, you should
refer them to God.


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.

An Uncensored Voice


I was a guest in the province
of notes. Carrying my fiddle and bow
I walked down the avenue of heavy oaks.
It was the morning the children left home
for good. I passed soldiers and hostages,
and came to a broad, whitewashed building
set on a gracious southern lawn.
An obsolete palace, home for lepers.
I listened to the nothing I’d been
and the nothing I’d done.
I heard the scratching of leaves and birds,
small sisterly voices moved by wind.
My unconscious life was floating back to me,
I was made to understand: it was god with a large G.
All I had to do was be still.


Judith Skillman’s new book is “Kafka’s Shadow,” Deerbrook Editions (2107).
Visit www.judithskillman.com.

7 Haiku for Parsha Bo – Sure, let’s put blood on the door.


I
No, Mister Pharaoh
You can not keep the children
as security.

II
First the locusts, then
a darkness, so pitch dark, it
embarrassed the night.

III
Maybe the cattle
in exchange for freedom? No
conditions at all.

IV
It will happen at
midnight, Pharaoh is warned. God
invents Rosh Chodesh.

V
I’d paint anything
on my door if it meant I
could live through the night.

VI
Midnight came and the
firstborn went. There’ll be no time
to let the bread rise.

VII
Remember this day
with nothing leavened and put signs
on your hands and eyes.


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.