January 19, 2020

I Dream of Setting My Pants on Fire – A poem for parsha Tzav

He shall then take off his garments
and put on other garments

This happens a lot in our house.
I only have one pair of jeans I have
any confidence in and, invariably,

I’m wearing them when my wife
comes along singing her weekly
laundry song. Are you going to

take those off so I can wash them
she’ll say. And I have no choice but
to take off my pants, and put on

other pants, lest the ones I’m wearing
begin to develop a consciousness.
Why don’t you buy a second pair

of pants she’ll say. She is the
high priestess of all the clothing
in our house. She knows when

one pair of pants, or any symbolic
garment should be burned at the altar.
As for me, I dream of setting my pants

on fire as an offering to the Lord.
Who am I kidding? I would never do that.
But I sure like to talk the talk.

A continuous fire shall burn upon the altar;
it shall not go out.

I mentioned in another poem, once,
about this same topic, that Morrissey
was obviously not the first person

who said there is a light and it never goes out.
So, obviously, there’s no need to say that again.
Feel free to skip to the third stanza.

Welcome to the third stanza where
we are still trying to keep our flame lit.
Walk into any house of holiness and

there is a light we’re hoping will
never go out. This is despite the
ongoing resurgence of other forces

we’ll call the opposite of light, that
keep trying to extinguish our flame.
But we resist, and persevere, and survive

and all the other words that keep us going
even though the custodian sometimes forgets
and turns off the switch that’s powering

the eternal flame. It’s okay, we’re a people
who always have a book of matches ready.
Not a single week goes by that we don’t

light a candle. Sometimes it’s to remember
someone else’s long gone light. Sometimes
it’s to greet the whole new world that comes

every time the sun sets on a Friday.
Welcome to the last stanza of this poem.
Watch it light up all the poems yet to come.

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 “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.

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