September 21, 2019

Keep Your Banjos on Your Own Knees, Alabama – A poem for parsha Emor

They shall not make bald patches on their heads, nor shall they
shave the edge of their beard, nor shall they make cuts in their flesh.

What’s an up and coming priest supposed to
do at a party if not shave themselves partially bald

in between drinking games and the ever-popular
trimming off the edge of their beard hazing ritual?

I’ve seen rabbis with tattoos. I’ve seen rings
dangling out of the flesh of the holiest people.

I agree we shouldn’t cut ourselves, but a little
individual expression can light the way to holiness

rather than be the stumbling block they’re
making it out to be.

They shall not marry a woman who is a prostitute or who is desecrated,
and they shall not marry a woman who is divorced from her husband

Oh, Alabama, this is where you got all your ideas.
This ancient text, written by ancient men who

left no room for exceptions
of any kind.

A woman divorced is defiled
A woman raped is defiled

A woman who is a widow is defiled
A woman who is not a virgin is defiled

A priest shall not marry a woman who is defiled,
as if his holiness could possibly supersede hers.

Oh, Alabama, who am I, a man, to
comment on the holiness of women?

And the answer, Alabama, is no-one.
So keep your banjos on your own knees,

Alabama…you man…
you unholy man.


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 23 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 “Hunka Hunka Howdee!” (Poems written in Memphis, Nashville, and Louisville – Ain’t Got No Press, May 2019) 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.