February 27, 2020

God Wrestler – A poem for Parsha Vayishlach

Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel,
because you have commanding power

After a night of stranger wrestling
After the he donkeys and she donkeys

were wrapped in fraternal paper to
make up for the inadequacy of the stew

After the wives were sent across the river
After the unnamed wrestler caused

a permanent limp with just a finger.
After the unnamed wrestler glowed

until the break of dawn
until the break of dawn

After Jacob kicked holy butt
After Jacob told the stranger his name

After the stranger was coy about his name.
Then, Jacob got a new name

Then, Jacob became the wrestler
Then, Jacob became Israel

And the rest of us
after the donkeys

and the wives, and the river
Never forgot that name

put it on our business cards
Speak it out loud whenever

we’re asked
who we are.


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.

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