This was [the sum of] the children… the firstborn of Israel,
…all who were fit to go out to the army.
It’s a census year and I’ve already given
the government all the information.
They know the number of souls
quarantined in these walls.
They know the color of our skin,
our ages and, through extrapolation, they could
probably figure out who is the tallest.
I don’t know why they’d need that,
but many of the ways of this particular
group of people who fancy themselves
in charge are a mystery to me
when they’re not making me angry.
It’s not all bad. They sent us all checks
with a note that essentially read
we’re so sorry you’re stuck inside
buy yourself something nice, or
maybe groceries. I suppose they
wouldn’t have known where to send
the check, or that we existed at all
as people who should be sent a check
if I hadn’t taken the census.
Does one take a census?
Or answer it? Or fill it in?
Since the census only comes
once every ten years, shouldn’t
we throw it a party? Can I put up
I can tell you this, even though they
know who I am, I’m not going into the army.
Even though I’ve aged out and
they don’t want me. I’m not going.
I am counting and counted.
Like my ancestors an entire history ago.
Setting up civilization at the bottom
of a mountain. It’s about time I
used the word mountain again.
Los 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.