An ox or sheep you shall not slaughter it
and its offspring in one day.
When I was a boy I used to go fishing at
the Erie Canal in the heart of the Empire State.
I’ve already told you about how
I never ate the fish I caught but
did I mention the time another boy
who had disguised himself as a man
down by the canal, pointed his BB gun
at a tiny bird in a bush and pulled the trigger?
It fell to the ground, not quite dead and
in an act of what must have been mercy
he crushed it with his man boot until
it moved no more.
It felt unnecessary in all the possible ways.
I remember the last bird I intentionally ate
when I had barely popped out on the
other side of legality, but was still no taller
than a titmouse. It was thousands of miles
away from the memory of that canal bird
in the famous part of the golden state.
I remember thinking this is it.
I’m not a militant vegetarian (though I have
been known to orchestrate a coup if you
leave dishes out on the counter.) You can
eat meat in front of me without apologizing.
(To me anyway…its mother may never
forgive you.) I still crave the taste and I
consider the modern-day plant-based era
we find ourselves in to be a renaissance.
The Torah tells me I should not slaughter
an animal on the same day as its parent.
And I tell the Torah it’s not going to be an
issue for me, and then go to hug my cats
and the fish, and every bird I’ve ever known.
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 25 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 “The Tokyo-Van Nuys Express” (Poems written in Japan – Ain’t Got No Press, August 2020) 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.