February 27, 2020

Poem: Bo


A few months after we moved into our house
the ants felt bold enought to join us.
Their line from the back door to
the trash can, a plague that inspired us
to hire a monthly pest-control service.
We were like modern day Pharaohs
ignoring the miracles of the wilderness
in our quest to build a treasure city
in the heart of Van Nuys.
We haven’t seen them since.
But soon after the meal worms came, and
we had to learn to shut the front door quickly
so the moths, attracted to our light
wouldn’t join our inside festivities.
You can build a home in the desert.
But the desert will never let you forget
what you did.


It’s not like turning out the lights
or the altogether absence of electricity.
Or being in the wilderness where
the light of long dead stars
creates a natural majesty.
It is thick. It is palpable.
You can feel the nothing
with your eyes.
Even your torches
reveal only more nothing.
That is the darkness that came.
That is the darkness you never want.
Not even to sleep by.
A living death.
Nothing to see here.

Slaying of the First Born

You’d think, after the river turned to blood
after the cattle death, and
the wild beasts walking down Main Street
Pharaoh might have gotten the message.
After the frogs and the realization that
you can’t find a good skin doctor in Egypt.
The locusts, the darkness, should have
been enough to soften a heart.
I know if someone told me it was
find a new staff or my son would die
I’d be on Craig’s List, faster than you
could say Help Wanted.
It’s a stupid man who outlives his son,
who finds his kingdom filled only with
empty neighborhoods,
who hears the cries of the departing
Better get used to flat bread.
That’s all the time we have.

Rick Lupert, a poet, songleader and graphic designer, is the author of 23 books including “God Wrestler: A Poem for Every Torah Portion.”