February 28, 2020

Poem: Yitro

Autocorrect wanted to change
the title of this poem, from Yitro to Nitro
I almost didn’t change it back.
God, after all, descends from the mountain
amidst thunder, lightning and smoke.
Like a super-hero named Nitro.
Like Stan Lee dreamed up the whole thing.
Only instead of the awe one would expect
when one costumed in fire comes to
stop the robbery, get the cat out of the tree
and generally save the day, the people
are scared out of their Egyptian pajamas.
Beg Moses to do all the talking.
We love our fantasies on paper
and digital screens. But
I guess we should leave them there.
When buildings really start to come down
we’ll blockbust our way home
so fast.

The people arrive at the mountain of all mountains.
Seven weeks into feeling pretty good about
their triumph in the narrow place.

Enter the father in law with familial advice
Trumped by the Father of all laws
and a famous list of ten,
the original historical document.

I take one, one, one ‘cause there is something
bigger than you. Wear a reminder on your head
and don’t forget.
and two, two, two because you’re worshiping
an idol right now. Stop it.
and three, three, three because words hurt
so take care before they spill out of your mouth.
and four, four, four ‘cause everybody
needs a vacation, even just a day once a week.

and five, five, five for your mother and father
who, despite how you felt about them as a teenager
made it so you existed at all.

and six, six, six ‘cause all we have is life
and if you take a life, you’ve taken everything.
and seven, seven ‘cause she is the
other half of you, one soul, one flesh.

and eight, eight I forget that what I have is enough.
and nine, nine, nine for a lost truth
and the damage it causes.
and ten, ten, ten, ten for everything
everything I already have in my own house.
It’s all I need.


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