Marching Orders — A poem for Torah Portion Bamidbar

May 13, 2021

Just as they camp, so shall they travel,
each man in his place, by their divisions.
-Numbers 2:17

I don’t like to use cliché in poems.
I figure, if it’s already been said, then
why should I be saying it?

(That first stanza counts as a
poetry workshop, and I’d be happy
to sign anything to get you the

credit you deserve.)
So, when I tell you we’ve been
given our marching orders

it’s because that literally
is what’s happening. By the way
I don’t like to use the word

literally in a poem, or ever, really
as it’s almost never used the way
it should be used.

If there’s a committee I can join
to decide what words survive
the great linguistic culling

count me out as I don’t have the time
but, please, for me, and all
seekers of truth, spend a lot of time

considering literally. Anyhoo
back to the marching orders. Everyone
who’s anyone (except for the women

and the Levites of course) gets told
where to go. We’re going to sleep and
march in these exact positions.

I mean relative locations to each other
as the actual physical positions
of our bodies will adjust depending

on whether we’re sleeping or marching.
That’s just science, or biology, or physics –
I’m not sure because it doesn’t

cover that clarification in the text, and
Rashi, who lived a long time ago
doesn’t mention it, and he had

something to say about everything!
So, determine who you are –
(Zebulon, Naphtali, Gad, etc…)

And assume your positions – Standing
or lying down. Your choice (for now).
There’s going to be forty years of this…


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 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.

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