January 18, 2019

Sparking Joy and Asking for Directions in the Dessert – A poem for Parsha Beshalach (Aliyah 1)

Chevy Nova SS Kurt Urban Performance (Cars & Coffee of the Upstate)

Moses took Joseph’s utsureones with him

With so little time to grab the essentials
one had to wonder if Joseph’s bones
sparked joy for Moses.

We didn’t even have time to
let the dough rise, but sure enough
the insides of our ancestor

were on the short list, along with
the photo albums, a good pair of
walking sandals and

all the Egyptian gold we could carry.
We haven’t forgotten you Joseph.
We’re bringing you home.

And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud…and at night
in a pillar of fire to give them light [so they could] travel day and night.

This is why we never ask for directions.
We keep expecting to see the cloud and
fire pillars. We actually think we

do see them as we miss the turns we were
supposed to take. Of course since GPS
and three different maps on our phones

the idea of stopping and asking for directions
is as quaint as putting rotary dial telephones
in front of teenagers just to see what happens.

God is in my telephone and he/she takes me
where I need to go, day or night. Sometimes
to the edge of a sea, just to see what I’ll do.

And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them,
and I will be glorified through Pharaoh and through his entire force

We’re getting a glimpse of the storyboard
that not even the actors are privy to.
If they had seen the script

they would have all walked into the sea
without the benefit of a believer
leading the way.

But I’m skipping ahead.
The dead first born would have
been enough to make me a

person of faith. Get with the program,
Pharaoh. Not everything has to be
a teachable moment.


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 21 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 “Donut Famine” (Rothco Press, December 2016) 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.

The Only Walls I Need Keep Out the Weather – A poem for Parsha Bo (Aliyah 1)

And [the locusts] will obscure the view of the earth,
and no one will be able to see the earth

In terms of the amount of locusts I am okay with,
this feels like too many. I don’t mean to get political
but I’m against walls, in general, except for the
ones in my house which keep out the temperatures.
I’m also, to be honest, not conceptually against
insects, but prefer them to be on the other side
of these walls. (It seems I’m more fond of walls
than I’m willing to let on.) What I really don’t want
is a wall of insects.

I’ve heard the songs of the locust when driving
through the mid-west and, if I’m still being honest
I’m for anything that makes music, but I may be
overly generous calling the sound they make songs.
So I’m for no walls, except for the walls I like,
which are meant to keep out the weather and
not people. I like people, and I’m for all songs
even if I don’t download the latest tracks from
the locusts, I may stream them every now and then
just to remind myself.

But never a wall of insects, obscuring my view
of anything. That’s how I’d think if I were put
in charge of Egypt. Though, as a native
New Jerseyan the odds of that happening aren’t
even worth mentioning.

Don’t you yet know that Egypt is lost?

I’m still thinking about what would happen if
I was in charge of Egypt. I wouldn’t want it to
be lost on my watch. I’d hate for the history
hieroglyphics to have images of me, refusing
to let the unpaid help go because of ego-
based decisions and a preference for my
many, many Gods, one of which, I’d been
brought up to believe, is me.

Didn’t he know his country was lost the
historians would ask. He should have paid
attention to the signs. When the great Contractor
in the Sky has built a wall of locusts. When
the river had already turned to blood, When the
cows had simply dropped dead – it was long
past time to let the people go.

…for it is a festival of the Lord to us.

Like Godstock
Like God-apalooza
Like God-achella
Like Burning God
Like the New Orleans God Festival
Like Godaroo
Like the Godonbury Festival
Like the Electric God Carnival
I could go on, but so many of you
stopped reading at God-apolooza.
But for those of you still here
that’s what we wanted it to be like
every day, before the need for darkness
or the slaying of the first-born anyone.


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 21 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 “Donut Famine” (Rothco Press, December 2016) 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.

God and Moses are Keeping Secrets – A poem for Parsha Vaera (Aliyah 1)

I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob with [the name]
Almighty God, but [with] My name YHWH, I did not become known to them.

If God walked amongst us,
what would we call him or her?
What name would we use if God
was sitting two bar stools away?

Who’s your friend? they’d ask
and we’d stutter like Moses
realizing we never knew.
What have we been calling

God this whole time
when we cry out, when we
ask for things? Who are
you talking to we deserve

to be asked and, I think we
deserve to know the answer too.
I’m not a big fan of labels, but
I do like names.

I think it’s time we learned Yours.

How then will Pharaoh hearken to me,
seeing that I am of closed lips?

You have to wonder with
God’s hidden name as his example
if Moses’ closed lips are just him
keeping secrets and not

a stutter after all? What isn’t Moses
prepared to tell the Pharaoh?
He smells like the Nile or the
details of future plagues have

already been written down.
I’d keep my lips closed too if
I had infinite frogs ready to go.
The best negotiators use their

words sparingly. Any deal a
gamble with what is truly available.
I say keep your lips closed and
your frogs close to your chest.

Your people will be crossing the sea
in no time.


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 21 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 “Donut Famine” (Rothco Press, December 2016) 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.

Poem: To Be a Jew

Editor’s Note: This poem was written by Amos Oz, from his essay titled “To Be a Jew,” written for the book “I am Jewish, Personal Reflections Inspired by the Last Words of Daniel Pearl”


I am a Jew and a Zionist. In saying this, I am not basing myself on religion. I have never learned to resort to verbal compromises like “the spirit of our Jewish past” or the “the values of Jewish tradition,” because values and tradition alike derive directly from religious tenets in which I cannot believe. It is impossible to sever Jewish values and Jewish tradition from their source, which is revelation, faith and commandments. Consequently, nouns like “mission,” “destiny” and “election,” when used with the adjective “Jewish,” only cause me embarrassment or worse.

A Jew, in my vocabulary, is someone who regards himself as a Jew, or someone who is forced to be a Jew. A Jew is someone who acknowledges his Jewishness. If he acknowledges it publicly, he is a Jew by choice. If he acknowledges it only to his inner self, he is a Jew by the force of his destiny. If he does not acknowledge any connection with the Jewish people either in public or in his tormented inner being, he is not a Jew, even if religious law defines him as such because his mother is Jewish. A Jew, in my unhalachic opinion, is someone who chooses to share the fate of other Jews, or who is condemned to do so.

Moreover: To be a Jew almost always means to relate mentally to the Jewish past, whether the relation is one of pride or gloom or both together, whether it consists of shame or rebellion or pride or nostalgia.

Moreover: To be a Jew almost always means to relate to the Jewish present, whether the relation is one of fear or confidence, pride in the achievement of Jews or shame for their actions, an urge to deflect them from their path or a compulsion to join them.

And finally: To be a Jew means to feel that wherever a Jew is persecuted for being a Jew — that means you.

Women Should Run the World – A poem for Parsha Shemot (Aliyah 1) by Rick Lupert

Now all those descended from Jacob were seventy souls,
and Joseph, [who] was in Egypt.

Seventy is a good starting point.
Considering it all started with one guy
in a garden and then a second person
made from a rib.

Considering how many came from
those two, you can see how coming
with seventy is a real head-start, how
the new neighborhood will fill up quickly.

You can see how Pharaoh or
whatever his name was, would
start to wonder about demographics
and solutions.

So the Egyptians enslaved the children of Israel
with back breaking labor.

Solution number one isn’t looking great.
You’d think the previous regime would have
put up a statue of Joseph or carved his name
in hieroglyphics.

Instead we’re treated like unwanted immigrants.
And we’re taking all the jobs the Egyptians
don’t want to do. Building treasure cities
and other backbreaking labor.

It couldn’t get any worse.

[and Pharaoh said] if it is a son,
you shall put him to death

It just got a lot worse.

But thanks to two women of valor –
Shifrah and Puah, instructions were not followed
and little Hebrew boys got to live.

We should put women of valor
in all the important positions. I hear in Nevada
the state legislature is now mostly women.

I expect a kinder and gentler Nevada
will come from this. Women make decisions
from the heart. They pull babies from

baskets from rivers. Their vocabulary
doesn’t include the words final or solution.
At least not together.

Here’s to women of valor, to midwives,
to all the Shifrahs and Puahs who do
nothing less than keep us alive.


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 21 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 “Donut Famine” (Rothco Press, December 2016) 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.

Final Destination: Jacob – A poem for Parsha Vayechi (Aliyah 1) by Rick Lupert

I will lie with my forefathers, and you shall carry me

out of Egypt, and you shall bury me in their grave.

The last choice we get to make
is where they will lay our bones.
After a lifetime of decisions –
Lefts versus rights, which brands of
major appliances to buy, ups versus downs,
skinny jeans or boot cut, vegetarian
versus carnivore, whose hand to shake,
whose soul to commingle with.
We write it all down in a final document
or, like Jacob did, tell it to our son –
the final, implied, verbal contract.
We can only hope, when we become
non-speaking dust, those entrusted
with what’s left of us, honor our choices,
bring us home to where we brought
our mothers and fathers, and mark
the location so the living will
never forget what we did.

Then Israel saw Joseph’s sons,
and he said, “Who are these?”

Jacob, on his death bed
sits up like a lion
with the strength of a star
like the father of all grains of sand.
His grandchildren before him
like they are the sand.
He sees the future in their eyes.
Or more importantly that
there is a future.
A sea will open up.
A desert will be wandered.
Armies defeated.
A river crossed.
And more begetting than
would be polite to mention.
The promise will come true –
We’ll run out of stars to match
these young eyes.
On the verge of the forever sleep
his eyes about to close, knowing
his name will live on.


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 21 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 “Donut Famine” (Rothco Press, December 2016) 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.

The Siblings We’ll Risk for Food – A poem for Parsha Vayigash (Aliyah 1) by Rick Lupert

let not your wrath be kindled against your servant,
for you are like Pharaoh.

Joseph has come so far since Egypt jail
since his arrogance with the coat
since the pit.

His brothers see him as Pharaoh.
They bow down before him.
His dreams have come true.

Joseph’s brothers want food like
it’s food. They’re almost willing to
trade their little brother for it.

The boy cannot leave his father, for if he
leaves his father, he will die.

It sounds like a codependent nightmare.
But you have to remember where Jacob
is coming from.

The other brother from the same mother,
as far as he knows, is decades ago
in pieces.

Only threads of a fine woolen coat
live in the house where he once
dreamed the future.

our father said, ‘Go back,
buy us a little food.’

In the end the stomach wins.
They say, even our kittens would eat us
if they had no kibble.

It doesn’t matter, your giant pyramids
your divine promise, your fantastical
number of camels.

It doesn’t matter, how many colors
you can afford to sew in your coat.
If your plate is empty

if your stomach rumbles
if sustenance is only a dream
you won’t make it out the front door.


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 21 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 “Donut Famine” (Rothco Press, December 2016) 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.

Yvette at the Beach

Yvette isn’t young no more
Though she’s still eighteen
She’s taking night school
Works three jobs
The real American dream.
She lights candles from
The corner store
Before she goes to sleep
Talks to Mother Mary
God has no time this week.

She serves coffee to the richest
The most powerful in the land
And wonders what it’s like
To never fall but only land.
She puts on makeup
In the restroom and ties her
hair upon her head.

She reads the L.A. Times on slow shifts
Looks at Oprah on her phone.
She gets yelled at by the boss man,
You work hard or you go home.
Now she’s sitting by the ocean
Holding her head between her hands.

Yvette takes her shoes and socks off
And wades into the shore
She looks south into the distance
She looks north and kicks the sand
When a young man saunters over
She’ll give him all the love she can.

Now the years go by so quickly
Now her baby turned eighteen
And she’s putting on her makeup
Kissing mama on the head.
Yvette’s knees ain’t what they once were
She still lights candles
And still dreams.


Sara Hershkowitz is an opera singer, writer, activist and teacher. Born in Los Angeles, she currently divides her time between Berlin and L.A.

No Shave, No Shoes, No Pharaoh – A poem for Parsha Miketz

 

And the cows of ugly appearance and lean of flesh devoured
the seven cows that were of handsome appearance and healthy

It’s desperate times when you
start to eat your own kind.

Even if it’s just a future glimpse
in a Pharaoh’s dream.

You can understand why he
wanted the meaning.

No-one wants to preside over
the end of days.


And the thin ears of grain swallowed up

the seven healthy and full ears of grain

Just a quick note to observe that when
food starts to eat other food

It’s either a magical dinner show or
another sign that the end of days

has arrived.


a Hebrew lad, a slave of the chief slaughterer

…and he interpreted our dreams for us

Just another quick note to mention
you should treat everyone as if

they were the one, or at least one of
the thirty six righteous ones.

Even a slave of a slaughterer
may have divine wisdom.


and [Joseph] shaved and changed his clothes,

and he [then] came to Pharaoh.

Just another ‘nother quick note to tell you
you should always dress appropriately

for the situation. No-one needs your
sweater to make a statement

when the cows are about to eat each other.
Even I wore a tie to the Oscars.

You may not know me, but that is
saying so much.


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 21 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 “Donut Famine” (Rothco Press, December 2016) 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.

Sometimes Dreams are the Pits – A poem for Parsha Vayeshev (Aliyah 1) by Rick Lupert

 

And Israel loved Joseph more than all his sons

Whenever my son, who is ten as of this writing,
asks me if he is my favorite, we both know that
he is my only child, and any answer other then
of course you are, would be a lie.

In this way I have it much easier than Jacob
who didn’t find it difficult at all, to give Joseph,
his favorite, a fine woolen coat, sometimes referred
to as one of many colors, much to the dismay

of his twelve other children. Or at least to the
eleven boys. Dinah, their sister, isn’t allowed to
speak up in this text. I thank my lucky stars
in the sky, one of which is assigned to my child,

that I didn’t have another. It’s not that I couldn’t
afford two coats – I’d assign them both their
own colors. I just couldn’t handle questions about
favorites. They’d see it in my wrestling eyes.

Listen now to this dream, which I have dreamed

Dreams are better to share than home movies
or vacation photos, unless you are a Fellini or
a Liebovitz. You might be flying, or without pants
in a place that requires pants, and that makes

a compelling story. But even your family will tire
of another shot of your thumb covering the lens
or the thirty minutes of waves coming in and out
that you thought was so compelling, or in this case

images of all those you are obligated to love
kneeling before you, begging for sustenance –
knowing you are forever in charge of every
breath they take. This is the kind of dream

that makes the colors run out of your coat.
That gets you dis-invited to the family reunion.
That has the people you’ve known since you
came out of your mother, digging a pit

and looking at you.


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 21 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 “Donut Famine” (Rothco Press, December 2016) 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.

Angels and Kittens – A poem for Parsha Vayishlach (Aliyah 1) by Rick Lupert

Jacob sent angels ahead of him to his brother Esau

Can you imagine having angels at your disposal?
Holy Roombas with wings available for all your tasks.
What would you do with them?

Would they sweep up your wilderness?
Guard every corner? Help with the meals?
What would they wear and

are you responsible to provide it?
Are their posters in their tents detailing
the benefits you provide?

Or are you the one getting all the benefits?
These angels who you send to do
the things that need to be done.

Remember, they are a gift
and it is not really you who
they are working for.


Jacob became very frightened and was distressed;
so he divided the people who were with him…into two camps.

It’s a smart plan, Jacob.
They always tell you to diversify your portfolio
in case one investment doesn’t work out

in case the basket holding your eggs
tips over and you find yourself bemoaning
useless sidewalk omelets.

In case of war with your brother
who you haven’t seen in twenty years
who may have an itch to get his birthright back

who loved the soup you made him
but can still fill your fingers
on the back of his foot.


I have become small from all the kindnesses
and from all the truth that You have rendered

I always thought it was Steve Martin
who first said “let’s get small”, but he
was channeling Jacob this whole time.

Jacob, small from kindness – The way praise
should be received, keeping your head
the same size it was before

you knew you did anything good.
The truth shall make you small –
a manageable bite-size so

everyone you encounter will want to
put you in their pockets, take care of you
like kittens, giving you the humility you need

to found a whole new nation.


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 21 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 “Donut Famine” (Rothco Press, December 2016) 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.

Stones for Pillows – A poem for Parsha Vayetzei (Aliyah 1) by Rick Lupert


and he took some of the stones of the place and placed [them]
at his head, and he lay down in that place.

This could be where Jewish mothers got the idea.
It’s okay, I’ll sit in the dark. It’s okay, you take the pillow
and I’ll just lay down on these stones.

It’s okay you dream of ladders and how your
seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and how your
strength will spread in every direction.

I’ll be here when you need me, with the lights out
knitting you and all your descendants
the sweaters they’re entitled to.


And he dreamed, and behold! angels of God were
ascending and descending upon [the ladder].

I used to dream of knowing what to do
with a ladder. I used to dream of being in
same space as angels.

I think this is what Led Zeppelin was
talking about. I think this ladder to heaven
requires no contracting skill to use

just belief. I used to believe or maybe
I never believed in anything but words.
I used to believe in stepping up.


And Jacob awakened from his sleep, and he said,
“Indeed, the Lord is in this place, and I did not know.”

This is what it must be like when
children lose their teeth and discover
money under their stone pillows.

This is what it must be like when
the stuff of your dreams stays with you
after you open your eyes.

This is what it must be like when
you’ve taken a mundane, stone filled place
and made it holy.


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 21 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 “Donut Famine” (Rothco Press, December 2016) 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.

A Tale of Beards and Stars – A poem for Parsha Toldot (Aliyah 1) by Rick Lupert

Two nations are in your womb, and two kingdoms will separate from your innards,
and one kingdom will become mightier than the other kingdom

This is the kind of information parents shouldn’t be given.
You want the best for all your children and try not to

play favorites, but you’ve been given an inside track here
and when you utter phrases like I love you both just the same

it falls flat in your own ears. How do you explain the
different sized college funds when you know one will

end up owning the college, and the other will just
grow a beard? This is the knowledge that let’s you

go back in time and change everything. This is
not the way it’s supposed to be.

And the first one emerged ruddy;
he was completely like a coat of hair

Such a bold color for a child
Esau, the human fashion statement
a face like blood, a body like winter –

A pinch in his foot as he burst into the world.
Dumb like a beard. Already hungry.
Already glad not to have to

share air with his brother.
Esau, red as the day he was born.
Already ready to give it all up.

Jacob was an innocent man, dwelling in tents

Jacob, quiet – a tent dweller, soup cooker
inheritance trickster, birthright stealer –
Destined to own the farm.

Jacob, the thinker, momma’s little boy
You thought two kids was a lot –
wait ’til you see what he can do.

Jacob makes the lentils. Jacob of the
kempt beard. Jacob, never quite let go
of his brother’s foot.

And I will multiply your seed like the stars of the heavens

There’s that promise again
The prenatal care of our dreams

A forever glance up to see
the impossibility of keeping up

with holiday cards.
It’s okay. You can always

see the stars, but
it’s not your responsibility

to reach them. You couldn’t
if you tried.


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 21 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 “Donut Famine” (Rothco Press, December 2016) 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.

Fear: A Poem

I am different
I am unique
I am Jewish
People think of me as an outsider
People want to kill me
Because of my religion
Because of who I am
Hiding in the back of my house
Afraid and lonely
Terrified that the Nazis will break down the door
Horrible and vicious people
They killed my friends
Tortured them
They took their belongings
Fearing that they will steal my identity
Grasp my belief in God and shatter it
Like plucking all the feathers off a chicken
They will strip me of my religion
Taking my away from me
Who had dreams
Who once had dreams to travel the world
My is the town’s rabbi
A stout man with a silver beard that drops down to his chest
Passionate about Judaism and angry at the world
Praying every night
Praying that our family will be safe
A sacred, meaningful scroll to us
A piece of junk to them
The Torah
Hiding in a secret compartment in the back of our house
Guarding it with all of our lives
A scroll constructed ages ago
The Torah defines us
I am Jewish


Paul Kurgan is an eighth grader at Mirman School.

The Old New Math – A poem for Parsha Chayei Sarah

And the life of Sarah was one hundred years
and twenty years and seven years;

The Torah is no place for a new math joke
but I understand this almost as well as I do
my ten year old’s homework.

I’m sometimes asked to check it and
the best I can do is verify that it does indeed exist
and that things are written where

there were formerly blank spaces.
But ask me if it is correct and I’ll refer
you to his teacher.

The new math is like the ancient math.
Somehow my generation got away with
just saying one hundred and twenty seven.

I see the holiness in the work my
son brings home from school
and I understand it just as well.

Give me burial property with you, so that
I may bury my dead from before me.

There’s no Jewish publication that doesn’t
include advertisements for the final plot of earth –
Often highlighting lovely hills, and

spots beneath trees, and views of the city –
None of which (I think) I’ll need when I eventually
find my home in the dirt.

I get suspicious about the idea of paying for this
in advance. What would they do with me if I simply
refused to make an arrangement while still taking breaths?

Probably stick me in the back with the other death-beats.
It’s hard enough to save for retirement without adding in
a cost for the hereafter.

I guess I need a place to hang my bald spot.
Something nice that people can visit when they
miss everything silly I had to say.

Yes, underneath a tree, and on a hill and
with a view. You can only stare at a headstone
for so long.


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 21 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 “Donut Famine” (Rothco Press, December 2016) 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.

Let’s Welcome the Stranger and Have Children – A Poem for Parsha Vayeira (Aliyah 1)


Please let a little water be taken, and bathe your feet,
and recline under the tree.

This is how everyone should greet the stranger –
With offers of water and comfort.

With fingers pointing to a place to rest.
Not with suspicion or deceit.

Not with a fear of the other.
Take my hand, whoever you are.

What can I fill you up with?
My pillows are your pillows.

This tent yours to come and go
as you please.

And Abraham said [to Sarah] “Hasten three seah of meal
[and] fine flour; knead and make cakes.”

In these days where the idea of patriarchy
stings like an ancient wasp

I can’t imagine telling my wife to
get to the baking after strangers

showed up at the door. Strangers
who I begged to come in

Strangers who I knew needed
fresh cake.

I like the old ways, the weight of tradition
is like a magnet to the past.

But I’ll make my own cake…as soon as I
figure out what a seah is.

And to the cattle did Abraham run, and he took a calf,
tender and good, and he gave it to the youth,

Finally! The youth are getting
the cattle they deserve!

And it happened so quick, I mean
Abraham ran to the cattle
like it was Pamplona and he

wanted to get them going.
Cows…running to the youth

hoping to get milked, hoping
they can stop all this running.

I will surely return to you at this time next year, and behold,
your wife Sarah will have a son…And Sarah laughed

That wasn’t the reaction I had when
Addie told me she was pregnant.

(That’s not an announcement,
I’m referring to ten years ago.)

I stared at the note. The only
thing that was in the empty box –

I had taken off the bow.
I’d removed the tissue paper.

It was confusingly not gift season.
You’ll get your present in nine months

it said. I didn’t laugh. I was speechless
for nine months. Eventually,

I built a crib, I sold off the futon,
I cancelled the trip to Japan.

I didn’t laugh or say anything.
No reaction, or any of my

famous words, could have changed
this eventuality.


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 21 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 “Donut Famine” (Rothco Press, December 2016) 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.

He’s Leaving Home, Bye Bye – A poem for Parsha Lech Lecha by Rick Lupert

Go forth from your land and from your birthplace and
from your father’s house, to the land that I will show you.

My main question is, if I leave,
will my father repurpose my room?
I’ve given him no indication I’ll be back
and he’s still bitter about all the dust
in his workshop.

Though it was in the making of this dust
that this deal came along. I should
pack all my things as a courtesy.
He’ll need the space when
all the false gods
come to visit.

They grow up so quick I imagine him saying
as I look to see what’s behind the curtain.
I’d wonder if my mother will miss me too
but no-one ever mentions her name –
Like she doesn’t even exist.


And I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you,

and I will aggrandize your name

I’d like to see my name in lights.
I’m not sure I deserve it, but
just once let the stars spell out my name.


And Abram took Sarai his wife…and all their possessions that

they had acquired, and the souls they had acquired…

How does one acquire a soul
beyond the one we’re lucky enough
to have returned every morning?

Do we even have space for
a second or third? How do we
carry them? What do they eat?

Do souls make small talk?
Do they even talk? Do they
have possessions of their own?

Abram, the soul shepherd,
traveling to a promised land –
His name not holy yet.


[Abram] said to Sarai his wife, “Behold now I know that

you are a woman of fair appearance.

You’d think this would be
the first thing he’d notice
or maybe he did and waited

until this road trip to say anything.
It’s superficial but nice to hear
anyway, sometimes. Even as a

precursor to a warning.
As a safety measure to save
his own life –

To make sure everyone
gets where they’re going.
Sarai, you are of fair appearance.

See how they’ve been
dealing with this since people
started writing things down?


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 21 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 “Donut Famine” (Rothco Press, December 2016) 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.

You Otter Build an Ark – A poem for Parsha Noach by Rick Lupert

You Otter Build an Ark - A poem for Parsha Noach by Rick Lupert

Now the earth was corrupt before God,
and the earth became full of robbery.

I’m not sure if I’m reading the Torah
or the news. Or if all of this robbery

I see on the news is just the criminals’
attempt to reenact the beginning of times.

Just the other day I saw the water driving
up the road typically reserved for not water.

It took houses and confidently parked cars
with it. It took the eyes of the believers

by surprise. It took the word tsunami and
threw it up against the memory of

an ancient promise.

 

Make for yourself an ark of gopher wood

I appreciate the confidence but does it
come with instructions? I can barely build

something from Ikea without subsequent
days of blisters, what with my lack of the

right tools and my general preference to
hire people who know what they’re doing

to do the things I don’t know how to do.
And who am I to take the Earth’s resources?

What will the gophers do once I’ve
taken all their wood? And, as an aside

isn’t it amazing that, back at the beginning
of history, there were already gophers?

 

And I, behold I am bring the flood, water upon the earth
to destroy all flesh in which there is the spirit of life

This isn’t the direction I would go in
but I barely deserve a capital I when I say that.

I never liked that so close to the beginning,
they just finished setting the scene, the whole thing

gets destroyed. And all the people on it.
Talk about awkward conversations at the

neighborhood party – Oh, you weren’t told to
build an ark. Oh, can I borrow all your gopher wood?

 

and of all living things of all flesh, two of each you shall
bring into the ark to preserve alive with you

I can relate to this more than you know.
Every time an animal of any kind comes onto T.V.

a lion, an elephant, a friendly chicken, a family of otters,
I turn to Addie and say We need one of those for our house.

No is usually the answer that comes before I
even finish the declaration. I relate to God, the

lover of animals. The One who couldn’t go into the
pet store on kitten adoption day, without coming out

with a box full of them. In a way this is how I am
preparing for the flood. Otter chow in stock

ready for the waters to rise.


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 21 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 “Donut Famine” (Rothco Press, December 2016) 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.

Like, is this really all happening again? – A poem for Parsha Breisheit by Rick Lupert

The Earth was astonishingly empty

Like a blank canvas
Like no-one had thought darkness and light
needed to be different
Like a flyover state
Like someone bumped into something
and said I should
really do something with this.

Let there be an expanse in the midst of the water,
and let it be a separation between water and water.

Like the water was too close to the water
Like the invention of the reverse canal industry
Like this should be the base ingredient
for everything
let’s stir this up

And God called the dry land earth, and the gathering
of the waters He called seas

Like you get to be the Guy who names everything
Like everyone will need either shoes or a boat
Like when I say everyone, you should know
at this point, there was no-one.
Like a population explosion is going to need
a place to hang its hat

Let there be luminaries in the expanse of the heavens,
to separate between the day and between the night

Like the separation between night and day
was the original dimmer switch
Like the biggest things in the sky are
not always the closest
Like I can stare directly at one, but not the other
Like the gravity of this situation is
just coming together

And God created the great sea monsters,
and every living creature that crawls

Like the word monsters wasn’t inserted into
the beginning of the oldest text
just to keep our attention
Like anyone can tell you this wasn’t
the very first genre fiction
Like our fear of monsters was seeded
at the very beginning

Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness

Like He’s either talking in the royal We or
there are some characters we
have yet to be introduced to
Like this isn’t the very first evidence
of Vanity
Like you could make a self portrait
that could take on a billion
lives of its own

And [God] abstained on the seventh day from all His work

Like the two day weekend doesn’t
extend Shabbat beyond
its natural boundaries
Like a forever pillow that stops in
every week
Like the vacation they told you to take
before you were born
but never do
It’s time


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 21 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 “Donut Famine” (Rothco Press, December 2016) 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.

Dancing with the scroll

To turn the page in a book
All you need is one hand,
A motion like a tiny rainbow.

On a screen, kal v’chomer,
A single finger-swipe
Will suffice.

But a Torah scroll
Is heavy, its
Wooden handles
Remember the tree they
Came from, its parchment
Still marked with the patches
Of a once-living animal. 

And when you stand
To chant from the scroll,
Your body curved at the top
Like the letter vav,
You feel the tree, the animal;
You feel the hours of love
Some forgotten scribe poured
Into this small patch of the world,
Marking it with letters
To make it infinite, from the
Simple meanings to the
Secret ones, from the first
Stirrings of creation to the mountain
Where Moses saw, but did not enter,
The Holy Land. 

In fall, the time comes
To rewind back to the first bet
Of beginning, that letter open
Only to the future. We open
The ark, we gather;
You cannot turn a scroll alone.

Each year we perform this dance,
Holding the stories God gave us
With the bodies God gave us.

We wrap the scrolls like babies
And carry them into the streets.

Then our feet begin to move, too.
With a story this heavy, this beloved, 

Who can read without dancing?


Alicia Jo Rabins is a writer, musician and Torah teacher. Her most recent book of poetry is “Fruit Geode” (Augury Books). 

The Final Singalong — A Poem for Haftarah Haazinu by Rick Lupert

Since I spend so much time singing ancient Jewish words
with the children of the San Fernando Valley, I was so pleased

to see King David wrote a song…like Moses before him
wrote a song. A song I thought you’d never hear on the radio

because of it’s staggering 945 word count with no refrain at all,
until I realized they’ve been playing the 2633 words of

Alice’s Restaurant for decades, not to mention the encyclopedic-
lengthed 5083 words of R. Kelley’s Trapped in the closet.

Why can’t we set the whole thing to music and demand
heavy rotation? Is that what David had in mind? Is that why

he included the word nostrils twice, so it would have
more of a quirky pop-appeal?

This is the last song of the year. A duet with Moses who
sings posthumously. They were the first two to do this.

To sing of strength. To sing of the source of our comfort.
Their songs are our songs and we are still collecting

the royalties. This music, our inheritance. I say always
end with song. Ideally one everyone can sing.

We’ve got one more chapter before we start this
whole thing over, and sometimes because of the

peculiar ways in which the days of the week land
on the calendar, we don’t even read it. We find ourselves

at the beginning again, wondering how we got here.
So sing this song. Repeat parts of it to extend this cycle

beyond its natural boundaries. And ha-azinu…listen.
Let all the voices go into your ears. They’ve been

echoing from generation to generation, ever since
they first left Moses and David’s lips.


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 21 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 “Donut Famine” (Rothco Press, December 2016) 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.

A Prayer for the New Year

I pray that I will find humility
When I’m sure I am right.

I pray that I will find compassion
When my heart feels indifference.

I pray that I will find energy
When my body tires.

I pray that I will find serenity
When my mind races too fast.

I pray that I will find music
When my day has no melody.

I pray that I will find courage
When my conscience is tested.

I pray that I will find the right words
When all I hear are the wrong ones.

I pray that I will find humor
When my spirit is broken.

I pray that I will find holiness
When it is most hidden.

I pray that I will find love
When my heart can barely see it.

I pray that I will find me
When all I can see is you.

Promises Worth Breaking – A poem for Kol Nidre by Rick Lupert

All vows –
This legal document
written in unholy language

a prenuptial agreement
for our inevitable failing.
This relationship with

the year itself
a contract awaiting
the biggest signature.

Please, cancel my subscription
but charge my card anyway.
I don’t deserve the content.

Every promise I make
a guaranteed broken one
between today and

a year’s worth of
Jewish days from now.
The next time the shofar

is dusted off,
we’ll have this conversation again.
Forgive me this year

and last year and next.
Forgive everyone who ever
stood at the mountain.

Forgive our promises
our oaths, our vows, all vows
You made the whole world

and on this day and every day
You knew this would happen.
Pardon me. Please.


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 21 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 “Donut Famine” (Rothco Press, December 2016) 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.

When I Grow Up – A Poem for Haftarah Vayeilech by Rick Lupert

When I grow up I want to be a rose
I want them to compare my roots to trees.
My branches too. I’ll be on the cover
of all the magazines. Pages with
just the word blossom.

When I grow up, I want the shade
I provide to shield everyone from
the harshness of mid-day light.
I want nostrils to open wide in
anticipation of my arrival.

When I grow up, I’ll never
run out of fruit. The hungry and
the righteous will walk in my circles.
The rebellious too. Though their actions
will make them stumble.

When I grow up, anger will be
only temporary. Love, forever.
My foibles will be considered texture.
My sins, tossed into the ocean.
When I grow up, if I grow up

It’ll be like Woodstock again.


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 22 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 “Beautiful Mistakes” (Rothco Press, May 2018) and edited the anthologies “A Poet’s Siddur: Shabbat Evening“,  “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.

Turn my Oy to Joy – A Poem for Haftarah Nitzavim by Rick Lupert

Oh, consolation
I’ve got seven weeks of you.
Oh, holy hug

Oh speak up those
watching over me
Oh Right Hand

You so strong
You smite the enemy
You clear the stones

You un-desolate
the Holy home
Oh, Jerusalem

We’re coming for you
Oh, Jerusalem
I can hear your watchmen

Look how our enemies hunger
Look how our red clothes turn white
Look how our children’s children

til the soil, bloom the desert
sing when they land
kiss the ground.

Oh, consolation, Oh, holy hug
You turn our oy to joy
You make me want

to read this text again.
I am standing.
I am ready.


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 22 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 “Beautiful Mistakes” (Rothco Press, May 2018) and edited the anthologies “A Poet’s Siddur: Shabbat Evening“,  “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.

I Need a Camel Like I Need an Umbrella – A Poem for Haftarah Ki Tavo by Rick Lupert

These are the benefits entitled to us, according to
the prophet who speaks on behalf of the Benefit Giver

A gross darkness [shall cover] the kingdoms

Eww. The implication here is we are not part of the kingdoms
and a whole special light will, hopefully, light that grossness
right out of the realm of our perceptibility.

your heart shall be startled and become enlarged

I’m no heart-ologist, but is this medically sound?
I realize You’re the One who invented all this biology
but I had a cat die once and the veterinarian told me
his heart was too big. So as long as you know
what you’re doing.

A multitude of camels shall cover you.

A couple things here: Would it be alright if I
stick with an umbrella, or a blanket, or even just
the clothes I’ve got on. Living in the shadows of
camels feels weird to me. Also, if you have to go
in that direction, I’m not that big and think only
one camel will suffice.

All the sheep of Kedar shall be gathered to you.

Okay. You make it sound like that’s going to be
a lot of sheep. I’m not allowed to feed the outside cats
anymore as that’s how it started with the five we have
inside now. Can I just pay a fee to make sure the
sheep are taken care of, or go to someone who
has unlimited room for sheep?

to bring to you the wealth of the nations

This sounds great! I’ve got a lot of funds I’ve been
meaning to get going. There’s already the meager
college fund for our nine year old. But then there’s the
move to a nicer neighborhood fund, and the buy a
hybrid car fund (I’m only thinking of the planet).
All the wealth of the nations could really help out here.

And you shall suck the milk of the nations.

OK, is this mandatory to get the wealth? I feel most
humans are lactose intolerant after we’re weaned
from our mothers. The whole Got Milk campaign feels
like a bit of a sham. Oh Creator of biology, is this
the phlegm you had in mind?

I shall make your rulers righteousness

This sounds great right about now. The news keeps
reminding me, our rulers don’t even know how to
spell the word righteous, let alone act in a manner
that lives up to that word.

Your sun shall no longer set, neither shall your moon
God will be an everlasting light.

Is this what it’s like in Alaska? I hear black-out curtains
is doing a killer business up there. I’m going to visit
just to get a taste of what You’re offering. I’ll think of you
when I see the Aurora Borealis.


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 22 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 “Beautiful Mistakes” (Rothco Press, May 2018) and edited the anthologies “A Poet’s Siddur: Shabbat Evening“,  “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.

They’ve Got Pants Just for Floods – A Poem for Haftarah Ki Teitzei by Rick Lupert

Promises are easy to forget when the Promiser
has hidden Their face. This is why sometimes

we wear pants that are too short, in case Noah’s flood
comes again, despite the occasional rainbow reminder.

It’s a fear we’ve taken so seriously you’ll find hundreds
of results on Amazon if you search for “flood pants.”

I’m glad someone’s making money off our lack of faith.
We’re told God’s wrath was only there for a moment

as we wept on the wrong side of the Babylonian border.
But a Biblical moment is long enough for an entire generation

to die out in the desert; for riverside city after riverside city
to have to appeal to FEMA for post-rain relief;

for millions to die at the hands of people with radical ideas.
It’s easy to see why we sometimes feel forgotten.

We’ve got two more weeks of divine consolation
before the cycle begins again.

Don’t hide Your face from us. Just a glimpse
will keep us in line.


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 22 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 “Beautiful Mistakes” (Rothco Press, May 2018) and edited the anthologies “A Poet’s Siddur: Shabbat Evening“,  “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.

Direct Contact – A Poem for Haftarah Shoftim by Rick Lupert

Oh, how we’ve changed.
An Exodus ago we saw a light so bright
and asked Moses to be the one to
do the looking.

Now, an Exodus later,
we’re inconsolable by human voices,
even those who wrote the famous books.
We need personal contact with that Light.

We need a hug from the Almighty.
We need to know it’s going to be okay.
We need to know the cup of weakness will
be put in the hands of those who made us wander.

Our sons and daughters are fainting in the streets
we need a Divine rain to wake them up.
Nothing Noah-like…rainbows not required.
Just a splash on the face in this corner

we’ve found ourselves in.
Wake us up in Babylonia with news that
the freeway to the promised land has been paved.
We’re ready to shake off our dust and roll.

If it’s not too much trouble, we’d like the drive
to be casual. None of this flat bread on our back
kind of situation. No time to pack the collectibles.
Give us a moment to say our farewells

to put in the forwarding address
to update the paint so we don’t lose our deposit
to tell the unclean, we’re so sorry, this wasn’t
going to workout anyway.


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 22 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 “Beautiful Mistakes” (Rothco Press, May 2018) and edited the anthologies “A Poet’s Siddur: Shabbat Evening“,  “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.

Everything’s Alright, Yes, Everything’s Fine – A Poem for Haftarah Re’eh by Rick Lupert

the earth is My footstool

This explains the smell in my neighborhood.
I don’t mind doing double duty as comfort
for the Almighty, but, please, Isaiah,
what’s the holy sock situation?

he who slaughters a lamb is
as though he beheads a dog

I couldn’t agree more. Enough slaughtering
of anyone with any amount of legs. That’s
personification, if you know what I mean.

Will I bring to the birth stool and
not cause to give birth?

I don’t want to put actions into Your mouth.
The truth is, You might do anything other
than what I’d like You to do. This is Your show.
We’re merely the ones You, sometimes,
see fit to console.

and your bones shall bloom like grass

This feels like something I’ll need to involve
my doctor and landscape maintainer in.
Those two have never collaborated,
to my knowledge, but I expect they’ll
blend it together like music and poetry.
I sense an elevation coming on.

For behold, the Lord shall come with fire

This explains what’s happening in California.
I’m not sure this is the kind of consoling we’ve
been looking for. When you look at our map,
it’s all orange and then the ocean. You’re
going to have to do more to convince me
this is a sign of the impending okay-ness
of everything.

…for their worm shall not die…

Finally! Something
for the worms!


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 22 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 “Beautiful Mistakes” (Rothco Press, May 2018) and edited the anthologies “A Poet’s Siddur: Shabbat Evening“,  “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.

The Divine Ink of Forever – A Poem for Haftarah Eikev by Rick Lupert

You have to take the good with the bad.
The ups with the downs. The sickness with the health
The exile with the occupation.

You have to understand sometimes
you’ll spend time apart, sometimes you’ll
spend time together when you’d rather be apart.

Sometimes, the two of you in the same room
is better than a free chocolate fountain. Better than
a perpetual pool-side vacation.

You have to know sometimes you’ll feel abandoned
when it’s really just a matter of scheduling. Sometimes
you’ll want more of the air to breathe yourself

and there’s the other party taking up their
share of oxygen in the very same room. Sometimes
you’ll have to change the diaper when you were

the last one to change the diaper and you were
sure it couldn’t possibly have been your turn.
This is a partnership. This is ongoing.

It couldn’t be any more forever than this.
That ring on your finger, that pillar of smoke
you followed in the desert. That Ketubah

you signed is still hanging and you can see it
on the wall, all the way back home, all the way
from this exile, all the way reminding you

that ink you used – It’s divine.
It never erases.
It never will.


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 22 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 “Beautiful Mistakes” (Rothco Press, May 2018) and edited the anthologies “A Poet’s Siddur: Shabbat Evening“,  “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.