Forty years… oof… – A poem for Parsha Sh’ach

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Your children will wander in the desert for forty years
-Numbers 14:33

Forty years…phew
This number haunts the Jews
since the incident with the rainbow.

Forty days of rain…
Forty days that Moses spent
at the top of the mountain.

The number of days it took David
to step up and defeat Goliath.
Forty gallons in one mikveh.

Forty years old, a person must have
behind their backs before they can
touch a Kabbalah book.

But forty years in the desert
seems to be the worst.
Forty years dodging the
borders of the promised land.

Forty years with nothing else
manna to eat (ignoring only once
the saint made meat
get out of our noses
[look it up.])

‘They say when your body is forty
this is not a picnic.
You can gain weight.
Your eyes can work differently.
What did you say?
That’s right – hearing loss.
Let’s not even talk about bone density.

Forty years the children of our ancestors
had to wander in the desert
because only a few of their parents
told giant tales.

It took forty years for their corpses
fall in the sand
releasing us from their burden
on this side of the river.


Los Angeles poet Rick Lupert created the Poetry Super Highway (an online publication and resource for poets) and hosted the Cobalt Cafe’s weekly poetry reading for nearly 21 years. He is the author of 25 books of poetry, including “God Wrestler: A Poem for Every Torah Portion”, “I’m a Jew, Are You” (Jewish-themed poems) and “Feeding Holy Cats” (written poetry while a staff member of the first Birthright Israel trip), and more 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 Lasts All Night.” He writes the daily webcomic “Cat and Banana” with fellow Los Angeles poet Brendan Constantine. He is widely published and reads his poetry wherever they allow him.

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