HOW THEY SPENT THEIR 'GOD OF CARNAGE' VACATION (KI TETZEI)
At every opportunity
they remembered Amalek
who attacked from the rear
They had been famished, weary,
and then the screams in the night...
As God was their witness
they would never be victims again.
They put their trust in rebar
distributed machine guns
for teenagers to fondle.
Taking action felt so good.
Was this what God meant?
This fierce attachment
the opposite of forgetting.
No one knows how to blot out
without holding on.
This week's prompt at Read Write Poem, prompt 89: it came from the news, invited us to make use of a newspaper headline. After reading this week's Torah portion to remind myself what its themes are, I spent some time clicking around various online newspapers. I settled on the headline How They Spent Their 'God of Carnage' Vacation. It was a good stretch for me; I don't usually use long (or "found") titles!
I wrote the poem before reading the article (which turns out to be about the cast of a Broadway play temporarily on hiatus.) The poem arises out of the very end of this week's Torah portion. In Deuteronomy 25:17-20, we read:
Remember what Amalek did to you on your journey, after you left Egypt — how, undeterred by fear of God, he surprised you on the march, when you were famished and weary, and cut down all the stragglers in your rear. Therefore, when the Lord your God grants you safety from all your enemies around you, in the land that the Lord your God is giving you as a hereditary portion, you shall blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven. Do not forget!
What exactly it means to "blot out the memory of Amalek" is, of course, open for debate. Some have argued that it means to wipe out Amalek and his descendants, though that's by no means the only interpretation. For more on this I recommend AMALEK TODAY: To Remember, To Blot Out, by Rabbi Arthur Waskow (who, by the way, was in a car accident last week and suffered broken ribs and leg; please keep him in your prayers.)
Reb Arthur notes the paradox in the commandment to "remember... blot out the memory... do not forget" -- how can we simultaneously blot something out and remember it? As he touches on some of the dark and painful events which have arisen out of the commandment to blot out Amalek, he suggests that Amalek is part of our own family -- indeed, that we can find Amalek within ourselves. My poem tries to play with some of these same questions. I'll leave it to you to tell me whether or not I succeeded!
(You can read the other poems submitted for this prompt at this week's get your poem on post.)