The Unfinished Sofa of My Youth — A poem for Parsha Re’eh (Aliyah 3)

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Everything I command you that you shall be careful to do it. You shall neither add to it, nor subtract from it.

Deuteronomy 13:1

It’s hard not to go right to Ikea for this one.
The instructions that come must be followed
to the letter, or your bookcase will tumble,
or your sofa will protrude an extra piece up you.

I ordered a couch once from a company.
It came in numerous boxes. Its cushions expanded
like rising bread when I unsheathed them.
There was a bag of screws, or nuts, or

whatever they call those things.
Three quarters of the way through the assembly
I noticed one of the connecting thingies was missing.
Just one, where there were three others.

So I let it slide. We’d be sitting cushy tonight!
For years after, that side of the couch had
a tiny jiggle. We dealt with it. We sat near it.
Instructions were issued to not sit too hard

on that spot. We were fine in this imperfect situation
but would have been even finer had there been
no subtractions or additions. This makes me think
of all the regulations I am told to abide by.

I can bring a maximum of six guests to the pool.
Before I install a new anything outside of the house
I have to fill out the paperwork and run it
by the committee.

My rampant jaywalking has gone unnoticed but
I mostly keep that to my self. Even my art tries to
stick by the rules (though most of these I make up.)
Look how each stanza of this poem is four lines.

This is the structure I have developed. Did anyone
notice last week when I snuck a three line stanza
at the end? Run and tell your officiators!

He’s talking about his poetry in his poetry again!
This is the kind of thing that would have the Holy One
cancel your existence without a smooth-talking Moses
advocating for you on either side of the river.

These poems are offered free for your enjoyment. If you use them as part of an event, meeting, educational or liturgical setting, please consider tipping the author.

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