Might abacadaba be a charm,
Or perhaps potent poetic hex?
Would that it could guard from harm,
Its very form a counter-curse spell!
What guides forth poet's tired arm?
His mind, or weird magic force?
Could such rhymes barbarian disarm,
Or vile sorcerer's intentions vex?
... Well, should I vanish, please raise the alarm!
Some people don't like the word Jew
A label that fits me like comfy shoe
Jews were murdered and made into glue
Regarded as less than beasts at a zoo
Blamed for both the plague and the flu
In the end, though, it's the haters who stew
Jewish cholent is a magical stew
If you'd like some, just befriend a Jew
It can cure both COVID and the flu
And when it spills, it won't stain your shoe
Come, let's pack some for a trip to the zoo
Food and family bind us like glue
From true history we cannot unglue
All began with primordial stew
We all got here by way of the zoo
European; African; Jew
Mortality fits us all like a shoe
And we die of the very same flus
There are always new strains of the flu
Viruses to human cell membranes glue
Vaccines help but cannot fully shoe
We are but chunks of meat in this stew
Asian; South American; Jew
Are we destined to live as if in a zoo?
It takes a great deal to get me zooed
I don't suffer much from brown bottle flu
My friends joke that I'm a Russian Jew
I reply that I'm rubber, they're glue
And we laugh over hearty Jew stew
The secret ingredient's sole of shoe
In the heat, men buzzing flies shoo
But not so those beasts at the zoo
Nor are they wont to sit and stew
Every species has its own flu
DNA is a powerful glue
Oceanian; North American; Jew
Some racists claim diplomatic flu
When accused, they stand as if glued
Much abashed by this very proud Jew
My initial intentions in writing this poem were:
Write a sestina that rhymes
Write a poem about antisemitism
I deliberately used the word ‘Jew’ as one of the rhyming words; the other five words that rhymed with ‘Jew’ were picked at random.
I shall now type some lines on a lark (I'm silly);
When I rhyme, my kid begs- Please stop it! No really!
She insists ev'ry day that I cease the abuse;
That my words just annoy; that I'm no Dr. Seuss.
And she's right, I admit, 'bout my quips and puns weak;
Endless reasons to cringe when I verse tongue-in-cheek.
Perhaps I should refrain when she's perched on my lap;
Cuz to tell you the truth, I'm much better at rap!
Hopscotch with Anapestic tetrameter
Today, at d’Verse we were prompted to write poems with tetrameter — and anapests.
Specifically, we were instructed to hopscotch like children in spring, doing anapests, which means two unstressed syllables, followed by one stressed. da-da-DAM. Anapestic tetrameter means four stressed syllables on each line (so each line has twelve syllables). It’s a form mastered by Dr. Seuss, which my daughter and I are very familiar with.
And, apparently, Eminem also makes use of anapestic tetrameter:
When an apikoros broke Shabbat,
The old rabbi just sighed, "Oy, mein Gott!
If you think it's alright
To switch on the light...
Well... it would seem I forgot the crock-pot!"
A quick explanation
There are many religious restrictions associated with Shabbat (the Sabbath) in traditional Judaism, including not using electricity and not cooking on Shabbat. The phrase “breaking Shabbat” means desecrating Shabbat by breaking any of these many restrictions.
An apikoros is a Jew who informedly rejects the tenets of traditional Jewish faith and probably does not live according to the tradition. An apikoros would have no problem “breaking Shabbat” by flipping a light switch on or cooking on the Sabbath.
A traditional stew called “cholent” is often served on Saturdays. The idea behind this dish is that it must be prepared before Shabbat and put in a crock-pot on low heat to finish cooking overnight on Friday (during Shabbat). By the time Saturday (still Shabbat) rolls around, the cholent is thoroughly cooked – ready to be eaten for Shabbat lunch!
The humor in this limerick is that the old rabbi is not only prohibited from cooking on Shabbat himself – he is also forbidden from benefitting from another Jew’s desecration of the Sabbath. Technically, if the apikoros cooks food on Shabbat, and if the rabbi knows of this, the rabbi cannot eat that food. And, as you may have guessed already, suggesting that another Jewish person desecrate the Sabbath is also religiously verboten.
In this limerick, the old rabbi is knowingly suggesting that the apikoros turn on the crock-pot with the cholent inside, thereby both cooking food and actively making use of an electrical device on the Sabbath. Seems that this old rabbi is a bit of an apikoros himself!
Some say that the word “cholent” may have come from the French “chaud” (hot) and “lent” (slow).