Vive le Chapeau!
by Rick Lupert

When the group I was involved with
wanted to get custom hats to show off
our solidarity to the people we served
I disagreed with the message they
wanted to print on it, refused to buy one
and claimed I didn’t like to wear hats

They knew I was a fraud, later that year
when I showed up to the Oscars party
wearing a beret I’d proudly purchased
from the vintage clothing store. I thought
you didn’t like to wear hats they said,
and I wrote it off like nothing had been
said at all.

Even later that year, I wore that beret
on my first trip to Paris, where I assumed
they would welcome me as one of their own.
I was literally the only person in the French
nation wearing a beret, as my traveling
companion pointed out over and over.
She left early

leaving me alone in the city of love
to wander along the banks of the Seine
that beret beaming off the top of my head,
where berets are supposed to go, distracting
people from their otherwise pleasant views of
La Tour Eiffel, and reminding the French who
they really were.

I felt like a million francs on that trip and ate so
much cheese, I’m lucky my heart didn’t also leave
early. I don’t remember when I stopped wearing that
beret, I just know I’m not wearing it now. There was
a subsequent short time I wore a baseball cap with
a frog on it, but that was just for the money. I won’t
even mention it.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: My official staff-photo when I was a music teacher at Valley Beth Shalom Day School in 1995. Note the beret.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rick Lupert has been involved with L.A. poetry since 1990. He is the recipient of the 2014 Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center Distinguished Service Award and was a co-director of the Valley Contemporary Poets for two years. He created the Poetry Super Highway and hosted the weekly Cobalt Cafe reading for almost 21 years. His first spoken word album — Rick Lupert Live and Dead, featuring 25 studio and live tracks — was released in March, 2016. He’s authored 20 collections of poetry, including Donut Famine, Professor Clown on Parade, Romancing the Blarney Stone (both forthcoming from Rothco Press in December 2016),  Making Love to the 50 Foot Woman (Rothco Press, May 2015), The Gettysburg Undress, and Nothing in New England is New, and edited the anthologies Ekphrastia Gone WildA Poet’s Haggadah, and the noir anthology The Night Goes on All Night. He also writes and draws (with Brendan Constantine) the daily web comic Cat and Banana and writes the Jewish Poetry column “From the Lupertverse” for He is regularly featured at venues all over the world. Visit him on facebook.

Author photo by Alexis Rhone Fancher.