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The Six-Second Rule

January 1, 2009 by · No comments

Jerry Ratch

Photo: evoo73

They come to the new world,
but bring the old world
with them.
The six-second rule.

When their bagel drops
face down
on the café floor,
apparently it’s the old world
six-second rule that applies,
instead of our own
more modern
three-second rule.

Here, especially if you’ve
smeared cream cheese
on your bagel
and it falls face down,
you’ve only got
three seconds to retrieve it
and examine whether any
schmutz is sticking to it.
If not – what the heck,
we wolf that baby down.

But not in Europe . There
things are slower
and you’ve got a full
six seconds,
a lifetime, more or less,
like a lazy afternoon
in Firenze , say,
or Berlin , or Amsterdam .
No one in a hurry.
Six full seconds to pick up
the roaches,
ants, mouse droppings,
toothpicks and hair,

The tourist picks it up,
stares at the surface,
checking for obvious lumps, etc.
then checks the ground itself
to see how much crap
there is covering the floor –
not bad apparently –
then he laughs
and looks at his wife,
lover or friend.

She’s shaking her head,
and he mutters a joke
about the six-second rule
in any other language
but ours.
He’s going to be kissing her
later with that same
mouth, and she knows it,
and finally she too
laughs, the girl with
the pearl earring, and
mouth full of
cream cheese.

Categories: Frontpage · poetry


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