“Pancake Dilemma” by George Bilgere

George Bilgere


Another subway station blows up in Europe,
it’s right there on the front page,
and I’m about to pour some syrup on my pancakes.

But perhaps I shouldn’t be doing this.
Maybe I should just put the syrup down
out of respect for the victims and their families.

Yet who is there to witness my sacrifice,
my gesture of solidarity, however small, 
with the international community?

My wife is playing with our son in the living room.
I’m at the table by myself, and I could just go ahead
and pour the syrup and smear on some butter
and think compassionately about the victims
while eating the pancakes while they’re hot.
No one will benefit from my eating cold pancakes.

Instead, I call out to my wife from the dining room,
“Another subway station blew up in Europe,
they think it’s terrorists,” but she doesn’t hear me,
the TV’s turned up for Paw Patrol.

So I just sit here quietly for a moment,
then start eating the pancakes,
trying not to enjoy them too much.

from Rattle #57, Fall 2017
Tribute to Rust Belt Poets


George Bilgere: “I’ve lived here in the scenic Rust Belt for 25 years. Not half my life, but long enough to have seen a lot of rust. Although I grew up in California I was actually born in St. Louis and lived there until I was ten. St. Louis is just as ‘Rust Belt’ as Cleveland. So I guess that yes, I self-identify as a Rust-Belter. But the fact is that I really don’t write much poetry about that.” (website)

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