The Avocado Sandwich of History

The restaurant was serving
The avocado sandwich of history.
It was enriched by slices of hard-boiled egg.
Hard-boiled men came swaggering through the swinging doors,
They had neglected to wash their hands.
At the other tables
Families huddled in the dark
Around the light of lone candles,
With grips at their side.

Oh and there was one of the statesmen,
He was ready to order.
His diction was superb.
He asked for a slice of land,
The flank, without fat,
The south done rare,
The north fully broiled—
I could see his guests at the table
With eye patches and bandannas,
Their dinner knives already in their hands,…
What a meal!
They chewed so loudly,
You could hear the bones snapping
(At the curb, big white trucks with water cannon
Stood ready to clear the spinach from between their teeth).

A flood of sudsy water rolled out from the kitchen,
History is over, cried the janitor,
But they kept on eating,
Their eyes gleamed in the light that burned from candles
Made of scrolls and words and buried desires,
And the radio chattered so loudly
With static and brute phrases
And stale laughter and sports figures
That everyone else in the restaurant
Gazed with despair at their flambeaux.
And the hair of the statesmen grew thicker and whiter,
And whatever they said was transcribed onto paper napkins
And immediately transported to the kitchen,
As, in a corner of the restaurant,
Two health inspectors were wrestling on the ground
(Each one wanted to be in charge,
They disagreed vigorously with each other’s methods),
And one of the crew called for deviled eggs,
And from a dark table
A meek sheep-faced man sibilantly asked for angel food cake
And closed his eyes and chewed silently.

And to my immense surprise, the restaurant stayed open.
The sun had long since set,
It should have been time for breakfast.
Where were the truckers, bringing fresh eggs and fresh bread?

I am sitting in the restaurant still,
The statesmen are squabbling over scraps of squab,
They are leaning over and biting the corpse of a horse
Lying on a bed of rice,
They are dragging other patrons’ tables to themselves
And sweeping off the ratatouille.
More statesmen have been invited to the feast,
They keep pouring into the restaurant,
Mafiosi with shiny cheekbones,
Two sheiks riding camels,
The Queen of Spain (they had to exhume her,
And she is still brushing clumps of earth from her eye sockets),
Make room for Hugo (I love his smile),
There’s Ahmadinejad, he’s got his own table,
And three thousand centrifuges are wheeled out from the kitchen,
There’s the fellow without a chin, with the weak mustache,
He’s banging his fork and demanding service,
And the maitre d’, in a star-spangled top hat
Is racing back and forth, pointing out seats,
But no one is paying him any mind
(Except for the King of Saudi Arabia,
Who sticks a five dollar bill up his nose)
And the wine waiter comes out
With a map of the world folded over his arm
And a bottle of aquifer water
That he swiped from a silent table,
And there is Condi,
“I have organized this special evening!”
But no one paying any attention to her,
They are watching Ehud Olmert tap-dancing,
He is wearing a bear costume and singing mah yafit,
As the head of the Israeli Tax Authority is picking pockets,
The Minister of Defense is looking through capped binoculars,
The Minister of Justice has cornered one of the waitresses,
The Chief of Staff is on his cell phone, trading stock options,
The head of the opposition is giving a speech
(He is standing on top of his rivals to make himself taller),
Yosef Beilin is greeted warmly, he is wearing his rubber mask,
Stalin or Chirac (it’s hard to tell which),
Oh and there’s Shimon,
He’s casting handfuls of rose petals and singing of a new Middle—
Oof! That clumsy oaf Mubarak has knocked him down again!
Olmert is still dancing,
His big eyes are solemn, he is tired, he says, of winning dance contests,
But “Dance, varmint!” shouts that gun-slinger, Abbas,
Two million rounds of ammunition are slung around his neck.
The president of Malaysia has been invited as well,
And the washer women of Dubai,
The hat check girl from Casablanca shows up
And the plenipotentiary of Brazil,
For this dinner must not be allowed to fail,
Condoleeza Rice is still yelling in the corner,
For we all have a stake!

Ehud Olmert is being wheeled into the kitchen,
The crowd stares at the door
(The Minister for the Environment looks carefully around,
As he riffles through wallets).
Out pops Olmert, he is dragging a sacrificial lamb,
The hubbub starts up again.

When I sneak out of the restaurant, it is four in the morning,
The stars are still shining, the moon is waning and waxing like crazy,
I turn on the car radio, Shlomo Carlebach is singing.
Oh I hope this is a tune I haven’t heard before!


One Response to “The Avocado Sandwich of History”

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