A.M. Juster


Ballade of Bad Sandwiches

Enjoy every sandwich—Warren Zevon

I ask myself throughout my flight delay:
why can’t a Whopper have more sauce and cheese?
Those footlong subs grow shorter by the day.
There’s skimpy bacon in my BLT’s,
and this pastrami is so dry and gray
I cannot drown its dreary taste in beer.
I ask a food-court worker, “Tell me, please,
where are the sandwiches of yesteryear?”

How long can mayonnaise or chicken stay
on sale before they give us some disease?
Who knows if food inspectors need to spray?
I balk at burgers as uncooked as these,
then panic that my tuna is passé;
egg salad leaves me nearly numb with fear
about E. coli’s harsh realities.
Where are the sandwiches of yesteryear?

I am not asking that they be gourmet.
Who needs more quinoas and organic Bries?
Who wants croissants that quickly flake away—
or honey dressing sourced from free-range bees?
Bring ham and cheese with chips from Frito Lay!
The PBJ apocalypse is near,
and yet the FDA remains at ease.
Where are the sandwiches of yesteryear?

We’ve lost our dietary liberties;
such times demand a lunchtime Paul Revere.
Now stand with me! Arise as one and say,

A.M. Juster is the author of Longing for Laura (Birch Brook Press 2001) (Petrarch translations); The Secret Language of Women (University of Evansville Press 2003); The Satires of Horace (University of Pennsylvania Press 2008); Tibullus’ Elegies (Oxford University Press 2012); Saint Aldhelm’s Riddles (University of Toronto Press 2015); Sleaze & Slander: New and Selected Comic Verse 1995-2015 (Measure Press 2016); The Billy Collins Experience (forthcoming this year from Kelsay Books); The Elegies of Maximianus (University of Pennsylvania Press, anticipated in 2017). He has published poems and translations in Poetry,The Paris Review, The Hudson Review, Rattle,The New Criterion, Barrow Street, Southwest Review, North American Review, Michigan Quarterly Review and many other journals. Winner of the Howard Nemerov Sonnet Award (three times), the Richard Wilbur Award and the Barnstone Translation prize, he is profiled here.