The Danger of Italian Restaurants

The idea for this poem came to me in the proverbial "flash of insight"--I was taking my family out to eat at a new Italian restaurant and saw something in the menu that got me thinking. I got a faraway look in my eyes, and a wide smile slowly spread across my face. . . .

This poem was first published in the September/October 1998 issue of Quantum Magazine.

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The Danger of Italian Restaurants
Copyright 1997 David Arns
One bright afternoon in the spring of the year,
   I took out my family to eat;
With such an enormous selection of spots,
   Choosing was not a small feat.
At last we decided: Italian it was,
   And the restaurant had opened just recently;
We decided to go in and give it a shot,
   And see if they fixed their food decently.

Once seated and reading the menu, I froze:
   "Surely," I thought, "This can't be!"
I looked around, wild-eyed, at customers' plates,
   Resisting a strong urge to flee.
Two items I'd seen on the menu, I knew,
   If combined, would be terribly deadly.
I desperately tried to settle my breathing,
   And force my wild heart to beat steadily.

The danger, you see, is most serious indeed,
   For the eater and others as well:
Enormous explosions, with high radiation,
   Could a knowledge of science foretell.
Explosions so big they could flatten a town--
   Reduce it to a smouldering crater--
Its molten-glass sides just a hint of the heat
   That won't cool until days or weeks later.

"Don't these people know physics?" I thought in my grief,
   While pond'ring the coming destruction--
The cooks just plowed on and obliviously worked
   Maintaining their rate of production--
"These people can't see that the energy flash
   Will be a deathblow to the nation!"
For, of course, mixing pasta and antipasta
   Would result in complete annihilation!

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