The Rime of the Ancient Casserole

(with apologies to Samuel Taylor Coleridge)

It is a defrocked feast-o-crat,
And he stoppeth one of three
"I must away and help the cook,
Now wherefore stopp'st thou me?

The Great Hall's doors are open'd wide
The chef awaits within.
The guests are met, the tables set:
May'st hear the head cook's din?"

He holds him with a skinny hand,
"There was a feast," quoth he.
"I am apprentice to the chef,
Hands off and let me be!"

He threw him down and sat on him
Till apprentice remained still
And listened quite reluctantly.
The feast-o-crat had his will.

"The court was cheer'd, the feast hall clear'd,
Quickly we did shop
And rushed back soon with bread and fruit
And vegetables to chop.

No food! No food! Short one remove.
I dug through the supplies.
The larder, bare - no options there.
I'd have to improvise.

Then three or four cans Albacore,
Out of the trash they came.
No matter that they were expired,
I used them all the same.

And a great enormous casserole
The Albacore did make
But such a gaffe, too thick by half
for it to fully bake.

And I had done a foolish thing
And it would work 'em woe.
The feast delayed, three hours it stayed,
I served it anyhow.

It struck at once, they dropped their spoons
And gave a collective gasp;
Strange sounds rose slowly through their throats,
And from their bowels pass'd.

One by one, by the candle light,
Too quick to groan or sigh,
Each jumped and ran through privy door
And let their dinner fly.

Four times fifty gentle folk
Dropping out of sight,
Slid to the floor, and never more
Would care to dance that night.

'Is this the clown who slew the Crown?',
The autocrat did roar,
'With that cruel dish, of crisps and fish,
Called Noodles Albacore?'

The many guests, so beautiful
And they as dead did lie:
And only vegetarians
Were well; and so was I.

Since then at every dinner hour,
That agony returns:
And till my ghastly tale is told,
This heart within me burns."

Into the hall apprentice rushed
To avert a dreadful fate
He was on hand to check each can
For expiration date.