Out there in the world, iceberg lettuce has a bad rep: it’s pedestrian, boring, bland, boring, old-fashioned, with no nutritional value. But a big crunchy head of iceberg lettuce? There’s nothing wrong with that in my book. Those pale green, crunchy leaves of water, the perfect foil for a dab of dijon mustard and bit of cheddar cheese, the crispy part of a good burger. Plus, it’s a green vegetable. It’s got vitamins and all that. Man cannot live by iceberg lettuce alone, but it does add a crispy touch to other things. When I see a head of iceberg, I get inspired to make a taco salad, or my favorite Cobb, or Pasta House salads.

Other people get inspired to make posters:

Cartoons:

An iceberg lettuce island?

Plays:

Art by David Lester

Even bikinis:

 

Iceberg lettuce inspired poet Joanie Mackowski to write this poem. Vegetable leviathans – I’ll never imagine my salad in the same way. Enjoy, in honor of National Poetry Month:

Iceberg Lettuce
by Joanie Mackowski

What vegetable leviathan
extends beneath the dinner table,
an unseen, monstrous green that pulls
the chair out from under our faith

 

in appearances: see a mere tuft
of leaf on the plate like a wing,
but if it flies away, it undoubtedly
will disturb the continental drift

 

asleep under the salad plate,
the hidden world we forget
as we reach for the smaller fork—
(and now, mouth full, don’t speak: politely

 

chew your leaf of firmament
that’s torn and tossed up in vinegar here as
we’ll be tossed before its vast
root maybe someday or any moment).

 

Poetry (1999). Thank you to the Poetry Foundation for making these poems available online.

 

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