Yes! A hamburger! A mustard grin! Ketchup smiles!

Three poems by Sarah Sala


  • my car broke down,
  • my mother became someone I didn’t recognize, I had
  • a relapse, my sister got beat up, I felt the tremendous
  • anxiety of living, do you remember me, no busses go there,
  • I had an abortion, I’m bedridden with a virus, my ex-
  • boyfriend robbed me, the nurses are sweet, I couldn’t find
  • parking, one of my animals died and the other is sick,
  • I fell asleep and didn’t wake up, my grandma is having
  • a mastectomy, my roommate is an undergrad too,
  • we’re pulling the plug on my aunt today, I had to pick up
  • my rat from the vet, a power surge broke all the light bulbs
  • in my house, Twitter released my home address, I miss the
  • numbness sometimes, I’m driving my mother to work,
  • I’m sliding in the snow, I got a speeding ticket, I went
  • snowboarding, I’m in holding, my ankle is broken,
  • is this all there is, I didn’t understand the assignment.

No one ever asked me if I liked being called Pluto

  • When Pluto was a planet, X got detention for keeping
  • their eyes open during prayer. They wondered, are all
  • grandmas named Dorothy? Their voice became a mind
  • no one else could hear.
  • When no one knew what a planet was anymore,
  • X read the Sunday comics alongside the original
  • eight. New mnemonics replaced the old:
  • They love me, they’re terrestrial. They love me,
  • they’re gaseous. They love me not, I’m an ice planet.
  • X studied childhood obesity with jellybeans asking,
  • which one is the best?
  • When Pluto was a dwarf planet, X had sex in a pajama set,
  • with the Kuiper Belt repeating yes-yes-yes-yes.
  • Children wrote misspelled letters to scientists exclaiming,
  • If there are people who live there they won’t exist.
  • Then X’s sister birthed a niece, a small impact
  • with jet black hair. They named her Lola, which means:
  • no one ever asked me if I liked being called Pluto.

Excerpt from After Being Laid Off, A Series of Rothko Paintings

  • Yes! A hamburger! A mustard grin! Ketchup smiles! Cheesing fast food!
  • A photo of your lips! Bliss becomes the lens! The picturesque emotion
  • absent from our bodies. To backward gaze. I could not stand you/// until I
  • consumed you. Five years to enter the layers. A trip — a tip — a white
  • string of amusement. Hamburger mustache. Mayonnaise. Lift off.
  • Recognize when the eaters are in peril. Recognize an abort mission.

Sarah Sala is a poet and educator who hails from Brooklyn, Michigan. Her poem “Hydrogen” was featured in the “Elements” episode of NPR’s hit show Radiolab in collaboration with Emotive Fruition. The Ghost Assembly Line, a chapbook of her selected poetry, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2016. SarahSala.com.

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