Sarah Trudgeon

Lives of the Poets

“Hi, my name is Sarah, I’ll be taking care of you tonight.”
That’s what I’d say when I worked at Hamburger Mary’s.
I liked it better than saying, “I’ll be your server,”
which reminded me of computers, my mind having been
pre-orientated by the times, like when I read “preferment”
in Lives of the Poets and think “pre-ferment,” because
of fermentation and Sandor Katz, which I’ll bet you’ve
been thinking about lately, too. I made out with a Katz once—Andrew.
I taught him how to dive at a rich friend’s pool
one night in college over summer break, vodka, chlorine,
wet skin, etc. He only had one ball, which, when I felt around down there
seemed pretty much just the same as having two.
I wish I could tell you more about why he only had one ball.
I later had another boyfriend, Evan, who had three balls,
which was actually much different than having two—
you really noticed the bulk. The night I made out
with monorchid Andrew, my boyfriend at the time, Steve
(who just had the usual two), was passed out drunk
on the floor the whole time, and I’ve never once felt guilty about it.
I might have if he were just asleep regularly.
In fact a professor of mine even went to college with Katz
(Sandor, not Andrew). He was a good professor but neurotic and selfish,
which was just his disposition. Some people believe
there are choices in these kinds of things—
whether to be a more easygoing person or a less fearful person, for example—
but I don’t think so, I think everyone is always doing the best and most they can,
which is sometimes more and sometimes less,
and I don’t think the way most people are
(though those on the extremes do seem
to have some other inexplicable Thing going on)
should be much praised or condemned, only recognized,
that is to say, not willfully ignored or made out to be any better
or any worse. This is in the interest of getting at Truth,
or trying to get closer, despite our neurological blind spots,
our Shifting Baselines about how many turtles there used to be in the seas—
enough to bathe in, like bubbles. For example, I said three
balls earlier, but it was actually just two balls and a benign variocele,
which amounted to a similar thing as three balls,
but I know the truth in my heart and that’s important,
it’s important to be honest with yourself about the way things were
and are. Of course some people will instinctually admire
or feel disdain towards certain others, and that is what they call “taste,”
for which there’s no accounting (which is similar to dispositions)
and which is why anyone ate at the gay hamburger place I worked at—
I mean “gay” as in “homosexual,” though of course the restaurant
itself had no sexual preference, only the clientele,
and the place was also strange and gay in the sense of “happy,”
of the “poets that are always gay,” though the poets are often also queer,
and sad, and so were the people at Hamburger Mary’s—
and I didn’t even eat meat at the time. On Wednesdays,
after the kitchen closed, I’d put on sparkling platform heels and a bikini,
go over to the bar side of the restaurant for Girlz Nite and serve
shots with names like “Lemonlaid” and “Slippery Nipple,”
and sometimes I’d lie on the bar as customers poured liquor
into my bellybutton then drank it out, a belly-shot, which doesn’t look great
on paper, but which really wasn’t so bad. I didn’t have any cellulite yet
and I made some money, and everyone was so gay.

Squirrel without Unicorns

A squirrel drank from the sidewalk
puddle glowing flawless freeze-pop blue
in the Emergency callbox lights

last night—but not this hoar’s
breath night, no rodents,
no unicorns, and never LeBron James,

just that squirrel tongue, once, if that,
though once, in a restaurant, Dwyane Wade,
and by all accounts Jimmy Carter once on a train,

I don’t remember, I was so small,
my mother had tied me and my brother to the seat
with the rope she brought to prevent our kidnapping—

it was literally the midnight train to Georgia,
she needed to sleep, we were going
to visit fat Aunt Rhonda

who later moved to Wyoming
and got liposuction and got her house exorcised—
her cigarettes kept going missing

and she doesn’t even smoke!
My brother is living with her
out there now, working sometimes,

shooting up in the bathroom,
until he can get his own apartment,
where he can shoot up in the bathroom.

He says Aunt Rhonda’s still fat,
that she gave him a nice propane grill
but then she took it back.