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b for short Aug 22
“To us, white girls are exotic,”
says my Arab American boyfriend.
At that moment, my brain ceases
to make sense of those words
in that order.
Exotic? White? Girl?
Me? Me. He means... me.
So this is what I say
to my Arab American boyfriend
who has
more culture in his pinky
than all of white America combined.
From what I can tell,
to be white in America is
boring static,
AM radio on a Sunday morning
with a broken dial
on a back road in the boonies.
It is the culture born by everything borrowed but wrongfully claimed
as its own invention.
To be white, in America, tastes like
cream of wheat
with no hope of brown sugar.
It is a tumbleweed-kind-of-rootless
and just as desert dry.
It is colorless, odorless, tasteless—
and will choke you slowly
if you don’t build up a tolerance.
But
if you’re lucky enough
to be white in America,
for about a hundred bucks
and a swab of the cheek,
the Internet can tell you
where you came from.
Even if that makes you feel cultured,
tomorrow you will wake up
and still be
white in America.
To be white in America, I thought,
was as far from exotic
as the self-loathing, middle aged guy
behind the counter
at your local DMV.
But white girls, he says, are exotic.
Perhaps it’s because pumpkin spice
oozes from my pasty pores,
or that “there ain’t no laws
when you’re drinkin’ the Claws.”
Maybe he couldn’t resist the fact
that the Starbucks barista
knows my order
better than my name,
or that my hair blowdries pin straight—
no matter the time of year.
I wonder if it’s the combo of
black leggings, messy buns,
and work out tanks—
or the fact that I think I’m saving the whole ******* sea turtle population
with my stainless steel straw.
Exotic?
Maybe it’s my compulsive nature
to buy in bulk, to pet every dog I see,
and to cry over Queer Eye episodes.
It couldn’t possibly be
the steady diet of rom coms,
my collection of Birkenstocks,
or the apple cinnamon candle
burning on my windowsill
that reminds me of “fall y’all,”
but then again, who knows?
To me, my whiteness is a privilege
that will forever be misinterpreted
as entitlement by every person
who checks that “white” box
on the form
without checking themselves too.

“To us, white girls are exotic,” he says.

White girl is just happy
he likes her in spite of it.
Copyright Bitsy Sanders, August 2019
b for short Jul 4
Young, fresh, unsuspecting—
I was her once.
Instead, now I am the subject
of her pining curiosity.
“When will you get married?”
I empathize and recognize
that my 30 to her 16 seems to be
soft, ripened fruit
on the verge of a good, wasteful spoil.
The smile that cracks on my lips
begs to grow into laughter,
and I resist.
I was her once.
I still catch flecks of her
in the corners of my eyes whenever
I see love take one of its many shapes.
My answer.
“Single admission still gets you
into the same movie, kid.”
Looking in the rear view mirror,
I catch that fleck and keep quiet.

Your move, universe.
Copyright Bitsy Sanders, July 2019
b for short Jun 25
They tell my generation
to stay hydrated,
after leading us on
an eighteen year journey
to a dry well.
No wonder we’re
dying off by the thousands—
a learned, unquenchable thirst
for something that doesn’t exist.
b for short Jun 23
The car’s not on but
your seatbelt is.
Going zero miles per hour,
you are guaranteed to hit
nothing.
You are guaranteed to see
nothing.
You are guaranteed to go
nowhere.
You’re in a safe place— at home,
without a single smudge on the exterior,
without a single story to tell,
without a single soul
waiting to hear what’s next.
Don’t worry.
I’ll wave as I drive by,
going 80 down some coastal highway,
filling up pages with every breath I take.
b for short Jan 19
Does it make you feel uneasy—
a young woman sitting alone
in a leather chair
by the elevators
with infinite thoughts
and not a single
shred of attention
for those who
walk by?
Copyright Bitsy Sanders, January 2019
b for short Jan 4
I know exactly what this looks like.
Cold, grey, and understated.
It's the bruised piece of fruit at the bottom of the crate;
the one everyone sees but won't commit to buying.
He thinks he won't buy it either,
but when she drops him,
the loneliness consumes, it envelopes,  
and the grasping begins.
He grabs... anything.
He grabs the bruised fruit.
He sinks his teeth into its soft flesh;
juices sweet;
texture pleasing.
He forgets the superficial imperfections.
After he's enjoyed it down to its bare core,
it knows.
This was only temporary.
He won't replant the seeds to watch it grow.
He won't thank it for the nourishment
that got him by.
He will drop it, without regard,
as he admires
the polished pieces placed at the top of the crate.
When he's hungry, he'll choose, carefully, this time,
without letting on he knows exactly what this looks like.
Seeds by a trashcan;
unfulfilled potential strewn across the floor;
a rotting purpose.
© Bitsy Sanders, January 2019
b for short Nov 2018
Thirty has curves the tongue
can’t navigate.
It echoes over and over in silent,
snow-covered gorges.
Thirty can hang if you let it take a nap first.
It won’t ever have money, but
it’s assumed it can pick up the check.
Thirty dances along every edge, and
doesn’t listen when it’s told
not to look down.
It smells like various cheap jar candles;
scents trailed with subtle “**** its”
and the smoke leaves notes
of pungent regret.
Thirty has an aftertaste of ****** innuendo and likes to whisper filth in a stranger’s ear
when no one can hear.
It doesn’t intend to put its happiness
in any hands but its own
(but does it anyway).
Thirty has guts but is too modest
to show off that armor.
It argues more freely and refuses
to lay at anyone’s feet.
Thirty knows the smell of snow
and relishes the scent
of fire’s smoke in its hair.
It can taste the deep kisses from yesterday
and never stops wondering
if they’ll come again.
Thirty finds a purpose in every day
but realizes that tomorrow
is not a promise made to anyone.
It feels unsettled and shortfallen,
but its cup runneth over.
It uses what it’s mama gave it
to stay warm at night.
Thirty is lonely with a full charge.
It finds poetry in palm lines and
pulls prose from the lies its told.
Thirty is the beginning you
never knew you needed.

So let’s begin.
© Bitsy Sanders, November 2018
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