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b for short Aug 4
My mother tells me to be quiet.
Their home-brewed bigotry spills
over every edge of the bar--
every chair laced with straight, white, borrowed souls.
It spills and evaporates into the air--
unfresh, close, and thicker than before.
It sprouts decayed, bone-thin fingers that wrap around my throat.
My eyes water at the existence of it.
I go to gasp, to sing, to fill my lungs with anything else,
but she hushes me.
The rest of them-- they laugh and they sip.
It's bitter, it must be so bitter, but still, they sip.
Disgust lingering behind their teeth,
they've accepted that "this is just how things are."
This is just the way things have always been.
Unchanged, uneducated, unfit for survival,
they simply wait for whatever comes next, and they sip.
But here I sit, frantic, searching.  
There is no way out. The clouds descend,
and I realize
I was raised until I raised myself.
My mother, she taught me kindness,
she taught me patience; how to take turns,
but she did not teach me how to breathe... in this.
I
taught me how to speak the oxygen of tolerance
in the presence of green, noxious bigotry.
I
chose to live beside the oppression of race, gender, and ****** preference.
I
do not blame these white, straight, borrowed souls
for fearing what they choose not to understand.
But mother,
I
will no longer
be quiet.
b for short Apr 14
To the boy who slings beer near the capitol of Virginia:
I can't drink what you're selling, but
I do wish I could climb into your mind for a day.
I'd watch the colors pass by as you switch lenses,
as you understand the misunderstood,
as you explain all of that ignorance
that rents the space under the rug.
You made me dream with my eyes wide open.
These are the words I never said to you
and the words you needed to hear in the dark.
I missed the boat with you on it,
but I often wonder
if you ever care to go for a swim.
© Bitsy Sanders, April 2020
b for short Apr 14
Guided by something heavier
than a final notice or a dollar sign.
It's a power, not for profit,
that's respected silently, without a like button.
It tangles my hair in the stars
as I dream of places that feel like home,
but never visited.
It whispers the names of people
that I know I've loved in another life.
The world is on fire, but
I close my eyes and hear its music.
It hums. I follow.
The world is on fire, but
I dance in its glow.
© Bitsy Sanders, April 2020
b for short Apr 3
Assume the employee smiles as you
wait in line for a sanitized shopping cart.
Assume she has slight imperfections
in her front teeth as you do.
Tiny chips from hard candy mishaps
back in the early 2000s
that you choose to notice while
you examine your mouth in the mirror.
Assume that they're eyes are telling the truth--
they didn't wake up with a fever this morning,
and neither did the lady or her four kids behind you.
Assume by their relaxed body language
that we're all still safe from something we can't see.
Assume that since your own smile is naked,
somehow, you'll get out of this public place untouched.
It feels like you do. You hope, anyway.
Assume that the governor knows what's best when he says
"It is suggested that all citizens wear facemasks,
regardless if they're showing symptoms."
You put the peanut butter in the cupboard
and the paper plates on the counter.
You wash your hands for twenty seconds,
singing "Happy Birthday" twice, just like they said.
You touch your face because you assume you're clean.
Assuming your own risk, you pick up your phone and
in a rigid, robotic fashion, your search begins.
Assume you will see "out of stock" and "due to high demand,"
and assume that you will come up empty-handed, again.
You find her though,
a young girl who has made hundreds face masks to sell
on her online shop.
She asks you to select your pattern,
and as I scan my choices,
I imagine what would accompany my feverish face the best.
"Cats," I say to her through a series of clicks.
"Cats, and I think, I'll take the one with roses too."
© Bitsy Sanders, April 2020
b for short Apr 2
Six-feet between me and
forty-six vignettes of adventurous times.
The slick, shiny gloss used to put a sheen
on moments made for smiling.
Now, ancient beaches and haunting deserts,
where my footprints are planted,
are a dream I fight to remember
after the alarm sounds.
Aches for lost chances of overpriced
airport snacks
and shared glances with strangers
seem to slowly construct "fun's" obituary
on the bored corners of my mind.
But I wait, six-feet away,
to relive it all anyway.
Six-feet between me and some one-hour photos.
Six-feet between me and a graveyard of freedoms.
© Bitsy Sanders, April 2020
b for short Aug 2019
“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 2019
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
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