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Aug 22 · 473
white girl exotica
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
Jun 25 · 281
student loan debt
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
Jan 4 · 446
rebound
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
Nov 2018 · 347
thirty
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
Nov 2018 · 226
on my knees
b for short Nov 2018
On my knees, I feel taller than I'll ever be.
Where his hands descend, my skin hums;
tones that are new; tones that pull;
tones that arch my spine; that spark an ache
and make me pine for more of this music.
I find that I know every word to this song,
even though I've never heard it before.

On my knees, I see farther than I ever have.
With a single lick of my lips,
I shake mountains; I stop time;
I **** the speech from a tongue
that may need to forget
what pains it to speak.

On my knees, I am the most I have ever been.
As he wipes the tear from my cheek,
with my smile, juxtaposed;
my skin still hums to words sung so clear.

On my knees, I find purpose.
On my knees, I am.
© Bitsy Sanders, November 2018
b for short Apr 2018
Maybe what I need
is to stay awake long enough
to watch the sunset again.
But don't pity me, please.
I'm just "lonely;"
It's the teacher I can always look up to.
It thickens the skin and deepens the thoughts.
It reminds me why I enjoy the sound
of a stranger's laugh,
and presses me to admit that
I miss being touched.
Lonely looks a lot like a harvested cotton field,
and if you inhale the air as you drive by,
you'd know exactly how to describe
the smell of neglect.
Lonely proclaims that something empty
is just as beautiful, because you can see through it;
it can only tell the truth.
Maybe what I need
is to stay awake long enough
to watch the sunset again;
to learn that its lonely goodnight
is the most beautiful painting
the whole world gets to witness.
© Bitsy Sanders, April 2018
Jan 2018 · 205
waxing intuition
b for short Jan 2018
I have this feeling you speak the language
whispered only between raindrops,
and every morning
you tune the hum of the sun as
it dims the stars, pushing its way
out of the ocean—into the sky.
I have this feeling you handpick the color
of each October leaf,
and when fall has wandered away,
you proceed to pull the strings which
make the northern lights dance
the way that they do.

I just have this beautiful feeling.
© Bitsy Sanders, January 2018
Dec 2017 · 828
twenty-nine
b for short Dec 2017
Twenty-nine belts bravery from a bottle.
It feels like all talk and no game.
Twenty-nine has thighs that don't lie
and a finger that motions you
to come closer.
It relearns each facet of love
and finds beauty in its own reflection.
Twenty-nine betters the invention
instead of reinventing it.
It imagines kissing strangers to feel alive and
gifts the pearl to the jewel thief
with no words- only smiles.
Twenty-nine strikes a match
in the middle of a pitch black nowhere,
only to see the smoke twist up and away.
It cracks and hisses when it feels its been forgotten.
It smells like pine needles, orange peel, and sun bleached cotton.
Twenty-nine forgets those who have forgotten it
but thanks them for the lessons.
It likes church but only for the music, architecture, and sociology.
Twenty-nine won't apologize for passion or pity,
but it will drip with empathy at inopportune times.
Twenty-nine steeps itself in scalding water
only to discover its true flavor.
It finds no comfort in the opinions of others
but will only rest at the signal of a nod of approval.
Twenty-nine looks down into the neverending
and can't decide if it wants to jump or run.
It handstitches a parachute
as it dangles one foot over the edge,
says a prayer to no god
but writes hymns that bring tears.
Twenty-nine keeps breathing.
It keeps breathing.
Mar 2017 · 583
for melanie
b for short Mar 2017
Drives to the lake in the dead of winter
where frost hushed every living inch.
These were my favorite.
Leftover snow cakes the water’s still edges.
The scene looks like a cheaply-framed painting
that someone abandoned at the Goodwill.
I smile, because we cherished tchotchkes like that.
The beauty, it’s there, if you tilt your head just so.
This girl, with her magic, she taught me
how to find happiness in the simple things;
that song that you’d love enough to memorize
could save your life on a sad day.
Boys were simply there for amusement;
adventure was only a car ride and a trespass away.
Life was at its coolest when it was secondhand,
and price tags were a waste of paper.
The farmer’s market on the one-way
was our very own Marrakesh,
where we’d fill the air with spices
and let them trail on the tails of our long sweaters.
But drives to the lake in the dead of winter,
where the stars seemed to wait
for us to fill the space between them with laughter.
These were my favorite.
Wrapped tightly in scarves, we’d oblige them;
happy that we could not predict the future;
happy without knowing this end.
© Bitsy Sanders, March 2017
Mar 2017 · 596
magic, my kind of
b for short Mar 2017
Hell is fluorescent lights and the clicking of mice;
a place where the mind can’t breathe;
a place where the soul forgets her wings;
a place where the only flickers of wonder
are found in well-constructed Excel formulas.
This was never my kind of magic.
I often question why the little rectangles
on a spreadsheet are called “cells” instead of “boxes.”
Then it dawned on me: this is because
working these things as a daily job function
is the closest you can get to feeling prisoner
without committing a felony.
This was never my kind of magic.
Hell remains sedentary, listening to the same
fifteen rotating songs on a soft rock radio station
chosen by someone who makes triple your wages.
It’s prepackaged breakfast out of a vending machine,
eaten in a 4x4 cubicle that’s
fixed in a room without a single window.
This was never my kind of magic.
Hell is a cheap Chinese finger trap:
failing to find release
by pulling in wrong directions.
It’s a tight trickery that insists you stay
because you have nowhere else to go;
but my kind of magic is the inward force
that has met a friendly freedom.
It’s bathed in inviting shades of turquoise,
and fell in love with the solace of the desert.
It’s memorized the curves of mountain peaks
and collected freckles from every angle of the sun.
It loves the rush of blood to the head,
when racing the sunrise
on the edge of some atmosphere.
Something that hell could never
put its thumb on; this is
my kind of magic.
© Bitsy Sanders, March 2017
Feb 2017 · 663
predatory wanderlust
b for short Feb 2017
Its teeth are longer and sharper
than any other unforgiving beast on this planet.
The hairs that ***** on the back of its neck
are charged solely by curiosity,
and its eyes burn electric yellow—
never breaking gaze with so much as a blink.
Indigenous to every silent crack of this earth,
it requires no sleep or acclimation.
No living thing can out run it,
and if it sets its sight in your direction,
do not try to argue your fate.
Its presence alone will bring you to your knees,
and wherever it chooses to sink its fangs
will ensure immediate affliction.
This—a  sickness of insatiable wonder.
To sit still now will surely be the death of you,
because, darling, you’ve been bitten—
plagued forever with knowing that
millions of somewheres have suns
that are rising, and you cannot rest
until you’ve had a chance to paint them all.
© Bitsy Sanders, February 2017
b for short Feb 2017
Expose its flesh, eyes closed and
have at it, whole-mouthed.
Eagerly, without abandon,
I **** down to the pit of life.
Juices run down from chin to neck
in perfect rhythmic queues.
A sign, I think, that I’m doing it right.
When it’s all over, and
I’m breathless and sticky sweet,
I tongue at the strings between my teeth.
With nothing left to taste,
I finger this leftover seed
and lay it to dream
in a black bed of rich possibility.
© Bitsy Sanders, February 2017
Jan 2017 · 504
shadow puppets
b for short Jan 2017
Young enough to know
that what they’ll have me
believe of this world
is a shadowy truth at best.
The lesson
in each dancing darkness
on my wall is love, &
we’re nothing but silhouettes
until the lights come on.
© Bitsy Sanders, January 2017
Dec 2016 · 585
self-portrait: age 77
b for short Dec 2016
She sits on a wooden porch
in a chair that learned its comfortable shape
over decades of fireside conversation.
Her hair, still dark,
dark with a swatch of silvery gray
that drapes across the top of her head—
an honorary sash, life-bestowed.
Her cheeks, still round.
Her eyes, still green and wondering.
Her fingers, still short as they
light a long wooden pipe.
With a flick and a hiss, she *****
sweet tobacco smoke
and breathes out secrets
in languages spoken only by
those who understand the trees.
She sips bitter tea from a clay cup
and names each of the birds
that fly into her view.
She grows berries just for them
on vines that twist about
unsuspecting beams and rails.
A metaphor, she suspects.
She hums familiar melodies to herself
and cracks a wrinkled smile.
The world, as she knows it,
is only ever waiting to be enjoyed.
© Bitsy Sanders, December 2016
Dec 2016 · 517
for Ki
b for short Dec 2016
Once upon a time, a little girl found a seed.
She wasn’t looking for a seed,
but she found one anyway.
She held it in the palm of her hand
and wondered and wondered.
She planted it in rich, black soil.
For weeks she watered the soil,
gave it sunlight,
and even sang to it.
It sprouted and grew into a beautiful flower,
with petals of colors man
hadn’t even invented names for yet.
The girl loved the flower,
and the flower loved her back.
They were happy.
But between smiles and blooms,
the girl and the flower knew
that this could not possibly last forever.
“Flower, I know no matter how much I care for you,
some day you will die.”
The flower nodded and when he did,
some of his brilliant petals fell to the soil.
The girl gently pocketed them to keep.
As time went on, the flower began to wilt;
his colors faded;
his roots shriveled with the rest of him;
but the girl still continued to care for him.
When the day came, there was not a speck of color
left in his stem and petals,
and the girl knew he had gone.
She ran her fingers over his soil
only to discover a pile of seeds
that had fallen from his dying center.
She collected them, tilled a patch of land
outside of her window
and planted each of them
with the same love and care as before.
They bloomed bright with petals of colors
man hadn’t even invented names for yet.
The girl loved her flowers
and was happy to share their beauty
with the world passing by.
This, she believed,
was how her flower knew it was to be
all along.
© Bitsy Sanders, December 2016
Dec 2016 · 632
a language universal
b for short Dec 2016
I watch the music maker
and wonder if he holds his women
the same assured way he holds his guitar.
I wonder if his fingers memorize their curves
the same way they memorize measures.
I wonder what he does with his sheet music
when it has nothing left for him to learn.
If I were his, I’d insist he hand it to me.
Each stack I’d fold into delicate flying creatures
and send them off into the sky.
With their pointed wings,
they’d strum clouds and pluck stars—
making messages in melodies
to remind the world
why she chooses to keep spinning.
© Bitsy Sanders, December 2016
Dec 2016 · 452
green light
b for short Dec 2016
There is a green light,
refusing to take shape.
He speaks to me in laughs
and leaves messages in the sunsets.
He nods, as if there is something
he knows that I'll never know.
And he laughs
and laughs
and laughs.
Without a word, it is understood
that I’m the fawn,
slipping on the ice with tangled legs,
and he watches with a silent smile—
a smile I can’t see, but I feel.
the same smile stitched on
with thread spun by
the infinite secrets of the universe.
A smile that tells me
a fawn finds her footing
before night falls.
© Bitsy Sanders, December 2016
b for short Nov 2016
So I can’t trust the Times, Fox News, or the Post.
Too left or too right, just parasites hungry for hosts.
From you, fellow tax-paying citizen, I take note.
I listen to you — that angry defense of your vote.
Are you going to tell me what I am able to trust?
Before this land of the free is left to ruins and rust?
Silence speaks volumes,
like the encyclopedia I loved, circa ‘94—
devoured for hours on my living floor.
(Sidenote: That encyclopedia included several pages on
the Holocaust. But then, I suppose,
the Encyclopedia Britannica shouldn’t be trusted either?)
So what must I trust if I can’t share the news
without being challenged because of my views?
You say I can’t trust the posted or printed, so instead,
I'll trust something much louder in my heart and my head.  
I'll trust that empowered white supremacy in a place
where "all men are created equal," is something I refuse to embrace.
I'll trust that our freedom of speech is not our freedom to hate.
Black, brown, yellow, white— that’s not up for debate.
I'll trust that hope will swallow such hate in the blink of an eye—
choke the breath from its lungs and drop a beat to its cry.

And then I'll trust that history will one day forget
that we've failed to keep its pages from repeating just yet.
© Bitsy Sanders, November 2016
Nov 2016 · 447
little piano ditty
b for short Nov 2016
Come find me under tiger striped skies.
I’ll be the one sitting in front of a piano painted
a shade of faded limes with yellowed keys;
I’ll be the one who finally learned how to read notes
just as well as words.
Between compositions, I’ll wait for you.
I’ll run my fingers through these tall grasses
that live to freely dance against golden sunsets—
that never bury themselves behind unreachable horizons.
I’ll count each blade as a stroke of bewilderment
induced by a world who can’t accept that it is,
in fact, part of something so much bigger than itself.
Come find me, and I’ll teach you
how to speak the music that can be touched—
the music that dances on the tongue—
the music that will make you love again.
© Bitsy Sanders, November 2016
Nov 2016 · 549
twenty-eight
b for short Nov 2016
Twenty-eight has toes
butted up against a pitch black promise.
It tastes like mint tea and sucralose,
semi-sweet wine, and runny egg yolks.
It's colonies of bats, strung still in a cave,
bursting into flight whenever provoked.
Twenty-eight has a thousand eyes
looking in every direction
and nimble fingers holding a pocket watch
ticking only in double time.
It understands death
but still can't help but take its days for granted.
Twenty-eight pays rent
but would rather sleep on the beach tonight.
It practices the alchemy that can change
base metal regrets into precious gold vision.
It beats and breathes on the assumption
that it has tomorrows to spend.
Twenty-eight walks a tightrope woven
with expectations and balances only
by the weight of its dreams.
It trudges through thickets and thorns
if only to tell the stories behind its scars.
Terrifyingly beautiful,
that twenty-eight.
© Bitsy Sanders, November 2016
Nov 2016 · 557
another take on America
b for short Nov 2016
America, when will you step outside of yourself?
When will you realize that one-size does not fit all?
I’d say we’ve outgrown our government,
but freedom of speech is not freedom of consequence.
America, the air is too thin up in your tall towers.
Is it time to dismantle?
I’d be happy living in rubble if everyone felt valued.
America, what do I tell your children
when they ask why we’re going to war?
They will ask, as will the fear in their eyes.
America, I have another question,
have you ever been grabbed by the *****?
America, do you think the world
will be able to see past your new orange glow?
Will they see your citizens pining for progress?
Will they laugh or will they cower
at the sight of us tearing each other apart?
America, you are no longer a melting ***.
You are a child holding a sectioned dinner plate,
and the thought of trying something new
fills you with abhorrence.
America, the world is naturally colorful.
The world might see this, but you do not.
America, a locked door and a loaded gun won’t keep
a nuclear missile from stopping by to visit.
You must know that.
America, how will you end?
Will I be there to watch?

America, are you listening?
© Bitsy Sanders, November 2016
b for short Nov 2016
Enveloped tightly in a space
that once provided enough
but never promised a lifetime.
She twists and unfurls
beneath its surface,
ignorant of even her own colors,
her shape, her scent, her purpose.
And when she breaks open,
it is not without fear of wilting.
It is not without fateful wonder.
Still, she blooms,
catching the sun
just as the universe intended.
© Bitsy Sanders, November 2016
Oct 2016 · 878
thin veil
b for short Oct 2016
I wonder what song
was playing in your head
when you suddenly realized
that you were dead.
Shim-sham', shakin' your way
right back into the universe.
And I’m trying, just trying
to follow your breadcrumbs.
© Bitsy Sanders, October 2016

Samhain, thin veil between spirit worlds.
I think I'll find you tonight.
b for short Oct 2016
Sweat cools
on the tops of our shoulders.
The sun drops  
and the beat follows.
A moment of blackness first,
followed by
a rock candy colored infinity.
It dances, without apology
and blankets me in light.
In the spaces between
spilled beer and green smoke,
time is a foreign language
that no one cares to learn.
© Bitsy Sanders, October 2016
b for short Oct 2016
Beyond a wooden door
there is a room
where we sit and grow
three years older together.
Many words spoken,
all ranks broken.
But a thing is always there—
staining whatever it touches.
Blackberry juices fingerprinting
all of my bright white hopes.
A thing molts in the stale air,
trailing feathers
that wean and wane
by the force of our hot breath;
always there in that room
where we denied tomorrow
every credit it begged for.
A thing we gave every other name
aside from its given.
A thing. A simple thing.
© Bitsy Sanders, October 2016
Oct 2016 · 645
wine tasting with Dionysus
b for short Oct 2016
Sweet, but not too sweet.
Life balances
on the tongue of fate—
clicking and rolling
behind her cackles and trills,
while we act as if
these bitters are all we’ll ever
have the chance to taste.
“Breathe and savor,” she says,
“Too much sugar will rot your teeth.”
© Bitsy Sanders, October 2016
Oct 2016 · 334
blume, judy
b for short Oct 2016
Cold air on the cheeks makes
for a natural blush.
This is a “healthy” look—
I read once from a banned book,
on mute,
in my parent’s bathroom
while everyone else was dreaming.
A “healthy” truth I’ve always
kept hidden under my tongue,
exposed only to moments
matured for keeping.
Licked lips, feel a sting and a dare
to think that I may never really
unlock that door.
That I might just continue
reading words, unapproved,
while other eyes stay shut.
Hiding healthy truths under my tongue
until I’m brave enough
to speak or
swallow.
© Bitsy Sanders, October 2016
b for short Oct 2016
Hers is a light
begging to be refracted,
with a need to brighten
much more than one dark corner.
Hers is meant to break into
a thousand different directions;
colors for interpretation—
not solely admiration.
She will not dim
by the beam of anything brighter,
but absorb what she sees
to illuminate pathways
for travelers who seek her
as a source.
© Bitsy Sanders, October 2016
Oct 2016 · 549
anyone got a light?
b for short Oct 2016
One more dusty rotation
around this earth,
following deep grooves with stories
that suggest
this ain’t my first rodeo.
I can’t manage to keep hold of
a single thing they boast of worth,
but I have a finger on my awareness,
and that’s a start.
Meanwhile, the universe simmers
and bubbles, unsteady—
her shaky fuse lit and ready to go.
Restlessness and an urgency
felt with every passing second,
but she hasn't told me why.
And when I squint for a solution,
all I make out are
muted colors and shapes with no edges.
Abstract suggestion of a journey I know
I was born to grab by the lapels—
to collect lessons from grooves
and their dust
and gut feelings—
to allow them to transform
my armfuls of nowheres
to somewheres.
So, I tighten the grip of my thighs
on this carousel horse of mine,
careful not to let the circles
ride *me.
© Bitsy Sanders, October 2016
b for short Sep 2016
Instinct tells us to
grip something
when the ride gets rough.
Then, lights flicker
and a moment becomes
fight or flight.
Our guts wrench,
our souls double down,
and we listen for it.
Music has got to be proof
that this isn’t our last stop.
We’re all on this train
until we get off.
Might as well get caught
dancing this journey
to a beautiful halt.
© Bitsy Sanders, September 2016
Sep 2016 · 661
on the cusp
b for short Sep 2016
Take a breath, curl your toes
over the edge of some unknown.
Recognize how high you feel
only to look down and find
just how small your worries are
compared to this.
This.
The edge of something beyond
any warm-blooded imagination.
Let go, it says.
Let your hair tangle
in the spokes of the universe.
Let it sound and bend the notes
of this journey.
Let it write the music for a song
you'll welcome to stay stuck
in that wonderful little head of yours.
Let it sing.
© Bitsy Sanders, August 2016
Aug 2016 · 644
plucked
b for short Aug 2016
At the ripe age for plucking.
To be plucked
right off of this eligible branch.
But such a stem stays fixed.
Stubborn and stuck fast—
happy to be connected
to everything that makes me grow.
And others ask, they ask how
I can possibly remain
so incredibly unplucked.
And the others, I tell them,
my heart swells and breaks
with every breath and blink.
I dip it in the bright pools of
those slow-peeled grapefruit sunsets
and use it to finger
the bruised blue leftovers
of the time just before sunrise.
I air it out in the currents
of wish-made gusts from thousands
of floating dandelion seeds,
and I stitch its holes shut
with scraps of  mother thread
left behind by moth-eaten fates.
Every day, all over again,
between beats, I learn to ****
the poison from it
with my own lips,
so it can swell and break
at its very own pace.
I remain unplucked, I say,
so when I find a soul
that matches mine,
he won't have to teach me how.
© Bitsy Sanders, August 2016
b for short Aug 2016
I refuse to let life fade my colors.
Every experience, event,
each of the souls I’ve met,
all of those feelings felt,
dye me a bit deeper—
shades and tints a bit richer.
And when I leave this world,
you’ll find traces of me
in every place you look.
Footmarks so vibrant,
even rainbows will
have something to pray for
after the storm.
© Bitsy Sanders, August 2016
Aug 2016 · 724
the soul mate collector
b for short Aug 2016
He smiles kindly
and with a steady hand
dips brush into color,
decorating every inch
with precision and care.
He paints no two souls alike,
but yet leaves his distinct mark,
so bright and profound;
touched and, without question,
we’ve been bettered.
Each of us now proudly stretched,
on display for the rest of a lifetime.
A work of his art, never caged,
but free to come and go,
free to be.
© Bitsy Sanders, August 2016

For Kibwe Lee
Aug 2016 · 886
long distance
b for short Aug 2016
Last night
I talked to you through
a tin can and some string.
You said you were okay
and then I was okay—
okay with everything.

Okay with everything.
© Bitsy Sanders, August 2016
Aug 2016 · 626
to hear the music
b for short Aug 2016
Electric fingers
run themselves
over and through
patches of frayed soul.
To wake and make
her breathe again,
they pull and dig,
intending to heal,
laboring on a level
never made known
to darkness;
never touched
by light.
© Bitsy Sanders
Aug 2016 · 273
things left behind
b for short Aug 2016
There was a phrase uttered by the voice on the other end of the phone that bee lined down my spine and made me gravity’s *****.

“He’s coming home on Monday.”

Then the clock began to tick, and its second hand stopped at the number twenty — the exact number of seconds it took me to realize what I had just been told. It’s the number of times I made him promise that he’d get himself on a plane back to the states after his course ended. It’s the number of feet between the shoreline and where tourists found his body, face down, on the beach. Twenty — the number of days he’s been dead.

It feels a lot longer than that, but grief makes you lose nearly all sense of time, among other things. All of those moments I spent with him before he left to get on that plane just seem like a series of fleeting flashes that I cannot tame. My apartment, his car, his bedroom, my bedroom, my hands, his hands, hot breath, his scent, my scent, touches that begged, pieces that fit, blood humming fast and warm, all made for several nights spent unexpectedly well. We were always great friends but undeniably better lovers. It was one aspect of our relationship we both tried, but failed miserably, to ignore. I wrestled with the fact that could remember it all in such clear detail, but now, it was something so far-fetched.

If you knew me and if you knew him, you easily recognized what was there.

I don’t believe too much in formalities — they’re nice, but not necessary. Words are great, but actions are exquisite — which is how I know that those months leading up to his departure were riddled with clues that we cared for and enjoyed one another as much as two people could. Neither of us liked to throw the word “love” around. The stakes just seemed too high when that happened. It wasn’t something we said out loud often, but it was understood and comfortably grounded. I will always believe that’s the best love you can hang on to — the kind that doesn’t have to be validated or proven or spoken. I tried to keep that thought at the front of my mind as I stood in the Wal-Mart checkout line with a pregnancy test in hand.

Women talk. So when I explained that broccoli had started to taste horrible to me and that I had truly lost my taste for beer and alcohol (all things that I enjoy), they cocked their heads in my direction like hungry hens waiting for the feed to drop. They wouldn’t ask me outright, but they ran down the checklist — late period? Sensitive gag reflex? Nausea? Lower back pain? Tender *******? Some of these things I did have, but see, I just lost one of the most important people in my life to the Pacific Ocean. Of course my body was going to respond to that stress in weird ways. I mean, let’s not jump to any conclusions, right? I couldn’t be pregnant. I wasn’t supposed to have a child yet. I was planning to teach abroad, see at least three other continents before I sunk my roots back into the good ol’ mid-Atlantic region and settle down with some poor, unsuspecting fellow.

The idea of it though — it being his child, our child — there was part of me that immediately softened to that idea and an even larger part of me that hoped for it.

As I waited for the customers in front of me to check out, I read the fine print on the box through its smudged security case. What can possibly be so hard about peeing on a stick? That thought stuck fast in my brain as I took aim and nailed my target like a champ in the bathroom the next morning. In the three minutes that followed, I thought this might be the easiest thing I would do all week. It was the easiest thing I had done all week, until those three minutes were up, and I read my results.

I learned, in that moment, that fate has a way of dealing us the hand that we need, without fail, every time. We simply get to choose how to play it.
© Bitsy Sanders, August 2016
Aug 2016 · 537
fridge magnets
b for short Aug 2016
Honestly, my three favorites are
Puerto Rico, Nevada, and Texas.
I follow you through your souvenirs,
stuck fast to my refrigerator door—
mementos of places I’ve never been.
You always did that,
traveled without much warning.
I envied your ability
to cut loose from all those undesired ties
and just fly far away to somewhere else.
Merciless adventure that begged to be tasted.
I missed you when you left,
more than most things, but
you’d always come back
with a little something
to decorate my modern-day ice box.
“That’s your thing,” you’d tell me,
handing me the magnetized treasures.
You'd help me pick out a spot
for each of them, and
it made me feel a bit better
for being so god ****** unworldly.
They’re all there, you know,
varying shapes and colors,
with eyesore typography
spelling out awful puns that I love.
Somehow, they fit together
and make a sort of perfect sense
that I can’t explain.
My three favorites are still
Puerto Rico, Nevada, and Texas—
pieces of your completed journey
radiating childlike wonder, fervent hope,
and plenty of open-ended questions.
Completed, with the exception
of a single, naked, white space
that I will wait my lifetime to fill,
because, like you said,
that’s my “thing,"
and I'll keep it as such,
I'll keep you as such,
until my sand runs out too.
© Bitsy Sanders, August 2016

For Kibwe
b for short Aug 2016
A truth derived
out of the last armful of days:
“the heart just don’t quit.”
Despite the whole of it,
I stop dreaming each morning
to the beat of my own—
a soft, rhythmic reminder
that I’m still here;
still here
with breath to waste
if I wish.
© Bitsy Sanders, August 2016
b for short Jul 2016
Frankly, I don’t give a ****
if you weren't a spiritual guy,
because I can’t shake it—
I see your smile
in the smear of each sunset
and your side eye in the stars that follow.
I hear your ‘hello’
in every forgiving breeze
and your infectious laughter
in each clap of thunder.
In these small moments,
I feel whole for just a second,
and my heart swells at the thought
that you’re now so much bigger
than anything I can possibly
clasp my little t-rex arms around.
But, see,  I’m grateful
that I get to find you
from scratch
every single day—
that I can wrap myself
in all the parts of you
that I committed to memory—
that you, alone, gave me a chance
to fall in love
with the change of the seasons
all over again.
© Bitsy Sanders, July 2016

In Memory of Kibwe Lee
Jul 2016 · 415
"mission accomplished"
b for short Jul 2016
I’d imagine my guardian angel has put up with a lot of ****— car accidents, nights of overindulgence at the bar, trespassing to “not-so-skinny” skinny dip in gorges tucked away deeply between mountains. I’d imagine she’s shaken her head at me more times than she’s offered me a high five. I’d imagine I make her use less-than-flowery four letter language when I speak, loudly, without thinking first. I’d imagine she cringes when I forget to reapply sunscreen and fall asleep on the beach for three hours. I’d imagine she often questions why she got stuck with a soul that just can’t seem to settle and fit into a set groove.

I’d imagine she’s annoyed by the fact that I’m not a wholly religious person. I ask too many questions to let well enough alone. I’d imagine that she nearly has a heart attack when she taps into my thoughts when we pass a hoard of sweaty, young and rugged road construction workers on the highway. I’d imagine she’s over the moon that she’s not my mother, and that she definitely throws out some extra Hail Marys when I wake up thirty minutes late for work and somehow think I still have time to stop and get an iced chai latte.

I’d imagine that my guardian angel has put up with a lot of ****, but nothing quite so challenging as the loss of a soul I loved more than any other on this planet. I’d imagine she’d rather see me with a no-good, devilish smirk on my lips than these unpredictable streams of tears down my cheeks. I’d imagine she’d hush the thousands of questions circulating inside my head that just can’t be answered. I’d also imagine that she’d agree—the inside of my brain sounds a lot like some frat boy got really drunk, made some awful beats, and proclaimed himself the master of Fruity Loops. I’d imagine she, too, would like it to cease immediately, because it’s never, ever going to sound like something that makes sense.

I’d imagine that she’s mapped out all of the cracks this has left in my heart, navigated them, and is ready and waiting with the super glue and duct tape to make me feel whole again. I’d imagine that my pain is as much her charge as my happiness, and that she tries to deflect and channel it into better things whenever she’s able.

I’d imagine my guardian angel has now gained a great friend who can share in her grief of protecting me. Someone who also has shaken his head at me countless times for a lot of the same aforementioned antics, someone who was a little too tall to offer me high-fives but offered me the low ones with a side of a hug instead. Someone who always told me to calm down before I spoke—who told me to stop overthinking things until they didn’t make sense. Someone who always reminded me to reapply my sunscreen—who always ultimately tried to deflect my pain too.

I’d imagine my guardian angels expect me to continue to keep them on their toes. I'd imagine I don’t plan to disappoint either of them in the slightest.

*Rest easy. I'll be seeing you.
© Bitsy Sanders, July 2016
Jul 2016 · 710
snakeskin dress
b for short Jul 2016
In the quiet hours
before the sun,
I shed a thousand
layers of you.
Dead, heavy skins
flutter to the ground
to decorate my ankles,
until suddenly,
I’m light.
So light that I float
and, as I rise,
breathe in
the whole universe.
I see colors—
new to my eyes.
I feel safe here,
knowing there is
no happiness
like mine.
© Bitsy Sanders, July 2016
b for short Jul 2016
It was a hope, but mostly me,
rust red and tired—
resembling the person who you’d
take the time to tell goodbye.

It was.

Now such a hope is taking shape
as that pretty sight you see
in your rearview mirror—
perhaps,
the shape of the clouds
outside of your window seat—
either way, she
dons designer shades,
a wickedly telling curve
on her lips,
and her *******—
a beacon,
held proudly to the sky.
© July, 2016
Jul 2016 · 620
new salt
b for short Jul 2016
Folded between waves,
she soaked up all of the magic
the salt air had to offer—
a quiet, little old soul,
turned riotously blissful
in the presence of the great Atlantic.
I saw this with my own eyes and smiled.
This love was in our blood,
passed down from our mothers,
unspoken but shared—
an immutable joy that dripped
from the ends of our hair,
mimicked our laugher
in these deep edges of blue,
and echoed in the fizz
of the crashing surf.
I saw this with my own eyes and smiled.
Folded between waves,
something in me settled especially for her:
No matter how unclear life may become,
she, too, would find happiness
as long as she could find her way
back to this shore.
© Bitsy Sanders, July 2016

for Mackenzie Anne
Jun 2016 · 762
garden of eaten
b for short Jun 2016
Last night, I ate
the god ****** apple.
I plucked it from its branch
in plain sight.
There it sat, smooth and round,
in my eager palms—
tantalizing with promises
of fulfillment that causes
a hungry jaw to tingle at its corners.
I grazed it, playfully, with my teeth
before giving into my ultimate desires
to let the sweet juices pop
and run down my chin.
Then, charged with a satisfaction
that pulsed electric down my spine,
I took bite after bite,
easing into something
I had taught myself not to need;
a keen knowledge of indulgent pleasure
that makes woman, woman,
and woman wanted.
I reveled there in the heat of it all,
naked, sticky, and fully absolved
of that restless, nagging guilt.

I mean, come on,
Eve just wanted to know ****.
© Bitsy Sanders, June 2016
Jun 2016 · 604
all-nighter
b for short Jun 2016
Music is thick,
syrupy sweet and
heavily cloaks all
of the hazy bits of
undecided sunrise and
smeared headlights
that I blink into
oncoming clarity.
Last night looming—
an ominous rain cloud
born to wash out
all of today’s quick wit and
coveted common sense.
Last night, so curious,
while I slowed time by
refusing my dreams;
when I quieted my mind
and didn’t have to work
quite so hard
at keeping myself warm.
© Bitsy Sanders, June 2016
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