The Truth About Bittersweetness

You say the word “bittersweet” and I can only think of how

it seems like a bird plucked of its feathers sitting there on your mouth

squawking for a flight that won’t come.

You are coffee tasted for the first time,

and my ten-year-old caffeine-curious lips were not prepared for

how dark and grossly plain of a liquid you would be.

You say the word “bittersweet” and it makes me want to pull out a dictionary

and inform you that, no, bittersweet cannot be an eye color,

Merriam-Webster calls it “pleasure alloyed with pain” so

it can’t be the way you look at me when you say

we are cartons of milk left in room temperature

but how you still let me convince you

people don’t have expiration dates.

You say the word “bittersweet” and I want to wipe my thumb

across your mouth like windshield wipers, smearing away

the sun-baked, splattered insects and flecks of dirt,

I want to delve into your vocabulary with surgical scissors

and rip away the part of you that believes in bittersweetness

because this world is not a gumball that loses

its taste the longer you chew on it –

you have just forgotten how to enjoy the heart of it,

the body, the shell that cracks under your teeth.

You say the word “bittersweet” and I want to snatch

it off your tongue and say you can have this back

when you learn to use it correctly

because don’t you dare call this bittersweet

don’t you go calling grapes raisins

just because they gave their skin to the sun

don’t you go calling me a hopeless romantic

just because I blew my kisses to the sky.

Your teeth let slip the word “bittersweet” but

your hands say something else –

you put them over mine and I feel

nothing but warm honey.


7 thoughts on “The Truth About Bittersweetness

  1. It’s nice to read someone who feels the same way I do about the word “bittersweet”. It’s on my list with “awesome” and “gunmetal” (though I used gunmetal in my essay today). I may use gizzard in a poem (three times so far) but it will be an awesome rosy-fingered dawn in heck before I use bittersweet..

    Thanks. This is a fun poem.

Thoughts? I love those.

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