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Asma Shatwan Dec 2015
I speak in two tongues and they both hiss at each other like snakes.
Tripping over my own words as my mouth becomes a battle ground.
I stand on the side-lines looking in. Waiting for the opportunity to announce my presence.
A foreigner in my motherland and a foreigner in a sea of white faces,
And I do not fit the colour scheme.

I’m a stranger, an alien, something to be prodded and poked at and made to squirm.
A minority not to be distinguished from a sea of cloth draped women.
An epitome of the strange lands of deserts and spice.
And hung above my head is a dark cloud of stereotypes and misconceptions.

The Western woman wants to fight for the freedom of the daughters of Eve,
Not understanding that her view of liberation tastes different on my tongue.
So I’m left helpless to the hot iron lens of the media, examining me like a specimen on a petri dish.

My identity, a crumbling church still worthy of all the worship.
I memorized my history books then forgot all the verses.
I grew up haunted by my ancestor’s curses.
I’ve shed so many layers of my skin attempting to fit in, now I no longer recognize myself.
I gaze into the mirror and my reflection looks away, too afraid to make eye contact with a stranger.

I am a human split in two by borders that require passports and stamps of approval.
One half of my bleeds in red, white and blue, and the other the ashes of a burning nation.
I soak up every atom in my body with a culture that isn’t mine,
And speak words that feel heavy on my mother’s broken tongue.

Embedded in the arms of parents who are too afraid to let me go, because the world is cruel to women who don’t belong.
I am like glass that has been shattered into a million pieces, and then painstakingly put back together again.
Delicate to the touch, quivering beneath broken knuckles and clenched fists.

In the back of my mind lie vague recollections of the hot marble floors of a childhood home,
Of crevices etched into unfamiliar smiling faces,
And a country which my roots have been uplifted from.

I am a kaleidoscope. A kaleidoscope of clashing colours but you, you only view me in black and shades of grey.
I question how to belong without jumping into a skin suit that’s too baggy at the sleeves, because one size does not fit all.
I don’t want to lose my morals, values and system of beliefs.
A whirlwind of obstacles surrounding me, closing in on all sides…it’s hard to breathe.

But even after multiple blows I’m still holding onto this thread of hope…and pulling.
Unravelling what’s beneath.
And when I raise my firm hands to the sky I pray,
That my wandering soul finds a place to call home one day.
Asma Shatwan Jan 2015
They took you as a child and robbed you of your life,

Now you’re somebody famous or a rock star’s wife.

Your pain is pleasure, somehow that makes perfect sense.

They **** your sad mind and shut down your defence.

Your soul is precious but you sold it to the dealer,

He was a ***** devil, a dream stealer.

Fed off your talents, packaged and threw you on a shelf.

You were exposed and couldn’t help yourself.

Made to strip naked for magazine covers,

The photoshopped expressions show you are not bothered.

Your drug dealer’s happy you have him on speed dial,

Hallucinating drugs are the devil’s gifts that make you smile.

Not everything that glitters is going to be gold,

But I’m guessing you were never told.

Now you’re drowning in self-hate,

In a race against your own fate.

You want to stop the clock,

All the noises must stop.

Now you’re dying, dying, dying, nearly dead.

You want  the voices to stop, but they increase instead.

Telling you what to wear and how you should live.

Your life is no longer a precious gift.

You’re on the dark side, a nightmare, a living curse.

And every day that passes it gets even worse.

As they grab you and play with your head,

Stick in some needles and make you happy instead.

Now you’re a pop star with your own unique style,

And even better than that is your fixed smile.

It’ll soon fade away and be replaced by side effects,

And you’ll start to remember, you never really forgot.

They will try to silence you, no matter what.

And now you’re working against the clock.

Fragmented mind, memories buried inside.

Traumatized to the core, your screams are ignored.

It’s all bottled inside, you have nowhere to hide.

You try to release the chains in which you are bound.

For that your reputation is beaten to the ground.

There’s a heavy price an individual must pay.

For every letter of truth that he must say.

So you’re either shot down, a bullet lodged in your head,

Or overdosed on pills and killed on your own bed.

You lived on the fast lane and died a tragic death.

Only remembered on your death day, just like the rest.

Many came before you and many still to come.

So you’re not that special really, just another one.

Just another star on this rollercoaster ride.

Shot into the sky, blinded by the spotlight.

— The End —