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by Rutgers University Muslim Students Association

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Spilled Ink

A column for guest posts featuring creative work like poetry and prose.

Heavy

Heavy are the words that roll off a grieving mother’s tongue,
like the black tar that seeps into a smoker’s lung.

Heavy are the hearts that bear the burden of sorrow,
like iron boulders weighing down shoulders until morrow.

Heavy are the minds that fight an invisible oppressive force,
like silent voices shouting until they become hoarse.

Heavy are the worries of a lost nation that walks blindly,
like three lonely mice that wander mindlessly.

Heavy is the sword that the Sword of Allah held,
like the weight of a thousand powerful men on their knees; all quelled.

Heavy is the desire to struggle for the sake of Allah,
like the force of the gushing water of heaven’s rivers that echo Jannah.

Heavy is the love we want to love and be loved by,
like the never ending pain of open wounds that only bring cries.

Heavy are the dreams of the orphans,
like the weight of the world and all of its fortunes.

Heavy are the presence of you and I,
like the gravitational force that confines our minds.

apologies

by Jaweerya

At fifteen,
I walk into a store with my mother
who wears a blush colored scarf,
and I cling by her side
as she asks the cashier
which aisle carries the paper plates.
When your mother speaks
broken English
you learn to become protective
and memorize the exact places and times
to glue her words together
so they become whole.

When the cashier-
a white, middle aged woman
asked,
“Are you from I-ran?”
I shook my head to say no
which started an avalanche of questions,
“9/11 was just so tragic, but I heard your people celebrated?
How could they?”
“Isn’t Osama just a terrible person?”
“Wait, so you’re really not from I-ran?”
Until my face became the color
of my mother’s scarf,
and finally I said “yes, it’s all terrible. I’m sorry”
and stumbled out the doors.

Today, my 21 year old self wants to travel back
and snatch the sound particles
that created the word “sorry,”
before it can ever reach
the woman’s ears,
ask her why I never heard a white
man apologize-
for colonizing my mother’s land,
parting with arms full of museum keepsakes,
and gifting us complexes
that stench of bleaching creams.
For more than 200 brutal years of
hanging limp Black bodies
off of tree branches.
For tearing children like Emmett Till and
Trayvon Martin
from their mothers soft embraces,
because their only crime was in their skin.
I never caught a white man’s voice stutter or shake
for the Iraq War, and the cracking
open of the ground
so the one million scattered skeletons
could finally rest.
For funding Israel 8 million dollars a day to bulldoze
breathing bodies and flesh,
and to uproot entire family trees.
Never saw a white man avert his eyes down in the slightest shame
for lying to the people of Pakistan
that the vaccinations were for polio,
when in truth,
the needles were extracting DNA.
For the screams that seeped through Guantanamo’s prison cracks,
but never made it to lawyers’ ears.
For driving out the indigenous of America
to barren reservations,
and then erasing their property rights.

White privilege is being able to place
a blanket over every crime.
every inflicted pain.
White privilege is not having one person’s
actions be representative of everyone else’s.
White privilege is not having to say sorry.
There are not enough words,
stories, or poetry
to fill the crevices of our gaping wounds.
The double standard is crippling,
my people need crutches
just to stand and proclaim our faith,
we have bent over so low in shame,
you can almost hear our spines
snapping,
and our children have learned to say
“we are not radicals,”
before learning to say
“we are Muslim”.
How many times must we condemn
what we are not?
How many generations must grow
with accusations strapped to their ankles?
How long before fear stops
smothering us,
before we stop drowning
in our anxieties,
before paranoia
removes its hands from our windpipe?
How long before our lungs
can finally breathe?

Dedicated to Rutgers

by Anonymous

Tired eyes and rustled hair stared at me in the morning
Her mouth pursed in defiance, “Don’t judge”
Eyeliner besmudged.
Pretty, as she always wanted, but I remember
That she had been beautiful once.

I feebly stood before her as
Palaces of lies around me were built
The parties roared on into the night
As I watched my sister wilt.

It was the silence of others that haunted me the most
When she was seen by the world undisguised,
Honor vaporized.
I tried to cloak her from them, for her protection
She thought I was trying to suffocate her.

I lost the match to a sword with
Greek letters inlaid in the hilt
Faceless reapers smiled in victory
As I watched my sister wilt.

Beneath the female, a woman lay broken
But I could not, though I tried, her mend.
Failure of a friend.
If only I had jumped into the abyss with her,
Maybe she would have taken my hand,
Maybe we could have waded out together.

And the more I thought, the more my self
Became overwhelmed with guilt
Nations and empires rose and fell around me
As I watched my sister wilt.

When she looked in the mirror or in her camera lens
Did she see her soul flickering in her stare?
Sallow, crippled, bare.
Dear sister: I did not hate you, I loved you more than anything
The tears I shed for you in the dark, in prayer
The tears I shed for you.
If only you knew the extent of your cruelty
Towards those that only loved you.
Do not stare back at me boldly with those hollow eyes,
eyeliner besmudged—
It is not I who will judge.

Both wisemen and fools say there is no use
In crying over milk that’s been spilt
And so the demons dance around the fire
As I watch my sister wilt.

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