i was 15 when hate rolled into my little city

and blew everything apart.

august 12th--

it was hurricane season.


i never thought i’d have to face

the same enemy my grandfather squashed in WWII

although i guess 73 years isn’t as long ago

as it seems.


monsters don’t have scraggly fur and gnarled claws and jagged teeth.

they’re white men with tiki torches

and intolerance carved between their knitted eyebrows

and murderous intent pumping through their shriveled veins.


when i look up ‘charlottesville’

instead of pictures of UVA or Monticello,

i find images that make my heart drop to my feet

the same way it did watching the news that day.


you always think, ‘it can’t happen here’,

but then the grenade explodes

and you’re left stunned with singed hands

having to deal with the aftermath.


one and a half years have passed

and most have moved on

but my wound remains as fresh as ever

and hasn’t scabbed over like it has for everyone else.


they tell me to move on

but this isn’t an ex-boyfriend i can easily get over

it’s my home

and these halls remain haunted.


‘you will not replace us’, they jeered,

vitriol and slobber splattering from mouths

that couldn’t be cleaned

even if they spent eternity brushing their teeth.


when all that blood was spilt on beloved streets,

could they tell if the owner was dark or light?

it was all just the same shade of red,

staining us crimson on the map.


how can you tell black people to go back to africa

when you dragged them here hundreds of years ago;

how can you assert that all lives matter

and then stamp out the ones led by those who look different from you?


your glass houses are made of mirrors

instead of windows to the real world

maybe it’s time to crawl out from your mother’s basements

and step outside to see the light.


supposedly, virginia is for lovers,

so i’m ripping out the poisonous seeds you sowed

and watering the plants you burned down.

it’s the other way around-- your hate will not replace our love.

Maryam Alwan

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All poems are copyrighted 2019 by their respective authors and may not be used elsewhere without their express permission.