ref•u•gee By Ayah Elbeyali


brown girl,
sitting on the sidelines with your hands crossed in your lap
you don’t play. you don’t know how.
you say you’d rather spend time with your aunt,
in the sparse moments between her ten hour shifts,
she makes you sandwiches of cucumber
and a cheese that looks crumbly and kind of rotten–
you say she’s all you have.
brown man,
I see you at the post office more often than the grocery store.
don’t you eat?
you don’t take your shirt off at the beach.
I could probably count your ribs.
you say: “Ras Al Bassit is prettier.”
I don’t catch the words, a pretty trill of your tongue
but I catch the sparkle in your eyes.
I didn’t know they could light up like that.
white girl,
dark hair big eyes,
you look the same but you’re not.
your nails are always chipped from your nibbling
and the bags under your eyes–
nobody’s calling them designer.
white man,
how’d you get your limp?
why are you always looking over your shoulder?
and could you please stop talking about the five year old son you lost–
it makes me sad.
and honestly, it keeps you from delivering the mail.

why do you walk the streets after midnight?
are you looking for something familiar?
are you looking for home
on these foreign shores
something that looks like a desert
something that makes you thirsty,
and warm,

something, anything that can make you
feel the sun on your skin?
you won’t.
might as well give up.
you’re no longer welcome here.
you look like the terrorists,
write the same,
talk the same,
scribbly and gibberish.
doesn’t matter that you’re running from them too.
doesn’t matter that we’re afraid of the same thing.
you’re no longer welcome here.
don’t you get it?
so go back home,
or what’s left of it.
go back,
and die.

By Ayah Elbeyali


Ayah Elbeyali is a young weaver of words living on the East Coast of the United States. She is a student studying political science, philosophy, and creative writing, with a fondness for Russian novels. She writes about womanhood, otherness, and experiences. She is a feminist, woman of color, woman of steel. She enjoys good coffee, good books, and better company. She’s a poetry reader at Vagabond City Literary Magazine. She’s been published in The Fem Lit Magazine, Vagabond City Literary Magazine, and Crab Fat Literary Magazine. You can read her work at, find her on twitter: @ayahbeyali.

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