Your terrorist by Ali Alizadeh

You call me a barbarian.
I call you master.

You don’t speak my language.
My words

noise in your ears; my poems
meaningless melodies.

Your poems
masterpieces of literature.

Your clothes
constitute fashion; your homes

My house

the hovel your tanks levelled;
my clothes

rags. My beliefs
crushed by your technology

because I’m a barbarian.
But I must understand

your language. O master, your words
are essential to my survival. I have to

put your goggles on my eyes
to see myself,

a dangerous alien with
incomprehensible language

and innate savagery
because you’re so civilised and meaningful.

You have the weapons
the tools for proving the logic

of your power. You wear clothes
that bolster your shoulders

and accentuate your height.
Me, I’m naked

and paraded as a prisoner
on your catwalks. I’ve been

defeated, dispossessed, and now
detained in the cages

of your metropolis. I can’t remember
if I ever had my own culture

because your powerful voice
has deafened my memories. Your logic

proves I’m a primitive
at the mercy of your civilisation.

Yes, I understand
your language. I’ve been learning

the lexicon of my inferiority
from behind the bars. I now know

how to spell and pronounce
the terms of my slavery. Your shackles

are called Security; your war
Operation Freedom; your cluster bombs

food parcels for my children. O master,
I understand

what you want your filthy slave to be. I am
your barbarian, your terrorist;

your monster.


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