The Run Down

By Nabeeha Asim
11th grade, Dominion High School, VA

With lines from "Deadly Journeys: How Despair Drives Young Ethiopians to Flee to Yemen" by Tom Gardner and Charlie Rosser, a Pulitzer Center reporting project

Scattered steps taken in every direction
in the place named the Run Down.
Everyone fears this place
of Anguish and Despair.
Synchronized steps, straitjacketed to the people next to them, gripping, hand-in-hand with the others.
Each step forward is a hurdle in the opposite direction.
For the others, each step forward
is a heave towards the Unknown.
The fire in their souls has been snatched from their bodies
for the dirt that extinguishes all thoughts of Anger surrounds them.
taken every second of every day.
We are the calm before the storm, they say.
The Harmony before the tension.
Erupting like a volcano but making an impact like one raindrop on the entire world.
We are the calm before the storm, they say.
The conflict encompassing us
while the peace awaits them.
The storm is dry with all but tears to shed.
They lay awake at night afraid to let them in.
They are afraid of the colors.
The Red, The Blue, The Green.
They show their true colors when they come out to play
with the bombs and the guns that leave us for the dead.
"Many do not make it."
Make it to the Calm and Collected.
"Those who make it to shore then face multiple threats."
"Those who survive remain vulnerable."
They fear the words that never make it to their ears because they are too busy listening to the white noise.
The planet evolves
yet their opinions and hand guns do not.
A small argument is raised which then streams into the cracks of our personalities.
Our character constantly being questioned as to what extent we are willing to fight for.
Are our Battle Cries not enough for them to feel this disturbance that quakes
each time one is deposited under the ground
like a Gamble into the system of Life
or rather
the Gamble of Animosity towards one another?
A country filled with tyranny effacing the everchanging lies.
We are the calm before the storm, they say…
the peace before the break.
The Peace of the puzzle that doesn't fit.
We are the calm before the storm, they say…
We are the calm in the place named the Run Down.

Hello, my name is Nabeeha Asim! I am a seventeen-year-old junior at Dominion High School and I grew up living a pretty normal life until I encountered what felt like a worlds worth of burden because of the color of my skin. I felt bullied and interrogated by the way the media portrayed my people. However, it only drove me to prove society wrong. I started writing poetry a couple of years ago because it helped me illustrate my frustration with the misconception of who I am as a person. Although "The Run Down" was not based off of a personal experience, most of my work is. My purpose of writing is to make an impact on the world. I want to be able to change the lives of the people who need it. I hope that my words carry on my intention and are shared to make positive changes in the world!

Read more winning entries from the 2018 Fighting Words Poetry Contest