I Am, by Giuliana Spanarelli

I Am

I Am not a Monster
Nor Am I Terror
You judge me by my name
Mohammed: Means to praise
Bullied and teased in so many ways
 I Am not violent or filled with hate
Sneers and taunts do not reach me
I Am peace
Your fear will consume you
Hold down your wings
You wont touch the sun
Your heart will not sing
To you, I Am Al Qaeda and fear
You dont even belong here
I stand tall, my head held up high
I reminisced, the life I left behind

Abu Dhabi, UAE, my home;
With rolling red sand dunes, a blazing sun
My mother’s salty balaleet
Would wake me from my sweet reveries
My four brothers and I would play cricket
On the street with anything we could find
Our smiles and faces beaded with sweat
Golden days of childhood shined

Forced to flee, a new life started
A war-torn nation, broken-hearted
My family and I had to pack up and leave
Had to trust they knew what was best for me
A teenage boy now needs a home
Terrorists took our streets and made them their own.
 The journey was long, no end in sight
Sadness, hope freedom from plight

So this is Lady Liberty
Would she welcome me into her arms
Would she sense my peaceful nature
My intentions, my good heart
We settled in a small apartment
It was cozy but cramped
Close quarters barely room to breathe
Yet, I was finally free
I grew to love my neighbors
An outsider, I never quite fit in
A  fish out of water
With curly dark hair and caramel skin
 My home away from home: New York City
A diverse land rich in opportunity
Colorful, busy, high energy
Restless is the city, never sleeps

Tall Towers scrape the stars
Dreams made near from afar
A great sea of people ebb and flow
Passionate, with places to go
Everything changed that fateful day
September 11 in our hearts would forever stay
Two planes turned the world upside down
Twin towers to dust, sirens sound
Lives were lost; families torn apart by hate
The U.S. was fragile; in a delicate state
Unprotected, vulnerable they band together
Shouts of Middle East harbinger of terror
Prejudice discrimination; it lit a spark
You see me as the pilot, the enemy in the dark
The one who caused so much pain and blame
I Am not the same
I Am just an American teen  
A speck in this immense city
Blurred lines of allies and enemies
Choose to see the light within me
Do not blame us all for a few
We have seen this horror just like you
Terror is not the Muslim way
 The Koran teaches Peace, we pray
 Your fear will consume you
Hold down your wings
You won’t touch the sun
Your heart will not sing
I Am an ally
Take my hand and rise above the night
A friend who will help in the war on terror
I Am a source of Light

2020 Writing for Peace Young Writers Contest Poetry Finalist

Giuliana Spanarelli, Grade 8, West Essex Middle School, Caldwell, New Jersey

W4P: What did you find most surprising, interesting, or disturbing in your research about your subject?

Spanarelli: I found the turmoil in the United Arab Emirates intriguing and horrifying. I also found some interesting information about schooling in the UAE. For example, both girls and boys attend the same schools together unlike some other Middle Eastern countries. This helped me to see the UAE is a progressive nation despite its history of conflict.

W4P: How did your research change the way you viewed your own culture?

Spanarelli: My research helped me to see the underlying prejudice that is happening all around us. Reading about 9/11 also helped me to see our perception of good versus evil can often be confused and interchangeable.

Giuliana Spanarelli lives in New Jersey with her mom, dad, younger sisters Daniella and Adriana, and her black cat Luna. Giulliana is a unique person with diverse interests and passions. Many of her favorite activities coincide with the arts ( writing, music and theatre) and sciences. The activity she most enjoys in her free time is reading. From an early age Giuliana has always had a true love for literature. She loves how books and writing can help people explore their own life and the world without leaving their bedroom. Giuliana thinks communication in any form is so important. Through a writer’s unique voice equality, acceptance, and peace can be achieved. Words have enough influence to change lives; the pen is truly mightier than the sword.

The 2020 Young Writing Contest Finalist pieces will be published on our blog during the month of July in recognition of their outstanding qualities. Winning pieces will be published on August 1st in the summer edition of DoveTales, Resistance, Guest Edited by Brad Wetzler.

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