That’s right, I’m talking to you,
not him or her.
You have been randomly selected
for a security check.
It has nothing to do with you,
your physical features, or your name.
Do you now belong
or have you ever belonged
to a radical political organization?
Do you have weapons training?
Have you ever visited a training camp?
Did you pack your own bags?
You people send your sons and daughters
on suicide missions.
You animals, you!
If you will please step aside.
If you will please remove your shoes.
If you will please come with me.
If you will please leave the premises.
If you will please not harm us.
May you live in interesting times.
As Americans, you know exactly
what I’m talking about.
As Americans, you may be subject to this.
As Americans, you should be worried.
Is it you who are to blame?
We cannot help you.
There is nothing we can do for you.
The agents came looking for you,
at your father’s house.
They wanted to ask you questions.
I heard about you
being suspected,
detained, interrogated,
jailed without charges,
prosecuted with secret evidence,
found not guilty.
There’s no sense in you
making a fuss—
they let you go free, didn’t they?
Once you begin to see you
differently, as separate
from you, wholly other
from you,
then you can become like us.
What has history made of you?
Let’s get to the point:
It was always
like looking in the mirror—
that face is you. I am you.

Hayan Charara, "You" from Something Sinister.  Copyright © 2016 by Hayan Charara.  Reprinted by permission of Carnegie Mellon University Press.
Source: Something Sinister (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2016)
More Poems by Hayan Charara