Some poems force you to write them, the way sirens force their way through window panes in the night and you can’t shut out the news even when you try. Write a humanizing poem, my pen and paper goad me, show them how wrong their preconceptions are. Be relatable. Write something upbeat for a change, crack a smile. Tell them how you also cry at the end of Toy Story 3, and you’re just as capable of bantering about the weather in the post office queue. Like everyone you have no idea how to make the perfect amount of pasta, still. Feed them stories of stoic humor. Make a reference to childhood. Tell an anecdote about being frugal, mention the X Factor. Be domestic, successful, add layers. Tell them you know brown boys who cry. About the sides of Assads, Amirs, and Hassans they don’t know. The complex inner worlds of Suhaiymahs and Aishas. Tell them comedies as well as tragedies. How full of life we are, how full of love. But no. I put my pen down. I will not let that poem force me to write it, because it’s not the poem I want to write. It’s the poem I’m being reduced to. Reduced to proving my life is human because it is relatable. Valuable because it is recognizable. But good GCSEs, family and childhood memories and not the only things that count as a life. Living is. So this will not be a “Muslims are like us” poem. I refuse to be respectable. Instead love us when we’re lazy. Love us when we’re poor. Love us in our back-to-back Council Estates, depressed, unwashed, and weeping. Love us high as kites. Unemployed. Joy-riding, time-wasting, failing at school. Love us filthy. Without the right colour passports. Without the right sounding English. Love us silent, unapologizing, shopping in Poundland, skiving off school, unsure, homeless, sometimes violent. Love us when we aren’t athletes, when we don’t bake cakes, when we don’t offer our homes or free taxi rides after the event, when we’re wretched, suicidal, naked, and contributing nothing. Love us then. Because if you need me to prove my humanity, I’m not the one that’s not human. My mother My mother texts me too after BBC news alerts: Are you safe? Let me know you’re home okay, and she means safe from the incident yes, but also from the after-effects. So sometimes I wonder Which days of the week might I count as liberal and which moments have forehead to the ground and my conservative I wonder when you buy bombs Is there a clear difference between the deadly ones that kill and the heroic ones which scatter democracy? I wonder is it not guilty until proven innocent. [how] can we kill in the name of saving lives? How can we illegally detain in the name of maintaining the law. I can’t write it. I put my pen away. [I] can’t I won’t write it. Is this radical? Am I radical? Because there is nowhere else left to exist now.