The Runner

Below is a free choice spoken word poem about the idea of  someone running from a past self, and the consequences of doing so. As one can assume, this is a piece that is very near and dear to my heart because (in more ways than one), I relate heavily to both the image of the ‘runner’ who is trapped within her own rage, as well as the ‘trampled flower’ that she left behind. This poem touches on the themes of escapism, hurt, and desensitization in a very forward way which, in my opinion, is the only way to properly demonstrate the feelings of the piece.

It’s so hard

to see your gentle little

face again,

every time I close my eyes,

after almost a year of trying

to forget what you look like.


You seem ever gentler

than I remember.

And perhaps

that’s just because

I’m harsher now,

but still,


you seem weak.


Everytime I see you,

my breath hitches in my throat,

my eyes fill with tears,

my hands shake,

my stomach drops.

I get pissed off.


You scare me.


I’ve spent a year forgetting

what you look like

and yet,

even without a face to remember

you still scare me.


Who do you think you are?


I let you go.

When I swung from one end of extremity

to the other,

I kissed you on the forehead,

and ran as far away from you

as I possibly could.

I let you go.


So why are you still here?


I told you once,

as I sat on the bathroom floor

in a pool of my own tears that

we were done.


I told you

that I was tired

of feeling,


seeing you in the mirror.

I was so very tired

of being gentle.


And so I ran,

up the hill,

around the bend,

to the nearest town.

I changed my name –

I changed my story.


And no,

I didn’t cut my hair,

I cut my heartstrings instead.

And no,

I didn’t throw away the sheets,

I got a brand new bed.

And no,

I didn’t cry for you;

you weren’t worth my time anymore.


Because I had mountains to climb,

and your tears

were just a little too heavy.

Because I wanted to be a runner,

and you can’t run

without knowing how to breathe.

Because I was tired

of feeling gentle.


So I let you go.


And there was something


about the distance.

As if apathy was my alcohol,

I couldn’t get enough

of forgetting you.


I smashed every mirror,

plugged all the drains,

let the every sink


I burned your memories

and watched the flames grow.

I never put them out,

I loved the heat.


But the heat only lasts

so long,

and although I was running

out of matches,

I still wanted to see

the fire.


So I left the house,

ran the streets

of my new town

without a jacket.

It was cold, but in a way,

I liked how the wind burned

my lungs the same way

 the heat did.


And that’s when I saw you,

on the corner of

escapism and rage,

on my way to light another fire.

All purple and bruised

like a trampled flower,

I saw you standing there,

wallowing in the wind.


We made eye contact.


My breath hitched in my throat,

my eyes filled with tears,

my hands began to shake,

my stomach dropped,

I stopped running.


We held eye contact,

and then you were gone.


Only, I didn’t run from you,

you crawled away from me,

as if my gaze burned holes

into your chest,

because it was

just a little too hot.

I watched you,

drag yourself across the street,

with tears in your eyes,


you seemed so weak.


And so I ran,

down the hill,

around the bend,




I was runner after all,

but I wasn’t breathing.


I got back to house,

kicked down the door

only to see,

the fire was out.


The house smelled like smoke.


I sat on the floor,

no matches in my hand,

I watched the embers burn out

into faint memories of rage,

and every time

I closed my eyes

I saw your gentle little face –


you scared me.


I’m sitting here now

on my bathroom floor,

the water from the sink

pooled around me.

It’s chilled now,

the fire’s out.


It’s funny how

things come around

full circle,

isn’t it?


It’s so hard

to see your gentle little

face again,

every time I close my eyes,

after almost a year of trying

to forget what you look like;

the image is still clear.


Who do you think you are?


I’ve purposely broken

all the mirrors,

plugged all the drains,

hoping I could drown

in my own desensitization,

I ran from you,

I let you go.



every time my eyes shut

I see you –

me –

my reflection,

I haven’t even climbed a single mountain.


You piss me off so much.

I let you go.

So tell me,


Why do I still miss you?


As many  in our AP English class have presumably heard as of late, I’ve claimed to not be a huge fan of writing poetry due to the motivations of melodrama. I really debated writing this piece because of that reason. First of all, I would’t go to say that I’m “not a poet” like everyone else seems to say before literally blowing everyone’s minds and bringing them to tears with their words, but I would like to say that I feel as though the idea of writing poetry doesn’t stir me the way it stirs other people on a daily basis. At least not anymore. In fact, it almost seems more ridiculous to me than anything, and yet if you look on my bedside table you will see a mountain of poetry books – Rupi Kaur, Rumi, Lang Leav, Michael Faudet, Khalil Gibran, Atticus, Edgar Allan Poe – I have a ton.

So am I a hypocrite? Who knows? Maybe I am, because usually even the thought of me sitting down to write poetry makes me laugh (mostly because it’s nerve-wracking to think that I used to be the girl that could do that), but sometimes, just sometimes I get that urge, and so I guess that happened today. I was that girl. To be honest, it felt great writing this. It allowed me to feel a certain sense of catharsis that I never even let myself experience before.The first spark of inspiration came from hearing a peer’s spoken word poem that she wrote for her own “Portrait of Me” presentation. Her poem was messy and aggressive and wasn’t in the least bit frilly or overdramatic. No, it was raw and real and for a split second I fell in love again with the idea of poetry again. And then of course, that feeling went away – as most do these days – but a little spark of inspiration lingered. So, I tried to let it out in this piece. It by no means is like hers, but I can safely say that this poem is a lot like me.

This piece was specifically inspired by a moment of embarrassment that I had a couple of weeks ago, when I shed tears in my own “Portrait of Me” presentation that I really didn’t want to get emotional in. I was told by several people that my presentation really affected them, and I am humbled to know that I affected people the way that I did, but there is a small (selfish) part of me that feels stupid for letting myself be so open, just because I – like the runner – have spent the last year trying to do the exact opposite. Many people ask me why, and the truth is, I didn’t like feeling gentle and emotional and out of control. I felt weak, so I made myself so strong that no one would even dare tell me I wasn’t. I really liked that, for a while at least, until I didn’t. It got to a point where it didn’t make me strong, it just made me stingy, and where I wanted rebirth I found myself reliving past memories, only I wasn’t emotional towards these anymore, just angry. It made me distant from the world and while I found the distance “intoxicating”, I had to realize that the fire always burn out, because that’s what happened to me during that presentation. The rage burnt out, and I was left cold. After a year, I was cold.  Cold and afraid of my own feelings – afraid of the girl I used to be, the girl I still am in a way. That’s how this poem came to be, and maybe that’s why I felt so okay writing it. Like I’ve said, I’m not the greatest fan of melodrama, which I find I have subconsciously linked to poetry just because it has the ability to make me feel something. Up until recently, those poetry books on my bedside table were collecting dust, but I’ve come to bring myself to clean them off and start reading again. I had the chance to see Rupi Kaur live and the experience made me think of an older self. I bet the old Yas would have killed to have been there, so she could have cried her eyes out. This Yas, however, didn’t cry but rather took inspiration, and I didn’t really realize that I did until I came to write this.

I’m slowly realizing that I, in many ways, am also a poet. I am a poet that thrives off of simplicity and realism. I’m also realizing that I’m not as tough as I try to make myself, because as much as I am the runner I am also the trampled flower. Do I hate that? Do I love that? I’m not too sure yet. I’m still trying to figure everything out. What I do know however is that running from myself is only going to take me in circles, which is not the way I want to go so, tune it. Stay with me, and I’ll keep you updated on my journey to self (if I ever get there). Until then, I have this angry yet open piece. Call it a stepping stone, if you will, towards getting back to myself.









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4 thoughts on “The Runner

  1. Dear Yasee,

    The very first time I had the pleasure of truly witnessing your genius was almost a year ago, when I went to watch Peter Pan. Your performance was absolutely spectacular; your voice and delivery, your acting, your ability to make Peter your own, the strange melancholy of growing up, everything, had me completely starstruck. You brought a vivacity to Pan that I hadn’t known before, one I hadn’t known I would find. Every single person in the play has found a way into my heart; you had all gifted me the chance to say both hello to a new chapter and goodbye to an old friend, and for that I am forever grateful.

    The fan girl within resurfaced once more during your presentation, and the way you were able to weave together the person you once were and the person you are now struck me on a myriad of different levels. I have always struggled with the idea of separating the past version of me from the newer version, and your clarity towards the past and present inspire me to make sense of who I am today and who I once was. Your poem enraptures me specifically because of how much of you is in it. It didn’t need melodrama to make me feel; its simplicity was enough. The imagery of constantly having to run from a version of yourself you’re tired of, lighting fires just so you can feel a little, ridding yourself of the burden tears bring- just, wow! Like your performances and your presentation, I love how full circle and concise this post is; your diction and syntax brought a great sense of balance and sincerity to the poem, which really helped the deeper themes sink in without seeming overbearing.Your themes and tone also really solidified your desire for a new beginning, an escape from the person you had always found yourself to be.

    I love the tone of self-realization in your poem and your analysis. I have always felt a little too deeply for my own good- whether it be towards others or to myself, so I understand the discomfort of being vulnerable. One part of your presentation that really hit me was when you were talking about your grandmother’s death, because last year, my grandfather died. People tend to have a strange way of following you even when they’re supposed to be gone, don’t they? Or perhaps it’s the ghosts I’ve created in my memories that won’t allow me any peace. It’s just, when you were talking about all the people that were coming by and crying and leaving in typical brown fashion, I couldn’t help but remember how I hadn’t seen by grandfather in seven years. We don’t have any family members in Canada; they’re all in Pakistan. Of course, we had community members coming and going, and though in hindsight I’m grateful, back then they felt like guests. I was angry I had to entertain them and talk to them and take their pity when I didn’t want to. The only thing I wanted was for someone to be there. I wanted my family. I wanted my grandfather. No one could give me that, so I locked myself in my room and I didn’t leave until everyone was gone. Your stepping stone to self-discovery helped me grow from the person I used to be. I wish you all the best on your journey towards regaining yourself, and, if you gift me the honour, I’m cheering you on every step of the way!



    1. Hijab love, thank you so much for your kind words. I honestly can’t even begin to express the amount of gratitude I have for you after that comment. I am so honoured to know that I have been able to impact you and inspire you in certain ways over the last year, especially without even having the pleasure to know you personally. I only wish I could have been graced to know you a bit sooner. In all honesty, I find myself getting a bit starstruck myself when you tell me that you’re a “fangirl” towards me because that is 110% me towards you as well. Your presentation absolutely wrecked me, and since then I have been watching your brilliance unfold in our AP classroom. I am so glad to hear that you liked this poem – simplicity is kind of a virtue of mine and it is so so so nice to know that you appreciated that element of my writing, because really it can be quite hit or miss with people. As for you grandfather, may I first of all just say thank you so much for opening up to me about that love, and secondly, I completely understand what you went through. My grandmother lived here with us, but she passed away during a vacation to Pakistan. She left but never came back, and I never got to say goodbye, so trust me when I say that not only do I completely respect and empathize with you, I also feel as though you and I could become much closer because of our shared values and experiences. Again, I really can’t even describe fully how humbled I am for you to respect my writing and myself the way that you do. The world lacks people and beautiful and bright as you, and I feel blessed to be one of the people with the utmost pleasure of knowing you, mashallah.

      Thank you so much for your elegant and kind words my love.

      Forever yours,


  2. Yasee,

    Your poetry here, in its straightforward and realistic form, is in my opinion the most powerful form poetry can take. The first time I read this, I had thought the speaker was running away from another person. At the end, as I realized that it was in fact their reflection they were running from, I decided to read it once more with the knowledge I had gained. If I thought it was powerful the first time around, the second time I read your beautiful work must have blown me away. Suddenly, this poem wasn’t about someone changing things in their life in result of a broken heart, but changing for themselves. It began to resonate with me in a way that hadn’t before – I’ve ran from myself but never another person, to this extent. With the added simplicity and realism, your poetry will be stuck in my mind for sure.

    I also loved the symbolism for the fire. Woah – I hadn’t noticed the first time I read it (probably because I was forcing myself to stay awake at 2AM) but when I did this morning I gasped. It was so beautiful the way you described the fire burning out, I could see it happening to me in my head. I almost teared up, I never realized the matches and fire from the beginning would become to be so important. Your writing here is filled with surprises, which I feel there is more I have yet to discover. Wow, I think I’m enraptured with your writing. If you can’t find the inspiration to write more, that is okay, just know I will be eagerly ready to read whatever you have.

    I can’t find any grows to give, will I lose marks? It doesn’t matter – I’d tell you to keep doing what you are doing. Thank you for writing this piece, I’m so blessed with the opportunity to read your work. Keep it going!!


    1. Dearest Elissa,

      Thank you so much girl! Im glad to know reading this poem initially at 2 am didn’t fry your brain too much. I am so happy to hear that you liked the simplicity and symbolism in my piece. As I mentioned in my reply to Hijab, I mentioned that simplicity was one of my virtues in my writing and that it can either be something enjoys or really dislikes, and I’m glad to know that you think it makes for the most meaningful writing. That’s where I’m trying to go with this, you know? I really hate melodrama (and it’s nice to know someone doesn’t as well), and so I really tried to avoid that in this piece. As for the fire symbolism, I kind of liked that too (hehehehe), but the real reason I used it was because of its abrupt nature. Fires are wild and dangerous and contagious, but in a way they are intoxicating as well, and I felt that those were the right elements that needed to drive this piece. As for the full circles, what can I say – Im a complete sucker for those.

      One thing I would like to especially thank you for is your comment about how even if I can’t find the inspiration to write anymore, that’s still okay, and you would be excited to read whatever I have. This struck me so deeply Elissa, and I’d jut like to thank you for reassuring to me that’s it’s okay to not feel as inspired to write as much, and it’s okay that it’s not something I’m as falsely enraptured about. You told me that it was okay to feel the way I feel, which is a privilege even I have neglected myself for so long. There was something about that one particular comment that just felt safe and thoughtful, and I am eternally grateful for that.

      After writing this piece I felt that excitement I had once felt towards writing, and while that has died down since I posted this, I know that it’s still in me somewhere. I’m trying my hardest to write more because that isn’t something I want to give up, but it is also something I feel as though I need to fall in love with again so, I promise to keep you updated on my journey to finding myself again.

      Again, thank you so much for the comment. I really love you girl.


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