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For days I’ve stared

At this blank slate of a screen

Praying to be blessed 

With some literary epiphany.


For nights 

I’ve wracked my mind

With a nutcracker, hoping

Maybe something meaningful

Will snap out of

The skull it’s encased in.


If I truly am

The master of my fate

Why do I feel

Like I’m stuck

In a cage? 


If all who wander

Are not lost

Why do I wonder constantly

Who I am and

What I want? 


This lack of epiphany is

The least of my shortcomings, but I fear the rest of them

Are far more forthcoming—

As the curtain rises

I feel my shrinking irises

Squinting against 

The onset of a spotlight;

As the audience approaches

My throat closes—

My lips wobble, yet the words

Remain foreign;

I never could control

My fluctuating charm

And at the time I need it most

It seems to

Turn off;

As the curtain is called, I

Feel my heartbeat fall

Back to a normal rhythm, and

My throat is no longer 


My whisper becomes a booming voice

Now that no one is around to listen.


I glance at this parchment turned paper turned phone

At the scrawled handwriting turned uniform Calibri text and

Can’t help but feel so alone;

When I write I become

My own world

But when I can’t, I lose touch

With who I am

In the real world.


They say we are all

The masters of our fate;

But I say we are at the mercy

Of the talent that holds us

Of the purpose that molds us

Of the God that knows us—


They say not all 

Who wander are lost;

But forget there is great disparity and distance still

Until one is found.


~ Maaheen Shaikh `25

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