…speaking with conviction.  It should not matter

what my gender is

the color of my hair, skin, accent

or whether I’m wearing the right kind of

flag lapel pin.  I could shout into

a bullhorn mic or whisper

quiet as the night when the wind is low

but you would still hear me

absorb every syllable, and know that

I mean it.  I will no longer be afraid

to use academic vocabulary–I refuse

to pretend I don’t remember

or understand, when I’ve actually known these words

by heart for years

I just lacked the conviction to

make them clear.