They told us that the way we speak was wrong,

the music in our voices an error.

With all they have to show: guns, boats, cars,

gold, steel, semiconductors,

and the fatal stress of formality,

how can they not be right?

Flat and colorless is the ideal,

straightforward speech that shares nothing

of the nature of the speaker,

and stays out of the way of business.

So we have bleached and flattened,

taken to gray box-houses and stiff black suits

but they still cannot accept us, not quite yet,

for every so often,

a songbird in flight, shedding rainbow plumes

bursts forth from our mouths.

Until we fix this flaw, they say, success will elude us.

First appeared in Twisted Vine Literary Arts Journal, Fall 2019.