He told me

not to mumble

as I spoke.

That it made me

sound unsure

and it made me

sound clueless.

I needed to enunciate

my confidence

in every syllable

and not become a victim

of tripped tongues

or limp lips lost

between facts and questions.

I desired to tell him

my mumble

wasn’t created from nerves,

uncertainty, or laziness

of his preconceived notions.

The creation of my murmur

formed under

the weight of every other 

person’s name

that I conversed with before him.

The layers of their lives

clamored upon my tongue

and down my throat

until each fact slammed

together into slurred sentences.

The exhaustion 

of my vocal cords

caused every word 

to fall into each other

until they cracked and splintered

into incomplete, quiet

children trapped behind

the locked gates of my lips.

the introvert in me tried

to ration out a piece of me 

to all the people I chatted with,

but in the end;

I was never a teacher

or good at division.

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