Balassie, Lane



i pledge allegiance to the second grade diary
where i mingled girls’ names with hearts
and to the body i chanced to inhabit
through my power to determine that for which it stands
unquantifiable identities in unified incoherence
with melting ice and fireworks for all.

i pledge allegiance to the system. i
saw a picture of a girl with tape over her mouth. if we
told stories about vampires in middle school, then you
cannot understand the thing that is draining my blood, and you
cannot tell anyone i
no longer see myself in mirrors.
i’ll escape, i’ll be fog,
be the stars crashing down.
we have words for me in the land of the mostly free. we
pledge allegiance to our silences. i am
a hundred deaths in suburban bedrooms. i am
a child
with tape over my mouth.

i pledge allegiance to this vendetta.
i have died a hundred deaths.
words like metal crushed my body.
i froze to pieces in the snow.
so to the holy men gnawing at the book of Romans,
spitting it up in toxic scraps,
the thing that will destroy you is your creation.
tell me again your god would rather see my body turned weapon against itself
than spoken like a word of softness.
i swallowed the law of the land of a thousand kinds of unfree.
its poison made me strong enough to stand
bloody and blameless
as the stars crash down.

i pledge allegiance to the margins,
to the mirrored window behind which i am placed,
so that unless those who see me shield their eyes and squint,
they see only their own binary lives reflected back.
i pledge allegiance
for after walking back two comings-out and mixing eyeliner with saltwater,
i would not have it any other way
for this vendetta still stands, and your cisnormative constellations of gender
must come crashing down,
so know this as well.
i pledge no allegiance to my birth certificate,
to the state’s name for me, to the connotations wrapped around this body.
others may stand and mumble patriotic syllables.
i sit back and fold my arms
because my heart does not beat for your binaries
any more than it beats for your war drums.
still i pledge allegiance to my existence
and even while blocking a street with a banner in my hand,
this is the most radical gesture i have ever made.

i pledge allegiance to my self
not born this way but chosen out of the necessity
that i cut my fists against mirrored windows rather than let them blot me out.
and to the revolution for which i stand,
the endurance of my anger and the immensity of my love,
through genders inexpressible,
with liberation and justice for all.


Lane Balassie is an agender trans queer writer and organizer living in Washington, DC. Their activism centers around issues faced by trans communities, and their writing tends to focus on trans identity, queerness, mental health, and challenging the capitalist cisheteropatriarchy. They are currently taking time away from college to focus on organizing, poetry, and other writing projects.