Post Identity

Excerpt From a New Poem by Carmen Giménez Smith

May 3, 2017  By Carmen Giménez Smith

from “Post Identity”


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am I reclaiming separatist
or redefining epithets
fiction fable or fact
a shift or a sharing
who leads this tango
the thief or the judge
the huckster or the king
can I trust the momentum
or is it pure performance
will I be claimant or
defendant there
plough or oxen
is this like any other insistent
duality are we going to get
ahistorical because of
the thing with the thing
covered up with things
quashed and censored
unnameable inexpressible
untame hard to pronounce
things better left in the past
sounds like shrimperial
I could just leave the grid
leave it behind me
for some tentative exile
but what island might
I become where would
my allegiance be
and how would I construct
reasonable interventions
into culture or where might
I occupy where might I find
the suitable therefore inferior
slot meant for this labor
and could I live there
interminably and how
civil would I have
to perform like arboretum
or like the city public statue
of a settler or like skate park
or sanitarium or fallow field
with a pile of burning tires
and then how would you define
what I was or if I was
what you had hoped true
erotically or temperamentally
therefore intrinisically
how should I transfigure
and where should I locate
the self because it’s loose
and hot and deranged
it’s hot and ill-tempered
where should I keep self
can it be denatured
can it be defanged and tamed
can it be nature of the seventh
dimension and if I find myself
inside of some point of view
tinged with too much
of the past and the present
chafing against your mythologies
what if I keep bringing
up old beefs and what should
I do when it surprises you
how do I suppress my cynicism
manage your vise when it
tangles finances with strings
devours my glimmers
co-opts whitewashes
with entitlement with phallus
where do I live
is it in the desert
how do I build a home on sand
how do I find the scarce
materials to build a home
I can take with me do I cultivate
my herstoria to form brick
or do I adopt the new
material when I build
which map do I use
do I adapt to code to form
to tradition and where do
I belong where is it that I build
and shall I ask for permission
do I beg for a license
do I require a license
that explains my claim
to the land I live on
can I squat in a space
and call it mine
do I commandeer a space
and call it my subject-territory
do I build a tunnel
under your tunnel
is there a code with
which I must comply
what is the penalty
if I do not


Carmen Giménez Smith
Carmen Giménez Smith
Carmen Giménez Smith is the author of a memoir and various poetry collections—including Milk and Filth, finalist for the 2013 NBCC award in poetry. She co-edited Angels of the Americlypse: New Latin@ Writing published by Counterpath Press. A CantoMundo Fellow, she teaches in the English department at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, while also co-editing The Nation's poetry section. Her collection Be Recorder is forthcoming from Graywolf Press.

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