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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, April 13, 2017.
About this Poem 

“This poem is an excerpt of a long lyric poem inspired by Whitman, Neruda, spoken word, and the lyric range of Alice Notley. This particular excerpt considers how organisms and systems collide.”
—Carmen Giménez Smith

from “Post-Identity”

I was light from the mouth from every part of me
I was of the earth or a scar in the earth rent through
the ruins of late civilization and bubbled from it and
became a saint’s reptilian spirit and I could taste
the wheat and coal and gold like a trinity of bounty
and I was vapor like a smog that becomes a wraith
over the city then back to its animal form decompressed
and atomized into its past life as star and I was that animal
truth the spirit I had dreamt about being more cloud
and star then given I was just the density of water
a reciprocity in and out the fade of my fugitive
substance going south and the yearn for decadence
disappears in the annals yet leaves a taste in the mouth
metallic and lime the sense of dissolution and I was speed
and insistence to reset the orb of gravity I was risen from foam
necessitated by colony sired in violence exported as luxury

Copyright © 2017 by Carmen Giménez Smith. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 13, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2017 by Carmen Giménez Smith. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 13, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Carmen Giménez Smith

Carmen Giménez Smith

Carmen Giménez-Smith is the author of Milk & Filth (University of Arizona Press, 2013).

by this poet

poem

I have thirty seconds to convince you
that when I’m not home, my verve is still,
online or if I’m sleeping when you call,
sheep are grazing on yesterday’s melodrama.
Does anybody know what the burning umbrella
really meant? Forget it. Tell me what you need.
Leave me a map. Leave me

2
poem
We make dogma out of letter writing: the apocryphal story 
of Lincoln who wrote angry letters he never sent. We wait for letters 
for days and days. Someone tells me I'll write you a letter
and I feel he's saying you're different than anyone else.
Distance's buzz gets louder and louder. It gets to
poem
My siblings and I archive the blanks in my mother’s memory, 
diagnose her in text messages. And so it begins, I write although 

her disease had no true beginning, only a gradual peeling away 
until she was left a live wire of disquiet. We frame her illness 

as a conceptual resistance—She thinks, yet