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How much credit do I claim       and where do I claim it like the office of literary claim       or
the office of welfare and how                  did I earn that contempt was it       my uppity        or
déclassé mode in sexts      I suffer how I suffer    and    it’s my expense      is there a grant    or
should I get an agent       in all senses of the word literary and       cultural and mask           or
will it be a           ceiling made out of canonical       anthologies we   bump                           or
does my class ascent       assuage your guilt              is it ever             as inevitable                 or
do I       remind you        of the rhetoric your ilk     find both offensive         and sensible      or
does it   seem        that     I’m an aesthetic monster    and antisocial     oppositional              or
will I be a caricature I fear                         Chihuahua mother          the token the share      or
a literal stranger at the       cool kids table and does my diffidence                  touch you       or
my affect             or my vision          or my gears       or my perpetual indulgences                or
when it gets added up and tallied by the chamber whoever that is    and what I’ve earned   or
haven’t earned    even then           even then         will I be                              the confirmation

Carmen Giménez Smith is a poetry editor at The Nation and publisher of Noemi Press. She is the author of six collections of poetry including Cruel Futures and Be Recorder (both forthcoming).

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Further Reading

 February 12

The NYPD’s secret M.A.R.C.H. operation has been closing the city’s venues for years—should it be abolished?