Rigorous
Volume One, Issue 3



henry 7. reneau, jr.


St. Angela, Our Lady of the Gutter Tribe

for Angela Y. Davis

Martin-ized to Malcolm-tent & slingshot in hand,
a feminine pulse, silhouetted against the darkness
of freedomland’s Goliath.

She lives, wrestling demons,
revealing deceit’s secretive profile, deconstructing
the true face of pain
concealed within New Babylon’s distractions.

Because it is the way it is, she has no choice
but to challenge despair’s legion.

The martial sound-track of patriarchy, taking
without asking,
the alpha-testosterone of lusting fists
backhanding feminine trust, ‘till death do they part.

Heed the lone wolf’s Harriet Tubman howl.  It ain’t supposed
to be like this
, signifyin'
an army, with insurrection at its back.

La femme Yeshua walking on water,
her mother-tongue, a star-gone-nova
change is gonna’ come,
hence, the politics of struggle, in future continuous tense.

Saint Angela, silhouetted by a retribution sun, patron saint
of the gutter tribe,
the red phoenix of perseverance trapped in her iris,
bringing Kingdom Come
                                         on blackened wings of revolution.




lady sings the blues

. . . we never know what is enough until we know
what is more than enough.

          —Billie Holiday

woman . . .
whose breaking hearts are steel &
                                                   concrete leviathans
whose anxious minds misplace the little things
                                                     that give them life
feral wolf howl of claws at their backs
sleeping with the enemy
where coercion batters the barrier
                                            of innocence & naiveté
where love & sanity
are exiled to foreign countries
                      of homo-inferior’s gravity
                      where no one speaks their language

woman . . .
curved & smooth like a wallet in a man’s
                                                                 back pocket
as time slows to an anonymous existence
a grace under pressure
                                                        battling demons
& gilded caged by conspiring circumstances
her trust
                      like molasses hanging un-tethered
above the 7th level of hell, cliff-diving
                                                        onto punji sticks
into the molten core of betrayal
a boiling shat & sending seraphs plunging
                                       beneath the thumb of god
the quick &
                  the good as dead
                                             awaiting pain’s arrival
like doves
blended through high altitude engines

& that's why billie holiday
                          didn’t sing about flowers &
                                                                     lollipops




In [di] visible #2: It hain't, but it is.

The smell of tainted pork in the air. Cloven hoof-ful of nine-millimeter pistol
soon justified as an isolated incident.  Police jargon for legally lynched ghost.

Splayed hinge of black child.  The chalk-outlined metaphor of thug or demon.
Smoldering rage soon spontaneous riot, broken glass & tear gas.  Evidence of ghosts.

An historical singularity tiny enough to smolder in-just-us.  Gone ghetto
on yo' ass.  An explosion of ghosts.

Police-state line.  A thorn-studded las' nerve tried fenced in
barbed wire & painted to look like outside agitator.  Incog-Negro ghost.

Hate is too strong an emotion to waste on someone you don't trust,
is the keloid topography that marks us with their intolerance & fear.  A ghost

of a chance, living while black.  It hain't, but most often, is.

Note: Hain't is slang for a male ghost (i.e. a black male ghost). I grew up hearing this word in Teviston, CA, which was a poor black migrant workers area south of Pixley, CA. The area was populated by a majority of black migrant workers, and their descendents, who had fled the Dust Bowl areas of the Depression. They were stereotypically referred to as Black Oakies.




descent in freedomland: (five acts of suicide)

             1.

blind faith stood butt-nekked under the red light of disillusionment,
a thousand regrets on her rouged lips,
as the eye of the needle collapsed
within the ratcheting fist of Divine spite.

as with any man-made myth of manipulation,
she knew not what she was looking through to see.
only an assumption of God, her faith, to love what none could see
& doubt of everything else, but the omniscience,

omnipotence & self-centered sovereignty: sacred mysteries
inaccessible to all but middle men. like distant stars as proof of life,
now dead for millennia, that speak the glory
of long-distance power. indifferent & fluent in non-benevolence.

there were no pearly gates, no superhighways of abundant gold,
no cornucopia of everlasting wonder & joy
& no emotion drew His eye.

she was here, then she disappear. God sees her approaching, scintillating
in his eye-edge, a feral gold speck getting bigger. she approaches
the one who killed her & she reeks of life, a fury-driven beast of no nation.


             2.

Creation
expected us to keep our hands to ourselves
& love thee one another.

black & white & yellow & red & brown—

like the colorful utopia of Crayola in a child’s hand;
the possibilities of life proliferate
as bright as the incorrigible empathy of innocence & imagination,
diversity dancing a communal rhythm: e pluribus unum.

maybe . . .
we should let them color civilization,

instead of hearts & minds going along to get along—
muddled through the sieve of Fox News bobble-heads & the misfortunes

of the Kardashians, left-right-left siphoned through the plastic straw of status quo
& livin’ like Superman: faster than a speeding bullet.


             3.

Amerikkkans are stupid that way & always have been
part of the crazed mob
who have made the comfortable lie their own,

an assembly-line of fashionable convictions
until authority coerces them to repent their idealism
for heat, shelter & food on their plates—

“it’s better to be the smoking left hand of Great Satan,
than Occupy Amerikkka in his path.”


             4.

thin & hungry jacked into Smart Phones
& Bluetooth cockroaches
that microwave the human touch,
euphemizing the immeasurable distance
between tolerance & “i’m sorry”

& laptops evolved as ambitious genitalia: vaginas
& penises using the Ctrl key to garner attention.

the famous-for-being-famous & distractive priorities
advertised as must-have, add to cart-Amazon obsession—
the 50-foot credit card debt straddling a metallic gridlock
of lifeless, drive-at-five traffic—
plenty time to curse a neutral God or contemplate
the meaning of personal suffering
without ever having to explain what kind.

all so ‘sivilized under asphyxiating industrial skies &
Made in Amerikkka post-9/11 fearful
poisoned by mo’ money glut & once-nostalgic open space
tattooed with asphalt, the myriad of clover-leafed interchange
to nowhere fast,
overlooking strip-mall blights of acquisition
graffiti-ed with lunacy,
anger,
denial & dissent:

the rusty creak of a car door before the slam.


             5.

God lurks
in the electromagnetic pulse of Hiroshima & Nagasaki,
smelling of atomized bomb shadows seared into perpetuity,

an abomination of smart bombs & outsourced torture,
cell-phone GPS triangulation
& horizon to horizon, body bags that rainbow extraordinary rendition—
connecting chaos to profit, to ravening dogs,
when the sodomy of manifest destiny outs progress as greed &
hydraulic behavior becomes perpetual motion,

breeding the Divine in martyrs who honor the rebellious soul—
a defiant scream woven from wolf’s breath & stamped
into the contorted steel of dissent,
snarling an affinity for disobedience coalesced as divinest Sense.

are we not insane?
this is me  me  mine.        taking what isn’t ours,
burning on the Maine for imperial grab & claw,
bleeding in Pearl Harbor to initiate “just war”
& cliff diving from Twin Towers to securitize black ore.

the expendable “Other,” targeted for death & outlaw-able:
a war on poverty, a war on crime, a war on drugs
the New World Order war on terrorism & too-big-to-fail
big business on welfare
regurgitating Obama-nation into Freedomland: talkin’ black & livin’

all the Negro that he can.

& though we feign a fervent denial, & dis-remember
the defiance of Malcolm-tent before a hail of bullets,
the dazzling hope of Ceasar & Rev. Dr. MLK,
as bright & beautiful as “We Shall Overcome . . . Someday,”
what defines the regular here & now, driven by the fact
that we simply have to survive,
is almost unspeakable.
our expectations, like a yellow brick road out there somewhere,
but from the oncoming distance, the white noise chorus
of muzzled Malcolm-tent, that indescribable something,
the clamor of yes in a world of no,
so fearlessly shown & daringly sung loud,
marching, unafraid at last
into the church of our beating hearts.




the man-unkind blues #2

a very tiny chisel
carefully maneuvered again & again
through the microscopic contours
of the debris of hunger    an out-sourced
bioluminescence of need    the condescending
mouthful of pebbles trying to sound like
an apology    sorry that sounds like cancer
raised an army &
conquered bone    stranger-blind
in a haze of indifference like a subtraction of
all things within reach
but the multiplication of grasp    the downward glare
of Jesus wept
colored the almost of ephemera
the brittle stone of hope pocked by rain
an illusory energy
measured in grains of sand    a trickle
fallen from a fist of absolute nothingness
where nobody tells the truth
about anything
like force applied to
the velocity of a splintered femur
thrust through a child's virgin skin    the many-valved &
livid heart    a lopsided momentum in gyre
where nothing is itself    eventually a house of silence
like a pain of glass between us
only more so euphemism    only more so other than


henry 7. reneau, jr.: "I write words in fire to wake the world ablaze: free verse illuminated by my affinity for disobedience and a panther courage that blazes from my heart like a chambered bullet exploding through cause to implement effect. I am the author of the poetry collection, freedomland blues (Transcendent Zero Press, 2014) and the e-chapbook, physiography of the fittest (Kind of a Hurricane Press, 2014). Additionally, I have self-published a chapbook entitled 13hirteen Levels of Resistance, and am currently working on a book of connected short stories. My work was nominated for the Pushcart Prize by LAROLA."




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