Rigorous
Volume Two, Issue 3



henry 7. reneau, jr.


The Fall Of All Atomic Angels

The gilding of every
conceivable surface, the flaunting of
wealth
as a boastful public spectacle,

are the strangers
that crowdsourcing algorithms tell me
I ought to have nothing
in common with.

The gunpowder psyche of smokestack lightening
issued from the ghostly hulk of
locomotive billions: the disembodied
                                  proliferation of tweets
chugging toward a vanishing point.

He is concerned with
preserving queer intimacy under the authoritative State. She

gives a fuck that being Black is a threat to national security.

The colony of red ants
coursing through cell-phones &
out of their mouths: shouting into the air
                                  to hear
                                  their small voices turned tall.

She spends her free time
yelling about the FB-eyes
War on Black Identity Extremists: shooting arrows at Blackness &
missing often,
the two-faced arrogance of white supremacy.

All of her poems are political. Especially after white folks read them.

& how much like them
does an Other have to be
for their death to be counted?




Dear God,

1.

Can we shut out our Self simply by closing our eyes?

Have we become
figurative redundancies
grasping as if to telekinesis the stars
into ever-shifting realignment?

Have we become symbolism devoid of function?

Curving
speeding through
spaceTime &
theoretically creating tomorrow's reality.

Our desires
prostrate &
praying repetitive need in every tongue.

A scattered language of want
as long as a train
passing at light speed
the Babel-
like whoosh of velocity
of more   much more   a whole lot more.


2.

They came in droves
like cattle through a broken fence
Wall St.-dazzled
by the bounty of greener
on the other side.

The medicated mass of them
Prozac-ed & Valium-ed &
Oxycontin-ed stuporous
filling the everywhere
with everything
but the truth—

the inference being
that from the darkness they must fall.


3.

People stopped talking to each other.

The spaces
once filled with conversation. Once worship
arisen within their optimism:
precious & pure.

Now a-twitter
in the isolation
of technological babble &
plastic platitudes: an oar short of empathy.

Most often photo-shopped
this blurred snapshot of me.

I worry about the fate of a world without vision, or innovation, that progresses from the stagnation of mistakes we have made. We live as if nothing is fragile except our personal bits of Made in China cheap, our scattering into Babel, a velocity plummeted from possibility. We slumber into dreams praying the same platitude in every tongue, a twilight consolation somewhere between gasoline and hemlock. Waiting without knowing what we’re waiting for—to be astonished by someone, or something else.


4.

Dear God

I thank you for the paranoia
that harbors the truth in the astrophysics of conspiracy theory:

the WMD dread of oil train screech & derailment
onto the wrong side of the tracks.     The last chance ultimatum
to be him /her /   he /she   them there.    Of look,

but can never touch           : the really good people
who do what they’re told     snail-like
crossing the road via slimy trail of a hope & a prayer.

Clinging to democracy they hypocrite &
contra-dicked
asking me to swallow it
in pornographic bits of Made in China cheap.

And even if I sit
assembled by law
signatory with signatories
pleading for change by online petition, or
patriotic queued
beyond the bullet to the ballot . . .

I thank you for the slavery of religion—eyes averted &
heads bowed low as all the arbitrary commandments—
a viable means of crowd control &
the ethnic genocide of poverty's overpopulation

a wealth of more than enough just beyond our reach.


5.

In ancient Mayan dialects “gold” meant treasure.

Precious & pure
in a different sense than fingers
grasping at minted coins of worth
fingered as if hearts, illumined & made new.

Alluring flowers: the gleaming promise of wealth
by rape & pillage        or spoils of war.

Always, conquerors had it wrong from the start.

In ancient Mayan dialects “gold” meant treasure.

Priceless
as children safe from harm.      Precious
as the knowledge, & dignity, of Self.
The superhighway of empathy
to eternal Paradise
not metal milled paper-thin
                                            profit at all cost.

Dear God,

I thank you for the only thing worse than being blind
is being the only one who can see.




Because we never know where stepping out our front door will take Us

Once upon a time . . .

/ not in the past tense
that often reprehensible things /
                                             happen with no explanation

/ but Amerikkka /     spelled the way / America  Was/Is/

but hopefully won't /    continue to be //

The here & now / of Trumpland /
                                                      of diminished
                                                      human civility /
& varnished stupidity //

You would think /   Amerikkkans
                                would have finally   /  had enough //

The sheer triangulation of hate / struggling to
                                                   reorder itself into reason

// But the diseased eagle eye . . .

We caress the violence of the boot pressed to our throats when a freshly fired assault rifle makes the national news our rage is a fearful betrayal of security that wallpapers the facade that has kept us apart & waiting less patiently than we might have tucked into neighborhoods of random gun shots & hard drugs grown tired of hard-winning the odds stacked against us like the one hundred thousand images per second to make us forget the painful image of the truth & our hope now the tradition to be victims wielding a single candle flickering in the dark.

When I was a boy
a woman with wings
came to me in my sleep.

She told me how I would die.  (In the year
                                                             gun laws were laughed at
                                                                                      spat upon
                                                            called a $ign of the times)

Even in understanding  (We meaning us /   us meaning
random bird in flight & / carbon dioxide sky)      / there is
uncertainty / because there is no way to explain
/ what any of us truly want     (Our hungering /
savage & panting)        is what makes us ache /
in our insomnia of need /     & what
we covet     (The grasping after to be devoured)     / that this /
                                                                                 & this / &
                                                                                 that
                                                                      / belongs to us . . .

First a mirror / wherein we see ourselves /    : Keep your hands
                                                                         where I can see them &
step out of the car!!
       /  briefly whole &
                                                                      / then /     not.

The troubling reflection /    : gap-mouthed & /   lust-struck
as indifference /
                          that preys in the stalking eye behind the scope.

Then / gunshots . . .




[His Wonders To Behold]

God is more a recreation of us than we are a creation of his. The innovative handyman, or trial & error tinkerer. Our hope, the supplicant vernacular, as we listen & listen, but God always seems to be up to something other than we need . . . somewhere else. There was no God in Auschwitz. He decided not to go there. There were such horrible atrocities, the screams & gunshots turned to smoke & ash. His hands of folded indifference, the way the omnipotence of gravity quells resistance.

The child was born with half her brain exploded tumorous above her left eye. Gray matter enclosed in a translucent caul, soon fodder for superstition, lifelong lusus naturae of pernicious scorn. Meanwhile, God was smoking crack, with butt-nekked Eve, at the Topper Motel.

Five thousand refugees
pushed towards the border,
trying to escape the tyranny of
indifferent power. They carried all they owned
(blind faith & hope),
on their heads. God was getting his shoes shined
while reading the New York
Times: “Man Spat From Leviathan's Mouth
              Denounces Affinity For Disobedience.”

The tsunami reared its mile-high cobra head above the resort-hotel-burdened, tropical shore line. The holiday revelers & indigenous slave-laborers, swept inland—drowned in separate but unequal by latitude & longitude. But God was preoccupied, chuckling over his prank that warped Ezekiel's mind with visions of E.T: a wheel within a wheel, while Jesus drew blowflies to his suicide.

After the child had brushed his teeth, he prayed King James Version by rote of upbringing: Now I lay me down to sleep . . . imploring the gape of Holy Mother Church, praying to a holy, razor-wire crown of thorns, a fine line between persistent & becoming obnoxious—the sibilant susurrus of a seashell.

Meanwhile,
two county lines over,
somewhere in the Sequoia National Forest,
God was busy chiselling stone tablets
for Moses,

so very tired of humans who persisted in asking.




It Really Happened in a Negro Horror Movie

Lights, camera, affirmative action!!

as slavery’s disinherited come home to roost,
dressed in Sunday-go-to-meeting Negro Problem: A trademark
black, anorexic Abe emancipation suit &
triple-K white supremacy button-down collar,
the red, white & blue(s) proclamation bow-tie &
Willie Lynch-knotted Stacey Adams.

High-steppin’ we shuffle
down Pseudo-Freedom Ave. to 40 Acres & a Mule;
we burdened with the rugged cross of Black Codes Rd.,
the over-ripened strange fruit
swaying in a bloated bottle-flies breeze.
& racist Jim Crow, like the Devil in the details,
manifested at the crossroads of Reconstruction/Segregation:
Great Satan’s handshake of institutional racism.

Mr. Wallace, we's ready to flash forward to close-up . . .

The seven hydra-heads of conflagration, a serpentine bigotry
risen from the ashes of a Bombingham church &
four black girls rose sanctified, vaporized by hate

(The same emotion, in practice, nailed suicidal Jesus ta’ tha’ cross.)

as the body of the gunshot Messiah
convulsed on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel &
the X-lion, ruminating on brotherhood as a two-way street,
collapsed in a hail of 15 bullets;

too little, too late, colored folk realized what color was colored,
a second-class hue: Somewhere in-between “free at last” & “we shall
overcome.”

Like teen-aged Emmett Till, snatched from sleep to sleep everlasting,
the literacy tests & Parchman work farms,
the “nigger, don’t let the sun set on your ass!” sundown towns,
to Trayvon Martin: Skittled” by gunshot,

the hatred scheming, an Eternal Recurrence,
fabricates the flag
that suffocates the Dream. Again & again & again . . .


henry 7. reneau, jr.: "I write words in conflagration to awaken the world ablaze, free verse that breaks a rule every day, illuminated by my affinity for disobedience: a phoenix-flux of red & gold immolation that blazes from my heart, like a chambered bullet exploded through change is gonna come to implement the fire next time. I am the author of the poetry collection, freedomland blues (Transcendent Zero Press) and the e-chapbook, physiography of the fittest (Kind of a Hurricane Press), now available from their respective publishers. Additionally, I have self-published a chapbook entitled 13hirteen Levels of Resistance, and my work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. In case of tyranny, Google: henry 7. reneau, jr./poetry to remove the size thirteen jackboot from your neck."




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