Rigorous
Volume Two, Issue 4



henry 7. reneau, jr.


The Second Sermon in The Trumpland

1.

You the tall tree       / We the small axe.

In Hungerland the corporate blight eats the world, like the swooshing
sound of cars
blurring highways carbon di-toxic, the bleeding mascara of oil.

The ICE Gestapo of tender care facilities, like infant enemy combatants
in Gitmo,
the forever foreign interred at Manzanar,
the Nigger-hood of racism in Amerikkka,

the hyphenated way some are reminded that they don't belong,

like the Trail of Tears
after the mandated genocide of Sioux & Apache & Cherokee & Cheyenne . . .

We are the tempered bricks in the walls of your house. Like the Army
naming their helicopters after the murdered Indians they disappeared.


2.

Something glints /
                                   like Tears  /  or shackles ironed to ankles   or
foreign flight of dispossession
                                                       /  that can be seen from  /  space:

I will build a great wall—and nobody builds walls
better than me, believe me—and I'll build them very
inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our
southern border, and I will make Mexico pay for
that wall.   Mark my words.



3.

Amerikkka /   :
                            here where $$$ are Divine  / because
                                                                                 they mean to gets
/ what they wants          when they wants it //

Here where / many are Others   /                     the latitude &
                                                                                  longitude of
                                            / expendable as //
                                                                                  The outliers
                                                                                  in fear of //    Outside
the bell curve of entitlement /   the hate
                                   that makes hate /   that turns a blind eye
                                                                         / whose true horror
is the indifference /   to make what is wrong
                                                                 / the right thing to do //


4.

If we do nothing     /                             then so are we //

Italicized quote by Donald Trump, 2015.




The Bone Clocks

White people are terrorists. Period.

                               —A black woman, heard off camera
                                  during a live CNN news report
                                  on the Charleston, S.C. church massacre.


              1.

the hysterical strength
                                          that black people have had to harness
like suicide Jesus
wing-spanned wide as turn the other cheek
                                                                              to exist in a world
                                                                              that has for centuries
                                                                              tried (and failed) to kill them


              2.

our content of character
                                              in solidarity with every person
whose mere existence terrifies the powerful      invisible
between episodes of almost &
                                                       spontaneous combustion
                                                       the water stain bleeding through drywall
like a hidden genetic defect
fractal patterns of scarring qualifieds
                                                      binding
the helix of bondage
                                      with our upbringing
                                      our beliefs
                                      with our grasp fell short
of freedom
                    been lynched while seeking the vote
so very many
                        bombed in Bombingham
so many one step forward
but two steps disinherited
                        chained &
                        dragged to the feet of Confederate Jesus
preyed upon &
gunned down
                        while prostrate in prayer circle
despite the Spirit moves amongst us

we are the only heroes of our own lives                               so very many
searching for wherever    & whenever
that somewhere could be ours      the rust of American dreams
the burning crosses &
                                         Baptist churches
the choke-hold semantics &
fire-hosed civil rights in retreat           the official rhetoric
in sound-bite increments of Whites Only
their pliant justification cloaked in protocol &
tradition                                           the wing-spanned badge of Law
                                                           that demeans blackness to prey
                                                           only praying
                                                           to never be hunted as prey
despite hate has a history of plot &
plan & perpetrate    wielding a grain of fabricated truth
like Tazers or tear gas or
                   rubber bullets    to validate the stereotype
the same static we’ve been hearing
as long as we’ve been listening

                                             the convenient lie
passing through the dense dolorous smoke
of repetition
                   what we’ve done to one another &
what we think we deserve
what we’ve gained &
                                           usually lost
& where it touches down
                                           it turns to violence
until one day
we wake up &
                          it just becomes part of our life
                          our pain magnified
the pendulum of thuds echoed in our bones &
projected onto our face
the enraged vexations of why?    & how long?
                                           feigning our tiny lives into order


              3.

what beast must i adore
when nothing shows me the image of myself?


              4.

our invisibility is made manifest
only in the discussion of our absence

where two black stand & act
like we don’t see
                             the blind stand together
can damn sure be said about post-racial

our insecurity   the minute to
minute    meta-phor the gap in our lives

& for a couple of hundred years
we have been our own worst enemies:
we die too easily         we forgive & forget
too easily

makes weshallovercome . . .
                              a bastard life of disparity
we seemingly trudge      between this here &
                                            are we there yet?
seemingly forever we sit spectator-ly
on the edges of
their US of Amerikkka
                               a sleepwalker’s stupor
                               synonymous with
                               change is gonna come
to prove we are not
                                    who we would hate we to become


              5.

i have a dream
littered whiskey bent & rusted nails               with racist police &
poverty     an epidemic of subordinate bodies
now a traditionally cheap fuel for power      we shrunk so much
we disappeared                          between erasure & empowerment
the anxious space of affirmative action
subtracted by
the shadow magic of hate radiating outward
like perfect ignorance emanating the loudest caw
in a language of crows    renders us second caste   the record skipping
on the same dust speck of history
                                       blackness seen as a citizen of convenience
but reaching beyond stereotypical
to the strange forces inside our genes
that space within ourselves
              the hopeful once called souls

our blackness becomes a sixth sense
                                                                   like lacerations
                                                                   on the bodies of the blind
our identity     underestimated by those who dehumanize us
                           but we be the grind & gnash of patient umbrage
the fire next time
                              as we gather around ourselves
                              & pray

Incorporates an italicized fragment from a letter by George Jackson to Angela Davis—6/4/70, and an italicized quote by Charlotte Pence, from “among the yellows, the faces slack”




Poem Beginning With a Line by Louise Glück

We look at the world once in childhood. The rest is memory.
Childhood is the only constant, immutable thing,

while everything that comes after—our whole adult life—
occurs in the shifty arena of memory, a dream of falling.

We are led to believe that the past is etched in stone, but it
isn't. It is smoke trapped in a closed room, twirling,

changing, buffeted by the opening & closing of years &
wishful thinking. Even though our perception of it changes,

one thing remains constant. The past
can never be completely erased. It lingers, a custodian of

griefs & wonders, redialing memory
into the hum of a dial tone, an elusive phantom pain. The scent

of burning wood
is all we have left. Our fleeting present tenses &

mortgages of burden, coalesed from the shadows of
the original, pure impressions of childhood, those

socially pliant human forms of worth been damaged.
We may think we’re growing, as we get older, recycling

what we were, as escape, trying to get back to
our youthful optimism, but unwilling to let go of habit,

possession & tradition. The truth, beyond inference to context,
like twilight rays of sunlight shining through breaks in

high clouds, illuminating dust particles in the air—an appetite
that one day exceeded its grasp. Is a bear trap

made up of little traps.
If you listen hard, you can hear them snap shut, one by one.


henry 7. reneau, jr.: "I write words in conflagration to awaken the world ablaze, an inferno of free verse illuminated by my affinity for disobedience that breaks a rule every day, like a chambered bullet of phoenix-flux red & gold immolation that blazes from my heart, exploding 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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