Rigorous
Volume Five, Issue 2



henry 7. reneau, jr.


Fast Talking Man [excerpt]

after Anne Waldman

because I matter
because I breathe an affinity for disobedience
because I am a blood moon fractured through a skein of tangled branches
because I signify in 99 hues of negritude
because I will not comply!

I’m the black Viet Cong digging tunnels in Amerikkka’s backyard
I’m the first man in, last man out, cold-cocked canary in Milk & Honeyland
I’m the last man standing
     got boatloads of guerrilla funk
I’m the El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz man, Geronimo ji Jaga man/:
     pro-Black
     not a token
     Man    on    Fire     Black man

      let me taunt you with my magic power

Black man never under thumb of white man’s God, says
turn the other cheek gets bitch-slapped twice, says
guns in Black hands & racist pigs will die, says

I’m the Nat Turner Black man, the Zebra Killer Black man
Black man play the dozens till God cries uncle

combustible    raging fire that infernos
double consciousness    that burn baby, burns
soul power     razes banks & Wall Street like Watts & South Central

Black man turned the tables, says
Black man only give up game when hell freezes over, says
Black man with his eyes wide open in Amerikkka
     Black man blah! blah! woof-woof! one nation under the groove
     hears everything coming out the speakers

Black man channels Huey Newton pro-Black back in the day
Black man combs out Afro kinks wit bone-handled cake-cutter
     his raised fist insurrection to the Establishment
     his actions of grace in territory held largely by the Devil

Black man says what he means & means what he says
     rather die standing than living on his knees

Black man had a Jim Crow noose around his throat
was it yours?  Says
he’ll make you buck dance like effigy next time
     he’s righteous indignation, Muhammad Ali black man

Black man’s tongue ain’t never tied, rebukes in ten directions

I’m the John the Conquer root
I’m the mojo-workin’ man
I’m the axe-handle pistol on a graveyard frame
I’m the black cat bone
     rusted lockjaw nails & gunpowder soup
I’m the consequence of cause & effect
     signifyin' plus-justment times two
I haunt you with songs risen from the bellies of slave ships
I'm the moan
     rippling stagnant water with skipping stones of illusive hope
I’m the aqua-boogie funkadelic man
I'm the sorrow that has borrowed legs
     the feets-don’t-fail-me-now
     descended from people who ran faster than Fugitive Laws
I float like a butterfly & sting like a bee, says

Black is more than prime-time TV news, rap video shows &
daily headlines

Black man’s brain is 20   billion   calculations per second
Black man’s tongue is clock-beautiful as logic, says
     free yo mind & yo ass will follow
     but everywhere, the dark side of the sun, as I go, says
devil-mocracy doesn’t go down easy

I’m the reflected-in-the-mirror man
I’m the spoken word slam
I’m the fountain of wisdom griot man
I’m the James Brown Big Payback man
I’m the clenched fist of conviction man
I’m the three-fifth enslaved man
     the beaten, lynched & castrated Black man
     the jiggaboo       the coon       the nigger man
     the jook joint Blue(s) man
     tryin’ to make a dollar outta’ fifteen cents, says

everywhere suffering
     everywhere suffering, as I go


I’m the Black man with double consciousness
I’m the Black man with banned assault rifles
I’m the black man with street smarts & a BA degree
I’m the get rich, or die tryin’ thug nigga’
I’m the stereotypical scapegoat of every racist pig/:

the bio-metric racial recognition that eeny-meeny-miney-moes, says

Black man is the sum of African Diaspora parts    is the Big Picture
Black man, making his way out of nowhere nothing      & no way
sounds like the audacity of hope with no bootstraps someone said

(that someone wore a shiny white man suit)

     but he just ignored the mainstream made mute
     the be patient . . . waiting
     & went his militant      radical      pro-Black way

Black man took his civil rights from the WHITES ONLY herd mentality
he had civil disobedience that persistent

how persistent?

     that persistent! Says
a closed mouth don’t get fed
     a closed mouth don’t get fed
he is spontaneous combustion of revolutionary petunias, says
the blacker the berry . . . Says
his stance (the one he carries on his head)
                                                             is the Alpha & the Omega




Mommy, There’s a Boogeyman in the Closet, & Checking Under the Bed
or Leaving the Door Ajar, Ain’t Gonna’ Make It Go Away!

The frequent flyer
submits to airport strip search security

for the same reason
that a child falls prey to a pedophile. A cornered fear

before the soiled uniform of small-minded Authority. A consequence
of coerced, so very much

the single mothers of homeless silence
cornered into cardboard boxes—

a luminescent hunger,
crying on the doorsteps of those Armies of Salvation.

The 99
% & non-violent dissent,

very much the designated terrorist,
painted by government soundbytes, laser-light GPS &

Predator missile. No longer a targeted blip on the radar,
but disappeared to our indifference,

a consequence of context
been collateral damaged. The pandemic unemployed

hit & run over
by Yolo bus, the EMT latex-ed hands

groping private parts (Hey dude! Don’t touch my junk!)
& winning Lotto ticket

clenched in post-mortem, death-grip hands. The distant power
that has washed its hands of them.

Says so
in the TSA Manuel of Conduct.



henry 7. reneau, jr.: “I write words of conflagration to awaken the world ablaze, an inferno of free verse illuminated by my affinity for disobedience, is a discharged bullet that commits a felony every day, is the spontaneous combustion that blazes from my heart, phoenix-fluxed red & gold, 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, my collection, The Book Of Blue(s) : Tryin' To Make A Dollar Outta' Fifteen Cents, was a finalist for the 2018 Digging Press Chapbook Series. My work is published in Superstition Review, TriQuarterly, Prairie Schooner, and Rigorous. My work has also been nominated multiple times for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net.”




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