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Poetry by henry 7. reneau, jr.

children of the damned
We Didn't Start The Fire
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Published November 27,  2016
Eleventh Transmission.
Eleventh Transmission: Poetry by henry 7. reneau, jr
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children of the damned


there’s a certain segment of the population who feel
that things are often not as random as they seem,
in that dissolving of expectations
between the water of never thirst again
& the sirocco blast
of sand across the threshold of forever hope.

thinking of the glass as half full, fervent yearning
like hard liquor inna’ shot glass,
even as a movement of shadows herald the coming
of absolute night.


coyotes are the only animal indigenous to North America
that have proliferated since its conquest by Europeans,
the trickster, who found a way out of no way, shifting shape
to finesse his fate,

as we pull our anonymity tight against the folly & the fray,
the patriot act & phone taps, the biometric racist recognition:
an eeny meeny miney mo,
been red flagged, like those very deranged minds high on fire &
genuflecting into a tiny universe
filled with volatile chemicals & trip wires, jars of ammunition &
incendiary mortar rounds.

we stand numbed in the belief that real violence never finds most people,
despite broken glass in every footprint—

& being in fear [we] prayed more earnestly & [our] sweat became
like great drops of blood which fell upon the ground—

a hematidrosis, amounting to everybody bleeding their own spoonful of truth,
in lieu of the courage to question authority,
that reeks of violence & the suffering unknown
to all but the damned,

& blind faith, building Jesus castles of hope in dusty shafts of blood-tinted
& coming to a dark street corner near you, all those really “bad men & women,”
convicted in the 80s, during the “trickle¬-down” Reagan years—coming
to a community near you—bad people, worse now than before incarceration.


Hitler’s physician devised a “merciful” method of killing children, which was
eventually used on adults—today we call it lethal injection, but we only use it
on animals & criminals, given the feigned concern we have for mercy &

& it’s so much easier on medical & prison staff, the general public


for jessica ‘j-rock’ rockwell

sitting together as black & white Malcolm-tent
talking about the circle of revolution & revised history leading up to us:

prison system funding, amerikkkan terrorism by enduring war
& research monkeys chain-smoking bio-engineered, consumer crack &

drowning us even in sleep—

back in the day there were billboards everywhere, the advertisements, now
on plastic bottles of counterfeit crystal-spring water,
a reversed osmosis of acceptance.

next to me you sit,
putting out your cigarette,

listening . . . for that dissonant chord.

We Didn't Start The Fire

black /blak/  • adj.  1 having no color from the absorption of all or nearly
all incident light (like coal or soot or determination).  2 a of the human
group having dark colored skin, esp. of African descent.  b of or relating to
black people.  3 walking through hell (as in come hell or high water) with a
five gallon can of gasoline strapped to our backs and five sticks of
dynamite clinched in our teeth.  4 an endeavor to perservere.

The medical examiner who autopsied Michael Brown described the six
bullets to his body, and two graze wounds. Brown had soot, or unburned
gunpowder, on one hand with a graze wound, indicating the shot was fired
from a distance of 6 to 9 inches, the doctor said. One shot pierced a lung,
another penetrated an eye. The final shot was to the top of his head.
–Autopsy report on Michael Brown

We's a consequence
of the second law of thermodynamics:   Anything that can happen
will happen.    Murphy's Law code-switched to C.P.T.
As metaphor:   Walking through hell
with a five-gallon can of gasoline strapped to our backs,
& five sticks of dynamite clinched in our teeth.

We's drowned at the bottom of the sea.   Calcium sign posts
tossed from the belly of a slave ship.
Lynched from a tree.
with a bit placed in our mouth
in the hot sun:   Is it hot out here,
or is that jus' me?
We's a body
handcuffed to blackness:   Michael Brown's dead body
remained in the street for four hours in the summer heat.

We's pecan-tan to blue/black kaleidoscope.   We's melanin
blessed misery.   Chained to second-caste like a dog.   Harnessed it
to generate semblance   supply voltage for Tasers & electric chairs.
Biology with an ironic sense of humor.

We's optimism
defined:   Weshallovercome . . . a hopeful activism baptized in the river MLK.

We's last nerve tried, again & again & . . .   We's riots &
riots & arrests
riots & political sound-bites
riots & nothing changes.   Repeat.   Repeat.   Repeat . . . seemingly ad

We's black revenge fantasy
where justice is dispensed with all sort of remorseless
pieces of metal.   We's who?
would willingly give wings to such rage.    This is how
the apparatus they propel us into begins to multiply its detriment.

We's reaching into a pocket   extensive furtive movements   selling untaxed
reaching for the cop’s gun
unresponsive to
repeated attempts to order our non-compliance
an adjective of rebellion

We's car chase
into a hail of 137 bullets.   We's police murder victim—black & unarmed—
posted to YouTube with 5,000,000 hits.  

We's “all lives matter” which necessitates “black lives matter.”

We's 1.5 to two seconds between the arrival of police & dead.

We's knowin':   While some things change
most remain the same
still composing the blue(s) in ebony veins.

We's “why should we follow their laws?”

Note: C.P.T (colored people time)

henry 7. reneau, jr. writes words in fire to wake the world ablaze: free verse
illuminated by courage that empathizes with all the awful moments,
launching a freight train warning that blazes from the heart, like a
chambered bullet exploding inadvertently. His poetry collection, freedomland
blues (Transcendent Zero Press, 2014), was released in September of
2014. He also has an e-chapbook, entitled physiography of the fittest (Kind
of a Hurricane Press, 2014), which was released in December of 2014.
Additionally, he has self-published a chapbook entitled 13hirteen Levels of
Resistance, and is currently working on a book of connected short stories.
He is a Pushcart Prize nominee.
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