By Henry Reneau     

Anne Waldman

If you turn the Goddess to stone, don’t be surprised
if she doesn’t bleed.                        
                                                         —Andrea Potts

precariousness does not occur in isolation
emerging slick & singed but from
loud moments of catastrophe
salt of sweat & ark of sin
slow submersion in soon regret

who kidnapped?   enslaved?
how many missing?
dispossessed?   countless disappeared? 
whose name obliterated?
whose name
never broadcast in a country
that wants everyone
to be like them

or leave

or die

or go directly to jail?

her sum the core of galaxy she digitized
the tongues of dying men
who lick the Judas salt she seer
a mastery of survival

fire that cleans
fire that catches
fire burns hotter as she goes

she carved in stone goddess in metal of
shivered straw of breath she woman
with salt on her tongue

she 21st century scripture of dissent she gunsmoke
desire hard-wired she bound
by chaosed all to hell

she was burning all right
her tongue (the one she brandished with her mouth) was afire

the man-unkind blues #1


the flesh is unfamiliar,
complicit bag of sin.

a desperate belief
in faith & hope & charity,

some-timey like rain,
pain & loss & selfless gain.


the bluesman’s blackened fingernails
finger-pickin’ six strings of trial & Mississippi dirt
a blood-moon gorged chain of
feral telegraphing his bloodline
stabbed from darkness
to rape the night.
i can hear the two-mile echo
of all the rust-heeled freight trains &
that ricochet into the failing light 
that delineate the conditions of survival
buoyed to slaps & stings.
his handful of catgut & wood
grafts his voice to everything
we don’t want to hear.
the times we dreamt & flailed.
a different physics
that looks as closely into lilac buds
as into death’s mouth.


language that says one thing
& means,

an entirely other:
the sky is crying,

cain’t you see the tears
rolling down the street?

Rock Breaks Scissors Cut Paper

Put a measurement on desire: train rails
under sodium lights, trembling
with the anticipation of arrival. Is to beg
for both the hook
& the hands that do the pulling.

Torque the quivering needle of expectation into the red zone.

There you go.

Predatory plummet of near to hand
raptor talons of acquisition.

Really the hands grasp slash grab despite the compunction of desire.

an animal thirst slash hunger.

Me me me is all fingers curled in plunder.

Desire, in another
sense, could be felt

from a distance, as longing.

A Corvidae blur, an internal agenda, an ulterior motive.

Not to say that desire is not a struggling bird in hand.

As far as desire goes,
our hands are largely
muscle memory & Manifest Destiny

in their dedication to

taking without asking, et cetera.


They don’t see the fractal beauty
of ice crystals in a blizzard. They don’t see
the inner beauty of the fat girl
that prisms diamond-like
kaleidoscope of light
in the mid-day crush of busy bodies
chasing success like a quota. Her laughter
the imaginative spectrum of passion: Six thousand meteors
burning sideways & fast
across a sky luminous with stars. Their compassion
the cryoanesthesia of hypothermia
refracted through baseball-sized hail. Octahedrons of ice that
radiate indifference inflicted upon Others. Their cold shoulders
of icebound empathy hung like a winter cold in the street.
Their good-as-dead frozen platitudes—no source of heat
other than a perpetual winter sun.

Day 6: Democracy
                          after Carl Adamshick

We took the shirt off your back & in a few days
you’ll see we tracked your cell-phone GPS, your credit card.

We’ve devised a new identity.

We’ve conspired, taken photos & fingerprints
& DNA. We assigned you a fifteen-digit number to track your spending habits

& any antisocial leanings on your mind. We took your first born,
your parental rights. We took your home & watched
as dignity fell from you.

We took your freedom,
sewed it on our sleeves
& flaunted it before you
as just another thing we’ve granted selectively, or withheld.

henry reneau

About the Author:

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.