Literary Orphans

Three Poems by henry 7. reneau, jr.

Dispatches from the Land of Erasure #2

Repeated verbatim into the symmetry of sorrow, like an eye

unmoored from its socket, reaching out in assumed relief, or


cumulative agony, the way trauma tethers itself to our ancestry.

Something’s always breathing down our neck, transmitting,


through lineage, a keloid mesh of scars, like an inheritance of

toxic despair, the chemical dirge of flesh once fettered by iron.




Pain has an addictive surface of want, generates

need, as it penetrates the flesh.



as vibrant as a spring that retracts when touched, or


an unending longing, a reverence.  The pages of a bible,

that hold between them


the last chlorophyll heartbeats

of a soon-to-be-reaved


dead flower, a sort of prolonged suffering, similar to

momentary joy, or


the scent of determination

given off by the corpses of martyrs.




We quibble trivial issues as if they had a life of their own,

even as gunshot splayed children


become the new meta-phor

Black mothers, left to moan immovable denial or cry


into condolence, an ocean to vast to swallow.  Where

hurricane punches & levees fail, & people quickly remember


the gospel of Jesus,

or condone earthly violence, whole cities submerged in flood,


but pain bobs to the surface again & again:  the body language,

intonations & facial expressions, like treetops jutting from deluge.




A repetition of change is gonna come, like

Hope, digging a hole to China with a spoon, is a circular


rhetoric of diminishing returns, proven unreliable

by torturers in black sites, an enemy who uses music as a weapon,


waterboarding, solitary

confinement & humiliation.  The inescapable blackness


as in-just-us rains down

onto its most vulnerable spectators, or the token-ized Other, the type


that feels a little safer to Amerikkkans, because, more often

than not, it has a narrative of educational ambition, or can live with


chasing success like a quota.  How strenuously they run from

the past, & never expect it to catch up with them.




The rock-jawed face of bigotry, as ignorant as those

who believe so zealous, the squee of soup lined


regiment of voters, transfixed in Hope, but waiting for

the other shoe to drop, onto those who do not believe,


who cannot be swayed by representation in absentia: are heathen

blasphemers, heretics, or terrorists. Should be wiped


from the face of the earth, with bullets & bibles, &

Big-Head bucks.  The begging braids of starving refugees


hobbled in borderline detention camps, & the needle of hate



to all points of the compass.


O Typekey Divider


Black Crow Stuck Through A Hole To Freedom

You are the darkest childe. Born into a prison for your mind

you cannot smell    or taste     or touch. Your body

has no country

but the fugitive boundaries of Diaspora, scribbling sunlight


into the margins of lost horizons. Your cosmology,

a double consciousness, caught in the butterfly effect


of a raptor’s swallow of velocity: Your pain

is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding,

Your electric wings

beating the optimism of Hope into Mama Gospel,   or

the gunsmoke Daddy Blues.


You are the darkest childe. The looming shadow

of six crap-shootin’ dope dealers

playin’ the dozens with God. Articulating

the audible, celestial hush of freedom, like a crippled animal

dragging a steel trap.

A line drawn in the sand that enhances the power of explosion,

like a prison beating, or a turning into gunfire.


The rebellion of verbs

be patient . . . waiting under your tongue, signifyin’

the residue of design

within the alchemy of dissent  : Two fists,

clenched & raised.

At the ready to swing them,

so they arc through the air, wide as peripheral vision.


Voodoo childe, gone ghetto on they ass!!


The taloned whisper of fear inside your untamed self,

Your body, brandishing jagged edges & moving

parts, like the complications of a pocket watch.


You are the darkest childe. Be patient . . . waiting

for the metaphor’s promise of how it ought to be,

that is now, &


maybe, then,

like trying to reach the next world with a spoon  :


Thrust    Lever    Lift    Toss.


Note: Fragment quoted in italics by Kahlil Gibran.    


O Typekey Divider

The Third Sermon in The Trumpland




They know the animal

hunger is a wound   The hyphenated way

Black folk are reminded of the fear of having nothing


that they don’t belong  &

caught in the clockwork gears

of African   hyphenated Americans

who have struggled long &

fought hard


ain’t no meta-phor Blackness   overwhelming

in its ability to swallow Black folk whole   & careen them

into a series of wild behavior

into anger littering Watts   So. Central   Ferguson streets:

the drunken mouths

of shattered storefront glass   & the powerless


second syllable of love-less: a generational live  die  repeat

uprising from dust   The poverty mouths

ashen elbows &

hair-trigger fists   like the animal engine

of a larger machine

assembled in Nigger riot   & their grief


the spent tears of the ghosted

the browning blood

pooling the high noon smolder of streets &

the protest signs

scattered between the chants of umbrage &

beaten plastic battalion of buckets

spitting bullets from conjugated throats

like dice rolling from the unclenched fist of God



The blackened Blues

is a dangerous business   Telegraphs our bloodlines

from a fog-shrouded   telephone-lined

murder of doomsday crows

Constructing a redacted bible Lazarus

from what it feels like

to be Black & rise from a cold sweat

staggered upright

A gravel-throated howl

of voluptuous misery &

bad intention   The blown

lightbulb of Hope

when we are most truly aware

of the fearful symmetry

of existence:  the crossroad-

dirt handshake of almost   colored the sorrow

of many miracle miles from maybe

like We Shall Overcome

from whiskey-broken tongues   The mojo workin’

                                                   betta’ than it used to be

despite many people

have suffered as much as we have

but none of them   was real estate


to be bartered with   & they

& them saying:  it’s blackness

                          i should fear   when it’s the mentally

                          burdened white folks wit’ guns

                          doin’ all the killin’ here

filling the world

with the combustion of hate   The noun become vindictive

as our blackness              & the Blues

like a mouthful of bullets

is a dangerous business



O Typekey Divider

henry 7. reneau, jr. does not Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, or Instagram. It is not that he is scared of change, or stuck fast in the past; instead, he has learned from experience: the crack pipe kills.

O Typekey Divider

–Art by Marcos Lomba