Two Poems


for Sandra Annette Bland

(Malum prohibitum) Wrong only because the law prohibits it,

                                 not because it is morally wrong. (Malum in se)

The calm nurture of a Black mother's wrath, a hollow that sorrows

an endless mouth, a daughter's dead star

still burning in her eyes. Because the Law said:  failed to signal

a lane change. The difference this time

was that we had the proof, a viral unmasking of porcine predator &

prey. The look in her eyes said she wasn't long for this world.

Her mugshot mouth of suicide voice, the drool collapse & bitter of.

Her too much of nothing too valuable to lose,

but the D.A.

can use a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich, can speak

about the truth, carefully choosing each & every prejudice,

to sanctify as righteous

the assassination of her character. Like Trayvon Martin's

Kong in a hoodie while Black, or Mike Brown

made a convenience store thief in death:  In his pocket

                                                                 were two lighters,


                                                                 two $5 bills & a bag of

                                                                 what appeared to be marijuana,

                                                                 the investigator said.


                                                                 He had gunshot wounds

                                                                 in the head, chest

                                                                 & right arm.

But you are not who they believe you are. You've had

much harder times than sittin' in jail for three days.

You've always known, what makes them comfortable

kills every conjugation of Nigger (i.e. thug, demon, criminal)

every affinity for disobedience. You've always known,

you can stand there, surrender to the cop, & still be killed.

But she does not fear what they think she fears:  

Like Jesus,

she was raised in a blended family.

Like Jesus,

she was brutally arrested.

Just like Jesus,

she died in the custody of Authority.  

                                                                 We lock behind doors

                                                                 what we don’t value

                                                                 as much as what we do value. And yet,

                                                                 if we redefine value

                                                                 we find that it all comes down to

                                                                 whose eyes are assessing the worth.

Any attempt to survive means every Black body for itself,

a small animal’s scream:  #sayhername

                                                               vibrating against the din of metal,

                                                    & the call & response chant of umbrage,

beating plastic battalion buckets of dissent

to police-state blocked streets.

Are you thinking about killing yourself today?

white man’s moccasins: a study in perseverance

after the photograph by Lee Marmon

we wear the scars of nonexistence

across our solitary lives,

misery that gleams a prosthetic anger

beneath a hunter’s moon.

Laguna Pueblo life:

where the sun stands now

we will fight no more, forever.

a ceremonial entreaty of diminished flesh

& beaded tears of ancestral pride

rising as ephemeral smoke,

a resolve embracing redemption,

into the wind,


across a starved countenance

veiled like a furrowed riverbed,  

the drought-like woe,

a reconciled frown, horseshoe



a trail of tears, onto white man’s moccasins.

henry 7. reneau, jr. writes words of conflagration to awaken the world ablaze, an inferno of free verse illuminated by his affinity for disobedience that commits a felony every day, like a chambered bullet of immolation that blazes from his heart, a phoenix-fluxed red & gold, exploding through change is gonna come to implement the fire next time. He is 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, he has self-published a chapbook entitled 13hirteen Levels of Resistance, and his collection The Book Of Blue(s) : Tryin' To Make A Dollar Outta' Fifteen Cents, was a finalist for the 2018 Digging Press Chapbook Series. His work has also been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

Barzakh Mag