WALLER COUNTY JAIL 2 BLKS
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:
she was raised in a blended family.
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.