What Once, We Something Like Had, Or Thought We Were

henry 7. reneau, jr.


I watch the stars hide behind the Son of man 
unkind like all the beautiful sins of the world. The sin-phonies of corruption
like desire aroused to swarms of mosquitoes or locusts. The virtues lost
in the whiskey-lulled nod of our acceptance.


The sin of omission, deflecting a question with
a question/:  It’s complicated, like the false platitudes of starlet air-kisses.
Have a nice day! Or the afterthought by rote/:  I’m sorry. Like teaching
a child to say thank you, after the taste of chocolate scalds his mouth.

Compassion extended/:  the smallest fish, to feed a hungry child for one day,
disguised as empathy, to justify a tough love censorship of tears.


Imagine, at birth, that wings were shackled to your ankles. Their size &
thrust determined by your body’s countering, & growing,
affinity for compliance,

unproportionate by themselves, to attain the propulsion necessary
to escape the gravitational seduction of corruption &  
hate. Despite the smoldering weight of our conscience, only infinitesimal
sparks of regret, tamped down in the neglected graves of our hearts.


The cloak of concealment molded to me/:  the way my person, my place,
the idea of me,
can be so invisible where everyone looks, but
doesn’t really see. Like a person dies & nobody cares, because they are
the wrong kind of person.


If they tell you I am free, tell them I am not free,

is a corrosive illusion that burns. All precious stones
are made this way, through a process of applied heat & pressure.

Note: Quoted fragment by Liu Xia, wife of the late author, and political dissident,
          Liu Xiaobo, held under house arrest for more than seven years without charge.

henry 7. reneau, jr. writes words of conflagration to awaken the world ablaze, an inferno of free verse illuminated by his affinity for disobedience, is the spontaneous combustion that blazes from his heart, phoenix-fluxed red & gold, like a discharged bullet that commits a felony every day, 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, 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 is published in Superstition Review, TriQuarterly, Prairie Schooner, and Rigorous. His work has also been nominated multiple times for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net.


*Image by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

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