Saturday, June 19, 2010

Human Hearts Like Deep, Dark Water

henry 7. reneau, jr.

—henry 7. reneau, jr., davis

(for shannon harney)


when i hold you
terror bleats,
fear stalks the mind
the caged heart screams.


thinking back
on my passion,
i was like one blind,
unafraid of the dark.


an anchor,
in concrete shoes
i fall/fall/fall.


human hearts
like deep, dark water,
the perfect hiding place.


to love another person,
to literally
possess them,
is to kill them,
eat them
& inhale their ashes.


love’s weight suffocates.


Thanks, henry! (Yes, that's a "7" in his name). henry 7. reneau, jr. has been published in various journals and anthologies, among them, Tryst Magazine; Nameless Magazine; Blue Moon Literary & Art Review; Pachuco Children Hurl Stones; The View From Here; and hardpan: a journal of poetry. He has also self-published a chapbook entitled 13hirteen Levels of Resistance. He garnered 1st place and an honorable mention in the 2008 SN&R Student Poetry Contest, and 2nd place in the 2008 Celeste Turner Wright Poetry Prize ("7th & k", posted below). In 2008, he was a state-wide UC finalist in the Ina Coolbrith Memorial Poetry Prize, and he most recently placed 3rd in the 2009 Annual Jack Kerouac Poetry Contest.

henry's presently working towards completion on a book of short stories centered on his life, but with a sci-fi, fantasy twist, so Oprah won’t have to “call him out” in public. He says he thinks of his spoken and/or written words as "wielding oceans poured with hurricane force through the camel’s eye of a needle," and that "My poetry makes me different from all the awful human moments, a unique perception journalized in compositions that are vigilant wishes hidden in my heart like a chambered gun that explodes on purpose. If I could write these words in fire the world would wake ablaze, illuminated by courage spilled from my emancipated tongue." And, although henry finds himself trapped in the insanity of consumer Amerikkka, he is also fond of Rottweilers and Ben & Jerry’s New York Super Fudge Chunk.

Watch for more of henry's work in the new Rattlesnake Press anthology, The Ophidian, due online this summer.


7th & k
—henry 7. reneau, jr.

“it's all wrong down here!”
st. rose de lima cockroach alley, they beggin’ alms
to westfield shoppingtown straight-shoota’ mall,
here, head-bow shuffle homeless don’t count,
they movin’ mindless, two-step from johnnie-laws long-arm
they got praise-jesus! tofu & veggie stir-fry, sundays in césar chávez park
i can smell the lie!

where chirping crosswalks compose white noise in lieu of evicted pigeons
& holy-rollered harried, expendable chess pawns played by a childlike divine (diseased bible in hand)
exhort tourette syndrome hallelujahs to heaven’s gated community
is anyone listnin’!?

“there’s lots of good people down here, but none of them are homeless”
hisses serpent-mouth rent-a-cop
with lips that parrot accepted truth heard by blind eyes turned inward
these compliant crows, bound by panic levels 1 through 7,
marginalize, maim, & mayhem the ragtag nation,
who be maybe jesus, midnight redemption at the door,
who be maybe bodhisattva offering circumstances of serenity
who be maybe desperation, pacing in cages of labeled silence,
lives soundtracked by angry love songs hyped as platinum #1,
insta-cash muzak at hardrock café, forging prophylactic zones
for big-box minimum-wagers flocking to status quo conformity
i can smell the lie!

that addicts descendent monkeys, ‘sivilization phew! de cologne,
that money-green shit smell of morally bankrupt
in every politician’s permutation of “truthiness”
is anyone listnin’!?

in the upscale filth of st. rose de lima the folsom light-rail descends,
prowling future commitments to gray-bar hotels,
stalking power-suited lemming-coalitions of the willing,
career mad dashing upscale
to glass ceilings raised on fools’ foundations,
starbucks lattes & espressos & classic coffee cake in hand,
add-ons that duct tape the human touch to self & self & self
“the train is departing, please stand clear”


un-fuckin’-titled #2
—henry 7. reneau, jr.

a lazy day in hell as rootless as maggots dreaming of iridescent angel wings, lifting them (clear skies ahead and the dark day is done) from the cycle & stench of road-kill, from eventual decay that is part of nature’s universal; as in the dreamer’s metamorphosis to housefly, to distant carcasses,
to massive, aggressive municipal waste, to spawn maggots
who wake from dreams of iridescent angel wings.

does belief come from what we are, or from what
we are becoming?

repeating the same thing over and over, with
the same results, is a replacement for a lot of things, an
addiction that is like going out backwards; that is to say, you reap
what you sow carving trenches for tears in a field of woe, humans, with hearts that play at muscularity, holding on to something dangerous and scared to let go; as in drops of water from a leaky faucet: a suffocated echo between the walls, a drip, drip, drip meeting between two places it is trying to escape into a vast, undiminished, blue forever, into the vacuum of the night.


—henry 7. reneau, jr.

there’s Hoover, J. Eddie
crouched in public shadows,
malevolent Rasputin,
predator still, menace
veiled in edited reality

foregrounded, the cowed leader
smiled for the camera

all was well

there’s a malignant toad
stunted, tumorous mass
in garden camouflage
holding vigil over
Mother Nature’s nonconformity,
predator still, menace
veiled in Oz beauty

foregrounded, bottle-fly arrogance
& butterfly indifference

stealthy covet in waiting

once again, all would be well


—henry 7. reneau, jr.

one moment in infinite forever, existence became a small thing,
rage written in the lightening language of Jihad,
once again, all was not as it seemed

life became stillborn illusion toxic to breathe
as apathy cliff-dived from enflamed temples to empire,
an eerie subtraction like shattered knick-knacks
made in China and Korea

history repeated itself, status quo many less the one
within a tsunami dust storm of billable grief
like biodegradable dreams of dust beneath triple-wide guv’t feet

lies concealing lies veiled deception incognito
like remember the Maine
brought consumer Jesus to the Philippines,
like remember Pearl Harbor
made us believe we fought for freedom’s just cause

deception incognito,
the rotten fish feel of a dangerous reptile
that contorted history known truth had travelled,

ordinary people parroted the propaganda of fear
dreaming devil-mocracy’s hallucination for the masses
like comatose teddy bears in trashcans,
frozen in the high beams of left-right-left

Ground Zero smoldered in shock,
attired in Cog-Nation’s red, whiter, blue(s), as agony sifted rubble
in search of blame

a brutal avarice camouflaged Homeland-Securitized imperialism
into the silent serpent-hiss slither of patriotism,
an assimilated fear that conjured mechanized metal and missiles,
a violence of the lambs prostrate to In Fraud We Trust

in hindsight, our tongues capitulated,
immobilized by the half-nelson of accumulation,
surviving with our eyes wide shut,
a meek, neon-murmured apology for verbal poverty


—henry 7. reneau, jr.

when they laid we down to sleep into gilded dreams of indifference we heard what we saw and denied what we knew and vilified terrorists taking marching orders from Washington, Dick City, conjuring 935 lies into “golden rule” duplicity (we secretly applauded freedom fighters while our lips mimed melting-pot stew, a multicultural meat & potatoes a racist ideology away from what it should be) God almighty hallelujah!! the almighty dollar & fossil fuel energy stained the air a gas-chamber-toxic breathe-i-double-dare!

when they laid we down to sleep under cathedral skies Judas-hued with regret, status quo flocked & waited for the first stone thrown.

i-phones & at&t, surgically attached to the neXt generation (a crack pipe sizzle that atrophied the tongues of neighbors, numbing the human touch into slumber) & the sun rose most days a jaded frown upon the slaughter of innocents, children strapped to suicide bombs welcoming kingdom come.

&, we only heard what we saw & denied what we knew.


—henry 7. reneau, jr.

(for dylan godwin)

calmed by symmetry, despite its arbitrariness,
terrorized by the familiar beauty of deformity,
at our peril we extract ourselves from the beast,
technology becomes our crutch & distances humanity.

the darkness within us,
the rotten fish feel of a dangerous reptile,
slithering, easing into shadow at the corner of the eye;
in denial we don’t see what is always there.

in flashes of altered perception,
through the high grass of the savannah, fed by fraud,
a lion stealthy soft-shoes the weakest prey;
beware the silent beast that walks like a god.


—henry 7. reneau, jr.

(for agnes philomena wade reneau)

confined dreams dismembered into the vessel of saint,
the intimate of angels,
she weaves conception from the four winds;
creation don’t need no middleman in collar and cassock

she thrives on wheat thins and tomato soup,
shielding what is most precious
from capricious moments of malignant spite;
so children can grow strong in vision and imagination,
safe from drunken blows
that pound the whisper of love from split lips;
she would never let romans crucify her child

she bears the stigmata of pleading hearts,
whore of an erected phallic system,
evoking primal screams in another mother tongue,
an icon of rapture
strewn across ‘sivilization’s war and hate and greed
and hunger
where pain doubles back on the initial act

she sings freedom songs the color of love
with the reassuring voice of water polishing rock,
smoothing the strident convictions of exploit and dominate,
arrogant wafer and wine reborn redemptive fish and bread

Photo by Michelle Kunert, Sacramento


Today's LittleNip:

Self-deception: the monkey writes another sonnet and sighs.

—Stephen Dobyns