henry 7. reneau, jr. Can't Breathe


In [di] visible #1                                                                                                                                                      


Who are you?    Naming this salvation.

                           Making holy

                                          from that which they name sin.   

Where are you from?   What

have you done?   What

have you seen?   The splayed hinge of a dead black child.

The chalk outlined metaphor.   Criminal.

Predator.       Thug   Who do you love?

                                 What have you lost?        What

do you dream?                           Your waking up into -ism.

Just at the edge of stardust &

a blue(s) lineage.                        The vulnerable underside

                         of what you know to be true

that blue(s) you away . . . the sky is crying

                                                        cain’t you see the tears

                                                      rolling down the street?

A thorn-studded las' nerve tried

struggling simply to exist

fenced in barbed wire.       Armored

                                                           & spiritually starving

where the disenfranchised dwell.   Close enough

                                                        to see through the door

but not tangible enough to walk through.

                        Blackness made combustible

as if we were weaponized

                                       but would not burn.

                                                    What do you fear?  What

will you become?   The impossible

                               that rarely seems possible.

Who are you?

                     A kwanza candle that never becomes smoke.

Silence is the hunger

                                      in your beggar chest.

A tongue coated in gunpowder &


that gathers the repetition of every ache

                                          like gold in a blues man's teeth.


I can't breathe!


                              You cant breathe!


                                                                 We can't breathe!


Note: Quoted lyric fragment from “The Sky Is Crying' by Elmore James


henry 7. reneau, jr. writes words in fire to wake the world ablaze: free verse illuminated by his affinity for disobedience and a panther courage that blazes from his heart like a chambered bullet exploding cause to reciprocate effect. He is the author of the poetry collection, freedomland blues (Transcendent Zero Press, 2014) and the e-chapbook,  physiography of the fittest (Kind of a Hurricane Press, 2014). Additionally, he has self-published a chapbook entitled 13hirteen Levels of Resistance, and is currently working on a book of connected short stories. His work was nominated for the Pushcart Prize by LAROLA. hreneau@ucdavis.edu


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