the wreck[on]ing ball blue(s)

                                              / loud laughers in the hands of the state 

/ we are witness

& commotion is the atmosphere we swim in / we be drawled dialect

made new by our loud untamed uproar / we ebonic vernacular to

create everything from nothing / we gumbo ya-ya

                                                                 to survive the crossroads  

                                                       / shout fuck you fucking fucks!!

to complaints that Black folks are too angry / & like / you know /

need to stop yelling / we are a people who talk over one another / 

jumping in

& out of conversations / the megawatt sensory thrum in the room

when we know that we’re alive / & living out loud    

                                                                    we are an open people  

of candor in fellowship / the rock & a hard place / where we find

our diaspora of tribe / beyond the caution of our mouths frozen

wider than / what we really want to say / about It’s complicated / or

we can’t discuss an ongoing investigation /

about No comment! / which is a straight line

                     between the blatant lie / & the omission of the truth /  

between what’s real & / what we believe we saw / or remembered

what happened / that is most often

more one-sided than it is reported to be /

is what happened to us / but not what they did / the killings & our

dying [as the eye—such the object] tethered to 

the oppressive gravity of the outside gaze / the body behind the

body camera / is the eye only sees in each thing /

that for which it looks /

                 & it only looks for that / of which it already has an idea /

we are as legible as an enemy of the state / we are homicides trembled

together / en-flocked between the perseverance of a pendulum /           

                           & the destructive arc of a wreck[on]ing ball /   

Note: Italicized fragments by William Blake and Alphonse M. Bertillon.   

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, A Non-Violent Suicide Poem [or, The Saga of The Exit Wound], was a finalist for the 2022 Digging Press Chapbook Series. His work is published in Superstition Review, TriQuarterly, Prairie Schooner, Zone 3; Poets Reading the News and Rigorous. His work has also been nominated multiple times for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net.