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poetry stereotypes

If History is a room, writes the California poet Henry 7, reneau jr., there are reasons why he cannot enter, reasons that disqualify him as a person of interest in history, reasons he cannot comply with: "i would have to bridge the distance between get rich or die tryin'," not to mention his desire not to be complicit.

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By henry 7. reneau, jr.

                                      after “History is a Room” by Shara McCallum

i cannot enter.

to enter that room, i would have to become settled into a life of blind-hope-makes-them-stupid all-Amerikkkan days,

articulated clay, brandishing freewill like a sleeping pill that lullabies their sluggish minds,
a ladder rung after raptor eyes of red, white & blue(s) pledging One Nation Under God,
but sheep-like, cowering to the center of status quo, or Occupy America as rebooted activism
in disarray.

i am not allowed to enter.

to enter that room, i would need a Mayflower silver spoon lineage & a palm print of Manifest Destiny flush to photoelectric scanner.

i am not allowed to enter—

hard-wired to bio-metric racial recognition, to FB-eyes of COINTELPRO & Dept. of Correction,

where we are

a noose & a fire hose, Indian-given affirmative action & redacted voting rights,
snarling dogs & debated victim-hood quibbling the semantics of Diaspora resumes;

where we are

half-eaten plates of perseverance gone cold
in the refrigerator hum of post-racial Obama-nation: eclipsed by a 9/11 sun &
the Badlands swallow us into the echo of silence;

where we are

three-fifths removed from free & equal, a nihilist threat drivin’ while black &
subject to a white-oriented herd mentality that will turn rabid,
at the first mention of Pro-Black . . .               always, we are well aware

that “be patient . . . wait” & CPT, in increments of “we shall overcome”
& “change is gonna’ come,”
will never be deemed legal tender in Big-Box stores of conglomerate GNP.

to enter that room, i would have to calculate fame & wealth with the “things”
that clutter a Monopoly board-game life—
taking without asking & chasing
success like a quota—an indifference to re-booted history

that is recounted as “The Book of Always Forgotten:
the story of a people living the thousand & one tribulations of dispossessed,

a half-assed irony: how we look to others is a function of how we look
to ourselves, providing comic relief for desperate times &
a realization, that beyond here lies nothing but the implication
of miraculous—fashionable labels of calculated value that have no permanence,
the treasured “things” that we covet—
keeping people from doing what they do best & making them insane.

to enter that room, i would need to wield a gun with the sociopathic accuracy
of Seal Team 6, an eagle eye of avarice trained on Viet Nam,

Grenada & Panama,
Somalia & Bosnia, Iraq & Afghanistan,

a pocket-size stealth drone snipping the wings from humanity,
as a national consensus of labels, euphemisms & stereotypes
propaganda Iran & North Korea, Syria & Pakistan
squarely into the cross-hairs of the US of Amerikkka.

to enter that room, i would have to idiot navigate rush hour traffic & shopping mall
water fountains
while texting a “whr u at?” in the micro-waved twitter-grams
of ADD attention spans
or downloading a hope & a prayer You-Tube video into fifteen minutes
of “don’t-hate-the-playa” famous-for-being-famous.

to enter that room,
i would have to bridge the distance between get rich or die tryin'.

i am not allowed to enter—

too black as the color of las’-nerve-tried inked on my skin,
an apparition of crows caw-caw-cawing
farther into a window of time, in myriads all at once.     too MLK
placed just so, a genetic memento
of courage while black, that highlights the X lion’s conviction &
makes determination of Nat Turner’s hatchet & smoking gun—

fire born of another dream of fire, from a rumble
swept up in exultation of itself—a swift bird-ness embracing Sojourner’s truth,
that we are none of us alone in the complicity of others.

henry 7. reneau, jr. writes words in fire to wake the world ablaze: free verse illuminated by courage that empathizes with all the awful moments, launching a freight train warning that blazes from the heart, like a chambered bullet exploding inadvertently. His poetry collection, freedomland blues (Transcendent Zero Press) was released in September 2014. He also has an e-chapbook, entitled physiography of the fittest (Kind of a Hurricane Press), which was released in December 2014. Additionally, he has self-published a chapbook entitled 13hirteen Levels of Resistance, and is currently working on a book of connected short stories. He is a Pushcart Prize nominee.