"transmigration #1," "Scarlett Fantasy #1," and "The Definitive Bruxist Manifesto/: Brother/Sister/Other-hood Is Not A One-Way Street"

transmigration #1

after Ewa Chruściel


the noose of anxiety
hangs itself from a tree branch,
commits suicide,
dangling from a greater enmity
demanding tribute—
draws blood
from a rumble swept up in exultation of itself. 
semantic molecules
translating the air to conflagration,
the exploding & incineration of  
a sacrifice of the permanent
on the altar of the immediate.
hope is a leap of faith
wide as peripheral vision
across the unfired coal of night. or
the pale blue moon
of her eyes, a gravitational pull of seduction.
                   my awe-struck fascination, but
                   the taste of ozone, coppery, in my mouth.



Scarlett Fantasy #1

Every word is precursor to what
it signifies. Catsuit dominatrix/:  the razor-
blade smile, stiletto-heeled voluptuous
gleam of promiscuity
in her come-fuck-me eyes. The dangling invisible
carrots of foreplay,
& innuendo, implies orgasmic tremors or 
flirtation, luscious with intent. Like the author
of the written word, the “I” defined ambiguous, eroticized    
the splayed seductive facsimile of the actual. The zealous  
need, like the desire to want more, obsessively—flexing its musculature
into a cell-phone's tumescent radius. The libido
seeking voice
to describe its predilections/:  
I am unable to take your call
at the moment,
because I am handcuffed to a vibrating bed
in a cheap motel.
A fantasy facsimile of bliss. Scarlett Johansson.
She, all leather & whip &
Revlon crimson smirk of lipstick. 
The deconstruction of “held Hostage.”
The assumptions implicit
/:  Please, leave a message at the beep.



The Definitive Bruxist Manifesto/:  Brother/Sister/   Other-hood
Is Not A One-Way Street

after Gwendalynn Carlene Roebke . . . His eye is on the sparrow . . . doing [their] best to exist.


A blind belief in Praise Jesus!!   /and protest signs
in lieu of Divine intervention/   and political promises speaking in tongues /
or some such silliness   /as proof
of things not seen / is the presence of blind faith   /like bullets
stuck in the barrel of non-violence   /
                                     a lifelong exposure
to the worst that this country has to offer   /
to be /   or Magic Negro
not to be / Black in Amerikkka/   is to live as a suspect   /darkflowered
as a person of interest / because  
every day / surrounded by my niggas’   /singing terrible revenge
in merciless accelerating rhythms

How / can we feel we are of worth? / if the environment we live in
poses a greater risk / than the history re-imagined 
to be more of the same old shit /   again and again and again  
/:  no lineal reference / no root of grandparents/ no strong blood
to call on/   only
the dispossessed Diaspora—no photosynthesis to stay alive and/   thrive
I want to be a person / who can love others /   and relate to anyone
who has been brought to dust
without putting hierarchy or / exclusion into it /
the way the sun embraces the world and highlights its imperfections/   to be
not quite right / and still   /perfectly
within my right
When you see me 
/ your peripheral drawn to my skewed beauty / reveals
the ruinous shine of intent in the pauses between your words—/  
is a threat / because your assumptions speak louder than words   /
cause more trouble than madness taking root   
When you see me
/ measured against
your epigenetic guilt and fear   /your body language
and / micro-aggressions/  
such that my be-ing—I am because I am—the idea / something preexisting
that’s known and has structure / 
is sampled / and stereotypically re-contextualized/   de-nigger-ated / 
to deadbeat-dad/   thug-nigga or/dope dealer   /a threat   /like
the gangsta rap hook / laid atop the sample  
When you see me 
/ as friend? 
or foe / there at the corner of your outside gaze /
the space between /next to/ across from   /as meta-
phor a bridge /
an opportunity to connect one body to another—a mutual
allure of opposites  
like binary stars circling in opposition   /a star-crossed
phor each other /   soaring together
as we tear each other   /a/ part 
But / what you fail to realize
is that nothing you say / or do / will make me feel any less
about my magnificent becoming  
Despite the Law of the Land says/:  to every action while Black /
there is always a disproportionate opposite /   and
racist reaction
The eagle-eyed and / badged wings of full metal jacket—/
any gang-tagged or uppity-feathered prey will do 
Somewhere in my body /
the continual hurts fold newspaper headlines by the thousands
/ turning them into small origami cranes   /   
suspended (Think/:  legally lynched)
beneath the circling raptor-
winged shadow /
then blurred hook of beak and / tempered talons / tearing the flesh
from a struggling sparrow      



henry 7. reneau, jr. does not Twitter, Tik Tok, Facebook, Snapchat, or Instagram. It is not that he is scared of change, or stuck fast in the past; instead, he has learned from experience that the crack pipe kills. His work is published in Superstition Review, TriQuarterly, Poets Reading the News, Prairie Schooner, Zone 3 and Rigorous. His work has also been nominated multiple times for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. He lives on the land that Amerikkkan mythology wants the world to believe was solely discovered, tamed, and ‘sivilized by white people.


Edited for Unlikely by Jonathan Penton, Editor-in-Chief
Last revised on Thursday, September 1, 2022 - 22:00