"when a river flows..." and "whisper & smoke"

when a river flows . . .

not we the white people of entitlement blue
eyes, the encompassing peripheral grasp, an undertow
of taking without asking.   the fear
that babbles beneath; not even
we the Citizens,
an ascendant inclusive/:  every immigrant
an imminent frenzy of wings
from the vacuum of dispossession.   not we
the privileged class, whose greed so panoramic wide-
angles a stillborn soul.   not we the fantasy
of middle-class, the hyphenated dream of upward nobility, nor  
we the gutter tribe, our hope a side effect of saturated fats &
be patient . . . wanting—the GPS latitude &
longitude of collateral damage—but We the People,
the imagining of it, our fear itself, bearing witness to
what fear demeans.   when a river flows,
a river flows to empty itself
along the path of least resistance, coursing through echo chambers
of mass incarceration,
giving voice to Malcolm-tent, the censored,
detained & deferred suppressed—the panic of denial
gagged in the shadows of insecurity.   the river's
summary susurrus of syllables
muzzled by the state & put free speech
in a harness, the tweeted idiocies of hate
giving voice to deportation in motion/:  the uprooted &
relocated, coming into peripheral view, out of dispossession,
out of a handbook on illegal aliens, every page burned out. 
the literal corrugated &
metaphorical barriers, the CCTV surveillance
& sniffer-dog checkpoints.   a nation's want
so desperately it resembles Progress/:  the untamed roar
of Manifest lust, seduces polite society
with a palatable version of freedom.   the exported greed &
free trade slavery, the weapons sales to both sides of conflict.
the perpetual war inconsiderate of collateral damage
in all its shady euphemisms of bibles /
bullets / & Big-Head Benjamins.   when a river flows,
a river flows to empty itself,
along the path of least resistance.



whisper & smoke

after “The Urban Wild Coyote Project” by Mandy-Suzanne Wong

old man coyote   //   demigod/shape
shifter   /
dons a missionary's collar/   & snakeskin boots//   cocks
his head/   a God engine of
whisper & smoke//   a politician's wink &
a grin/sound/bite filtered honey/:  incognito
amongst the People of Hope   
//   wild things are wild/   not a rib
to be unequally yoked/   because the walls
we build to contain them/    mean nothing to them   /&
their Other-ness
is the filth/   that makes them feel   //
coyotes   //   the symbolic chaos of disorder
in white myths/:  the indigenous
colonizing their cities/   mercilessly
shot/   tortuously
caught in traps/   their progeny/gassed inside their dens   //
coyotes are entangled/   live under constant surveillance/
in many Amerikkkan urban networks/   where
the native tribes who venerated them
were ousted or exterminated/   but
coyotes survived   (trickster/   finagler/& taboo breaker)
/:  in Chicago/   radio-collared coyotes work
as civil servants/hunting rodents in the city center   /but
gunshot splayed if they overstep their place
//   their refusal to lie down
& die/   their adaptability/
tenacity &
elusiveness/   their uncanny staying power
even as white folks/came a-slaughtering   /&
Progress swallowed up the land/   the guns & concrete &
asphalt of Manifest Destiny/   in the name
of 'sivilized/:  a self-
generating meta-
phor vermin   //
we are people from shithole countries   /kid- 
napped in tall ships   /Atlantic crossing
into the Gloaming/   between bated breath & the silence   //
now/   we root ourselves
in tribal birthmarks/   & blooms of
bruises of old blood/   remake ourselves
from jaw bones/   gri-gri wishbones/   & backwoods ham-
bone Blue(s)   /like blood diamonds
ground down   /to whispers on the color line   /
the comet in us   /
fur-sleek over sinewy muscle/   our
multi-Colored chanting Jubilee   //   we were told
we no longer belonged/   as our endeavor to
persevere/   marched on Baltimore/   Ferguson/Sanford,
Florida/   seething to the surface iri-
descent in hoodoo magic/   & pixilated kaleidoscope
to replicate ourselves/   like schools of  minnow
glimmering gunshot celestial neon with galaxies   /or
the electrical ball lightning of fireflies flung down/   then phoenix up-
risen/   to roar again/   singing mighty protest songs   //



Note: Philadelphia, Denver, Toronto, and the Gotham Coyote Project in New York City boast research organizations devoted to metropolitan coyotes. In Chicago, radio-collared coyotes work as civil servants, hunting rodents in the city center. In Tucson, biologists found that 50% of the city’s human residents enjoy seeing coyotes in their neighborhoods. Up to 85% believe coyotes pose no threat.



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, July 30, 2020 - 22:13