by J.M. Regan

about the author: J.M. Regan's biographical description in Carl Morse and Joan Larken's anthology, Gay & Lesbian Poetry in Our Time, mentions Regan's education at CUNY and his teaching experience there. I didn't know any of that when I fell in love with this man's writing the very first time it was submitted. It was nearly a year later that enough other editors agreed with my assessment, and we published Regan's poetry in the Review for the first of many times in the next few years. I've never before shared how proud and pleased I was to learn Regan was included in the forementioned anthology, a significant collection when it was published(St. Martin's Press, 1988), an impressive 401 pages hard-bound. He was the only poet to appear in that anthology represented with a poem we had first published in the Review ("Partial Luetic", below). Though not verified, a Google search leads me to believe Regan is also in another recent anthology, Persistent Voices: An Anthology of Poets Lost to AIDS, edited by Philip Clark and David Groff (Alyson Books, 2010), again represented by poems that first appeared in the JWR. I met him, briefly, after one of the two NYC readings the Review hosted in the 80s. He was obviously ill and also withdrawn, but we managed a semi-conversation, despite my tendency to be the withdrawn sort too. I don't recall what we talked about. But I remember his eyes burning with an intense intelligence. -gcb (9/22/11)

With "Aphasiac" and the eight below, a total of nine poems by Regan appeared in the JWR over the course of three years:

(Click on the titles below to link to each poem:)

In the Confessional
Partial Leutic History of an Individual at Risk
The Bone Islands
The Good Victim
The Winter Garden: Gazals
Spring 1986
translation from Russian by Gennady Trifonov
Weapon Effects on a Wood Frame House



It isn't an agent of contagion
or an explosion like Artaud's,
it wasn't a compulsion or revelation.
Like a nuclide from the Plumbob series,
like Xmas tests, and the living Trinity,
I got born to my small disorder
on the End of Days Bay
like a fish to a hook,
untouched by the epidemic,
a disease called gender.

They gave me the cure
for the floating world,
its ototoxic ions,
its confusion of tongues and voices -
I got training in hatreds
and therapies for what I must love
and medications that obscured
the meanings of words.
I had no protection
and the language had many guns.

They drove me underwater
where they could not discover me,
so bottom and slight
I turned transparent
like a fairy or saint
to build silica villages
baroque houses of God
to learn to convert
light into sea sperm
to see to conceive
the edible greens
the durable greens
from nothing but light
from nothing at all
a genre of silence.

Is it the weak force, is it the strong force,
is it the voice of Christ
enticing me out of the cozy underwater
into the open garden, the aural spaces?
Speaking through the shrieked litanies of gulls?
(Speak, they keep hectoring, speakspeak.)
In the Eden of America
there is iron and sibilance,
there is blood, iron, and weeping,
there is the failure
to divide and flower
as in a leukemia.
Something terrible is coming.

Something singular is coming.
Nor male nor genital,
a singularity is looming.
Can the eye, can the hand
command a harmony of parts that comes
from the deep grammar of dreams,
can the ear endure it?
Can I fuse into union
from nothing at all,
crawl from the water
my life on fire
and take to clear air
choir of thermal anger
or the sycamore's
winged whistling seed
possessing for its instant
the earth