by J.M. Regan
about the author: See also, "Best of the JWR Poetry" section of my website. J.M. Regan is probably my favorite poet that we published more than once in the review. I met him in New York briefly at a party held after a JWR reading. He was thin and frail but we had a connection, like a shaking of hands done with eyes, that I felt was mutual. I'll confess that this poem is my least favorite of his that we published in the Review, but as I read it today while looking for the first time in a decade or so at old issues of the Review, it spoke to me more even than when we published it. It appeared in Volume Six, number two which, on the cover, is mistakenly identified as "Volume 5." Of all the typos and mistakes I committed while typesetting the Review all those years, this is the one that has probably been mentioned the most. -gcb
In the Confessional
At my first town meeting
on the bare and veiled receiving ward
where I sat shouting
at the uncaring wall -- rape kill die --
the other inmates cowered
the way I cringe from flowers, and the blue sky.
Then they all thanked me for sharing.
That visiting hour I woke up and saw,
like waking to a nightmare,
my hour-of-my-death mother --
beak and leather,
hawk's eye, bloody claw.
This was stuff no dream was made on.
I screamed and ran.
(My dreams are full of
flash, and fire, and thrashing love,
with pricks thick
as my neck.
They balloon and enter
like the body of the lake
finally ballooned into my millstoned father.)
For breakfast I'd eat thorazine.
That magnetic thorazine!
My head and torso
twisted twisted toward the east
as though in quest of Xst
and forced, like the morning glory,
to shrivel at the first light.
Elavil was helpful too.
I never got bored.
When I'd open my book, each word
untwirled from the sentences.
I'd watch them twinkle into the distances,
lyrical as birds of happiness.
Neither did I miss my libido.
I'd unload on my doctor.
She was cold, controlled, and spoke in codes,
like a computer.
She dismissed all my trespasses.
Sins vicious as tetrapods!
For my parents I'd agree to eat supper,
and once my soul'd snapped shut as the jaws on the lioness,
my brain soon grew sane as God.
Freed of grief and old leafages,
my two feet re-rooted.
My fired -- oh, orange! -- wings burned to ashes.
Now I'm steady as iron
in my deaf-mute aloof cocoon.
I am the dead.
Nothing, however, shall be left unsaid.