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The Bone Islands

by J.M. Regan

(Note: see The James White Review, Vol. 4, no. 2, for better presentation; the lines should be randomly indented ala Lawrence Ferlinghetti's usual poetry. -gcb)

The subject is bone.
Is articulation --
in the adolescent pubis
epiphyseal union
in the long bones of human
young adults
in ocean tissue
along insular faults
the kill vehicles building
to a critical mass
the loss of balance
and orificial bleeding
the refusal of wounds to heal
the bomb at the marrow.

1. Liberty Weekend (New York Bay, 6/30/86)

To define my zone of privacies
Their Honors
took the narrow view
and mocked -- facetious!
to control my sigmoid colon
and man-
dibular soft parts
my Adriatic mouth and Gaelic anus
they cited age-old roots
and chose a standard
family word
from early German --


and gave me two/four years
one for every rib
to cage
felonious heart muscle.

(These mineral deposits
and amino sheets
of rock heavy with mica
sunk in coastal mush
the murderous frigate birds plunder
or shoreline pocked
with docking sites --
where bone
meets bone --
these targeted grids of modish
highs and lows
and easy cash flows
are all debris the glacier left
when it retreated
back to the ice cap.)

2. Electric Boat (Rhode Island)

From the top of Corn Neck Road
where puritans burned a primal God
and country
and every child
I took the maximalist view
across the morning Sound
and watched sulphuric acid
as orange cloud over Quonset
and counted the sterile tubes
all in a row/for loading aboard
The White Train to Bangor.
Behind me
it's a loving attack scenario:
the discs in the moving fluid,
the ancient frames
changing and shaping --
swan     lace fly     lawn --
and fathered in the air
a force will vortice
like a flower

(I can see
on these same moraines
across monospecific tundra
between domal swells of the sea floor
at the tips of capes
colony worlds that work
of arbutus and mutable blue algae
caribou moss and squirrel corn
and pueblo corals corals
safe in their salt and china dream shells.)

3. A Terminal Facility (Manhattan)

I should be turning serene
like a biped
penetrated repeatedly on a lab table.
My nurses cradle me like madonnas:
feeding feeding me
drugs for candida
to raise my platelet count.
So why does the mid-town sky
look squeezed, why
does it hurt to scream?
Laced with dislocations
the poems repeat themselves
around impurities in the clay
the crystals grow and grow
simple as ferns
like Tyndall figures they indicate
misfits among the atoms
internal thaw
too late too late.

4. Full of Life Now (Montauk)

Starting from Germantown
I followed my nose
for athletic and ro-bust love
up and down
and up and down
the spine of islands
and out-islands:
scattering the sticky clones
the gluey latex
under bridges or between volcanic dunes
or behind the hugest oaks
the plumed seeds exploding --
Truro, Newport,
Quogue, and Noho.

I was with you.

Each time, each poem
you're in me
like a first leaf
heaves on its root
a natural mutant
to vanquish the impotent hybrids,
and when your hand shall comb
the ionized trash
of ash and pumice, plastic grits
and tarsal knobs, and glass
to trace my name
through all its lines
and uncommingle
from what remains
the living ilium,
I am.

We innominates are heavier
and tend to endure
from the brown earth.