Will Reger, 9/4/2017
Current Occupation: Historian/Professor (Illinois State University)
Former Occupation: I have been in the classroom in one capacity or another since 1987 – as a long term substitute teacher (high school), grader, TA, tutor, grad assistant, research assistant, post-doctoral, adjunct, etc. In addition, here and there between the 1970s and the year 2000 I have worked in tree nurseries, hotels, as secretarial help, at a sandwich counter, measuring dental implants for accuracy, janitorial, and house sitter. Since then, I have also spent some time working as a professional musician (flautist), mostly at art galleries, charity gigs, yoga classes, etc.
Contact Information: Will Reger was born and raised in the St. Louis, Missouri area. He has been writing poetry since the 7th grade, and has published in a wide variety of print and on-line publications, including among others, Dialogue, Herontree.com, Hymns Today, Deepwater Literary Review, AmericanTanka.com, and Vermillion Literary Project. Most recently, Front Porch Review, Chiron Review, VerseWrights.com, and the Paterson Literary Review have accepted his work. He is a founding member of the CU (Champaign-Urbana) Poetry Group (cupoetry.com). He has a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and currently teaches at Illinois State University in Bloomington-Normal, Illinois. He lives in Champaign, Illinois, with his wife, Mary, with whom he has raised four children. When he is not teaching or writing poetry, he collects flutes, plays flutes, and sometimes even writes poems about flutes. He can be found at https://twitter.com/wmreger.
I turn my sign.
By high design
I turn the flow
let traffic go
let traffic wait
because the state
has paid to pave
this stretch of road.
I am the guard
as, yard by yard,
of rock and tar
arrives – I wave
It’s what I do
car by car
I nod, salute
drag on my cig
let pass a rig
and with my boot
I turn my sign.
Let them wait
let them go.
My duty’s clear.
I stand here
all this labor.
My metal sign
more than a tool
more like a scepter
by which I rule.
I turn my sign
I turn the line.
Wait and go
wait and go
stop and slow.
When I say love is hard I mean
his long hours alone at the wheel
listening to machine and the road
the susurrations of passengers
who race unseeing across the countryside
his scratchy uniform against my cheek,
his childhood dream touches me
with its ghostly fingers
and the upper deck of a ’54 Scenicruiser
a carapaced thing hard and warm in the sun
When I say love is hard I mean the liberation
he received on his upholstered throne
following that silver hound
his way back
to what he lost for love
a kingdom before the silence
Leaving for Work
The metal door shimmies open
with a chorus of squeals and grunts to reveal
the neighborhood with the park beyond,
its trees lean together like cattle at rest
and beckon me to enter the scene
of a street curving into the leftward distance,
deeper among the houses.
Fresh light skitters across the snow-enameled
driveway as the dank garage inhales
the clean morning like Lazarus
greedy for his second first breath.
It is a Wednesday morning.
Perhaps the one I’ve waited for,
perhaps the one that waited for me.
Two crows call and answer with news,
five caws answered by seven, their voices
inscrutable against the bright sky.
In answer, the urge hits me to get down
and etch the innocent driveway
with my angelic silhouette, awkward,
bulky, universal icon of pleasure in snowy days.
Instead, I squeeze into the driver’s seat
and crease the snow with long, arcing tire tracks,
leaving for work as I always do, but today happy
to know the instinct for joy is still with me.