Will Reger

The Dash Clock

Snakes of white blossoms
suppress the garden’s earth.
An Etruscan lady stands
vacant-gazed among them,
wrapped in coils of tangerine
sherbet flowers that make
the gardeners drunk on the job.

The Americans pull up
in an oyster-colored dream
of a car—the Constellation,
someone called it. A long dream
with bucket seats, headlights
like clematis in moonlight,
a moon of a clock in the dash.

How American to think to put
clocks in cars like that:
They drive along all night,
poised between wind and stars,
the whole clear, cool sky
pushing down into their faces.
They can look at the clock and see
hours have passed, but they
seem hardly to have moved.

The night, the wind, the stars
remain the same, but they
are already at the villa
to pick up the Ambassador’s
daughters, diaphanous gowns,
floating as softly as the shadows
of fish in the lily pond.
They come out to the car
and the Americans smile, they smile!
Mardi Gras smiles as the flowers
intoxicate their hearts and they
roll away in their long dream.

First Lines

First lines flash
distantly through my head,
lightning in far hills,
strange animal eyes
glowing in the grass,
omens rising, and I
am lost in their music—
          birdsong recitatives
overheard under the trees

I catch one on my pen,
weave a second, third,
try not to stop
      the bleeding that hums
and spreads as music-logic,
almost a taste, but more
more grandiose, but clenched,
more body than reason,
more question for answer,
more balled fist than world.

Rain water:
Fresh, gathering, puddling,
flowing, growing, raging—

First lines grow
into real estate,
doors and rooms,
murder and war,
          a place for chickens
out back where the youngsters
dig a pit for the neighbors,
and discover a new
northwestern passage,
where the trees are full,
the hills sparkle,
         the blood flows thickly,
         a fountain of red first lines.

Not Really, Not a Dog Lover, Not Quite
          a sonnet

She knows by whose hand come the bits of cheese,
the random strip of steak, the greasy bowl
—all of that is only to ease my soul.
I do not share the dog lovers’ praise.
I do not like the pungency of dogs,
nor the enthusiasm with which they greet,
ramming their snouts between a person’s legs.
Nor do I want a dog to take my seat.
The ground is for the hound, I always say
to her—I know she understands my point,
for right away she folds up every joint
just beside my chair and waits to play.
Sometimes I indulge her with a chase:
That patient sigh of hers is hard to face.

Will Reger is a founding member of the CU (Champaign-Urbana) Poetry Group (cupoetry.com), has a Ph.D. from UIUC, teaches at Illinois State University in Normal, and has published most recently with Front Porch Review, Chiron Review, Paterson Literary Review, and Zingara Poetry Review (forthcoming). His first chapbook is Cruel with Eagles. He is found at https://twitter.com/wmreger—or wandering in the woods playing his flute.



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