Sunday 5 May 2024

3 Poems by Will Reger

Praise for the Bee

O honeybee!
So much depends on your slick tongues
and hairy thighs that churn the pollen
and frenzy the flowers year after year
alongside the white vinyl siding of my house.

You work my yard with your brethren—
tiny braceros, faces
so different from mine, closed and silent,
locked in a trance of hard labor,
flower to flower beneath the hot sky.

And the roses and wild garlic manage beauty—
and the rain-dazzled apples, the heavy pears,
the plums, the peaches, and grapes
so loved by the squirrels,
and that old Vietnamese woman
who pilfers them on her daily walks—
all these have and give life because of you, bee!

Your disappearance troubles me.
When I go out to find you, I find only flies:
ominous, green, alien flies that sparkle like rot.
And wasps, your shifty cousins,
with little more than a sting for us.

Too bad you cannot make a fist, bee,
and shake it at me for stealing your food,
wasting your world. I can see it in your eyes:
I deserve your wrath and more,
as I clutch to my chest this last, half-empty jar
of Tupelo honey I saved for tasting on lonely nights.

You’re in Luck

When the morning snaps like the first bite of an apple binned back in September, crisp, hard and bright after the night’s darkness, you’re in luck.

When the scene from the tent spreads out and down over a valley as soft and open as the arms of a mother coaxing her child into her broad green bed, you’re in luck.

And to be the only one awake when the world belongs to no one else, and the light and trees and the birds that twitter and call across the infinite space exist to fill your one listening ear, you’re in luck.

When solitude and the confidence of youth embolden you to undo your fly and piss on the shining world, to mark life in the manner of all animals with a small gesture of conquest, you’re in luck.

But when a voice undefined speaks from a place more pure than words— a breeze in the leaves? Or was it birdsong? A susurrus of cirrus cloud?—it whispers clearly, “Turn to the right before you let loose”— truly, you’re in luck.

For when, turning, you fire that long, steaming arc against the base of an oak, you look down to the left—on the ground in a cleft, a metropolis of bees, yellow, black, full of pride in their business undisturbed: you’re in luck.

A Visit at the Grave

No stone speaks
over the square of grass.
It’s dusk, now the color of indigo.
A wind cavorts in the high oaks
and brings down a scent
I associate with your skin
and linden trees.

A dog whines
with no memory of beauty,
or colors or fragrances.
You are coming apart,
lying here on the grass square,
a pomegranate nipple exposed,
coaxed out by loneliness.

A car waits to take us to our train.
A short train in the sunset,
while we discuss the difficulty of loving,
and the relief of disappearing into a city.
Meanwhile, a woman in red stockings
calls for love to meet her at the station.
Her despair is too self aware.


Will Reger has a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois.  He has published four collections of poetry available through Amazon.  He has served as the inaugural poet laureate for the city of Urbana, Illinois 2019-2020.  For the last decade he has been active in promoting poetry in his community.

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