“An Old Song”, “The Incident” and “Acceptable”

An Old Song

An Old Song

She lay down in a hole I dug.
A hole I dug to plant my seed.
She lay down in a hole and wept,
Answering nothing to my need.

She lay down and had a babe.
A babe I named for a man I killed.
She lay down and wept for her babe.
A babe that grew and ran off wild.

She lay down in a secret place.
A secret place she kept from me.
She lay down in the open road.
The road that took her secretly.

She lay down beneath the stones.
Beneath the stones, I let her sleep.
She lay down in a hole I dug.
The hole I dug was far too deep.

The Incident

The quilt came to me
with six bullet holes.
She lay on the right,
he to the shooter’s left.
Harps and drums played
the day they were interred.
Now the cemetery houses them.

The boot on the throat
was more than they could take.
Bombs bursting in air–
too much like shattering glass:
these days, doors kicked in.

They both had guts,
sharpened corners.
Bodies built for killing.
They whispered lullabies
to one another on
the banks of the Tigris,
wrapped in that quilt,
as they shot down
women wired with bombs.

Between them two legs lost
to war and love was their cage,
hands open, hearts open,
lips in a chokehold.
Promises to wait for
the other failed to be kept,
until the day of the incident.

The numbers found in his pocket
were not lottery guesses,
not phone numbers
of friends or accomplices.
Coordinates to their hideout.
Somewhere yellow and old.
No one would think to look there.

Their plan was to run
where no one would think to go,
where magpies would forget to look,
where they could do their weeping,
listen to a guitar.
Wait, at a table.

In the back of the closet
you will find the two black suitcases.
Bug out bags, he called them,
thinking of Korea,
thinking of running cold.


If I am acceptable—
tell me. Ash blows; trees
collapse at my heels; I
run blindly
away from the burning.
Each word turns me
away and toward, away
from you. Emptiness
grows around me
wherever I turn, toward
you or away, surrounded,
pounded, hounded by
nothingness; anything you
call acceptable will remain
despite the flames.
The living green pleasure
of your forest
will never disappear—
It could frame the landscape
of my mind with peace
if you will only tell me:
turn around.
Turn around, come this way.
Nothing less will do.
How I escape with you
this burned out ground.
How I live another day.

About the Author

Will Reger

Will Reger has published poetry since 2010. He is currently the Poet Laureate for the City of Urbana, Illinois. His first book is Petroglyphs (2019). When not scribbling poetry, he teachers history and plays Chinese flutes.