“Weren’t We Known?,” “My Father’s Shirts” and “Reflections on Hwy 66”

“Weren’t We Known?,” “My Father’s Shirts” and “Reflections on Hwy 66”

Weren’t We Known?

Running out of ourselves urgent

anxious we were spirits of some kind

ghoulish forgotten ones

living in half-light we could barely peep in

and never found ourselves in photographs

we found nothing made by our own hands

we could not envision or make you see

how we lived moved

through space touched or held by others

none of this could be shown by camera

that we walked in anyone's life.

It has to be a mistake

that we do not remember


putting on these clothes

how many years ago?

As if the light holding us both

has somehow broadcast us

from New Jersey farm

to Ohio bedroom the night

before your wedding

My Father’s Shirts

After my father died,

his second wife, the one

who hates my politics,

gave me a bag of his clothes.

Shirts, sweaters, and a year's

supply of white handkerchiefs.

Everything was permeated

with a sweet, cheap cologne,

even the leather brief case.

I inherited the clothes, the case,

with every ID card he ever had

and years of Scouting memorabilia.

All of it doused in that sickeningly

sweet cologne.

I gave the shirts away,

tossed the case, now moldy,

but kept the ID cards, the patches,

the medals and insignia,

because it was the only way

he ever said anything about his life.

I never knew much about him,

but he did love a uniform.

Reflections on Hwy 66

Every day a moment appears

with moving streams of light

entwined with swaths of darkness.

It could be a slat of headlights

cutting through the shadows

on the midnight bathroom wall.

It could be a rising moon.

It could be the shooting

of stars for wishes.

Always something lost,

something gained.

Freedom lost or won,

depending on who is asking,

on who orbits around the planets,

swinging dark side, light.

Is it only that our understanding

of the world has been filleted,

leaving slices through our thoughts?

Or the old words shredded?

The new ones still sticking

in the throats of the believers.

Just as we think a new sort

of poetry has opened up our hearts,

it begins to feel false and empty.

It loses its integrity...but then,

all is restored again, until we

arrive at the final hour.

We find we've been talking

to ourselves in one dream

after another, rapid fire dreaming–

flashes of light

cut through the darkness.

A moon returns.

The heavens darken.

The moon departs, arrives,

departs, arrives,

silver and wavering

on the surface

of her borrow pit.

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.