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Two Poems by Will Reger


Plant your feet


was his instruction

on how to hit a ball

or break a jaw.

I was young enough

still to dream it

or at least remember

my feet being quick,

never still, alive.

I thought I was

the quickest of all,

but really, no.

I was only a kid

who couldn’t box

or hit a ball,

no matter how he

wanted that to be.

I disappointed him,

and he disregarded me.



Raising a Boy


Raise your boy somewhere with old cars out back.

He will pay them no attention, except to note

they exist, and maybe one day he will haul them

off the property, calling them an eyesore,

a nest for foxes and mice, a den for addicts

or thieves, a danger to children playing.

Or he’ll do nothing about it because he thinks of war

or business or love, or the environment or art,

or nothing at all, and rust and the weeds will hide

it away until another boy comes with a pain


he must get out by smashing old windows

with stones or bricks—he will dent the hood,

break out the lights, slash at the old whitewalls,

even set it afire or take shots with his .22.

Maybe it will be his hideout, his fort, or castle.

He’ll make it his clubhouse or a private space

under the trees—even try to fix it, get it running.

A certain kind of boy even believes he’ll drive it.

You can tell the man to come by the way

a boy treats an old car on his property.



Will Reger is the Inaugural Poet Laureate for the city of Urbana, IL. He has authored two books of poetry, and is also an artist, flutist, and historian.

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