Poem-A-Day 2019: Robin Reagler

In my professional life, I’ve had very few bosses or supervisors who were women, and all of them have been excellent. One of my first female bosses, when I was a writer-in-residence through Writers in the Schools here in Houston back in the 1990s, was Robin Reagler. She modeled for me the best qualities of a leader as someone who guided with good cheer and friendliness on the best days and genuine compassion and humor when I made mistakes. She inspired me to work my best, and when an outstanding professional opportunity came along and I had to leave WITS, she understood and helped make my transition as smooth and seamless as it could be. Robin was someone I knew I would want to emulate when it became my turn to hold a position of authority.

I’ve worked for bosses who gave me nightmares with their ego-driven nonsense and anger management problems. I’ve worked for ones who were a hot mess of disorganization or self-unawareness. I’ve worked for people who didn’t command a shred of respect.

Robin was the antidote to all of that. She’s also a marvelous poet, and I love that she contributes to this series on my blog. Her poem “Crumbs” appears in the Mutabilis Press anthology The Enchantment of the Ordinary, and when I heard her read it at the launch, I knew we needed it for April this year.

 

Crumbs
.
If you transpose this one afternoon
into the open Galveston then
it’s no surprise that future
love begins its slow rumble
.
like a wave. That’s why the seagulls
go wild over a handful of crumbs
hurled high into the air, and a sweet
January breeze takes its time
.
creating a crest of meaning
like a celebrity signature in the sand.
My daughters build tremendous
sand castles protected by moats
.
in concentric circles, a symbolic
safety. Once I understood a lot more
than I do now, before the awesome
tore its way into my heart.
.
***
.
Robin Reagler is the author of TEETH & TEETH, winner of the Charlotte Mew Prize selected by Natalie Diaz (Headmistress Press, 2018), and DEAR RED AIRPLANE (Seven Kitchens Press, 2011, 2018), chosen for the ReBound Series and re-issued with a foreword by Laura Mullen. Reagler’s poems have been published in dozens of journals, including Ploughshares, American Letters & Commentary, Pleiades, VOLT, Iowa Review, and Colorado Review. She lives in Houston, Texas, and serves as the Executive Director of Writers in the Schools (WITS). She was recently elected chair of the AWP (Association of Writers & Writing Programs) Board of Trustees.

Page up

Page down

Print

Advertisements

Poem-A-Day: Robin Reagler

Welcome to April, also known around here as National Poetry Month!

Every year since 2014, I’ve been featuring a poem (or a poet) a day on my blog during the month of April, and this year I’m excited to be doing it again, to be sharing a variety of poems and poets with you once more.

If you want to see the series from previous years, you may click here for 2014, here for 2015, here for 2016, and here for 2017. Those links will take you to the start of each month’s offerings. Then just click through at the bottom of each page to the next day, and so on. I hope you enjoy them.

This year we’re kicking things off with “Saints Among Us” by Robin Reagler.

***

Saints Among Us

                                                                      Siena, Italy

In the piazza, daylight
praised each of us. We, the seashell. We, the baking brick.
Our eyes wild like salmon leaping
up for sun. And masked
by our dark glasses, we strolled in a bay of shades.

Laundry dripped dry in the Italian afternoon.
Nuns wearing gold wedding bands stared at the pavement as they passed by.
The two-year-old in overalls, a bold hunter of lazy birds, boasted the loudest song.

Without words we came to an agreement:
Let us take comfort in the stories of timely strangers.

Because all roads took us to the same place,
arrows showed us where to go—
to the piazza.

Who were we that afternoon?

As the daytrippers checked their watches and flew away,
the clouds charged madly toward tomorrow.
The churning yearned openly.
Show me, the world kept yelping.

Sunset was showing off again.
Day taught night
all about kissing.

It was as though my eye were a microscope,
and I was truly seeing
after a blinding time.
I could have winked at myself,
so happy to be alive.

***

Robin Reagler is the author of Teeth & Teeth (Headmistress Press, 2018) and Dear Red Airplane (Seven Kitchens Press, 2011, 2018). Teeth & Teeth is the winner of the Charlotte Mew Prize selected by Natalie Diaz. Dear Red Airplane won the ReBound Series and has been re-issued with a foreword by Laura Mullen.

Reagler’s poems have appeared in PloughsharesPleiadesIowa ReviewColorado Review, and other journals. She earned an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and a PhD from the University of Houston Creative Writing Program. She serves as the Executive Director of Writers in the Schools (WITS) and leads the national WITS Alliance. She lives in Houston, Texas.