Project Description

Four Thousand

Four thousand tigers. Or even fewer.
Four thousand tigers in my living room.
They swim out back in the pool
and chase the squirrels from my tomatoes.
Four thousand tigers rummage upstairs
through the closets, under beds.
They hide in my cupboards, sit
on my roof and flick their tails at the night.
Sometimes they knock me to the floor,
look me in the eye and growl.

They hardly trouble me at all,
except those nights I hear a shot,
and one of my favorites
is carried off in the darkness.
I go over to my neighbor’s house.
There on the floor before his hearth,
a fresh skin I recognize.

My tiger, I cry out, you killed my tiger.
You have so many, he shrugs, and sips
from a bowl of tiger penis soup (his woman
does not like it when he goes soft).
But that one, I pointed down at the skin
with the neat bullet hole behind its ear,
that one could speak Latin.
He served his country herding goats.
You’re joking, he said, and upended his bowl.
Tigers don’t herd goats.
Oh really, I said, as I opened his door to admit
the now one less than almost four thousand.
What else do you know about tigers?

Will Reger

Will Reger was born and raised in the St. Louis, Missouri area. He has been writing poetry since the 7th grade, and has published in a wide variety of print and on-line publications, including Dialogue,, Hymns Today, Deepwater Literary Review,, and Vermilion Literary Project. Most recently, his work has been accepted by Front Porch Review, Chiron Review,, and the Paterson Literary Review. He is a founding member of the CU (Champaign-Urbana) Poetry Group ( He has a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and currently teaches at Illinois State University in Bloomington-Normal, Illinois. He lives in Champaign, Illinois, with his wife, Mary, with whom he has raised four children. When he is not teaching or writing poetry, he collects flutes, plays flutes, and sometimes even writes poems about flutes.