Don Mager’s chapbooks and volumes are To Track The Wounded one, Glosses, That Which is Owed to Death, Borderings, Good Turns, The Elegance of the Ungraspable, Birth Daybook, Drive Time, Russian Riffs. He is retired and was Mott University Professor of English at Johnson C. Smith University where is also served as Dean of the College of Arts and letters. As well as a number of scholarly articles, he has published over 200 poems and translations from German, Czech and Russian. In the 1970s he published articles and review on Gay Liberation. He lives in Charlotte, NC with his partner of 36 years. They have three sons and two granddaughters.
Us Four Plus Four (New Orleans University Press) is an anthology of translations from eight major Soviet-era Russian poets. It is unique because the tracks almost half a century of their careers by simply placing the poems each wrote to one of more of the others in chronological order. The 85 poems document one of the most fascinating conversations in poems produced by any group of poets in any language or time period. From poems of infatuation and admiration to anger and grief and finally deep tribute, this anthology with its preface by Richard Howard invites readers into the unfolding of such inimitable creative forces as Anna Akhmatova, Boris Pasternak, Marina Tsvetaeva and Osip Mandel’shtam.
February Journal: Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Sly with ice, beneath satin shrouds, the
predawn roads lurk. They want sun to lie
low. They want clouds to hug thick mittens
across the tops of trees. They want fog
to blow egg-white froth into squinting
eyes of headlights. Dustings of powdered
sugar sweeten sidewalk treacheries.
Hardened glazes seal cold inside locked
car doors and keyholes. When dawn’s small gray
pokes out to sniff the air before its
caution creeps from the horizon, roads,
sidewalks, blind lights and key slots, frozen
in time and poised to snap, join forces
conspiring to hide skids, spins and falls.
May Journal: ∞∞ Saturday, May 11, 2013
The sparse grass pad of dirt sips just the right
amount of warmth. When the moment’s ripe,
it coughs up low flying Miner Bees
from sieve-like pencil holes. They are old
friends come back to visit, so ropes of
gold Lady Banks’ roses call to their
gold tufted manes: come cuddle with us
and drift on our waves of afternoon
stupor. Sunlight sprinkles swirls of gold
midges in mist sprays above their heads.
It looks deeply through the greening trees
to the west horizon and decides
for now in the goodness of good time
their rendezvous must wait awhile—still.
September Journal: Friday, September 27, 2013
Yellow Jackets zoom vertically
from their hole. Gold glints on shafts of sun
are their sole presence to consciousness.
Wide enough for a paw to reach down, the
hole gapes black. The mower rumbles past
on its drive shaft. Swaths of leaf mulch stuff
its new white bag. It watches for frogs
to dive for the creek. It sees no fight
in their flight. A mandible clamps down
on the glove. Its stinger drills to the
knuckle. Another grabs the shirt and stabs
the neck. Skin behind the knee takes a
hit. The mower dives up the fresh mown
hill through the back gate. It too is flight.
November Journal: Saturday, November 2, 2013
Yellow’s bullish herds of grandeur tramp
through china closets of Willow Oaks
and Sycamores. They trample the hems
of the wind’s skittish chill-gusting skirts.
They spin like giant mythic butterflies
flocking for their mythic southbound flights.
Beneath Hickories and Sweetgums, they
drift in billows for puppies to pounce
and roll in. The deck view looks away
and looking back, well, here, in flapping
sheets like a sail, it is, face to face,
yellow. Yellow clips a shoulder, and
like a canary swooping down with
tiny claws, yellow nests in the hair.