Don Mager’s chapbooks and volumes of poetry 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 and Russian Riffs. He is retired with degrees from Drake University (BA), Syracuse University (MA) and Wayne State University (PhD). He was the Mott University Professor of English at Johnson C. Smith University from 1998-2004 where he served as Dean of the College of Arts and Letters (2005-2011). As well as a number of scholarly articles, he has published over 200 poems and translations from German, Czech and Russian. He lives in Charlotte, NC.
Us Four Plus Four is an anthology of translations from eight major Soviet-era Russian poets. It is unique because it tracks almost a half century of their careers by simply placing the poems each wrote to the others in chronological order. The 85 poems represent one of the most fascinating conversations in poems produced by any group of poets in any language or time period. From poems and infatuation and admiration to anger and grief and finally to deep tribute, this anthology invites readers into the unfolding lives of such inimitable creative forces as Anna Akhmatova, Boris Pasternak, Marina Tsvetaeva and Osip Mandelstam.
April Journal: Thursday, April 25, 2013
Beyond the backyard gate, canopies
of woodland trees lift fresh swaying crowns,
black and lofty, against the darkly
lavender cream sky. Along the tops,
over gently sloshing waves, the white
wholeness of the moon slowly rolls its
florescent ball. The sweater clutches
its reluctant buttons tightly to
its chest. It strives to fend off the night’s
settling chill. It strives to lengthen out
the unsung orotund presence of
its presence here. It fails. Chill drives it
back indoors. With no haste in sight, moon’s
dispassion turns its back and rolls on.
November Journal: Sunday, November 3, 2013
The midnight bastinado of wind’s
harsh strokes and rain’s thrashings abandon
the sunrise street to wet yellow
piles. Light climbs out of the sky. It parts
the Nile flood of clouds. The street’s leaf paste
is lemon slick. Early car treads crush
it into juice until four ruts—two
each side—cut through to the tarmac like
parallel black rails. Mugginess lifts
off its clammy shirt. Chills infiltrate
the air with clarity. Breath draws ice
stream zest through nostrils down to the lungs’
secret folds. Up through its throat, it lifts
tranquilities of salutation.
November Journal: Monday, November 4, 2013
Blue is singing a clean high flute like
an ancient Egyptian goblet’s blue.
Wailing aqua microtones through the
sky, wet fingers brush their crystal rims.
The eyes’ inner cave walls reflect their
cerulean song the way silent
ear caves hear the inner pulse of the
jugulars beside them. The window
fails its woeful task. The sky permits
no frame to shape the view. It wants it all—
scope, height, attention. Its blue requires
eyes to breathe in synchrony. Forget
trees and lawns and earth and be this time
with me, it says, while silent azure holds.