Don Mager – Five Poems


February Journal:  Friday, February 15, 2013

With recorder dulcet chords, eastern
light unfurls modulations.  Sky-blue
pink blends seamless creamy sherbet hues
of blue with pink and hues of pink with
blue.  Light mounts—unbearable in its
seamless lightness of being—here—dawn—
now.  As white as a crashing Russian
meteor flash, vapor-trail streaks draw
bars and crosses on the pastel wash. 
Destinies and destinations ride
their trails.  Ice white traces unfurl their
separate days.  For now they are as safe
and silent as a fading lip print
on a watching breath-steamed window pane.

March Journal: Sunday, March 3, 2013

The long spindle shafts of morning sun
spin gold from distaffs of the stiff green
daffodils.  The buds pop open like
tissues of paper origami 
party favors.  Theirs is the sash’s
gold of flower girls toddling up the
aisle in white crabapple flounces—the
butter gold whipped stiff from churning cream.  
Like kindred souls, blossoms stare into
the sun’s huge retina.  Its silent
sling-shot gaze stares back.  As sun floats up
the southern buttressed arch of sky, in
reply, the daffodils pivot their
well-oiled, full-arc necks—like dwarf owls.

April Journal:    Friday, April 26, 2013 

Like snuggly soft shadows, night casts its
potpourri of nameless perfumes in
small gulps of breeze through the screen of the
slid back balcony doors.   Stewy steam
seeps faintly in on rosemary whiffs. 
Drafts of Hyacinth  honey bully
their way right through.  Viburnum’s dusky
warble flickers along for the ride. 
With each flutter’s generosity,
like memories too faint to locate
in any specificity of
time, the wind chimes’ four well-harmonized
tenors shuffle through their repertoire
of unpremeditated changes.

July Journal:  ∞∞   Saturday, July 6, 2013

Heat strokes the waist high tomato plants
weighed down already with lima-green
balls.  Embarrassed they understand that
to perk-up they need a good early
morning dousing.  As the shadows pull
back and the sun hits harder, this is
their best hope.  Their leaves hang limp.   A King-
snake drifts along the chicken wire fence
to find a warm dry patch of grass to
stretch out her full black length and set up
watch.  The oblivious hose hangs coiled
on its back wall hook.  The porch’s door
does not slide open to this now—whose
names are expectancy and waiting.

December Journal: Monday, December 2, 2013

Large enough to be a plowed corn patch
and garden, the neighbor’s vacant house
stretches its backyard out like a beach
beneath the cool bright sun.  Afternoon
is a stretch of hardscrabble dry grass
and windblown furrows of dead leaves.  From
the barren woods at the far back, like
wraiths out of nowhere, drift three does.  Three
more follow.  Their necks curve into the
stubble.  As the snapshot shoots the next
quick-shutter shot, fifteen deer graze in
a dream’s slow motion.  Heads lift.  Ears flick
and twist.  Necks bend back down.  Sunlight glows
on the caramel glaze of tan backs.


Author’s Statement on Beauty

As I have gotten older my notions of beauty have drifted away from aesthetic universals.  Beauty for me now is simple ravishment.  A sudden unexpected gasp of surrender to a sense-based awareness, often visual but also tactile, aural and even olfactory. I am of course aware that my subjectivity in these responses makes it almost impossible fully to share them with someone else—much less explain them.  Not only is ravishment subject to my quirky sensoria, it is a fluke of the emotional moment I bring to it—my mood if you will.  Thus, the ravishment may well be unrepeatable.  Beauty for me is the essence of now-ness.   In poetry my task is to find language and context that invite readers into the quirks of my ravishment.  If my language can startle or disorient perhaps it can invite.  Invitation is all that I can invent.   Readers can accept my invitations or they can pass on them and move on to something else.


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: Eight Russian Poets Conversing (New Orleans University Press), is Mager’s 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. More at: donmagerpoet.