April Journal: Thursday, April 18, 2013Along the outside wall, the window
calls to the deck swing: look to the breeze—
there. It is tugging at the loose locks
of your canopy. Content with small
realignments, the breeze shakes out its
gentle trajectories. It nips at
the Azalea’s carmine petals. It
tears them loose to flutter in gimpy
brief flights. Like cherry juice they trickle
into crevices of walkway stones.
Tender white Dogwoods tremble on cue.
To acknowledge, with a Wren nest in
its hair, the window’s call, the swing smiles
back as if to say: I see. I know.
April Journal: Saturday, April 20, 2013The glass black bead keeps peeled on the late
morning’s window above her head with its
blinds slid wide. With her chest feathers fluffed,
she climbs to the nest brim. An upper
branch jerks and her mate hops down. His beak
aims its long tweezers at two wide bright
orange spread-scissor gawks. Behind all the
straining eagerness a plump blue pearl
protrudes—sealed and blind. Like the morning’s
drifting cloud puffs, the ordinariness
reconfigures itself moment by
moment in the presence of the ever
present present. Its sole task is to
busy itself with mere astonishment.
April Journal: Sunday, April 21, 2013Doing its work in silent stealth, dew sneaks
in even before horizon’s watch-
tower starts to spy out evidence
of sunrise. When the slippered walk down
to the curbside shrubs, coffee mug in
hand, fetches back the damp ink-smudged news
from yesterday, teardrop pearls lie
in the laps of the Smoketree’s sprouts of
grayish-purple leaves. Scarlet, glazed with
crystallized sugar, can’t hold back the
Azalea gush from top to toe. See,
it shouts, I am here. The sole news that
memory’s yesterday carries back
with it is smudged—not quite fit to read.
April Journal: Monday, April 22, 2013With gentle coaxing strokes, afternoon’s
breeze brushes the panting puppy-faced
irises with their three tongues hanging
out. Carpenter Bees in yellow and
black jackets are elated at their
extravagance of color. They hang
stationary buzzing bubbles mid-
air and then dive down blossom’s furry
yellow throats. They pick and choose along
the staggered rows of tissue faces:
indigo streaked with white, punch pink, egg
yolk yellow, tangerine. As breeze stiffens
their carnival stage, they jostle stick
puppet faces with wide panting tongues.
April Journal: Tuesday, April 23, 2013Rain strides in vertical formations
straighter than the afternoon trees
it elbows past. It marches down streets
and parades across yards. With a snare drum’s
riffing tattoo, its persistent boot
treads click heels on deck floors and porch roofs.
Beneath its eave, the door throws open
arms to grab the pelting warmth. It breathes
in damp hay scent of yesterday’s mown
grass. It burns with desire to submit,
to throw its insatiable face up,
to run drenched and barefoot so fast its
mouth overflows like a spigot—to
swallow gulp after gulp after gulp.
Copyright © 2014 Don Mager
At 71, Don Mager lives in Charlotte, NC. His chapbooks and volumes of poetry are: To Track the Wounded One, Glosses, That Which is Owed to Death, Borderings, Good Turns and 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
Us Four Plus Four, edited and translated by Don Mager. 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.