Fog slowly writhes about in its pre-
dawn miasma. Erasing trees and
houses, dark smothers light refracted
through the treacherous damp. Slowly out
of leafless tall bushes, chill-sharpened
tentacles seethe. Trees walk their bones in
and out of gloom. Haloed in dark webs,
branches claw through light’s shifting body.
They emerge and fade. Engorged with dark,
fog mutters a silent colorless
white glow. They are variants of each
other in this hushed present’s presence:
synonyms . . . light means dark means light . . . and
oxymorons . . . neither’s opposite.
Don Mager’s 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. 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.