Friday, February 23, 2018

Three Haiku Strings from Don Mager

Haiku String #38
(Prague in March)

March washed dry leaves
along the bridge curbs--flocks of
little birds gusting

against a big wind.
The wind swoops down like hawks to
follow the river's

brackish elbows.  It
laps the castle walls and the
shuttered shop windows

and children huddle
outside closed school yards.
Wind holds a cold claw.

One must live with false
beginnings that come knocking
and knocking again,

for when the solemn
vocation arrives at one's
doorstep, without them,

one would not know how
to let the door swing open.
One's terror would not

know how to grow vast.

Haiku String #41
(Petersburg in May)

The eastern Baltic
wind rides with the larger sun.
The oaks are bragging

in their new leaves while
pines backdrop themselves like a 
chorus of dancers

who sink into the
blue shadows as the prima
ballerina swirls

incessantly on
one toe.  Birds birds birds applaud
applaud applaud.  And

then, suddenly, you
notice, the fountains have been
turned on in the parks.

Water and light are
whispering their tireless
duet.  You cup it

in your palm--first light,
then water--and spill your lap
with it, palm after

palm, until through the
coarse fabric, chill tongues your thigh,
Baltic tongues your hair.

Haiku String #42
(Paris in May)

Gray rain falls in sheets
like slabs of slate onto black
umbrellas tipped to

brace against the wind.
The sheen on them glistens like
ravens' wings.  Beneath,

heads are bent like tucked
heads of birds.  Ash gray faces,
from which expression

has been wiped away,
as an academician
might wipe the slateboard

of chalk at the end
of a ponderous lecture,
stare down.  They look to

cobbles and puddles
which glisten like old scratched-up
mirrors from which the

silver backing has
become flaked.  The faces in
the puddles stare from

tucked heads and their eyes
are holes.  Day after day in
May, crowds in rain flow

corteges across
bridges.  None seem to have a
destination to

which it intends to
arrive.  Each umbrella's sheen
braces to the wind.

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, and Russian Riffs.  He is retired and was Mott University Professor of English at Johnson C. Smith University where he 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 reviews on Gay Liberation.  He lives in Charlotte, NC, with his partner of 36 years.  They have three sons and two granddaughters.

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