September 30 – October 6, 2019: Poetry from Dennis Mahagin and Michael Salcman

Dennis Mahagin and Michael Salcman

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Dennis Mahagin

Bio (auto)

Dennis Mahagin is the author of two poetry collections: Grand Mal, from Rebel Satori Press, and Longshot & Ghazal, from Mojave River Press. Dennis is also the poetry editor for Frigg Magazine. He plays the bass guitar, and operates a music store in Deer Lodge, Montana.

The following work is Copyright © 2019, and owned by Dennis Mahagin and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Montana Linguistics Minus 20 Degrees

keep it running
in the street. I’m waiting
under a sodium lamp,
which is not to say an hourglass
full of salt, nor any old neon
display for the payday loan store,
its letters flickering
one by
one, more
jumpy, jittery
than incomplete;
I’m waiting
under the light fed by arctic air
and wet snow, sorrow slogged
next to the curb, drift
upon drift upon
drift. I know
you know
not to pull in
there. Keep it running
while I stomp my feet,
and catch my breath,
visible as money in a wind tunnel.
It’s the end of winter, and the world
will not care; it’s like a snow fort,
or getting old; friend, it’s so sweet
of you to meet, but don’t go near
that curb; keep it running,
hungry, and low; I’m waiting,
which is not the same
as here, or near,
the breadth of certain death;
we cry as we fly through
the icy night: To go
is the very best
of verbs.



Michael Salcman

Bio (auto)

Michael Salcmanis, poet, physician and art historian, was chairman of neurosurgery at the University of Maryland and president of the Contemporary Museum in Baltimore. He is a child of the Holocaust and a survivor of polio. His poems appear in Alaska Quarterly Review, Arts & Letters, Harvard Review, Hopkins Review, Hudson Review, New Letters, Notre Dame Review, and Ontario Review among other journals. Salcman is the author of four chapbooks. He is the editor of Poetry in Medicine, a popular anthology of classic and contemporary poems on doctors, patients, illness and recovery (Persea Books, 2015). His collections include The Clock Made of Confetti (2007), nominated for The Poets Prize, The Enemy of Good is Better (Orchises, 2011), and A Prague Spring, Before & After (2016), winner of the 2015 Sinclair Poetry Prize from Evening Street Press. He is a special lecturer in the Osher Institute at Towson University.

The following work is Copyright © 2019, and owned by Michael Salcman and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

At the Reading

The master post-modernist poet stood before us,
lips pursed upward
like an Indian’s bow or bicycle handle bars,
reading in a genteel monotone, a flag
of perspiration on his brow, a few
tasteful creases cutting across his lime green
jacket and tie-less shirt.
Towards the end of Q. & A., we lobbed J. A.
a softball question,
did he think his poems had grown
more accessible with age?

I certainly hope not, he answered.

Now We Have Phones

Silent at every boring party
the pager would sit on my belt like a bad elf—
one of those little men shoveling chairs
catapulting felons into the air
in a drawing by Rogier van der Weyden

During dinner or sex or at the climax
of a movie or television show,
I let its aggravated beep speak
but at concerts, I set it to vibrate
in the hope I could reach the end of a piece
before feeling it rub on my leg like a cat,
the bridge of a cello
or the toe of your shoe.

Even when my elf slept in a drawer at home
and I was safely out of town,
any electronic sound made me reach down
and pat my empty belt like a forgetful father
for a misplaced child
or a Pavlovian dog pricking his ears at a bell.


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