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a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society

Michael Schein

Rabia O’Loren



We never emerged from the sea.

Mother of life, we carry you in our belly.

I have seen the sub-dermal womb,

the post-amniotic flood

alien as the Mariana Trench,

intimate as ejaculate.  Doom

swims with organs under skin.

There are ghosts in the body,

unseen shape-shifters tangled under ribs.

The dead never go far.

I have seen my spleen with its murky intent,

my delicate swollen liver,

dark matter drifting in

the night of my abdomen.

I have seen my lungs, the laborers,

rowing this battered life raft

through treacherous currents

and sucking pools,

my heart like a startled wren,

trembling again and again

at the manic call of the blood –

life, life, life, it cries,

but the ghosts

pull me into my brine,

into the umbilicus of death,

as I, like a pearl diver,

knife clenched in teeth,

test the limits of breath,

the sparkling anoxic visions,

the oyster of body wisdom,

the semaphore of flesh.


Author Biography:

Michael Schein’s new novel, Bones Beneath Our Feet (2011), has been described as “a powerful and deeply moving historical novel about the conquest of the Puget Sound.”  His first novel, Just Deceits: A Historical Courtroom Mystery (2008), tells the scandalous story of the celebrity trial of the 18th Century.  Schein’s poetry has twice been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and he is director of LiTFUSE Poets’ Workshop.

Credit: “After the Ultrasound” – originally published in Chest (May 2010).


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