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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

M. Bartley Seigel

Lake Superior

Under my hand, a stone bear in nesting

circles carved by ancestors, behind me,

the walking woods at dusk, feather and fur,

the little stone, moss, and mushroom people—

we all slow, growing silent, listening.

Beyond the barrier islands and reefs,

where the sun sets blood red and thunderhead

brew black and quickening, the abyssal

heartbeat spirits deep within the bedrock

upon which all of the dreaming is sown.

I would call you by your first given name,


I would make this offering on this spot,

but what are words against the coming gale?

Into the Thicket

We go looking for tea cedar, crow feather, and first snow

to stick, but find the mud still warm under our feet, the Earth’s

moist breath still fogging the looking glass this late into fall.


Deep in our bones, we know we’ll waltz on over the Frost Moon

before the first big freeze cracks Ironwood, and the hunkered

Sun, low in her cross-quarter nest, fades into dim Solstice.


The Wind Hag is just now beginning her November dance,

pirouetting north, Superior throbbing her meter

deep into the basalt below and beyond simple ken.


Deep in our bones, we feel the forest vibrate in omen,

but as we’ve no one near to confide in, we must worry

our best wishes, casting spells against the coming darkness.


M. Bartley Seigel is poet laureate of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula; author of This Is What They Say (Typecast Publishing); founding editor-in-chief of Simple Machines Magazine, and founding editor emeritus of PANK Magazine. His poetry regularly appears in journals such as Fourth River, Michigan Quarterly Review, Split Rock Review, Thrush, and elsewhere. He teaches creative writing and literature, and directs the writing center at Michigan Technological University. He lives in Houghton, Michigan, in Ojibwe homelands and Treaty of 1842 territory.

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