Don’t Look Away. a poem by Michael Schein

Michael Schein

Don’t Look Away

Putin tracks the value of the ruble
a barrel of crude
then ruble then crude
his thin lips wet with drool.

Here is the bread line in Chernihiv, simple human hunger strafed
by Putin’s pawns, & the mother of three warming soup for her children
when shrapnel tears out her throat. Putin LOOK, as her children were forced to look.
Lash the beast to the mast of humanity. Make it see what it has wrought.	

Putin, horror movie supervillain, sits
at the head of a long table of boot-lickers
barking orders barking mad
at Europe who flicks her skirt and shivers.

The youngest corpse still has the umbilicus attached …
	the mother, pelvis shattered by a missile aimed at the maternity hospital
	cries “kill me now” to save the baby who cannot be saved.
	Putin, is this what you mean by denazification?

Vladamir searches Volodymyr
curses the comedian who revealed the mighty He
to be a scared little shit riding shirtless 
on the wild horse of history.	

	Look: there’s an old woodcarver laid in the street under a blue tarp,
	shelter from a nation’s tears. There’s someone’s lover 
	legs neatly bound with yellow ribbon, left by the cratered street
	where in summer she grew watermelons.

Hollowed with hunger, Putin
licks his spittle, searches Stalin
but there’s no longer any signal
just a dark ocean swimming with monsters.

Don’t look away: there’s 16-year-old Iliya
whose legs were blown off
while playing football at school,
now stacked with her friends in a mass grave.

Putin wipes blood
from his bloodless hands,
fingernails scraping the chalkboard of
missile-scoured playgrounds.

	There’s the Mariupol Theatre, CHILDREN in Russian blazed in front & back
big enough for bomber pilots to read. Where Romeo kissed Juliet, 
choirs sang songs of peace, scared children cried, were told you are safe now …
wiped their tears, hugged their stuffed bears & died.

Putin your wife is gone your mistress fears you
your tanks are charred & frozen
you wander frigid Russia

land of icy mirrors
nuclear silos, leaking dread
a long-suffering history of
history herself forbidden. 

Putin look: here’s 18-month-old Kirill
	fatal shrapnel wound to the head
	& a 6-year-old in unicorn jammies, dead.
	What lies do you tell your children, safe in a Swiss Chalet?

Putin in bed with the dead
while the living whose mouths he sealed shut
cannot sleep, cannot wake
from his terror, his haunted vision,

his insatiable cruel

Lash the beast to the mast of humanity.
Make it see what it has wrought.

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Michael Schein wrote Liquid Perishable Hazardous (2019) (poetry), John Surratt: The Lincoln Assassin Who Got Away (2015) (historical), The Killer Poet’s Guide to Immortality by AB Bard (2012) (hysterical), & historical novels Bones Beneath Our Feet (2011) & Just Deceits (2005). Schein edited Poets UNiTE! The LiTFUSE Anthology (2015). His poetry appears in many journals & has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize three times. Schein is the founder of LiTFUSE Poets’ Workshop (, & has taught at Port Townsend Writers Conference, Write on the Sound, & elsewhere. Spirits inhabit earth & sky. Poetry is everywhere. Write on!


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Published by darcie friesen hossack

Darcie Friesen Hossack is a graduate of the Humber School for Writers. Her short story collection, Mennonites Don’t Dance, was a runner-up for the Danuta Gleed Award, shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Ontario Library Association's Forest of Reading Evergreen Award for Adult Fiction. Citing irreverence, the book was banned by the LaCrete Public Library in Northern Alberta. Having mentored with Giller finalists Sandra Birdsell (The Russlander) and Gail Anderson Dargatz (Spawning Grounds, The Cure for Death by Lightening), Darcie's first novel, Stillwater, will be released in the spring of 2023. Darcie is also a four time judge of the Whistler Independent Book Awards, and a career food writer. She lives in Northern Alberta, Canada, with her husband, international award-winning chef, Dean Hossack.

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