As part of our Editor’s Lineup, Shilo Niziolek shares three love poems (poems about love)
Written by Shilo Niziolek
Art By Jesse Davis Karshner
And Still My Painted Porcelain Eyes Longed For You
I awake to my juniper hair faded, overnight.
My hair no longer the shade of the Carhart coat I
wore in high school, the one you hated.
Instead, green eyes were painted over my hazel ones.
You could no longer see that I loved you.
When you left, I followed you.
Every item in the world fell between us.
I swung through it all, trapezing through the
leftovers of broken dreams. And men, whose hidden
faces chased me, sent their dogs while I huddled
under a pyramid of rusted bikes and broken
down cars, trying to find you.
There were train tracks everywhere,
but none of them led me to you.
When I found you, we made a list
of places we had fucked.
Each stop a lifeline to a lifetime ago.
But still my painted porcelain
eyes were not enough to keep you.
Later, a red phoenix landed in the
tree out back. Every time I cried
it burst into flames.
And still my green unseeing
eyes beheld you.
And still my painted porcelain
eyes wanted your ghost.
If a Love Dies in the Woods, Does it Make a Sound?
In an old world, in the
small patch of woods
behind Peter Pan Park we’d
sometimes meet. You with
your Rottweiler and me,
nostalgic for what it meant
to love you. In this world
your hand is broken, metal
wires stick out. You,
my heart unsurprised by
the grimy thing between us,
dirt filled, almost dead.
In another world, a dream
world, we meet here again
inside a small cabin and the
walls are covered with every
color imaginable of frogs.
The woods outside cast
shadows on our faces, but I’d
know you anywhere. You
laugh when the frogs open
their mouths into giant o’s
before they call.
In this world, someone from
our small coastal town
messages me after reading
my book about the mistake
of loving you. I lived in the
same neighborhood as him
and I would see you by
Peter Pan, she wrote. There
was a day I saw you and him
fight at the skate park. You
were wearing a blue shirt
and white sneakers. I really
wanted to help you, but didn’t
know how, I still feel that way.
And I’m shocked, amazed really,
that we were witnessed.
Loving you was pre-pandemic
isolation. It felt to me, it still
does, that we were the only
humans left in the world.
In another world, I walk
through the fern lined forest,
up to moss covered trees where
we used to carve our names.
Nothing is there anymore. Not
the tree. Not the branch. Only
ghosts where love has been.
In the dream world, a woman
finds me in the woods, crying
where you left me. She cradles
my shoulders and walks me
inside her house. “I once loved
a man like that,” she says, “but
now we are on the other side.”
In a thousand different worlds,
in a house or the woods or a car
or a ditch somewhere, you shoot
needles into freckled skin. We
take what we need from the silt
of the earth. My blood ink, yours tar.
All night in a dream world,
a child I do not have; it isn’t
until halfway through that I
remember I lost the child,
ectopic rupture, this an event
from the real world, and she
never existed at all. In the dream
I am pregnant and when I
remember the child I thought I had
doesn’t exist, that I am, in fact,
losing my mind, I begin to bleed,
losing the new dream child as well.
In this real world, I bury lost loves
in my backyard, under the
catapulting rain of November. I
spread mulch over their hiding
places, plant tulip bulbs, daffodils,
crocuses to mask their scent. I
imagine the moss a blanket for
their wild and delicate memories.
When I wake, the crows are sifting
through the fallen leaves, they yell
into the air, my heart thumps in time
with their calls and the howling wind.
The incessant thrum. It never stops.
She says, “Don’t want to
be that friend, but he low-key
looks kinda hot. She
says, “cause he was,” & shows her
a pic, full grin, cigs in hand.
She says, “Dude was fine
back in his day.” She says, “&
now you know why I’m
still dreaming & writing poems
about the dude. Plus, he used
to fuck me like he
really meant it. Hashtag dead.”
She says, “100
percent understand why you
also NEVER wanted to
stop fucking him.”
She says, “I still don’t want to
stop & haven’t done
it with him in twelve years. That’s
how bad I got it.” She laughs.
Editor’s Note: Shilo is the editor of Scavengers which is a special project – deconstructed narrative, fragmentary bits, visual poetry, collage and hybrids. There’s room for experimentation and for non-linear storytelling. Check it out, Cream Sceners. It’s our vibe, right?
About the Author
Shilo Niziolek’s (she/her) memoir, FEVER, is out from Querencia Press. Her chapbook, A Thousand Winters In Me, is out from Gasher Press. I Am Not An Erosion: Poems Against Decay, a micro chapbook of collage poetry was part of Ghost City Press’s online summer series 2022. Her work has appeared in Pork Belly Press, Buckman Journal, Juked, The Blood Pudding, Entropy, Oregon Humanities, HerStry, among others, and is forthcoming in West Trade Review, Phoebe Journal, Crab Creek Review, Wishbone Words, Sunday Mornings at the River and Pumpernickel House. Shilo holds an MFA from New England College and is Associate Faculty at Clackamas Community College. She is the co-founder and editor of Scavengers.
About the Artist
Jesse Davis Karshner is a California artist and a member of The Cream Scene Team, working in the Art Department.