“Do Not Love a Poet” by Emilie Rommel Shimkus

They will expose you.

They will expose the things you did not know you seemed and said.

Worse, they will expose these things you knew you seemed and said

but did not consider significant.

They will consider you endlessly

and from every angle.


Do not love a poet.

They are stranger than even you who love them know,

and they will make of you a metaphor:

breaking glass, a campfire, daffodils, a hat, the color blue.

Worse even than a painter, a poet will transform you from the inside out.

They will take your love and turn the prism

under every source of light.

Your hangnail, your morning cheek,

your clicking needles, the crossword,

the soft places,






Do not love a poet.

They will get distracted and make lists.

They will return your love amplified,

magicked into the oddest array of artifacts, charms.

They will number you with flowers and dead musicians,

household ephemera,

somehow gaining in significance all the while,

as one amongst the edit.

They will love you in rhythm and in archaic form.

They will love you experimentally.

They will love you in a single draft

they will keep revising for decades.

They will love you alone at all hours, under desk lamps,

in the shower, and in kayaks, and when they should be doing everything else.

They will love you in public places.

Out loud.

Into microphones.

Given any invitation, they will tip it all into waiting ears—

other strange lovers who tilt their heads, receive the echoes,

and the whole group will—nodding—set to work.

Your love as symphony and storm cloud,

your love as science, religion, a child’s game,

a gamble, a leap, a thud.

They will not decry fabrication,

They will not detract for more or less truth,

but they will distill each gesture and examine the edges.

They will find the purest center,

roll in their fingers the grit and the pearl.


Do not love a poet.

They will not tell your secrets—

they do not believe these breadcrumbs are secrets.

They will use your love to tell their own.

Emilie Rommel Shimkus is a Tacoma-based writer and actor. Her short poetry film, TELL YOUR CHILDREN was a recipient of the Tacoma Artists Initiative Program grant and is currently screening in festivals. She is a member of both Creative Colloquy and the Northwest Renaissance Poets. Follow her acting and writing online at emilierommelshimkus.com.