“Aposematic Mimicry (or Love Poem #1)” by Kristen Scarlett

“Warning Signs (Love Poem #1)” by Pat Zalisko, 44×58, Acrylic on canvas.

Aposematism describes a family of adaptations in which a warning signal (e.g. coloration) is associated with unprofitability to predators: poison, venom, etc.

You reverberate barometric tension—
pressure changes, rhythmic humming, sharp breaths and static.
But I know your body, its California kingsnake skin.
And its wild, plate-sized-pupil eyes when you’re caught off guard,
like the immediacy of kicked-up dust—

Don’t think I can’t see the dozens of little mirrors in your eyes,
facing each other, feigning there’s more light in you than there is, but

We are not made for a world this bright, have to squint to see it the right way.
I relate to your shadows—I know that basement smell, too,
and your eyes pried open by shards of mirror. Your eyes, rolled back,
and your grin when you know you’ve done well—

Orbit at my edges, memorize these sharp places, and
when you’ve nearly torn me apart, I’ll push back.
You’ll have to be way up here to stick around. If you climbed up, and I saw
your shaking light in the dark star next to mine, you’d be almost torn, too, so

devastate me. Bring me to tears, and make me hide them.
Hold me down, punch me in the stomach, choke me until I see bright flashes,
glimmers, and I’ll wonder if light is love after all.



Kristen Scarlett is a writer from Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Cape Fear Living Magazine, and East End Elements, and she received second place in the SCCC Creative Writing Award for College Writers in 2015. Her hobbies include fancy teas, existential crises, and musing with her cat, King Charles.


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