Poetry, chapbook, 20 pages, from Bottlecap Features.
Dirt Eaters is an exploration of grief centered around the dying and death of a beloved pet. Niziolek walks blithely through pre-grief, that nostalgic ache of what is to come and what will be lost, straight into present-moment grief, dangling precariously over that arduous cliff, and falls right down into the after, where dogs are dead, hearts decimated, and she curls her body tightly around the hollow space where love was.
Through uncanny and keen awareness of the life cycles around her: squished spiders, crows playing in birdbaths, the “clean violet air, sharp-toothed after monsooning”, endless games of Farkle and the risk of love, the minutiae of dog days, a bag of ladybugs released in a garden, the seismic gap a body leaves, to discarded crawdad shells, dead visitations that happen in sleep, past tomatoes ripening; Niziolek asks us to consider the animalistic nature of loss and grief. In Dirt Eaters we discover that what is holy and sacred may not be in the heavens, but here in a pile of grass where a dog took its last breath, or even deeper still, down in the dirt, where we all must come.
Shilo Niziolek has written Fever (2022), A Thousand Winters In Me (2022), I Am Not An Erosion: Poems Against Decay (2022), and Atrophy (forthcoming Sept 2023 Querencia Press). Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Juked, Honey Literary, West Trade Review, Entropy, Pork Belly Press, and Phoebe Journal among others. Shilo is a writing instructor at Clackamas Community College and is the editor and co-founder of the literary magazine, Scavengers. She is a queer disabled writer who lives in the Pacific Northwest with her partner and their pit bull. Find her on Instagram and twitter @shiloniziolek