Charity

I had fifty dollars burning a
hole in my wallet, and
an infinite list of wants.
During a common commute,
after a (relatively) long day,
I passed the panhandler.

My optimism wanted to believe in
that sign; that I could bring some
relief to a man who had served
our country
and paid a price with his
brace-enclosed leg.
It wanted to believe I could
help him and his wife, whose
existence he not only noted on the sign, but
underlined;
expending a little more of that precious
ink to show her importance.

My cynicism assumed this was all a ploy;
no guarantee that the money would help
this man in any other way than to
procure his next fix.
Even if this was just my
fanciful imagination, it told me that if
I helped this man and felt any sense of
self satisfaction, my charity would be
tainted with selfishness.

Maybe it was all a lie.
He wasn’t a veteran;
there was no wife.;
the leg brace was scavenged from
a back-alley dumpster and appropriated
for this part he was playing.
I was just another
middle-class mark
headed toward the
heated guarantee of home.

I had fifty dollars burning a
hole in my wallet, and
an infinite list of wants.
But in the chill of that
Minnesota cold, he looked
like he needed the warmth.

by Erik Shinker

Digital Crusader

Outrage-by-proxy.
Decry unfairness in solidarity.
A pixelated sledgehammer to the
institutions which wrong us.

Share and retweet; echo in your chamber
to reiterate that which we already
believe to be true.
The computer chair demonstrator,
contributing nothing of consequence.

Would you even care whether you
made a difference?
Or are you simply patting yourself on the
back for brushing against the grain?

Careful; too much grit will cut open your
palms and stain your hands the same color of red.
It’s fashionable to question, only to
plug your ears
from the answer.

by Erik Shinker

Phoenix

A relapse in regret;
a creature accustomed to
climbing currents of air
brought low by vice.

Death and rebirth occur;
a cycle caused by our condition.
How can we return alone from
this Endless afterlife where one
never recovers?
Not fully.

Listen for the whistling whispers, for
even ash will rise when blown by
a strong enough wind; soon to
soar once again,
buffeted by lover and
stranger alike.

by Erik Shinker

Disclaimer

Don’t respond to me;
I’m just bored and
lonely and
a couple of minutes away from
disappearing.

Come on too strong, afraid that
to do otherwise will make you lose interest.
Waxing poetic, electronic pen pals are
what most become;
asking to meet has never been
my strong suit.

I can be kind, loyal, and thoughtful;
thoughtless, selfish, and bloated by my
self-importance.

Everyone has their own path to walk;
some get partners, others don’t.
Some covet being alone, while
others daydream of someone else.

Come along then,
if you will.
I promise I’ll be the
one who is hurt.

by Erik Shinker

Winter Air

There is a piercing quality to
it; bringing both
clarity and
threat.

Mislabeled as blankets, pillows, and soft
hills of white, freezing is always
an afterthought; too late once the
digits have gone
black and
blue.

The possibility of frostbite in
the silent-scape of twilit sundry.
Snow rises to
contradict its cliches.
Floating flakes are
pushed along a current, as the
breath of the God(ess) exhales.

Nostalgia covers the truth of
Winter’s harsh Nature as
songs and poems
romanticize what was once
humanity’s greatest nightmare:
the cold and the
lonely dark.

by Erik Shinker

Mother

Strength despite frustration;
the natural enemy of death as
the embodiment of creation.
Venerated for the gift she gives,
we would be nothing without her;
she is sometimes taken for granted,
despite our best intentions.

Soft enough to nurture, she
hides a fury for
the safety of her
cubs, her
chicks, her
creation.

She is sacrifice;
from the nigh unbearable pain of
birth through the attrition of
daily struggle.
And though it may seem
piecemeal in comparison, she
renews her promise with each
Daughter’s rising and setting Son.

We owe everything to her,
for better or worse;
though for the best, more
often than not.
Some have said that God is Love;
they forget their Mother.

by Erik Shinker

Le Noire

Starting with a misstep after
skipping over my own tongue.
Taken in stride by your
quick wit held aloft by
a charmed laugh.

Smitten by an
unexpected connection;
altered plans,
perhaps serendipitous,
led our paths to cross.
But, as ever, I am unsure;
past friendliness so often
mistaken for interest.

I play back our time
together; reminiscing already
in the wish of repeating.

I hope we meet again,
if only for another chance to
make a fool of myself
for you.

by Erik Shinker