Dismissal

What’s past has passed, though
the knowing brings no comfort.
An overlapped coupling; heaven forbid
you should be alone.

When was the seed planted that grew this
carnivorous creature? What was the cause
of this candy-coated killing?

Dismissed with explanations told transparent;
“You’re such a great guy, but…”
“I’m just not ready for a relationship…”
“I still need time to figure out…”

I can respect that; however, it becomes
disingenuous after so many repetitions.
The law of averages says
something is wrong
with me despite
their insistence otherwise.

Ginger hair, bearded, and pale;
it seems you have a type.
You weren’t the first;
apparently, so do I.

by Erik Shinker

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Frustration

An unspoken barrier.
A pantomime in possibility
as I mentally rehearse
what it would be like to
take such a small step.

“Hello”
“Is this seat taken?”
“I’m such and such”
“It’s so nice to meet you.”

Introversion isn’t cute
when it becomes debilitating.
Am I afraid she’ll say no? Absolutely.
Am I afraid she’ll say yes? Even more so.

I understand the implication;
the effort and expense.
So, yet again,
apprehension gets the
best of me, and those
soft, quiet smiles are all
I have to look forward to.

by Erik Shinker

Growth

I am trying
to focus more on what
I do have in my life
than what
I think I’m
missing;

to identify the challenges I
can overcome
by myself, those that
require the help
of others, and
being able to
discern between the two;

to really
hear the beauty in the music
I love, see the splendor in art
that speaks to me, and
spend my time
more meaningfully
away from
screens and social media.

I am trying
to move past this
unrealistic ideal of a partner
I have created
in my mind;

to know that I am enough, and
that my path isn’t necessarily
one that converges with,
or even runs parallel to,
yours.

I am trying
to take pleasure in the
lessons I have learned and
be willing
to leave the
past where it is;

to be more accepting
of those who are not like me,
and those who
disagree with me on
a fundamental level;

to gain patience, to temper
my aggression, and
to respect those
around me.

I know that this is something that
will never be
complete until my
life ends.
But, still,

I am trying.

by Erik Shinker

Manifesting Destiny

We want to
believe so badly
that there are
guiding hands in the world.

Even if they are
malevolent, at least
it isn’t random,
chaotic chance
dictating our day-to-day.

Looming, silhouetted shoulders
dwelling in the shadows,
coercing the cogwheels of
the universe to
Their ends.

Terrors that
slink beneath the
surface which become the
monsters we choose,
rather than face
the immutability of
the truth.

There is no sense to life
but what we force upon it,
projecting our intention on the
patterns we perceive,
regardless of the truth.

by Erik Shinker

Red Hands

Drenched in the
evidence of our crime,
we became defiled.
Your palms no more dark
than mine.

Crusting scabs ran along in a
watered-down attempt to
clean what was wrought. I
remember
that of which I am guilty.
I cannot help but
wonder if you even
remember me.

But I have learned not to
trust any beautiful thing.
Would you warn your own child
against people like you?

by Erik Shinker

Fear Isn’t the Heart of Love

Life moves in cycles, much
like the seasons.
It’s not a new idea, but
that doesn’t make it
any less true.

So many false starts, tripping
before any traction
can be gained. Gripping
to one another against that
freezing abyss of loneliness.

We wrestle with
this imposed ideal, convinced
that since we have not seen the
societal signposts assigned to
each achievement, we are
somehow
doing worse.

Attacking the day,
setting goals,
hitting targets,
living our best lives;
badges pinned to a cloth-coated chest,
festering, decayed flesh falling
apart with the ticking of time.

Focus on the moment, or
fear of missing out will
send shock-waves through synapses
as we struggle to forget our own ends.

Online influencers would have us
preach endless optimism, or
shut our mouths and not ask the
scary questions.
Be affected by me, read
my story, be inspired
or else.

I may just be another
twenty-something trying to
make sense of it all; raging
against those deemed more
successful within the system.

But I’m doing what’s right
for me, which
may not run in line
with you. And,
frankly,
I’m proud of that
because the fear of
not becoming you, is
no fear at all.

by Erik Shinker

S.S.D.D.

Finding fulfillment shouldn’t be
this difficult.
Perhaps looking for it
within would be
time better spent

Exhausted from trying, I
rebel at the prospect of
continuing; and yet
still I strive.

Am I just stuck
in a rut?
Arrested in my development and
seeking only other than
what I truly need.

Expression is nice, but the
sentiment soon seems
forced and insincere.
No truth comes from
these so-called revelations;
only confusion.

I am I, but that is not enough.
Purpose eludes with as
much vehemence as sleep.
My eyelids grow heavy as
the betrayal of my body manifests.
Though I may sleep, I will not rest.

And so goes another day.

by Erik Shinker