Born in another land;
weened and raised in the North.
Conditioned to the cold and
pragmatic temperament of
those who surround.

I am a man between homes;
born in the prairie, but cast
into the woods.
Adapting; never settled.
Skin turned to bleached birch bark;
brittle, but still tougher than the
windswept wisps of the grasslands.

There are no roots
digging downward to
establish something like

Yes, one day that
may come to pass, but
for now,
I remain transient;
between my origins and
my ending,
praying that
this transplant takes.

by Erik Shinker

Music Monday: “Lion’s Mane” by Iron & Wine


Music Monday is a meme, created by Drew at The Tattooed Book Geek, where I focus on a song I absolutely love and feel needs to be shared.

Song: “Lion’s Mane”
Artist: Iron & Wine
Album: The Creek Drank The Cradle (2002)

Continue reading “Music Monday: “Lion’s Mane” by Iron & Wine”

Picking at Scabs

A fingernail pushes,
wedging beneath a
crunching border with the
inevitability of an

Each millimeter a
pinpoint of agony
made with conscious effort;
at last deciding to do something
about this sickening scab.

As this hardened, clotted shell is
unearthed, apprehension and
second-thoughts spike.
“I thought this was healed;
maybe I should have left
well enough alone.”

But it is too late for
that whimper;
what has begun
must be finished since
momentum has a way of
pushing us past the
point of no return.

So we rip and tear methodically,
before the decision to push through
overpowers and before we know it,
we hold in our fingertips a
grayed fragment of ourselves.

Sure, it might bleed a little, but
it’s reassuring to see the
renewal of fresh,
pink flesh;
maybe that reminder is all
we have to know we’re
still alive.

by Erik Shinker


Who are we,

Each day, when we put on our
masks, we decide who we will show
to the world as “us.”
The colleague;
the coworker.
The son;
the Father.
The Mother;
the daughter.

The Golden Child,
living without effort.
by their siblings and cousins,
loathing their self more than
any other could.

The Broken One,
always making mistakes despite
trying their best.
Brushed off
as a
wasted opportunity;
what a pity.

Circumstances can be
tamped down by confidence;
faking until making
a defense against what they
couldn’t control.
Assumptions based on
clothes, appearance,
accent, and vocabulary.
Though we may strive to
empathize, it doesn’t always come

who are we,
Depends who’s asking.

by Erik Shinker


My dreams are puzzles;
a woeful masochist, watch as
I search endlessly for that final
piece to make the picture whole.

To force this mixture to make some
semblance of sense, I could
impart importance in the nuance;
metaphor and poetic device,
symbols to satiate my
muddled-up mind.

But, sometimes, a
cigar is just a

by Erik Shinker


I am throwing out a
lifeline, though
there is no guarantee.

A whisper against the dark, seeking
something more than myself.
This hope, though grave, and
sought in the wrong way, is
all I have left.

A grasping, gasping exhale;
one last shout before I sink beneath.
Unsure of that which I seek,
but certain of what it’s not,
I stumble through life on
severed limbs,
cauterized nubs.

I am maimed, by
my own hand; by
The deepest of wounds left to
fester and rot beneath
scaled scar tissue.

But in my deformity, I cast
this line once more;
my only faith
in us.

by Erik Shinker