Truly

Who are we,
truly?

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.
Hated
by their siblings and cousins,
but
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
naturally.

So,
who are we,
truly?
Depends who’s asking.

by Erik Shinker

Jigsaw

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
cigar.

by Erik Shinker

Lifeline

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
hers.
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

Horror Story

I’ll tell you a story,
about a man and a woman,
whose souls never met despite
their complete surrender to each other.

They spoke every day,
slept entangled in one another;
their bodies pantomiming
what they were told by
their parents,
their culture,
and their society was
the ultimate goal.

Intimacy, forced through expectation.
He bragged to his friends about his
erotic escapades;
she doted over her lover’s ligaments
to lady and lummox alike.

They routinely posted online and
kept to a schedule; spreading their
manicured manure in search
of influence.
Tagging pictures of filtered flirtation,
they checked into hot-spots and date nights;
alert to become
the envy of all their
connections and
followers and
“friends”.

But they knew it was hollow.
They lived in fear of losing the game,
the race to the finish line of perfection.
They continued to feed on the
ugliest of emotions;
vampires leeching from
any unlucky enough to
come into contact.

These magnificent monsters
parade and display their
selfishness in a way  to
justify.
Don’t mislabel something
horrible as love.
Fear these creatures;
there is nothing
human
about them.

by Erik Shinker

A Panic

Sucking tar grips and
sticks, arresting any
forward motion.

Gnarled, creeping fingers
frisk along limbs and compress
with a strength contradicting their
brittle appearance.

The weight of the world bubbling
over; suffocating with an
inhuman cackle.
Exertions all for naught,
attempts at escape denied at
each try;

until one calming
thought reminds:

just breathe.

by Erik Shinker

Qualifications

I am not interested in
your medals, accomplishments, or
what you have already done;
your losses,
failures, and
other negative
synonyms mean
nothing.

I do not care about
where you have
come from, what you
overcame, or
the forces once
arrayed against you.

Your certificates,
degrees, ribbons and
accolades tell me
nothing about what
you will do; only what
has already been done.

Experiences, professional and
personal, internships and
scholarships to put you
a little further ahead.

Based in skill,
biased in the search;
what makes you stand
apart?

by Erik Shinker

Waiting

As I lie and listen to
a song that once had
such specific meaning,
I regress.

The decisions I have made,
and those made for me.
The twisting, churning waves of
my life.

The roll of the die, clichés
coming to mind, and
possibilities pushed away by
inaction as much as
any action taken.

Infatuations that
fell short of
love.
Relationships crushed,
rationalized away.
So I continue waiting for
my “perfect partner”
to come along.
But is someone waiting
for me?

by Erik Shinker