The Right One

No longer present despite the
press of pliable flesh.
A multiverse of outcomes
expands before my mind.
Primed for impact,
a cotton-cloth barrier is all
that stands between
pulsing passion and penetration.

With legs entwined in
tangled sheets of coastal blue,
she is a mermaid underwater;
the ebb and flow, her desire.
Her hair is an auburn fan resting
upon the pillowcase.
Lying bare to the world, she smiles;
apprehension applied as eyeliner.

“What are you thinking?”
she asks as I back away;
retreating into the safety of myself.
I match her smile, and
refrain from the true answer:
“You’re not the right one.”

by Erik Shinker

As Long As You Do

I began as
the fluttering in your stomach,
conjured by intimate touch, but
soon the sentiment attached at the sight
began to curdle.
I became as
a festering boil on the skin of your existence;
a regretted reminder of
wasted affections.
It doesn’t matter what
you think of me;
as long as you do.

by Erik Shinker

Glimpses

Heartfelt palpitations at the
thought of your smile.
Each morning wakes in
anticipation of seeing you
for the first time.

Creating excuses to come into contact;
these glimpses, though brief,
engulf me in expectation of when I
might build the courage to ask.

Because, as was once
sung in a Savage Garden:
oh, I want you,
I don’t know if I need you, but
oh I’d die to find out.

by Erik Shinker

Torn

An expectation, placed by
society, community, culture.
When did partnership become a
prerequisite for happiness?

Loneliness is a leaden blanket, smothering
any thought of additional companionship.
Having been a self-professed romantic for
such a long time, have I finally come to see
the truth?

Physical urges are what they are and,
in the wake their expulsion,
when the sweat has dried and the
words we repeated in rapture
dissolve into air, our lust is only
replaced by regret and
guilt.

Is this all I would reap? Momentary
ecstasy and what remains for the duration.
Am I simply impatient,
immature, and
arrested in my development?

by Erik Shinker

Up to This Point

I can recall the first time I saw you
leaving, the first
glimpse of your auburn mane; I
hoped you would be here, just for
the chance to speak with you.

Then you began to come through that
door routinely, sending silent smiles and
greetings of a genial, if surface, nature.

As time passed, I pined and poemed after you;
an ideal image with no validity.
My gut would clench, palms perspire,
tongue swell at the thought of your attention;
I craved for even the briefest exchange.

I finally inquired,
offering myself to you in an awkward way;
a coward unable to commit.
I left the choice in your hands;
how could I hold
your decision against you?

I recall these things, and with time
they lose their luster;
but now I have your attention
and, up to this point, I
had thought it a blessing.
Now, I’m not so sure.

by Erik Shinker

Open Eyes

We stand together with open eyes;
but that isn’t enough.
We need to continue this difficult conversation.
We are all bound by our
common humanity.

We no longer get to turn a blind eye.
African Americans in our country wake up to this
every day
and they don’t get the
luxury of looking away;
neither do we.

by Erik Shinker

If you would like to donate to help the recovery of Lake Street businesses who were victims of the rioting, please visit welovelakestreet.com

For more ways to support Racial Justice, this article has a large list that is a great resource.

Double Standard

My words are just pointless noise,
meaningless when not directed
at the horrors that surround.

A blue, double standard
flies high in the face of
equality, empathy, and justice.
Protections make the prosecution of
the police more difficult;
they have acknowledged this, but
done nothing.

How can we not hold the enforcers of
our laws doubly accountable for breaking them?
Why is the burden of justification when force is applied
so much lower?
This is systemic, so how can we
trust the system when it is
built to protect the police and not
its citizens?

by Erik Shinker

If you would like to donate to help the recovery of Lake Street businesses who were victims of the rioting, please visit welovelakestreet.com

For more ways to support Racial Justice, this article has a large list that is a great resource.

Privilege

I have the option, to
bury my head, to
change the channel, to
avoid the distressing situation.
I can walk away and do nothing simply because of
my location, my socioeconomic status, my
skin color.

Yet another African American man
has died at the hands of the Police;
to deny this pattern is to be intentionally
blind and ignorant in the worst way.
People are angry, we are upset,
and rightfully so.

But there are those taking things too far;
destroying a community already beset by
grief and strife at the callous death of
George Floyd.
Empathy seems to have deserted us;
she has taken flight and withdrawn from our
undeserving presence.

I could choose to look at the
beauty in the world around me and
deny the evil in the system, but
that is a privilege I never asked for,
nor one I should abuse.

I have a platform,
a voice, and I am disturbed;
by the indifference I see, the
useless finger pointing and politicizing.
People’s lives are being destroyed, and
any one who thinks differently needs to take
a long, hard look at their perspective.

This isn’t happening in some far away place;
this is in my state, my country.
The world is watching us;
how will we show them that we can be better?
That we will be better? That when
change needs to be made, we
will roll up our sleeves and get to work.
This is a time of great unrest and difficulty,
and we need to build one another up, not
tear ourselves apart.

For those who are privileged like me, I beg you;
don’t turn away from what is happening.
Call to action; support the right to assemble and speak to truth;
demonstrate peacefully if you are moved.
We are in this together, and
we demand justice.

by Erik Shinker

If you would like to donate to help the recovery of Lake Street businesses who were victims of the rioting, please visit welovelakestreet.com

For more ways to support Racial Justice, this article has a large list that is a great resource.

My Shadow Sleeps Forever

Fur remains to mark
the common, cozy places of his rest.
Nuzzling, my constant companion of over
16 years seeks solace in my touch.
His nose nudges my hands as though
propelled by the vibration of his purring.
Matted, greasy fur from a lack of
self care covers him. He headbutts me in earnest,
as aggressive for affection as ever.

I have known him through all his years,
though 10 passed me by the time he arrived.
Precocious, inquisitive, and all the other
adjectives we bestow upon the young.
Following my footsteps, his padding paws
were ever-present.
He was vocal from the beginning:
baby “mews” that squeaked from little lungs;
hearty “arrs” and “ows” in adulthood;
and final, ornery, pitiful yowls for release.

Arthritis arrested his joints;
he wasted away as his appetite
disappeared and we discovered
bony hips once covered by powerful haunches.
His claws no longer retracted,
now creating a “ticktickticktick” when he prowled the
hardwood of our first floor.
Houses with too many stairs became his enemy;
he trudged from food to litter box until
he could no longer make the trip in time.

Some days sleep was his only escape,
though if he woke and saw my face,
purrs soon permeated the air. I could never be sure
whether his whiskers and twitching paws,
unsettled by snores,
signified dreams or nightmares.

But my shadow sleeps
forever; gone
from the pain of this world.
He leaves behind comforting memories;
an example of unconditional love and affection.
He lives on in dreams; warming himself in the sun,
surrounded by the smell of fresh-sliced ham,
cold water dripping from his whiskers, and
the chirping of birds to be
stalked in the tall grass.

by Erik Shinker