Remains

Sometimes I want to
tear my larynx in a primal scream,
“Fuck you and your happiness”.
But I know I would reach to catch
the words in my palms and,
in a gesture of prayer, dissolve them to dust
before they reach your ears.
All of the things I cannot change,
trickle through my fingers as
I clench the fist of my discontent.

I am torn between
empathy and cynicism.
I try to be better, but
appreciation is a practice,
one I have to make more time for.
And I can’t even be mad at you, because I know it
is just me who feels these things.

A footnote in your story,
cited and neatly placed in the
bibliography for reference, but
not important enough to be part of your tale;
an option to be skimmed over.

So, I guess, congratulations.
You get to write about being happy
while I remain.

by Erik Shinker

Fear

A storm cloud lumbers over those
self-isolated.
Thunderheads gather in ominous clumps;
the lack of information, or
too much at once,
can cripple all the same.

Selfishness exacerbates;
hoarding in misled preservation,
shortages that people tried to avoid are
instead caused by their own actions.
Medical and health professionals, fighting on the front lines,
are left vulnerable by the very
patients they protect.

But one day this storm will break, and
we will reflect,
hoping we learned something to
improve our response when
this happens again.
If we don’t, that is something
far more worthy of fear
than any virus.

by Erik Shinker

 

For more information on how to help stop the spread, please visit the links below:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
World Health Organization

The Cusp of Something Better

Constantly
we look for a way out,
a reason to leave,
the possibility of something,
we perceive to be,
better.

Overlooking our own
eccentricities, wishing for a
perfect match, we are
taken in by stories of romance;
trying to fill our
God-shaped hole with
books, and
stories, and
money, and
sex, and
any other possible vice.

Souls mated, through
providence or effort alone;
Until along comes someone,
we perceive to be,
better.

by Erik Shinker

Popular Music

As hands grasp hips in swaying sensation,
singers spew supposed sincerity in what is
mistake for intellectual integrity.

Neo-new wave heartthrobs
popping tunes from gummy bubbles.
Over-sized sweaters droop at the shoulder atop
skinny jeans, crowned by asymmetrical hairstyles;
we’ve seen this all before when
video killed the radio star.

But, hey, the girls love ’em, and
they’re dancing all the way to the bank;
our voices raised and coaxing them forward because
we can’t stop singing along.
If this is their expression of truth,
and it happens to sell well,
where is the harm?

Art as performance,
branded to influence online,
curated by quasi-intellectuals seeking
the truth behind a major label.
An aesthetic determined
in tandem with the fandom.
Recycling to synthesize in
meta self-referential drivel.
Put down the thesaurus, fellas.

I rose, once, in defense of my genres, and
lowered my gaze down upon those who
relished and revered radio stars.
But I’d rather change the station or
put on one of my playlists.
Their music may very well have
saved someone’s life
as the art of others saved mine.
Live and let listen to pop music.

by Erik Shinker

Meaning

Capable of carrying weight and power, but
only when allowed by the
speaker, the
receiver.

A thump to the chest, the
sinking feeling as
the world rises to crush with
gripping tentacles that drag down to drown.
The decision of whether words drip like venom, or
become a soothing salve for
cracking hearts is
yours, and yours alone.

Words are not inherently infallible,
just sounds and symbols in which we place
meaning.
But don’t over-analyze;
they’re all made up anyway.

by Erik Shinker

Futility

Gnawing maggots crunch and bite through
sinew and socket; their advance gained by
terminal termites whose mandibles made
short work of a mahogany coffin.
Tearing amid stagnant flesh and rot, their survival is
assured through our consumption;
we die so that they may live.

Is this the sacrifice preached from
countless pulpits? Is it a
maggot messiah who will rise on
the third day?
This is my flesh, my blood;
eat, drink and be filled.

Or are we losing our resolve at the
futility of trying to make sense of it all before
we, too, turn into
fuel for the feeding end?

by Erik Shinker

As If

I dream of sticky lips
in poised and yearning embrace.
Tongues teased to taste
a single drop of splendor.

Palms gliding in soft,
urgent pressure.
Hard and soft, diametrically opposed yet
natural in their coupling.

The words themselves causing excitement
from nipple to navel, through
thigh and ascended, blushing cheeks.

An ideal of intimacy with
partnership past the simplicity of
laying lovers.

As if such things could
be made manifest simply by my
wishing.

by Erik Shinker