The Warrior & The Valkyrie

Who was she that left so deep a mark
upon a warrior covered in scars?
Gather closer to the fire and
allow this
humble skald to
recount the tale.

There was once a warrior
deeply in love
with a woman of
self-professed,
unconventional beauty.
Her eyes were the captured,
cerulean waters
of the fjord.
Her laugh was
the life-breathing wind.
Her silken hair,
the ruddy brown of
freshly peeled
tree bark.

But be assured, such joy
does not last,
and a pest crept into the lovers’ hut
one night.
It passed over the warrior,
knowing that
a far worse fate
awaited him.
The next morning, her
life
was drained as that
malevolent cancer
struck
without warning.
An enemy that even
the mightiest warrior
can not defeat.

Shattered by
grief,
the warrior gave her a burial befitting
her splendor, and
threw himself
into battle with wild abandon.

He could find no consolation
from his comrades,
and on one of the
many
battlefields, he was felled by
another’s spear.
Looking down, he saw
his lifeblood
cascading
from the wound in
his chest.

All thought of pain
left him as
his gaze lifted
with relief and saw
Her;
His love
transformed with
cascading braids of gold
in the visage of
a Valkyrie.
He knew then that
he had been chosen for Valhalla,
where he would
gladly
be a thrall
in her service.

But the Norns had a cruel joke planned,
and rather than
cutting his life’s thread, they
severed
his connection to
the Valkyrie. Just
as she was about to speak
words of comfort,
his soul
plummeted
back to Midgard
into the ruined tissue of
his flesh.

And what did she leave?
Regret and the
backward translation of
lost language
never to be understood.

Finding himself no longer in bliss,
he shrieked a
black song
toward the heavens:
“I will drink of
Kvasir’s blood and
speak
my love back into being.
I will make
a mountain
of skulls to climb
and find you again.
I will carve
my name into
the histories of men;
challenge the
bravest, the strongest, and the hardiest
Until I find one who is
worthy enough to
return me to my beloved.
This, I swear.”

The warrior trekked across
craggy peaks and
dark ravines to find
the Mead of Suttungr;
but mere words were
not enough to conjure.
As an age passed and
drifts of snow began to patch his beard,
the warrior carried on;
hoping to
meet his match.

He continues
his search; a man
aged beyond his years.
But, if asked, this
lone warrior would tell
you not to weep for him;
he has
purpose and the
terminal knowledge of
his quest’s end.
And while his memory
remains true, he never
travels
alone.

by Erik Shinker

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Why Does Everyone Look So Happy?

The following essay is what was published in the 2018 editions of Minnesota’s Emerging Writers: A Nonfiction Anthology and America’s Emerging Writers: A Nonfiction Anthology. I felt that it would now be appropriate to share the piece since I am posting personal blogs . I hope you enjoy it and pick up a copy of either anthology to own not only my essay, but those of my fellow emerging writers in Minnesota and around the United States.

Why does everyone look so happy? This is a question that I ask myself often and it finally has bugged me enough to try and answer. Why does everyone look so happy? I am primarily talking about social media, and I believe the obvious answer is that we are able to edit our lives down into 280 characters or 6-second videos that are bite sized attempts at escape from the dreary and weary troubles which wear us down on a daily basis.

The inherent properties of social media mean we don’t need to have original thoughts because we can share and repost content created by someone else. I don’t mean to say this as something strictly negative, especially because I have done so as well. I think it speaks to the human condition of sharing our lives; the comfort in knowing that yes, things are bad for me right now, but they are probably bad for someone else too. This solidarity through suffering seems to be one of the main facets of why we regurgitate and share the things we see on the Internet and various other forms of media.

But why does everyone look so happy? Are we smiling only when the camera is pointed at us? Do we create situations or go to events simply for the photo opportunity? If I go out to dinner with friends or family, why do I feel like I have to take pictures and post about it as soon as possible? Who am I trying to impress? It clearly isn’t those I am with in person since I took the time to post about the moment rather than thriving in it.

Why does everyone look so damn happy? Are we kidding ourselves? Does the “fake it ‘til you make it” mentality permeate the underlying motivation in our daily activities? Much like photography and film, which are two prevalent types of media on the Internet, what we decide to post and share goes through a process of elimination and editing. I can choose to write a status that would be read how it would be heard if I had said it aloud, but I would be doing that on purpose.

For example, um, if I decided to put vocalized pause and, uh, ellipses… my apprehension becomes apparent because I have crafted the sentence in such a way as to convince you of how difficult it is to say what I want.

I have calculated and chosen what to show you in my sentence and, through this, you don’t get an honest picture of what I am feeling. I can write to tone and inflection, I can change my vocabulary to increase the verisimilitude and wax poetic in order to belittle and condescend if I so wish. I can choose whether or not to tell you that I checked the definition of verisimilitude to ensure that I was using it correctly.

The Internet gifts us with precious seconds or minutes in order to bolster our defenses in an argument, or to google a snippet of poetry or song lyrics to better caption an Instagram post. We have control over what we show others and often that control is relinquished due to the fact that many people don’t often think before they post. Perhaps this is something that I have come across more since starting my own blog; I must be cognizant of my intentions as a writer and the way in which I use my voice, because it is surely not something that was in the forefront of my mind in the last nine or so years that I have had a Facebook account.

So the question is no longer, why does everyone look so happy; the question is, if everyone is able to look so happy, why can’t I? I have watched a few TED talks that cover happiness and self-fulfillment, and from what I have gathered, happiness is something that we must each qualify for ourselves. Now, I realize this might sound a bit like common sense, but I’m not sure that it is routinely thought of as such. When we think about what would make us happy, we generally dream of a better car, a bigger house, the love of someone else, the life of someone else. If only I could make more money, if only I could talk to that guy or girl, if only I could be discovered by a talent agent. We leave so much of this up to circumstance; we blame not ourselves, but the world around us for our lack of contentment in our search for happiness.

I include myself in this and it has taken more than a few harsh, but honest, words from friends and family to make me realize this truth. I am lucky to have such wonderful and strange bedfellows in my life, and their contentment with themselves comes at a different cost than mine. In my family, we talk about picking our battles, and though some may compare it to an ostrich sticking their head in the sand when frightened, I believe that focusing on what is right in front of me rather than all of the injustice in the world will help retain my sanity.

What can I change about my life to make it better for myself and those wrapped up in it? Maybe this means I don’t have intimate knowledge about certain social issues, and though solidarity and empathy are important to me, I also know that I cannot take on the weight of everyone else’s suffering. Perhaps that is the secret known to everyone smiling in those photographs; they are concerned simply with the moment and those around them. We can only change what is in our power to control, and it is through exercising this agency that we can fake the smiles, focus on those around us, and perhaps one day feel the pull of our cheek muscles in genuine glee.

The Inkheart’s Prayer

I am enamored with the aspects
you choose to share. Such beauty transcends your
physical glory and
what you believe to be the
flaws of your mind.

Who am I to place the ideal of
my fascination
upon you?
Why should you carry this burden?

I see what you want the world to know, but seek
that which you would hide.
I know myself;
if I could only beg the same from this
Aphrodite who
mirrors your steps.

Haunts my dreams.

Your struggles,
your triumphs, your plans
and regrets
would be a nourishing nectar.

Would that I could do the same
for you. Be the same
for you. Prostrate myself

For You.

I am at a loss, yet cannot cease blabbering in the radiance
of your complexity; the glory
of your authenticity.

Be a balm for the lonely hearts; always.

Know that you brought this man to
slit his wrists and pour forth a

Prayer
in Ink.

by Erik Shinker

An Impromptu Blog: Over 1,600 followers on WordPress.com!

You all continue to amaze me! Perpetually Past Due has over 1,600 dedicated followers on WordPress.com! I have been so lucky to have you all reading my content, discussing, sharing your own, and sticking with me as this blog has transformed into something more than I could have ever imagined. As usual, here is a picture of one of my cats being adorable!

Kitty
This is how Hunter celebrates. He’s 16 lbs and 16-years-old; cut him some slack!

Thank you again to my 1,603 followers on WordPress.com, the 153 on the blog’s Facebook page, the 1,223 on Twitter, and everyone who reads the posts on my LinkedIn profile. Here’s to the next 1,600!

Previously: An Impromptu Blog: Over 800 followers on WordPress.com!

An Impromptu Blog Post: My Favorite Poem

As a brief beginning to letting you all know me better, I thought I would make a short post to introduce you to my favorite poem. It is called You are Tired (I Think) by E. E. Cummings. This poem is a comfort to me in times of exhaustion and uncertainty, and I have periodically spent time memorizing it every couple of years; I hope it can give you some solace as well.

You are tired,
(I think)
Of the always puzzle of living and doing;
And so am I.

Come with me, then,
And we’ll leave it far and far away—
(Only you and I, understand!)

You have played,
(I think)
And broke the toys you were fondest of,
And are a little tired now;
Tired of things that break, and—
Just tired.
So am I.

But I come with a dream in my eyes tonight,
And knock with a rose at the hopeless gate of your heart—
Open to me!
For I will show you the places Nobody knows,
And, if you like,
The perfect places of Sleep.

Ah, come with me!
I’ll blow you that wonderful bubble, the moon,
That floats forever and a day;
I’ll sing you the jacinth song
Of the probable stars;
I will attempt the unstartled steppes of dream,
Until I find the Only Flower,
Which shall keep (I think) your little heart
While the moon comes out of the sea.

What the Hell Did I Just Read – Review

What the Hell Did I Just Read By David Wong (pen name of Jason Pargin)

Published in 2017

Pages: 371

Genre: Horror, humor

“It rained like we were a splatter of bird shit God was trying to hose off his deck.”

If you think that the above sentence uses profanity unnecessarily, then this isn’t the book for you. What the Hell Did I Just Read is the newest book by author Justin Pargin, written under the pen name David Wong, who is the protagonist of the novel. Covering everything from seemingly immortal government agents, a drug called Soy Sauce, and the mystery of why John ordered so many silicone butts while under the influence of Soy Sauce are just a few of the plot points that will have the reader chuckling and blowing air out their nose with nearly every page. You want to hear a story? Well buckle the eff up! Continue reading “What the Hell Did I Just Read – Review”

Steppenwolf – Review

Der Steppenwolf (Steppenwolf) by Hermann Hesse

Published in 1927; first published in English in 1929

Basil Creighton Translation

Pages: 218

Genre: Fiction

“This book contains the records left us by a man whom, according to the expression he often used himself, we called the Steppenwolf.”

Metaphysical and internal speculation abound in a tale of struggle between man and metaphorical wolf. Written by German author Hermann Hesse, Steppenwolf is a tour-de-force of poetic prose, hallucinatory description, and internal conflict that speaks to any who feels at odds with the world and society in which they live. Following a mysterious man who refers to himself as the Steppenwolf, the story twists and turns into the fantastic, forcing the reader to wonder what is real and what is in the man’s mind. Continue reading “Steppenwolf – Review”