In (and out) of the loop

local coffee place
sipping my solitary cup
checking email

next table over
a group of men older
than I, age gap not of
grandfather-grandson
severity

the six zealously swap
tales of doctor visits with
enthusiasm once reserved
for one-night stands
summer romances

familiar names swirl
through their regaling
conversation;
Alzheimer’s, Chron’s,
Cirrhosis taking the places
of honor once held by
Mantle, Mays, Snyder

reeling off statistics like
they were twelve again
arguing conflicting treatments
with firm convictions that
their guy is absolutely
the better player

the conversation is
not foreign to me
only the proximity

mornings often find me in
front of my laptop
messaging with friends from
various stages of my life
scattered at far-flung locales
sharing their struggles
acknowledging my grudgingly
accepting empathy of
Parkinson’s, arthritis, diabetes

their statistics quoted from
doctor’s words, websites read,
support groups attended
and I thankfully, at times
guiltily have little to add

taking a final sip of coffee
I can simply log off, get up,
leave my tip on the table
or mug by my computer
thoughtfully walk away

Mark Lucker

Taking a concession stand

I hate it when somebody
states they are ‘making
concessions’ to middle age

I find mid-life to be a
wonderful carnival
the only concessions
those to be purchased
to quench a thirst
sate a hunger

I stroll the middle age
midway impervious to the
shill’s siren-call of con-men
barkers offering relief
enhancement and release
me, laughing at the
gullibility of others

I can stroll casually
letting the sights and sounds
of life’s extravagance simply
soak in or wash over me

stopping when I am hungry
free, now, to indulge
without fear of distraction or
spilled mustard on my shirt

Mark Lucker

Making note

A cheap flash drive
containing one document;
PDF file of a note – my
message of hopeful wonder,
Robinson Crusoe-like whim

I seal the technological
romanticism tightly in a
Mason Jar, throw it into the
ocean at night as the tide
predictably recedes

Sitting on the beach I
ponder as only a man with
youthful hindsight, waning
sense of adventure, should

where, how far, how long
my modern take on
ancient currents will carry

I confidently wonder if its
eventual discovery
will prompt the curiosity of
its finder to seek out its
by-then-obsolete technologytext_message
decipher it with anticipation

or if, by then, will time have
erased the need or desire
for wonder and excitement
I question all this as the jar
slowly bobs its way out
into the darkness
that is the unknown

Mark Lucker

Pictures

We
were a long
time ago

years?
decades?
lifetimes?
carbon dating?

time is filled in
a long forgotten
coloring book
half the pictures
never finished
bold, black-line
outlines dated,
quaint

stumbled across
by accident
you flip through
remembering
all the scenes
beach, park,
ball, puppy

love ?

first few pages
carefully colored
giving way to
partially filled
marker-mosaics
lacking nuance
or hue
unrealistically
bold

and only now do
you understand the
illogic in staying
within the lines

as you toss the
book in the trash

Mark Lucker

Art of Flying

Flights of fancy
via wings of balsa
when an extra nickel
added a propeller

we took wing
on wind-looping
imagination

gliding sometimes
to gentle landings
more often crashing
with aplomb-tinged
disappointment
when repairs were
beyond the pale

Images silently
soaring, frozen in
in time and flight
still life, real life
in balsa and
backyard

Mark Lucker

From Here to Less Certainty

A day at the beach
we have been here before;

I am trying to be
Burt Lancaster
as you hesitate to play
Deborah Kerr with
self-conscious protestations
I have heard many times

But today the kids are
not with us, the friends who
we accompany sit engrossed
in their sun-worshipping,
paperbacks, inflatable-floating

oblivious to us and not
burning with our middle-aged
or any other sort of passion

my long smoldering fantasy
plays a recurring loop in
my mind’s eye always,
not oddly, in pristine
black-and-white

admittedly I have never had
Burt’s shoulders, jaw line,
hair, stature
I have tried vainly to
master his presence,
make it my own, yet
sadly cannot stand
and drip water on you
with marquee panache

you lay on your towel
my attempts to entice you
to join me once, just one
time, in a sandy embrace
while the gentle surf
plops meekly upon the shore
are warily deflected

It then occurs to me your
reticence might be overcome
by bigger, bolder surf
or more unique idea

but I am what I am

as I sit on the warm sand
I wonder if crashing waves
really would set your heart
pounding or if I should
just let the tide go out

Mark Lucker