Father’s Day Requiem

We never had one of
those TV sitcom
father-imparts-his-sage
wisdom, serious sit-downs
that I can recall

I have no fatherly counsel
fortune-cookie-inclusion
viral-meme-worthy
wisdom to share
rarely proclaiming,
“As my daddy used to say…”

Sans great punchline

parts of my father
I carry with me, mirth more
tangible than profundity
less open to interpretation
than mere platitudes

a life lived differently,
enjoyed fully

real examples used regularly:
treat people well
don’t sweat the small stuff
experience new things
appreciate old one
learn from whoever you can
because you
always can and you should

we never
discussed those things

what I learned most
from my dad was by osmosis
glacial, inexorable
noticeable only in retrospect
soaking up a life
generously poured, oftentimes
inadvertently spilled

hit me again, bartender.

conflicted by faith, he
simply lived faithfully
more-eighteen-than-
twenty-four-carat
Golden Rule doing-unto-others
sort of living

real gold doesn’t tarnish

I could say I never took a lesson
though that would be wrong
I unknowingly Jedi-mastered
mystical arts of wry observation
sardonic commentary, satirical jabs
serious points cloaked in
functional parables

uproariously serious,jester1-2
seriously funny

Like my father

I can never resist or not
appreciate a
humorous turn of phrase,
slapstick comedy,
ribald satire, bad pun

I learned from my dad
have confirmed by living: life
is a fine definition of irony

cursed I am, by
the grins of the father

  – Mark L. Lucker
© 2018
http://lrd.to/sxh9jntSbd

#FathersDay2020  #FathersDay #Fathersandsons

Labels

Like the pine trees lining the winding road
I got a name. I got a name….
   –  Jim Croce

dymo4I see my name all the time
forms, documents – computer screen at log in
the world it seems, knows me
I too, know the world – though less familiarly

When I was eleven my birthday present from
mom and dad was (per my request) a
Dymo label maker
enabling me to feed a plastic gismo with long
strips of 3/8-inch-wide colorful, pliable vinyl

on which a trigger-pull would produce embossed
white capital letters with anything I deemed
pertinent; name, phone number, address

Most of my significant belongings suddenly
contained my info should said items somehow fall
into wrong hands – unlikely for possessions
not portable – hand-me-down stereo, bookcases, table
belonging to an only child in household of three

Defying logic, anything of note that was mine was
proclaimed as such in bold green, orange, yellow strips
tackle box, self-recorded cassette tapes, cardboard boxes
of rocks – items better suited to Magic Marker scrawlsdymo5
Mine? ROCKS – in pristine, raised white-on-lime-green

The colorful, exclamatory technology of my
label maker was intriguing, very cutting edge
1970s me sensed greater potential for
long strips of plastic info

once personal belongings had been emblazoned
with I.D. I branched out smacking a
myriad of objects with witticisms, bromides,
general directives, secret-even-to-me codes
label tape ate up much of my allowance
not to mention a fair amount of creative juices

Discovering that setting the letter wheel slightly
off-kilter made letters crooked inspired me
to purposely cockeye certain phrases, ideas
lines became uneven, and once the backing was peeled
I could stick long stretches of text together into
more artistic clumps of text
sometimes aligned perfectly above one another
though often not so expressly neat

Sitting now in front of my computer screen Idymo6
can manipulate text, designs with simple combinations
of keyboard taps, mouse clicks
having long since worn out my label maker and
its later, self-purchased, replacement modes I can
conjure far more elaborate ideas, ways to display them

From time-to-time I see something in my classroom I
believe should have my name formally inscribed
lest it be prey to a student, or another teacher just
for a moment I think the item might lend itself
to semi-ancient hieroglyphics, white letters embossed
on a lime-green or sunflower yellow strip

just so I can once again dial-up letters, pull the trigger
feel and hear unrhythmic click-click-clickety-clickclickclick
click-clickety-clickety-click-clack in my hands

Therein as always lies the power of words
I got a name. I got a name.

– Mark L. Lucker
© 2020
http://lrd.to/sxh9jntSbd

No French cuffs

Plaid flannel shirts
of my Northwoods youth
smelled of
beer and pine cones
boat motor gasoline and
fresh-caught sunfish
wood smoke
and filtered Winstons

When I was a kid the
intertwined, pungent
aromas of cervelat salami
plumbers’ grease, house paint
mingled freely, locked
in square-patterned fibers
always-rolled-up sleeves

no amount of
Fels Naptha-soap
could smother those
godly auras

When I was a kid
plaid flannel shirts smelled
wonderfully worn by heroes –
old men with accents and dialects
eye-winks and odd habits
mentors who I know understood
that I emulated
aspired to one day be like

Plaid flannel shirts
hang now in my closet;
freshly washed, hanging neatly –
as they never
would or could on the
hero-men I knew

My plaid flannel shirts
hang quietly, neatly
sedately
rarely worn, quietly lived-in
yet they, too
smell of wood-smoke
and pine trees
beer, salami, pine

wood-box Colby cheese and
chainsaw exhaust
bait minnows and Old Spice
whenever I open
my closet

– Mark L. Lucker
© 2019
http://lrd.to/sxh9jntSbd

June 5, 2019

News item: On this day in 1977the Apple II computer went on sale, and the era of personal computing began. Developed by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, it was the first successful mass-produced microcomputer designed for home use.

SouthIn 1977 on June the fifth I was
four days away from
graduating high school
four days from embarking on the
epic journey to now

On this day in that particular year
my friends and I were
saying goodbye
to each other
to life as we knew it
to the place we had known
more as a home than our houses
or apartments

South High School

On this day in 1977 South had one
computer in residence a
large, intimidating IBM that fed on
digested, then regurgitated
rectangular punch cards that seemed
cut from manila folders

One computer
the size of a vintage Corvette
that took up most of the space
in a large room, with a
perpetually open window to dissipate3606999478_42862dd6eb_b
computing heat

Within a week
unaware that the age of
personal computing had arrived
I departed high school
life as I knew it to that point
gifted, by my parents
with a portable electric typewriter
in a hard, textured-plastic case

I took it with me when I left home
just a week later
Greyhound bus, Colorado
home to native Minnesota
the brown Smith-Corona barely
sliding beneath the seat in
front of me, sleek, ridged handle
providing a foot rest-slash-
theft prevention

Forty-two years
thousands of miles
hundreds of radio scripts, resumes,
pieces of correspondence
a thousand poems, three
partial great-American-novel (not)
manuscripts and
lord knows what else
later100_1851 300

The scribing monolith sits retired
relaxed in its case
beneath my basement steps
the stories it could (and did!) tell
clear-cut a small forest
and would probably
if digitized
appear as nothing more
than a stray ellipsis in a solitary
file of a Mac laptop

As we jokingly said in
1977 mock-robot speak
‘that does not compute’
as indeed at the time
none of us did

Ahh, but things change
time flies

So does my laptop.

Mark L. Lucker
© 2019  
http://lrd.to/sxh9jntSbd

Trivium

I

It was here that I found
myself – as much as
one teenager can

It was here that I
tallied a notable string
of personal firsts,
nails hammered
logs split
fish caught
girl loved
cars driven
stick shift, mastered
full beer drunk
jukebox played
girl kissed

Held her hand, first

Pristine milieu for my
development
woodland womb the
summer I was six til the
summer I was
eighteen –

personal
Enlightenment
reasoned, resonant

individual philosophy
innately seeded
naturally cultivated

more Spinoza
than Descartes

relying ever on
the observable
self-trained as such

Warm solstices
aggrandized my youth

This is where I learned
to grasp Thoreau
years before reading him

an inquisitive, pint-sized
Audubon-by-osmosis
whatever flew, crawled,
hopped
reflected the sun
echoed through woodlands

entranced me

II

This is where I
learned the skills
still serving me the most, best

freedom, autonomy
appreciation of their limits
love, curiosity
without reservation, regard
hearing nature’s call
finding personal refuge
transformative magic

of the woods, on foot or
in being on the water

contemplation, reflection,
reverence. Peace.

Inner and outer.

Self-taught
while others tutored
by my teens I had well earned
Ph.D. in me

Coming to my senses still
sounds of dry leaves
underfoot
feels of bare feet on
warm sand
tastes of falling rain
looks like misty sunrises
filtered through
towering pines

Tranquilizing spirituality:
effects
of lake-bottom sand
oozing up between toughened toes

meditative trill of loons
calling
exhilarating rhythm of surprised
sunfish
flopping on boat floor

falling asleep to gentle, swishing
drum-brush cadence of small
waves on lakeshore

sweetly-scented breezes
sifted through
wire-mesh screened windows

there was hard wisdom
to be earned in
every harsh, shrill grind of
missing gears
learning to drive a pickup

sawing a board crookedly
once
missing the nail but not
thumb with
awkwardly swung hammer

the mangling, tangling of new
fishing line

falling to dirt road off the
back of a truck
spilling a can of paint
digging the wrong hole

stinging futility in trying to
chop wood
with a dull axe

There was great wonder in
small creatures
scampering loudly unseen
through leaves, up trees
gentle thud of
pinecones, butternuts, even
acorns
falling to birth

onto moss-carpeted
forest floor

joyous splash of a bass
jumping
loons, pelicans diving
croaking toads, grunting frogs
sing-song crickets
chattering chipmunks
full orchestral variance
of birds

Your own footsteps
on gravel road

Getting drunk holds little
allure for one who knows well
intoxicating pull of

fragrant wildflowers, wild raspberries
carried on July breezes
musty aura of lakeshore algae, mud
freshly dug nightcrawlers
exhaust from
sputtering outboard boat motors
charred birch logs in
dormant wood stoves

earthy, overflow-foam from
freshly-opened
bottle of beer

Pines, at night.

It was here that I
found myself, return to still
when lost
no matter where I am

III

The Lake

Grandparent’s home where
every summer
I spent my days learning life via
languages, dialects
of others

plumbers, and painters
lumberjacks, and carpenters
storytellers, and lovers
immigrants, all
far off lands, languages
smoothly blended with
richer, more colorful English

quirky, vernacular nuances
my elders takes on
nature, fate, faith

with applications practical,
trivial
memorable
wisdom-soaked
absorbed by me with relish

Summers at The Lake

taught me what I needed then
still use
understanding complexity of
simple things
basic truths in the complex

still lessening fears
still helping me grasp that at
the heart of each failure
is cultivated, harvested wisdom
deep understanding that grew wild
in me
my summers at

The Lake.

– Mark L. Lucker
© 2019
http://lrd.to/sxh9jntSbd

Laughter, unfading

‘If by chance some day you’re not feeling well and you should remember some silly thing I’ve said or done and it brings back a smile to your face or a chuckle to your heart, then my comedy3purpose as your clown has been fulfilled.’
– Red Skelton

I never wanted to be known
as class clown
being the buffoon never my style
even in younger days I
preferred wit to slapstick
drollery and pathos
over crudeness and burlesque

Looking back I saw
missed opportunity in my humor
camouflaging as it did my
other attributes

my reputation cemented
as the fun, funny guy who could
always be counted on for
the big laugh
unexpected punchline

As time passed all I wantedCLOWN3
was the respect
of my peers
those who liked me, others
who I admired
for themselves

Decades have passed
as have classmates
frequently I have  been called upon
to provide a moment –
my amusing or hilarious take
on something past
story, funny toast, anecdote,
or memory
in times we gather
happy times or sorrowful
personally, or online

I am the one
to dilute the sadnesscomedy4
with quirky eulogist’s take on
someone’s life, shared times

Acceptance of my ‘character’
character was a
long time coming
though eventually, grudgingly
I acquiesced to long-ago-forged
rapier-wit persona
tempered as it was by time in
the minds of others

But a funny thing happened
on my way to
being jester remembered
a comment, once – from
an old friend, yet another
from someone else

more have followed suit

comments of gratitudeCLOWN1
or being there
to lift spirits on down days
remove the edge
from darker moments
just being me

These certainties I know now
relied upon by others
comfort, in some way
relief, reassurance to people
whose respect I long
sought, long ago discounted

Death, taxes, a quip from me
one out of three aint bad

I’ll take that to my grave
even though I have always believed
you can’t take it with you
because I cannot in good consciencecomedy2
leave such an important gig
to someone else

As the show must always…
go on, now.

– Mark Lucker 
© 2019
http://lrd.to/sxh9jntSbd

#laughter #comedyandtragedy
#NaPoWriMoprompt1  #NaPoWriMoApril2019

Echelons

IMG_20190309_191648772Feet on the bottom of a
swimming pool
at times still fill me with
strange sensation
retaining an unknown,
odd fear – wet concrete
hard, dispassionate

I was eight the first time I
hit chlorinated water
our family trumpeting
middle-class arrival
vacation traveling
staying at a motel

With a pool.

Unimpressed,
pool1disappointed I was
in the outcome of
newly bourgeois journey
having previously spent
my summer days splashing
in Horseshoe Lake

squishing sandy clay
through
suntanned toes
trying in vain to step on
minnows
flossing feet on
slimy weeds
catching oblivious
frogs

The pool didn’t ooze
could only bruise

My middle class
awakening was one
of haughty pretentiousness
looking down as I was at
my fellow travelers
also my age
though obviously lacking
my significantIMG_20190309_191844651
expertise in
how things should be

I sadly realized
only much later that
perhaps they lacked my
insight and
experience but also

very hopefully

my posing, self-righteous
pity
at their sorry
lots in life

– Mark Lucker

© 2019
http://lrd.to/sxh9jntSbd

Traveling

On family trips when
I was eight, nine
plastic, primary-color
cowboys, Indians,
soldiers, animals
fought and romped
in a synthetic, nappy,
dark-blue rear-window
battlefield meadow

Other times, it was a
fuzzy ledge on which to
lean, and watch the road
fading, while my mother
half-jokingly admonished
me to turn around, see
where I was going, not
where I had been

But I was a wistful nine.

Then,
sometimes now

 

– Mark L. Lucker
© 2018
http://lrd.to/sxh9jntSbd

Frogs

  – Mark L. Lucker
© 2017
http://lrd.to/sxh9jntSbd