Elegy for Them All

Twenty-two.clouds4g2
Thirty-four, twenty-seven
thirty-nine

Cancer, leukemia, suicide
insidious bastards, each

‘gone too soon’
‘in a better place’clouds4g2-2-f
sycophant salutations
of condolence

We hardly knew ye

Sons, daughters of old friends.
A cousin.
Classmates of our children.

All too vivid reminders
“There but for the grace of God…”
not at all feeling full of grace

single: such promise, unfulfilledclouds4g
married: too young to be a…

Do not platitude me.clouds1

Circle of life
natural order
called home –
clichés
bring comfort only to
disquieted conveyor

I call you, life, on yourclouds1-2b
inherent bullshit.

starting over
parents, siblings, spouses,
friends, acquaintances
colleagues and well-meaning
fund-raisersclouds4g2-2-f

‘moving on’
tethers, broken
bonds strengthened
but how to attach
shackles of memories
to a ghost?

life without
life after
life different
life goes on
a life goes away,clouds4g2-2-f clouds1-2b
we stick around

starting over is stopping,
shifting gears
in-neutral-contemplation
with motor running
deciding direction,
starting slowly, accelerating
gently, with caution,
shifting into low-gear
traversing rocky terrain

‘it is what it is’
banalities softening
in tone, over time
hardening in heavy-handed
sanctification of
never quite being sureclouds1-2b-2g

Why, why, why.
And why?

‘Death, be not proud’clouds4g2-2-f
I am not proud to say
‘I do not like this, ‘God, I am’!
I do not like these dirty ends

forgiving departure begets
forgetting things petty
anger taking grief- time
better spent elsewhere, but…

how ironically oxymoronic;
indelible as a lifeclouds1-2c
it is death, cannot be erased

Raging against
the dying of the light
all the more fruitless
when the light was only
just ignited

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

Fading away

Small, sporadically mowedcemetery1
rural-church cemetery
familial in feel
generations grouped eternally
spontaneous, asymmetrical
layout seems unforced, movingly
casual in its nostalgia

a rainy, gray day along
narrow township gravel road
cars parked, haphazardly

We buried an old soldier.

local VFW could only muster
honor guard of three men
bent, trembling, purposeful fingers
wrinkled khaki, faces, hands
added dignified poignancy with
simple, nine-gun salute

small-town high school girl in bluecemetery3
letter jacket, fluffy, white ‘C’
over her heart, excused from class
hitting most of the notes
gets extra credit playing Taps

Told my story of the soldier
to a friend whose war-seasoned
big-city, grandfather – decorated sailor –
passed, not so long ago

two young men in
snappy dress blues came to
the grandfather’s internment
with a boom-box, and a CD

pushing a button, the
yeomen played Taps flawlessly,
left a folded flag with grandma
saluted crisply, left for good.

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

33 (For Johnny)*

Twenty-one years was not nearly enough;
we had just embarked when you left.
Thirty-three years is not nearly enough
to erase what is indelibly sketched

not a pencil caricature, a dimly recollected
photographic snapshot or grainy home movie
just you, at nineteen, before illness
rudely smudged and dog-eared the picture

you are smiling, damn it

you always smiled – warranted or not – but
really, when was it not, for us?
I cannot for the life of me conjure up
you at forty, thirty but especially not now

I imagine your asphalt black beard still thick,
neat, coarse…tinged gray, framing sly grin
your perpetual smile-induced squint turned
permanent as well-earned crow’s feet

‘imagine’ is all I can do

I have aged gracefully, so I’ve been told,
a goal you will never attain, a good-natured
insult I will never get to hurl your way

you left, life went on

The plans, hopes, dreams, big ideas we
discussed to death oddly survived yours
some of mine came true, differently than
we could’ve ever dreamed, but still true

the shared versions departed with you as
my road strangely and happily diverged from
plans made, starting with your leaving,
life taking me along for the journey much as
I have taken your spirit within me

The calendar now ironically tells me that
the years since you left match the numerals
you wore on your South High football jersey
the same numbers I have always worn for
company softball teams, and just because

I see you so clearly now – slashing through the
defensive line of time and memory, breaking
into the clear, smiling and always running free

*Johnny Wilkins 6/11/58 – 8/9/79

 

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

Fading away

Small, sporadically mowedcemetery1
rural-church cemetery
familial in feel
generations grouped eternally
spontaneous, asymmetrical
layout seems unforced, movingly
casual in its nostalgia

a rainy, gray day along
narrow township gravel road
cars parked, haphazardly

We buried an old soldier.

local VFW could only muster
honor guard of three men
bent, trembling, purposeful fingers
wrinkled khaki, faces, hands
added dignified poignancy with
simple, nine-gun salute

small-town high school girl in bluecemetery3
letter jacket, fluffy, white ‘C’
over her heart, excused from class
hitting most of the notes
gets extra credit playing Taps

Told my story of the soldier
to a friend whose war-seasoned
big-city, grandfather – decorated sailor –
passed not so long ago

two young men in
snappy dress blues came to
the grandfather’s internment
with a boom-box, and a CD

pushing a button, the
yeomen played Taps flawlessly,
left a folded flag with grandma
saluted crisply, left for good.

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

Elegy for Them

Twenty-two.clouds4g2
Thirty-four, twenty-seven
thirty-nine

Cancer, leukemia, suicide
insidious bastards, each

‘gone too soon’
‘in a better place’clouds4g2-2-f
sycophant salutations
of condolence

We hardly knew ye

Sons, daughters of old friends.
A cousin.
Classmates of our children.

All too vivid reminders
“There but for the grace of God…”
not at all feeling full of grace

single: such promise, unfulfilledclouds4g
married: too young to be a…

Do not platitude me.clouds1

Circle of life
natural order
called home –
clichés
bring comfort only to
disquieted conveyor

I call you, life, on yourclouds1-2b
inherent bullshit.

starting over
parents, siblings, spouses,
friends, acquaintances
colleagues and well-meaning
fund-raisersclouds4g2-2-f

‘moving on’
tethers, broken
bonds strengthened
but how to attach
shackles of memories
to a ghost?

life without
life after
life different
life goes on
a life goes away,clouds4g2-2-f clouds1-2b
we stick around

starting over is stopping,
shifting gears
in-neutral-contemplation
with motor running
deciding direction,
starting slowly, accelerating
gently, with caution,
shifting into low-gear
traversing rocky terrain

‘it is what it is’
banalities softening
in tone, over time
hardening in heavy-handed
sanctification of
never quite being sureclouds1-2b-2g

Why, why, why.
And why?

‘Death, be not proud’clouds4g2-2-f
I am not proud to say
‘I do not like this, ‘God, I am’!
I do not like these dirty ends

forgiving departure begets
forgetting things petty
anger taking grief- time
better spent elsewhere, but…

how ironically oxymoronic;
indelible as a lifeclouds1-2c
it is death, cannot be erased

Raging against
the dying of the light
all the more fruitless
when the light was only
just ignited

 

– Mark L. Lucker
© 2016
http://lrd.to/sxh9jntSbd

33 (For Johnny)*

Twenty-one years was not nearly enough;
we had just embarked when you left.
Thirty-three years is not nearly enough
to erase what is indelibly sketched

not a pencil caricature, a dimly recollected
photographic snapshot or grainy home movie
just you, at nineteen, before illness
rudely smudged and dog-eared the picture

you are smiling, damn it

you always smiled – warranted or not – but
really, when was it not, for us?

I cannot for the life of me conjure up images
of you at forty, thirty but especially not now

I imagine your asphalt black beard still thick,
neat, coarse…tinged gray, framing sly grin
your perpetual smile-induced squint turned
permanent as well-earned crow’s feet

‘imagine’ is all I can do

I have aged gracefully, so I’ve been told,
a goal you will never attain, a good-natured
insult I will never get to hurl your way

you left, life went on

The plans, hopes, dreams, big ideas we
discussed to death oddly survived yours
some of mine came true, differently than
we could’ve ever dreamed, but still true

the shared versions departed with you as
my road strangely and happily diverged from
plans made, starting with your leaving,
life taking me along for the journey much as
I have taken your spirit within me

The calendar now ironically tells me that
the years since you left match the numerals
you wore on your South High football jersey
the same numbers I have always worn for
company softball teams, and just because

I see you so clearly now – slashing through the
defensive line of time and memory, breaking
into the clear, smiling and always running free

*Johnny Wilkins 6/11/58 – 8/9/79

The trip

Reading the patina-seasoned bronze postcard
at my feet stokes no inner desire of mine to travel

Details are scarce; dates, no places.

This is premium vacation time, a long time coming
traveling solo; no timeshares, no all-inclusive-cruise –
hostel or hostile? No clue, just reading the postcard

No routine platitudes, clichés; ‘having wonderful time’
‘wish you were here’ – is he really, on either count?

Once you have saved – been saved – and pay hefty
sums to take this trip the obligation to proclaim your
enjoyment becomes an eternal Sword of Damocles –
twenty-four/seven party or bored, bored, bored, bored
matters not to reader, nor apparently, the writer

Postcards are banal, erudite half-truth memos;
thumb—your-nose-at-the-workaday-slackers jokes, and
‘wish you were here’ – not. ‘Having really wonderful time.’

I’ll bet – because we all place ours in some way, all in.

If the truth could be told it would but it can’t. It just can’t.
But really…would you want it to?

Hell of a deal, missing out on a swell trip, but I can surely
wait, go much later as reservations are not accepted, but
natural, and earned with lifetime of experience, cancelled
only by faith – thankfully without any tacked-on fees.

Questions, so many questions, about his return; will
he need a pickup, or just grab a cab? Wonder what he’ll
bring me for a souvenir, if he’ll have anything to declare.

I wonder about such a long trip – I’m no where near
ready to travel, myself – but when I do, should I bring a
stack of postcards or just buy them in the gift shop?
What about stamps? How frequent is the mail?

I’ll write something different, unique. Or so I say now.

‘Having wonderful time – wish you were here lies…’

Requiem for pals

The roll call is read
the dead members of a
reunioning high school class

twenty-fifth, thirtieth, fortieth…

‘In Memoriam’ reads the blurb
on the back page of the program
momentary reverence emceed

and just for a briefest moment,
time truly does stand still

classmates remembering those
whose eternity came early
thinking of them as they were
and as they would never be

then, the D.J. plays on.

The night is young.