Missing out

Living now in a placeautumn leaves3
where, in autumn most
leaves stay put
clinging to their branches
without pretense

never having the
decency to abandon their
vibrant green for
appropriate, earthy hues

A few adhere to my more
familiar, season-bound
tradition, true natural order
small in numbers
generally unnoticed

It takes keen effort to
scrounge enough of a
collection for
traditionally crunchy walk

Which is cheatingDSC03236

The jumpable, enjoyably
scratchy, towering orange,
brown, red, yellow leaf piles
I crave are hopeless here

my native Midwest seems
further away in fall than
during the absence of winter’s
winter’s snowy blankets,
frosty windows

for I know full well
the curative, redemptive
potential of a fall
leaf pile on a man’s soul

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

World Serious

In the game of baseball, a great hitter will often explain his success at hitting a thrown ball three inches in diameter with a round bat a quarter-inch smaller around saying “I slow the game down” – some even claiming that they can actually see the red stitched laces as the baseballpitchball hurdles toward them at ninety-plus miles per hour: less than half-a-second elapses from the time the ball leaves the pitchers hand until it crosses home plate.

I slow life down.

Even with the break-neck pace of modern, middle-age life – family, teaching, church, a kid in college, everything else – I see the world with more clarity now than I ever did before, slowing it down to a montage I can take in, dissect, make contact with.

I have not lost bat speed and can still turn on a pitch.

Clearly now I see the laces on the ball as it flutters toward me, bifocals be damned. And I basebalslomocrush the ball with far more consistency than I ever did in my twenties or thirties. I am at the stage of life where the pitcher, my nemesis, often thinks he should be able to sneak one by me – high heat, inside. Often as not I make him pay for such arrogance.

That is not to say every at bat yields a home run.

My percentage of life extra-base hits outpaces that of youth: doubles off the outfield wall, triples down the line or in the gap are more routine than the easy single. Touching all the bases, I can still run like hell and usually beat the throw. I stretch singles into extra base hits with far more regularity…just because I can.

slidingintpsecondHold me to a single and I’ll simply steal second. Pick me off? I dare you to try.

The baseball idols of my youth saw, as most athletes do, a slippage in abilities signaling the twilight of their careers. Some were able to compensate be honing other skills, or relying more on pure guile. Some didn’t know when to walk away, and were lessened in the eyes of many.

Retire, walk away to accolades or boos. Or adapt, and thrive.

harmonkillebrew1969I can still turn on the fastball. Better than ever, in fact. Want to try to cross me up with off-speed junk? Good luck with that. Doesn’t really matter where you throw it. I have what a baseball scout would call ‘great plate coverage’.

Oh yeah, I can still hit the curve.harmonkillebrew1971

Bring it.

Your best stuff. Whatever you’ve got. Fresh arms from the bullpen? Not a problem. I can send them back to the dugout, too.

Want to try an intimidating brush-back? I’ll step back in, eventually making you pay, smiling with a wink and a tip of the cap your way as I round the bases. Hey, that’s the way it works. Mutual respect amongst opponents. I will win more than I lose.

Life is a great metaphor for baseball.oldbaseballlaces

Every day is a great day to play two.

“Play life.”

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

World Serious

In the game of baseball, a great hitter will often explain his success at hitting a thrown ball three inches in diameter with a round bat a quarter-inch smaller around saying “I slow the game down” – some even claiming that they can actually see the red stitched laces as the baseballpitchball hurdles toward them at ninety-plus miles per hour: less than half-a-second elapses from the time the ball leaves the pitchers hand until it crosses home plate.

I slow life down.

Even with the break-neck pace of modern, middle-age life – family, teaching, church, a kid in college, everything else – I see the world with more clarity now than I ever did before, slowing it down to a montage I can take in, dissect, make contact with.

I have not lost bat speed and can still turn on a pitch.

Clearly now I see the laces on the ball as it flutters toward me, bifocals be damned. And I basebalslomocrush the ball with far more consistency than I ever did in my twenties or thirties. I am at the stage of life where the pitcher, my nemesis, often thinks he should be able to sneak one by me – high heat, inside. Often as not I make him pay for such arrogance.

That is not to say every at bat yields a home run.

My percentage of life extra-base hits outpaces that of youth: doubles off the outfield wall, triples down the line or in the gap are more routine than the easy single. Touching all the bases, I can still run like hell and usually beat the throw. I stretch singles into extra base hits with far more regularity…just because I can.

slidingintpsecondHold me to a single and I’ll simply steal second. Pick me off? I dare you to try.

The baseball idols of my youth saw, as most athletes do, a slippage in abilities signaling the twilight of their careers. Some were able to compensate be honing other skills, or relying more on pure guile. Some didn’t know when to walk away, and were lessened in the eyes of many.

Retire, walk away to accolades or boos. Or adapt, and thrive.

harmonkillebrew1969I can still turn on the fastball. Better than ever, in fact. Want to try to cross me up with off-speed junk? Good luck with that. Doesn’t really matter where you throw it. I have what a baseball scout would call ‘great plate coverage’.

Oh yeah, I can still hit the curve.harmonkillebrew1971

Bring it.

Your best stuff. Whatever you’ve got. Fresh arms from the bullpen? Not a problem. I can send them back to the dugout, too.

Want to try an intimidating brush-back? I’ll step back in, eventually making you pay, smiling with a wink and a tip of the cap your way as I round the bases. Hey, that’s the way it works. Mutual respect amongst opponents. I will win more than I lose.

Life is a great metaphor for baseball.oldbaseballlaces

Every day is a great day to play two.

“Play life.”

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

Playing on

Faded are July’s warmth, summer’s cheers. Supplanted now by the encroaching hints of cooler days, forgotten expectations, procrastinated chores shelved, he can only now muse without dwelling on what won’t be. Could-have-beens and maybes aren’t statistically meaningful; they never really were, except to others in relation to their expectations and dreams for him. Regret is not something that taints him. He does not feel a talent wasted. He recalls every crucial moment as it was, for what it was.

Unburdened by excuses, unwilling to pass blame. A trait truly a gift not wasted.

It was what it was and is, he did what he had done, and it has all come down to this: seasons of joy, of youth, of expectations – have dwindled, and he savors their uncertainty of numbers. Youth cannot serve that master. He revels in coming autumn and finds it no burden as winter creeps in to bury and renew. Spring will be welcome, but no more or less than its brethren.

Memories are not subsistence. This he knows for fact. Cheers he once accepted have faded. Others have taken his place on stage. As many have forgotten him as remember him. The field of honor which he once ruled by force and triumphant jousting he now benevolently presides over. The thought occurs that maybe his soul is the autumn grass; wearily vibrant, going dormant. In need of a respite. The patriarch emeritus smiles in triumph.

Zipping up his coat, its collar turned upward against the gathering winds of fall, he leans into the breeze, stiffening his resolve. The air is quiet, save the wind, and he is at peace with the simple knowledge that spring will, someday, sometime, for whatever reason, return. But for now, time is in his comfortable grasp, for he now understands its tenuous and uncontrollable nature; he can tuck it safely away like a pocket watch in vest pocket, and stroll through the lovely, dark and deep woods without fear of reprisal from promises not kept.

Mark Lucker