Yes, you of
posted pictorials
stonecoldironydystopian bon mots
your naiveté trumps
your angst

you are playing

– Mark L. Lucker
© 2016


I am a wine cellar
unto myself
occasionally decanted

at times acting
the vinegar

sweet, pungent
varietal undertones
serious melancholy
drunk to forget

quite dry
an acquired taste
not for all

people label me
state certainly
what I best
pairing me with
prescribed ideals
things I would
never associate

knowing me
snobbishly stubborn
they really don’t
I am not the
caliber they pay

wrapped in
brown paper sack
neither of us would

true friends
simply because
I am what
they like

– Mark L. Lucker
© 2016

Newlyweds ago

burnedpizza3Loft apartment,
late Saturday afternoon
spontaneity interrupted
by shrill, continual

oven timer buzz

“Pizzas done” says she
“But I’m not” replies he

not-rhythmic, static
range-buzzer drone not
disrupting tempo of early
life-together moral

they learned how easily
heat, afterglow can
turn three-dollar frozen
pizza to charcoal

– Mark L. Lucker
© 2015


First dance

A ma-and-pa resort, small lake
north woods of Minnesota
seeburgsmall office behind
quaint bar, twelve small cabins
dozen aluminum rowboats to use;
minnows, worms, leeches for sale
amenities, ala Angler’s Edge

Joe & Gloria’s place

The bar a hangout for township locals
grandpa Ivar and I frequented the nicked,
cigarette-burn speckled
polished, yellow-varnished bar for a
North Star beer, ice cold Nesbitt’s Orange
I enjoyed from my end-of-bar spot

A summer semi-regular.

Perched atop two upside-down
wooden Coca-Cola crates
stacked together, laid across two
shiny red-vinyl top, chrome-rimmed
swivel-seat bar stools
bringing me to proper sitting.
sipping height

until the summer my height
matched my station withDino45
always jovial Joe, ever kindly
large-laughing Gloria

Joe would slip me dimes
to play his disc-bowling machine
feed his 45-laden Seeburg jukebox
always selections G5, G6
back-to-back Dean Martin starting
with the bass-thump of Houston…

My musical choices amused Joe

his dimes, gratis – except on Fridays
when I earned my keep
prepping Angler’s Edge worn,
maple dance floor
for the evening’s band
paid in advance, I would crank Dean;
Little Ole Wine Drinker Me
grab the yellow-and-black shaker can
liberally sprinkle the dance wax
the floor all mine as I shuffled
to Dino crooning

“…I’m prayin’ for rain, in Califorrrrrnia….”maple1b

spontaneously choreographing
my personal pre-teen two-step
grinding the wax in
elevating the floor to polka, waltz
schottische, western swing perfection
finishing as Dino was faded off
…little ole wine drinker, me…I say…
with a show-stopping slide
ending near the cramped bandstand

between wax-infused Levi knees
tongue-in-groove hardwood boards
meeting no resistance
the wax, the music, the memories
rich patina of my youth

– Mark L. Lucker
© 2016

Wood-post modernist

pencil2thrills are to be had

secrets need revealing
wonders beg unraveling
truths urge to be told


dark and light
constrained in the
pristine symmetry of
new, freshly sharpened
shiny-yellow pencil

just above the perfectly
honed greyish tip
peach-fuzz wisps of wood
cling gently, smell of pine
tickle fingers excitedly


cylindrically contained
wisdom waits for dispensing
tales of life crave to regale;
ideas yearn to be rendered
philosophies chafe
to be revealed

slices of life,

snapshots in time
narrow, wooden
repository of wisdom
covenant ark of perceptions
woven tightly between
two fingers, thumb

pristine, freshly sharpened,
primal and fearless
my shiny yellow pencil

poet selfie stick.

– Mark L. Lucker
© 2017


phone1Following my calling
and the call

I call back
nobody picks up
nobody calls back

I have left the messages

trying to reconnect
number no longer
in service
‘your recipient hasn’t
set up voice mailphone2
for this account’

Am I being ignored
via caller I.D.
spurned due to
embarrassed discomfort

Following my calling
and the call


not in a dead zone
I have plenty of bars
battery fully charged

I followed my calling
now nobody calls
nobody writes
no text, FaceTime,
stone tablet

Following my calling
when the call

Trying to reconnect.

Leave your name
and number
I’ll get back to you

– Mark Lucker

Rider less

What goes around
tiltawhirl2comes around
life more
Tilt-A-Whirl than

Symmetry, overrated
repetition needs
expected spontaneity no
matter how it goes downtiltawhirl3


Nobody waits in line
just anticipating the thrill
of getting strapped in
and staying grounded

save the poeticallytiltawhirl4
unenlightened dreamer
on the rumbling
grocery-store horse

– Mark Lucker


Waiting for an oil change
rachaElray3customer area big-screen TV
Rachael Ray cooks pasta something
a grandfather across from me texts

the coffee is respectable
volume on the TV isn’t but
Rachael is Rachael it doesn’t matter
she cooks rhythmically zzt! zzt! zzt!
the unmistakable garage sound
of tightened lug nuts al dente

oppressive smell of new rubber

I remember the first car I owned
cherry ’69 Plymouth that needed new
Goodyears that first summer of ’78

smooth white sidewalls costwst3
me extra, almost out of fashion then
there are none on display here
young blue-shirt guy at the counter
says with bewilderment they can
special order white sidewalls

I smile, tell him I’m just asking

sit back down where the grandfather
is still texting joined now by a young
woman in red dental-office scrubs
scrolling rapidly through her smart phone
both oblivious to Rachael, moved
on to odd vegetables zzt! zzt! zzt!

This is  the proverbial rubber-oflugnuts1

I am whizzing down thin blacktop
’69 Plymouth, white sidewalls,
windows down, Rachael’s hair flying,
staring longingly from passenger seat
talking about stopping for pasta…

zzt! zzt! zzt! ZZZZT!  My name is called;
my newly lubed, innocuous sedan, ready –
leaving hygienist, grandpa and Rachael to
their respective rubber-scented reveries

– Mark Lucker

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

Waiting for Felix

pppart2Quintessentially American; refrigerator door Louvre
stylistically Picassoesque, Daliesque
though Dadaism and Mamaism predominate

as pudgy-finger tempera on newsprint evolved into
more complex designs, bolder expressions
of the artists vision in markers on white paper,
macaroni on tag board, leaves melted in wax paper

Like any good museum, the exhibits rotate; handsomely,
haphazardly framed via magnets-on-white-enamel

”l’art pour l’art”

Great art appreciates in value as the artists output declines
from striking, carefree, post-modern, outside-the-lineism topppart
photos-from-magazines montages, lopsided-clay bowls

groundbreaking quirkiness giving way to more sterile,
artistically utilitarian ‘art’ for-the-masses prints

practice schedules, bake sales, dates of note, deadlines;
dentist appointments, scribbled grocery reminders, odd
phone messages all lacking appreciable aesthetics

”l’art pour l’art”?

the gallery stands dormant; the art in cardboard storage,
unseen but appreciating in value with the artists now retired

having moved on to other pursuits, different mediums,Easter 2013
none displayable here; we are curators with empty frames

”l’art pour l’art”…

Though the artist-as-a-young-woman has a budding protégé
his apprenticeship just beginning with stark, bold lines of color;
marker-on-white copier paper, crayon-on-restaurant-placemat

in his future there will be gallery openings, oohing-and-ahhing
over his immediate masterpieces; form always trumping function,
experimentation will be celebrated, inspiration never questioned

”l’art pour l’art”!   We are waiting for Felix.

– Mark Lucker