1958

Eight-by-ten, glossy

Women’s gowns a snowy hue
men’s jackets polar-colored
pants black, everything else
radiant shades of grays

drearily brilliant tones
off-black, dark-white
vibrant portrait in celluloid

Twelve adults, a young boy
bouffants and buzz cuts, ogling
camera, mischievously

dead serious, mindfully aware
playful magnitude of the day

fighting off hangovers
practicing feigned solemnity
due charmed couple at center

She: youthful, stunning purity
dress, pearls, teeth, aura
He: counterfeit waiter miscast
starring male in tuxedo

a split second before
being frozen in time and
now tarnished frame
someone must’ve blurted
“Smile!”

If a thousand words
barely equal a single, old
Kodak portrait, the
bold, vivid, monochromatic
color does provide, with
absolute certainty

The camera never lies

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

Breezes

summer comes to a close
autumnal breezes waft
rustling memories of those
days when the close of summer
had more definitive endings

sun-drenched days of youthful
frolic, innocent play, done

swimming, playing with frogs in
holes dug on sandy beaches at
grandparent’s homes; ‘the lake’
summer Xanadus of childhood
one year, scenic backdrops for
advancing adolescence the next

the summer dented pails,
bent shovels lay unused in
boathouse corner; replaced with
initials inside a heart, drawn
artfully at dusk in beach sand with
carefully chosen stick, just to be
erased by evening’s gentle waves

Previous summers we traveled
in packs along endless lakeshore
some ‘ooing’ over discovered shells
all ‘eewing!’ over dead, bloated fish
skipping rocks to show machismo

But our duo walks became more
intimate strolls through the woods
privacy trumping pinecone collection,
coy separation from the collective
group not as subtle as we hoped

Each summer indelible as the
next; parts of many years blending
seamlessly together, a montage of
youthful Julys, childhood vacations

But the starkness of one summer
that is viewed not with the gauziness
of looking back fondly, but with clarity
of time, place, purpose…firsts.

One brilliant, Kodacolor snapshot
that never made it into any scrapbook
yet still remains the clearest picture

especially when summer ends
and the breezes of fall swirl

– 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

1958

Eight-by-ten, glossy

women’s gowns a snowy hue
men’s jackets polar-colored
pants black, everything else
radiant shades of grays

drearily brilliant tones
off-black, dark-white
vibrant portrait in celluloid

Twelve adults, a young boy
bouffants and buzz cuts, ogling
camera, mischievously

dead serious, mindfully aware
playful magnitude of the day

fighting off hangovers
practicing feigned solemnity
due charmed couple at center

she: youthful, stunning purity
dress, pearls, teeth, aura
he: counterfeit waiter miscast
starring male in tuxedo

a split second before
being frozen in time and
now tarnished frame
someone must’ve blurted
“Smile!”

If a thousand words
barely equal a single, old
Kodak portrait, the
bold, vivid, monochromatic
color does provide, with
absolute certainty

the camera never lies

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

Deliverance

remembering trumpsfullhouse
planned forgetting
spontaneity a full house,
repression a lowly pair

erasing the past isdelete key
deleting old email, your

in-box is empty, but…

our eternally modernreplybutton
struggle remains
reply or delete?
reply or delete?
reply or delete
reply. delete.

indecisivehuntandpeck
hunt-and-peck
via archetypical
cartoonish devil
on one shoulder
angel on the otherarcheologist

needing a reboot;

archeologist feverishly
digging away on one scapula
Santayana philosophicallyGeorge_Santayana
musing on the other side

your contemplative
reveries frequently disrupted
answering the doorbell t0

Jacob Marley’s ghostjacobmarley
clad (sans chains) in
Dickensian FedEx uniform

resignedly you scrawlfedexdelivery
your nonchalant signature
on her thick clipboard
close the door beforefedexpackages
tossing the unopened envelope
onto the stack with the others

– Mark Lucker

Estrange

Regret and I100_5071
have a tenuous
relationship

flirtations ebb, wane
pop up again
precariously at odd
moments, clumsily

the standoffish one
in this tepid
relationship is me

running hot-and-cold
I can be a
frustrating companion100_5067

lackluster lover

there is no love lost
between me
and regret

never love
at first sight
never a commitment

convenient
one-night stand
whenever I
happen to
be in town

regrets
I’ve had a few,
so sayeth Sinatra

regret is a derisive
impotent lover
scorned

cold shoulder
all mine

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

Call me, Ishmael. Leave a message.

We all have within usmobydick1
some Captain Ahab

obsessively pursuing
something, someone

unattainable

physically or mentally
we quest something lost
never obtained
hadn’t the courage
or stomach for

a diem you couldcarpeidemgermanpostcard
never carpe

uselessly we quest
a time we came close
nagging should haves
gnawing what ifs

crimes of passion
not worth prosecuting

each an intensely personal
no-two-alike fingerprint
‘one that got away’

we imagine our preyantiqueharpoons
sporting our broken-off
harpoons

festering wounds
unbeknownst to us have
scarred over
healed entirely
never went deep enough
and quickly fell away

still we pursue
irrationally with purpose
a creature from
the depths of then

only breaking the calm
surface of now
when it suits us to
be on the hunt

“…to the lastmobydick2
I grapple with thee…”

parting words uttered
in reply to no one,

the one

the one that got away
cannot let you go
if you don’t
reciprocate

hunter, hunted,
haunted.

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

Freshness

cardboard Tupperware
crowds my attic
keeping my soul
preserved if not fresh

rows, stacks of
oddly square bowls
repositories of then;
lost loves, past successes
other leftovers

sometimes leftovers
trump a fresh lunch
filling rejuvenation found
amidst the smell
musty brown wood pulp

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

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