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

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
http://lrd.to/sxh9jntSbd

Road trip, 1965 –

When I was a kid we
planted trees by the lake

72 pine seedlings hauled
north in milk cartons
arranged on the back
floor of a ’39 Dodge

the trees and I were
small, green, pliable
in need of nurturing

the Dodge sits now in a
junkyard, the remaining
pines scrape the sky

I remember each and
every one, hardly trying