No French Cuffs

Plaid flannel shirts
of my Northwoods youth
smelled of
beer and pine cones
boat motor gasoline and
fresh caught sunfish
wood smoke
and filtered Winstons

when I was a kid the
intertwined, pungent
aromas of cervelat salami
plumbers’ grease, house paint
mingled freely, locked
in square-patterned fibers,
always-rolled-up sleeves

no amount of
Fels-Naptha soap
could smother those
godly auras

When I was a kid
plaid flannel shirts smelled
wonderfully worn by heroes –
old men with accents and dialects
eye-winks and odd habits
mentors who I know understood,
that I emulated
aspired to one day be like

Plaid flannel shirts
hang now in my closet;
freshly washed, hanging neatly –
as they never
would or could on the
hero-men I knew

My plaid flannel shirts
hang quietly, neatly,
sedately
rarely worn, quietly lived-in
yet they, too
smell of wood smoke
and pine trees
beer, salami, pine

wood box colby cheese and
chainsaw exhaust,
bait minnows and Old Spice
whenever I open
my closet

– Mark L. Lucker
© 2018
http://lrd.to/sxh9jntSbd

The sign

Sawed-off fence picketHorseshoe Lake residents ED
turned sideways
points eastward, sort of
you are – we are – ‘that way’
if signs are to be believed

The sign unaware
you have been gone
thirty years, plus
your house,over twenty

anyone driving north on
Crow Wing County
Highway Three
would believe they could
turn, still find you

I know better

Driving by that sign
your name – paint dulled,
yet still legible
against washed-out gray
still hanging
securely on gnarled
old jack pine
set back from the road

There are other signs
other names – some
familiar, comfortable though
generationally updated
fancier, laser-carved
lacking charm, history

other names,Horseshoe Lake residents
I am unacquainted with –
faceless interlopers
though they are
in the moment

I remain impressed
by durable simplicity:
sun-beached slab of oak
with a name, C.I. Andren
nothing more,
so much more

still anchored by two
galvanized stud nails,
still pointing the way to
a place long since gone,

Times well remembered

I could turn down that road
drive by what was
puzzle over, sigh  maybe
over the ingrown modernity –
new opulence of now

But there is no logic
nothing at all to be gained,
plenty, I know, to be lost
in forcing the square
remembrances of nostalgia
into the round hole
of progressing time

Steady on the gas

I simply smile, keep on
driving north
knowing what was, still is
always will be
simply because
I know a sign
when I see one.

– Mark L. Lucker
© 2018
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

Oracle

He was a shaman always
clad in sacramental
wool plaid shirt, dirty cap

there are no mountaintops
in Minnesota’s northwoods

Enlightenment here comes
from atop decaying tree stump
aside rustic leaf and pine needle
carpeted trails cutting through
towering pines, birch, oak
you stop, sit for a spell

solemnity in this place dictated
with wry smiles, knowing nods…
rubbing of beard stubble chins;
moral lessons here punctuated
with a joke, tall tale, or sly wink

The guru walks with you;
there is no sacred pilgrimage to
be made no sacrifices requeted
or self-flagellation required

unless you make the joke
on yourself

Wisdom came to me on short
walks I wished even then could
have lasted much longer.

Campfire poem #49

A log of pine
a mug of coffee
and thou

Omar, I am
not.

 

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

A Minnesotan’s First Love

I was a good friend of her brother –
he knows, but has never said a word

On the rare occasions we still meet
he smiles a knowledgable,
unbelieving, remembering grin
and I always wonder, after all of the
years that have passed, just how much
she has told him…

or if he figured it all out on his own
just watching her face during family
dinner-table reminisces about those
warm northwoods summers at the lake.