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

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

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

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

Renovating

Vestiges of then
subtly shade the now
today is decorated
with yesterday’s hues
accenting modern life
with retro-chic shades

life-makeovers via
t.v. show gurus who
use family tschotskes
as odd focal points

visual statements
from an old magazine
viewed in current
settings; obligatory

oohing-and-ahhing
at the big reveal
fading into jaundiced
indifference once
the show is over

Roadside

Opportunities passed by
on roads not taken

supplanted dreams decay
like abandoned motels
rife with rusting signs,
broken neon-script hopes
cracked-concrete dreams

pot-holed asphalt parking
lot rug stitched with weeds

plenty of vacancies

Proclamation

Imperfection should lead
to introspection, but as a
hobby not your vocation

it is no small concession
to make the confession
that I have long since

(with light apprehension)
blithely lived my life minus
much regard for convention

Concubine

My mistress is verisimilitude
a pliant robust and imminently
sensual lover.

Her knowledge of love,extensive,
welll used on the likes of me
and I have no complaints of how
she treats me nor she of I.

We talk we love, share passions
that can only be shared by kindred
souls who meet only on the sly