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

High church

baseball-1957-clevelandAwed by the spectacle
blissfully confused to meaning
wide-eyed youth
confirmed in mystical faith
spiritual pageantry
standing for opening homily,
crowd vibrant, then bowed
reverence, singing along
opening hymn of allegiance
some know the words

Opening day, paradoxically
given all the answers
yet you need to discover
unending myriad of questions
finding your own way home

you tried discernment
unsure, wavering, exasperated
still loyal; the true believernicolletpark

Then came one
still sweetly recalled summer
prayerfully answering the call,
taking final vows,
when, in seven
yours won it all.

Long ago ordained, now
consecrated regular – your
stately, charismatic garments
proudly sweat-blotched, faded
bent-brimmed woolen miter
adornment off-kilter

presiding from
sun-soaked choir box-pew,ebbets-field2
lead provocateur –
sitting, standing, exultantly
cheering ‘Hallelujah!’
(modern translation)

Plastic chalice,
ice-cold communion potable
condiment-slathered
tubular unity bread
feeds heart, soul, head

Eucharistic celebration
pipe organ crescendos
punctuate ingrained,
ever-differing liturgy
opportunisticallyvintage-baseball
engaging homily played out

congregants alternately
stand in joyful anticipation,
sit in veneration, anguish

Ritualistic, solemn,
sacramental. Reverential.

True faith comes when
exuberance, not feigned,
reverberates, message lingers
long after you exit the temple
crossing the white lines drawn
on vibrant green
lessons ingrained
personal parables formulated

allowing you to be in the world,
of the world. Baseball.

Amen.
“Play ball!”

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

Recalculating

only another turning point
crossroads of cliché and same ole
what to do which way to turn
got here without GPS will
navigate as always, following stars

gut instinct not infallible co-pilot
riding shotgun, no desire to shoot
let alone take aim even with
windows down, wind in my hair
freedom promised by open roads
just a more panoramic void
ahead or behind checking the shifter
my only clue as to direction
I can’t move it to R going fifty-seven
so I must be moving onward

hard to tell: the road nothing
but a dot in the distance
thinking back to ninth grade art,
lesson on perception and perspective
the farther you are away fromsign2
something means the brush strokes
need to be lighter, not so bold
in coloring or thickness or was
that a different lesson entirely?

I always got yelled at for never
cleaning my brushes properly
leaving them dry, stiff but I made them
starkly, erratically pliable again, using
my own technique of pushing down,
flattening bristles out, painting again
much coarser lines, less nuance

I am no impressionist
haven’t touched a canvas
in years yet time is just blots of color
I need a picture or map to
follow or grab vague directional hints
as I decide to flip a mental coin
heads left, tails right using my blinker –
always instructed to warn those
following my intentions

laughing to myself ruefullyonewayoneway

any fool who tries to follow
will be as lost as I
not knowing what I know
how not to get where I am going
and how many ways there are
to go there or not go there

pedal-to-the-metal-time
squealing rubber, leaving tracks
just drive, baby. Just drive.

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

Rider less

What goes around
tiltawhirl2comes around
life more
Tilt-A-Whirl than
Merry-go-Round

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

up…?

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

save the poeticallytiltawhirl4
unenlightened dreamer
on the rumbling
quarter-a-ride,
in-front-of-the
grocery-store horse

– 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
http://lrd.to/sxh9jntSbd

Here on scholarship

“There is no honor amongst thieves05199_V13_I1
even less with trailer-park debutantes”

Early life lesson from a bartender who
worked his bottle opener like a scrapyard
crane operator dumping rusty Chevys
spun a corkscrew as a master drill press
operator teaching an apprentice21-500x347

But that was years ago, when the price
of a drink was considered cheap tuition
whether auditing the neighborhood class
or undergrad-afterthought clubbing

Now I know betterbillets 100 dollars #23

You pay for the best education paying
attention to detail, not with Franklins

People tell tales; life instructs,
proctors its own tests
sometimes you get your gradestandardized_testing
rarely are you offered extra credit

Life’s tests are not standardized
multiple choice essays true/false

Just do the homework
02hillary_bskip the cramming
know it or you don’t

Seeing it living it understanding it
where, when it all went south
when you’ve reached the summit
how you did it, maybe could again

sometimes you just walk away

platitudes, platypus, Plato;
you’ve read enough to be dangerousPlato-006
a grandma once told me with sad irony
“You buy ‘em books, you buy ‘em books”

And never the twain shall meet.

What I have learned and can impart
from this side of the weathered bar?gps

Be polite, play nice, share your toys
Life is not always fair because it isn’t
Love and laugh – a lot and with gusto
Look both ways before you cross life

And never trust a vagabond with a GPS.

Mark Lucker

Muse bemuse

Erato

She has been a muse
nothing more and
everything less
since we met as teens

inspiration still flows
from a fleeting reminder;
hearing her name
(commonly used by others
out of parental laziness)
the searing stubbed-toe
pain of an emotional owie
only she could’ve kissed
and made better

longing springs from trying
to remember just why
pinpoint specifics of how;
pixellated memories
vaguely distinguishable
from imagination

I was never her destiny
not even on the periphery
of being a fallback option
as I don’t believe she ever
wrote a single word of me,
save long-ago-stopped-
exchanging Christmas cards

Thalia

as my muse she has become
more verb than noun
a contemplative touchstone
to a time when faux
inspired creativity passed
for honest insight

confirming my relief that
I am neither sculptor or
painter…but a simple poet
– prone to and forgiven for –
hyperbole and other creative
transgressions, writing with
suspended creative license,
failing to not yield
to the pedestrian

Adieu redux

Final good-byes rarely are

I have buried many a soul
precious to me
solemnly, sorrowfully
humorously

some with great relief
many a complete surprise

I have uttered public words of
farewell, regret, remembrance

tossed flowers, clods of earth,
remorse and thank-yous
atop bronze cocoons

said farewell never meaning or
believing it; til-we-meet-agains
with more doubt than certainty

Death is the rude party guest
who blithely interrupts then
monopolizes every conversation

the caller you never invite
again but who always shows up
anyway because there is always
one in every crowd

One line

as goes the ending
so goes the fresh beginning;
life’s merry-go-round

Poured forth

The bartender is skeptical;
less than most of his peers
more transparent about it
than many fellow mixologist
hesitant in his urge to believe

the guy on the stool adjacent
to mine doesn’t understand
the resistance, thus taking the
credibility hit when he can
least afford one, then takes it
personally, with resignation;
defeated in his silent defiance

As a bystander with no vested
interest but the mental-wager
I, too, doubt the man’s sincerity
believable as it may be – or not.

The bartender, I think, makes a
salient point; there is no use in
arguing with a lovesick drunk,
nothing is gained from making
oblique threats of expulsion
should anything get out of hand

we all agree on one absolute; if
he had said anything at all to her,
we would all know for certain.

Mark Lucker