Old growth

birchbark1At age seven I nearly killed the pubescent
birch tree anchoring our Minneapolis backyard
stripping it of all its bark, roots to four feet up –
the physical limits of my fanciful reach

As Mrs. Kime’s most intrepid first-grader
I planned to build a birch bark canoe, ala
the Chippewa we were studying, but
my grandiose vessel never took float
paddling confined to parental retribution
albeit with forgiving landlord-absolution

not George Washington, there is no notoriety
from well-intentioned arbor-indiscretiontreerings2

Half a century later, the birch tree still stands
defiant, smugly secure in its survival: Midwestern
winters, drought summers, visionary first graders

I too, still stand – resilient and unfazed, rooted in
long-forfeited yard, having weathered erratic seasons
dubious choices, those who tried to remake me
I remain a curious, risk-taking, idea-prone dreamer

Neither of us ever produced a working canoe yet
our respective rings share a distinctive trait; denser,
late, wood – thick ring dating us to a particular summer
the growing season that solidified respective chronologies

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

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

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

Morning coffee

Saturday

Early, but not too
I bring her
a cup of coffee
rich stuff,
the good stuff
our special
Saturday blend

She stirs gently,
like the brew
setting the mug
on her nightstand
pheromones blend with
aromatic Arabica

Saturday morning
alchemy dissolves into
Saturday afternoon

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

You.

Yes, you of
posted pictorials
stonecoldironydystopian bon mots
your naiveté trumps
your angst

ironically
you are playing
solitaire

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

No fish story (for Amy)

I am not
fish6carping here
from poet’s perch;
people often find my
reel, romantic tale fishy

Love is like shooting fish
in a barrel – this I have known
for long I have been one with the
proverbial oaken-casked floundererfish8

I am no fish out of water here
nor do I have any other fish to fry
there are, I know, other fish in the sea
but I have my catch; she caught me

you can take the bait on this:
looking for deeper meaning
in my metaphors is a
fishing expedition

loving her has
always been
easy: shefish2
lured,
I bit

hook,
line,
sinker

– 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

Valentine’s Day, approacheth

GB beerAdrift

Over a beer, I blithely told
a friend bemoaning a lost love
there were plenty of
“other fish in the sea”

unmoved, he was, as I noted
“there are also tires, discarded
refrigerators and sunken oil tankers”

Thus inspired he raised his glass,
made a toast; “Let’s hear it” said he
“for the girls of the flotsam.”

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


 

Midway!? All the Way!

Love is like a day at the fairmidwayalltheway2

flashing neon, loud music, exotic
sights, smells, sounds, enticements

sensory overload

You know you shouldn’t over indulge
but you do and then you get sick
but what a ride, oh what a ride!

Faster! Faster! Faster!
Up! Down! All around! Spinning!
Dropping! Whirling! Faster! Faster!
Spinning around, wanting desperately
to get off but can’t until the ride stops

a disembodied voice reminds you to
‘Stay in your seat until the ride comesmidwayalltheway
to a complete stop!

But by then it is way too late.

You are walking down the midway
you are woozy, but need to eat
everything and nothing looks appetizing
and the first thing you grab is cotton candy

Love is cotton candy in the summer heat
sweet, sticky, satisfying – always a mess.

No matter how hard you try to keep your
fingers clean, it is always a great, big
sticky, gooey, wouldn’t-miss-it mess.

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


 

Smörgåsbord

smorgasbord2There are many
different
kinds of love

puppy
brotherly
unrequited
passionate
secret
eternal
young
first
true

having oftsmorgasbord1
indulged in
at least
a smattering
of each morsel
mixing entrées
salads
desserts on
the same plate

I am woefully
unqualified
to distinguish
tasty from savory
overcooked from
underdone yucky
from delectable

still I happily
grab a fresh plate
for another pass

– 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

Wood-post modernist

pencil2thrills are to be had

secrets need revealing
wonders beg unraveling
truths urge to be told

revelations

dark and light
constrained in the
pristine symmetry of
new, freshly sharpened
shiny-yellow pencil

just above the perfectly
honed greyish tip
peach-fuzz wisps of wood
cling gently, smell of pine
tickle fingers excitedly

anticipation

cylindrically contained
wisdom waits for dispensing
tales of life crave to regale;
ideas yearn to be rendered
philosophies chafe
to be revealed

slices of life,

snapshots in time
narrow, wooden
repository of wisdom
covenant ark of perceptions
woven tightly between
two fingers, thumb

pristine, freshly sharpened,
primal and fearless
my shiny yellow pencil

poet selfie stick.

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