1958

Eight-by-ten, glossy

Women’s gowns a snowy hue
men’s jackets polar-colored
pants black, everything else
radiant shades of grays

drearily brilliant tones
off-black, dark-white
vibrant portrait in celluloid

Twelve adults, a young boy
bouffants and buzz cuts, ogling
camera, mischievously

dead serious, mindfully aware
playful magnitude of the day

fighting off hangovers
practicing feigned solemnity
due charmed couple at center

She: youthful, stunning purity
dress, pearls, teeth, aura
He: counterfeit waiter miscast
starring male in tuxedo

a split second before
being frozen in time and
now tarnished frame
someone must’ve blurted
“Smile!”

If a thousand words
barely equal a single, old
Kodak portrait, the
bold, vivid, monochromatic
color does provide, with
absolute certainty

The camera never lies

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

Father’s Day Requiem

We never had one of
those TV sitcom
father-imparts-his-sage
wisdom, serious sit-downs
that I can recall

I have no fatherly counsel
fortune-cookie-inclusion
viral-meme-worthy
wisdom to share
rarely proclaiming,
“As my daddy used to say…”

Sans great punchline

parts of my father
I carry with me, mirth more
tangible than profundity
less open to interpretation
than mere platitudes

a life lived differently,
enjoyed fully

real examples used regularly:
treat people well
don’t sweat the small stuff
experience new things
appreciate old one
learn from whoever you can
because you
always can and you should

we never
discussed those things

what I learned most
from my dad was by osmosis
glacial, inexorable
noticeable only in retrospect
soaking up a life
generously poured, oftentimes
inadvertently spilled

hit me again, bartender.

conflicted by faith, he
simply lived faithfully
more-eighteen-than-
twenty-four-carat
Golden Rule doing-unto-others
sort of living

real gold doesn’t tarnish

I could say I never took a lesson
though that would be wrong
I unknowingly Jedi-mastered
mystical arts of wry observation
sardonic commentary, satirical jabs
serious points cloaked in
functional parables

uproariously serious,jester1-2
seriously funny

Like my father

I can never resist or not
appreciate a
humorous turn of phrase,
slapstick comedy,
ribald satire, bad pun

I learned from my dad
have confirmed by living: life
is a fine definition of irony

cursed I am, by
the grins of the father

  – 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

33 (For Johnny)*

Twenty-one years was not nearly enough;
we had just embarked when you left.
Thirty-three years is not nearly enough
to erase what is indelibly sketched

not a pencil caricature, a dimly recollected
photographic snapshot or grainy home movie
just you, at nineteen, before illness
rudely smudged and dog-eared the picture

you are smiling, damn it

you always smiled – warranted or not – but
really, when was it not, for us?
I cannot for the life of me conjure up
you at forty, thirty but especially not now

I imagine your asphalt black beard still thick,
neat, coarse…tinged gray, framing sly grin
your perpetual smile-induced squint turned
permanent as well-earned crow’s feet

‘imagine’ is all I can do

I have aged gracefully, so I’ve been told,
a goal you will never attain, a good-natured
insult I will never get to hurl your way

you left, life went on

The plans, hopes, dreams, big ideas we
discussed to death oddly survived yours
some of mine came true, differently than
we could’ve ever dreamed, but still true

the shared versions departed with you as
my road strangely and happily diverged from
plans made, starting with your leaving,
life taking me along for the journey much as
I have taken your spirit within me

The calendar now ironically tells me that
the years since you left match the numerals
you wore on your South High football jersey
the same numbers I have always worn for
company softball teams, and just because

I see you so clearly now – slashing through the
defensive line of time and memory, breaking
into the clear, smiling and always running free

*Johnny Wilkins 6/11/58 – 8/9/79

 

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

1958

Eight-by-ten, glossy

women’s gowns a snowy hue
men’s jackets polar-colored
pants black, everything else
radiant shades of grays

drearily brilliant tones
off-black, dark-white
vibrant portrait in celluloid

Twelve adults, a young boy
bouffants and buzz cuts, ogling
camera, mischievously

dead serious, mindfully aware
playful magnitude of the day

fighting off hangovers
practicing feigned solemnity
due charmed couple at center

she: youthful, stunning purity
dress, pearls, teeth, aura
he: counterfeit waiter miscast
starring male in tuxedo

a split second before
being frozen in time and
now tarnished frame
someone must’ve blurted
“Smile!”

If a thousand words
barely equal a single, old
Kodak portrait, the
bold, vivid, monochromatic
color does provide, with
absolute certainty

the camera never lies

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

Vestiges

As kids, we tied our fatescokebottlesinase
to various inanimate
yet participatory objects

spun bottles
Ouija boards
dandelions

professed proof of true loves
brought cryptic messages
all interpreted with certainty

until the imagined magic
vintage-william-fuld-mystifying-oracle-ouija-board-w-wooden-planchette-1938-a84507e57559af0289d9fc2a820d59dcwore off leaving us with our
first taste of skepticism

but the bottle could be
redeemed for the deposit,
the eye to the beyond a
table for your sister’s Barbie,
wilted weed went to seed

youth can leave you jaded
if you play the games
forgetting it is all in fun

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


‘Vestiges’ is just a sample.

COVER FINAL 2
From my book ‘Lost, found, holding on’ Available in paperback or Kindle http://lrd.to/p6rxzwIMnD

 

Christmas, remembered

There remains, for me, a magic to Christmas EveChristmas 1959 2
a carryover from youth, augmented with the new
memories being created, added to the repertoire

Thou the idyllic Mel Torme and Norman Rockwell
versions of iconic song and picture were only loving
adornments to the Christmas Eves I remembernat-king-cole-the-christmas-song-merry-christmas-to-you-1956
their annual, wistful reappearances are welcome

The night before Christmas was always a boisterous
holiday evening at my aunt an uncle’s suburban space,
not physically but atmospherically distant from
the more compact city neighborhood I knew

The night before Christmas, all through their house,Christmas 1959
laughter, excitement – my yearly chocolate Chrismouse

Christmas Eve meant food starting with a coffee table
full of Norwegian sardines, pickled herring, goat cheese;
more all-American and cheddar cheese and hard salami
all laid out on shiny plates – one of just Ritz crackers,ritzcrackers
on which I artfully packed all of my pre-meal delicacies

It was all augmented liberally with background Christmas
music from an old console stereo…one 33-and-third black
vinyl album at a time, dropping to the turntable until the
stack was spent, needed flipping to assorted side twos

The night before Christmas dinner meant boiled codfishtorsk2
befitting my mother’s family’s Norwegian heritage
and served with boiled potatoes and flatbread, all
slathered by ample pitchers of melted butter

Christmas Eve always ended with me awakening as IChristmas 1961
was being carried to bed, having fallen soundly asleep
somewhere between the family revelry and home

Christmas morning found me awaking before my
parents, before Gramps had arrived for the day;
alone but never lonely, I would be alone to sit andRockwell2
ponder our modestly decorated tree, packages strewn
beneath it like so many colorfully dropped pinecones

Never did I see mommy kissing Santa Claus

Growing up on the top floor of a tidy duplex, I had no
stairs to creep down except to go outside
there was no railing spindles between which to peekChristmas 1968
though mom and dad made occasional use of the
plastic, hung-on-the-living-room-arch mistletoe

Never did we rock around our tree, an always live,
dad-preferred (its-needles-didn’t-drop!) Scotch pine
though when Gramps arrived we could always manage
a quick, Norwegian jig or two to some Christmas songtree
or another playing on the transistor radio in the corner

We had no fireplace chimney by which to hang stockings
though a small nail in the wooden archway between our
living and dining room did the trick, diminished none of
morning’s excitement of a stuffed stocking, hanging

We had no fire on which to roast chestnuts or standnormanrockwellchristmastrio
before singing carols, though my father would sporadically
duet with Nat King Cole on the radio, as together they
extolled the virtues of a Christmas foreign to us;
an archetype we did quite nicely without

I remember youthful Christmases for what they were;NatKingColealbum
fun, joyful, memorable though not all that lyrical.

“Although it’s been said, many times, many ways…
Merry Christmas to you.” And to me.

Mark Lucker

Freshness

cardboard Tupperware
crowds my attic
keeping my soul
preserved if not fresh

rows, stacks of
oddly square bowls
repositories of then;
lost loves, past successes
other leftovers

sometimes leftovers
trump a fresh lunch
filling rejuvenation found
amidst the smell
musty brown wood pulp

Mark Lucker

Pictures

We
were a long
time ago

years?
decades?
lifetimes?
carbon dating?

time is filled in
a long forgotten
coloring book
half the pictures
never finished
bold, black-line
outlines dated,
quaint

stumbled across
by accident
you flip through
remembering
all the scenes
beach, park,
ball, puppy

love ?

first few pages
carefully colored
giving way to
partially filled
marker-mosaics
lacking nuance
or hue
unrealistically
bold

and only now do
you understand the
illogic in staying
within the lines

as you toss the
book in the trash

Mark Lucker

Art of Flying

Flights of fancy
via wings of balsa
when an extra nickel
added a propeller

we took wing
on wind-looping
imagination

gliding sometimes
to gentle landings
more often crashing
with aplomb-tinged
disappointment
when repairs were
beyond the pale

Images silently
soaring, frozen in
in time and flight
still life, real life
in balsa and
backyard

Mark Lucker