Traveling

On family trips when
I was eight, nine
plastic, primary-color
cowboys, Indians,
soldiers, animals
fought and romped
in a synthetic, nappy,
dark-blue rear-window
battlefield meadow

Other times, it was a
fuzzy ledge on which to
lean, and watch the road
fading, while my mother
half-jokingly admonished
me to turn around, see
where I was going, not
where I had been

But I was a wistful nine.

Then,
sometimes now

 

– Mark L. Lucker
© 2018
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

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

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

Delivered

walking oldScreenshot (43)
neighborhood streets
first time in forty years

strolling the paper route
I once sped through on bike
chucking news, sports,
imaginary touchdown passes
blithe in my accuracy –
papers always
landing where intended
most of the time

remembering homes, faces
cantankerous folks
the best tippers
comforting offers of
lemonade, hot cocoa
incessantly yapping dogs
jokester accountants
fantasy-inducing housewives

Screenshot (45)subconsciously,
automatically I calculate
throwing angles to
accommodate now-grown trees
front yard rock gardens
odd statuary

before realizing with
laughably wistful irony that
all these years later
while I still have enough arm
to get them their news
would this generation even
understand the concept of
computer mouses
with cords
for their tales
landing on their doorsteps

– 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

diurnal

“…and there’s nothin’ short of dyin’
urban1that’s half as lonesome as the sound
of a sleepin’ city sidewalk
and Sunday mornin’, comin’ down…”

– Kris Kristoffferson

There is no respite from the escape
the night before, sketchy
adrenaline rush of
getting there, staying there, leavingurban3
behind whatever it was
trying to find whatever it is
oblivious as to whatever it should be
ambiguity used to fuel contentedness
but years, miles, time
have dulled senses, pinched off
feelings of adequacy
going with the flow when the
stream bed is just withered sand;
grounded flotsam
of sun-bleached opportunity
weathered dreams
honed to dull, polished smoothness
but the stream no longer washes over them,
urban1channel a conduit only for what was
any chance at rejuvenation
lies in torrential rains
that would wash away the dust
only to disappear once again
in the heat of another day

Stepping out into the street
putting aside metaphor, remembrances
reality is shrill comeuppance
here you are, who cares where you were
you don’t know where you’re going
though the morning is warm you fight the chill
inexorable creeping of time
paranoia of memories and the truth
assuaging balm of reminisces
warmth; pulling the collar of invincibility
up around your throat

There is a cold front moving in

experience has taught you
your wherewithal to combat the elements
no match for this brewing storm
the only sensibility and clarity afforded
urban1by all who’s, what’s, where’s, why’s
urban2you have been
the person you have become
knows instinctually, without regret

hunkering down, waiting it out,
no longer a viable option

out-of-place and time,
weathervane
spins incoherently
vagaries of the squall tells
only from where the wind blows,
not to point you in a direction
in lieu of a compass, it will have to do

headed down the street
the wind at your back, in your face
the city beckons you to
urban3impossibly attainable anonymity
promises you will be forgotten
but only for now,
only today, only tomorrow

There is no respite from the escape
still, you got out – ironically,
you would consider going back if
you only could remember
where you had been, why you were there,
how you got here from there
in the first place
this is what the morning brings

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

One metmorphisize fits all

Happily-ever-afterabstract4mll
mythology
prefaces every sequel
continuing
character-driven sagas
story arc only
tacking an index onto
volume one,
three, sixteen in a set

having read this scene
repeatedly
life movies
annotated script
writing, rewriting books
they were based on

playing
déjà vu-all-over-again
never more than
countless times
here-we-go-again
monotony of
changing times
changing directors

same cast of characters
different roles
replaced actors
haven’t-I-
seen-this-show-before?

Exit, stage right
enter stage left
either or,
vice versa
prefacing intermission
act one ends…

next!

time to regroup, recast
strike the set

endings are simply
ellipsis
masquerading
as comfort
to the ill-at-ease

– Mark L. Lucker
© 2016

Newlyweds ago

burnedpizza3Loft apartment,
late Saturday afternoon
spontaneity interrupted
by shrill, continual

oven timer buzz

“Pizzas done” says she
“But I’m not” replies he

not-rhythmic, static
range-buzzer drone not
disrupting tempo of early
life-together moral

they learned how easily
heat, afterglow can
turn three-dollar frozen
pizza to charcoal

– Mark L. Lucker
© 2015
http://lrd.to/sxh9jntSbd

 

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