Playing on

Faded are July’s warmth, summer’s cheers. Supplanted now by the encroaching hints of cooler days, forgotten expectations, procrastinated chores shelved, he can only now muse without dwelling on what won’t be. Could-have-beens and maybes aren’t statistically meaningful; they never really were, except to others in relation to their expectations and dreams for him. Regret is not something that taints him. He does not feel a talent wasted. He recalls every crucial moment as it was, for what it was.

Unburdened by excuses, unwilling to pass blame. A trait truly a gift not wasted.

It was what it was and is, he did what he had done, and it has all come down to this: seasons of joy, of youth, of expectations – have dwindled, and he savors their uncertainty of numbers. Youth cannot serve that master. He revels in coming autumn and finds it no burden as winter creeps in to bury and renew. Spring will be welcome, but no more or less than its brethren.

Memories are not subsistence. This he knows for fact. Cheers he once accepted have faded. Others have taken his place on stage. As many have forgotten him as remember him. The field of honor which he once ruled by force and triumphant jousting he now benevolently presides over. The thought occurs that maybe his soul is the autumn grass; wearily vibrant, going dormant. In need of a respite. The patriarch emeritus smiles in triumph.

Zipping up his coat, its collar turned upward against the gathering winds of fall, he leans into the breeze, stiffening his resolve. The air is quiet, save the wind, and he is at peace with the simple knowledge that spring will, someday, sometime, for whatever reason, return. But for now, time is in his comfortable grasp, for he now understands its tenuous and uncontrollable nature; he can tuck it safely away like a pocket watch in vest pocket, and stroll through the lovely, dark and deep woods without fear of reprisal from promises not kept.

Mark Lucker

Distance

The expanse is self-inflicted
a self-exiled expatriate;
I am here, not there

answered a calling, have since done my
best at least pretty well considering
restraints with which I had to work

sometimes I feel
my work here done
my time here over
needed elsewhere,
so I try to believe

but the work here is far from finished
though I would prefer it be for me

there are times I think someone else
needs to take their turn at this thing
as I have been here, done that

God has yet to agree.

Life off the playground is not about
taking turns everybody does not get into
the game (their choice) so I keep working
at all of it, trying hard, doing what I can,
attempting to practice the patience I
once employed abundantly in tougher
times and situations

Awaiting God’s answers
to questions I am not sure
I know how to even ask
is my symbol to bear

In seeking clarity to a calling maybe I
need to be more specific in expressing
my tepidly unique, evolving, reservations

Mark Lucker

Taking a concession stand

I hate it when somebody
states they are ‘making
concessions’ to middle age

I find mid-life to be a
wonderful carnival
the only concessions
those to be purchased
to quench a thirst
sate a hunger

I stroll the middle age
midway impervious to the
shill’s siren-call of con-men
barkers offering relief
enhancement and release
me, laughing at the
gullibility of others

I can stroll casually
letting the sights and sounds
of life’s extravagance simply
soak in or wash over me

stopping when I am hungry
free, now, to indulge
without fear of distraction or
spilled mustard on my shirt

Mark Lucker

Making note

A cheap flash drive
containing one document;
PDF file of a note – my
message of hopeful wonder,
Robinson Crusoe-like whim

I seal the technological
romanticism tightly in a
Mason Jar, throw it into the
ocean at night as the tide
predictably recedes

Sitting on the beach I
ponder as only a man with
youthful hindsight, waning
sense of adventure, should

where, how far, how long
my modern take on
ancient currents will carry

I confidently wonder if its
eventual discovery
will prompt the curiosity of
its finder to seek out its
by-then-obsolete technologytext_message
decipher it with anticipation

or if, by then, will time have
erased the need or desire
for wonder and excitement
I question all this as the jar
slowly bobs its way out
into the darkness
that is the unknown

Mark Lucker

Crisis averted

I watch my peers unsteadily
trampling middle age
sitting on various benchmarks
when they need to or
when they just want to watch

older, we are, most certainly
wiser is a tougher read
for those denying the
need for glasses or just
out of myopic stubbornness

when, what, why, how, where
the cryptic mysteries of
befuddled youth given way
to smug satisfaction dispensing
collected answers as flippant
Confucius-wannabes

I observe my peers gleefully
trampling middle age
cheering various barometers,
just because, with a gusto once
reserved for campus protests
thumbing their collective noses

things are much clearer
viewed in digital 20/20 hindsight
with the impish assurance
that they know a bunch of stuff
the rest of you do not

Manly

At eight-years old
machismo has a
very different feel

‘Don’t cry like a baby,’
my son would admonish
his second-grade peers
‘…cry like a man!’

As he is now sixteen
I wonder…would he
challenge them at all?

Not a deep sleep

I used to have a dream where
I had won first prize in a
church raffle: lunch with God

where, over, thin-crust pizza,
I could ask him three questions.
I always lead with an inquiry
about why he made humans

“The hyenas” sayeth God,
as the waitress pours more wine,
“said I didn’t a sense of humor.”
“Guess you showed them, huh?”
replyeth I, with a nod

In my dream, God then laughs
uproariously – looking, for just a
moment like my late uncle Paul
(without salad stuck in his teeth)

This is where the dream always
ends, leaving me to ponder; was
it just a lame dollar-a-ticket raffle,
or am I not much of a dreamer?

Cross training

Some think we’re simply running away
not believing that what we are running to
is something, someplace that needs us
just as much as we need it

Just the act of running moves you away
from something, towards something else

life is running; not living is sitting still

We are running away; running away
from a professionally futureless present
mired in the stagnant quicksand of the
material world’s indifference to belief

running to new challenges, opportunity
for the chance to really get into the game,
to make a difference in the lives of others

running to get even healthier spiritually

Not running away from people we love
but to carry their love with us to a place
often unloved or misjudged as unlovable

their love is the baton we carry to pass to
other runners, other racers, other races.

Yes, we are running away – not to get away
but to take the lead, hoping others follow.

Not a race to the finish, but a pursuit
to new beginnings.

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

Guardian pal

Like a shadow
you know is there
but disappears when
you turn to confront it

it’s there, but he’s not

Following discreetly,
benignly nourish
part of the atmosphere
minus the trench coat

Sometimes light diffuses
instead of illuminates

My father’s memory,
legacy, aura follows me

no, I am not paranoid
just aware of the oddly
whimsical, enchanting and
sardonic, wry and witty

benevolent, quirky,
constant companion