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

Homage

I went all Santiago once on a
bober1sunfish that weighed nearly a pound
it was long before I knew
Hemingway, the power of words,
the pull of the water

I battled the monster
as only a nine-year-old could;
with every fiber of my being
strained to matching tautness of
six-pound-test line at the end
of bent, dark, shiny bamboo
pole with cork handlebobber2

Summers at Horseshoe Lake
were the defining milieu of my life
where the rest-of-the-year city kid I was
discovered the majesty of woods, water

adrenaline rush of a loon’s call,
scent of pine, calming sounds
of wind through birch leaves and
wood-framed window screens

The summer I was nine
I went all Santiago on a sunfish
weighing nearly a pound

Ernest would be proud.

– 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

Winter solace

These north woods100_5066
are lovely, bright, and deep
glistening with snow
and promises to keep

Serenity resides
in the fresh wonder of
the new wintry familiarity,100_5072
renewal in fresh snowfall

I have not trod, of late,
these winter woods
two years have passed
since my last sojourn

my longest such time
away from this place,
its brisk tranquility

These north woods
are lovely, bright, and deep100_5081
glistening with memories
promises to keep

aroma of pine wafts
unseen smoke warms
someone’s home,
my very soul

walking down
this familiar road
I know where I
have been is not
where I am headed
though the route100_5071
remains the same

each tire track
fading onto the horizon
is a different thread,
unique memory,
both history and map

there is scant traffic,100_5065
little to break the stillness
save the occasional
remindful siren song;
trill of a blue jay,
staccato woodpecker,
synchronized squirrels
tap dancing on birch bark

there is comforting
warmth in this winter air
a soothing, balmy chill
in the soundtrack
of these woods

I walk on, serene

These north woods
are lovely, bright, and deep
glistening with snow
promises they and I must keep

Mark Lucker

Road trip, 1965 –

When I was a kid we
planted trees by the lake

72 pine seedlings hauled
north in milk cartons
arranged on the back
floor of a ’39 Dodge

the trees and I were
small, green, pliable
in need of nurturing

the Dodge sits now in a
junkyard, the remaining
pines scrape the sky

I remember each and
every one, hardly trying

Mine

Beatles songs,
baseball cards
the aroma of a
fresh-mowed lawn,
pungent sweetness
of burning leaves

lake-bottom mud
spurting through
summer toes

Gelatinous frogs.

Hot beach sand
cool July evenings
and the first
non-parental hand
ever held

A specific summer.

Tactile youth. You.

Gated communities

Never have I been further
from my youth
then when I returned to
the scene of it

places, people, things change
time, people, lives elapse

Going home is a
metaphor smorgasbord;
abandoned cabin overgrown
with woods, withered by age

dirt roads now paved
familiar sights still sturdy
though showing some age
roadside greasy spoons now
trendily featuring salads

locals speak of ‘amenities’

Places grow up, people change
or vice versa; who can tell?

Sedentary in its change
the place you knew as home
always will be, though you
can’t live there anymore.

Campfire poem #49

A log of pine
a mug of coffee
and thou

Omar, I am
not.

 

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

Campfire poem #71

Campfire smoke
makes a fine
aphrodisiac
but it
lulls
my wife
to sleep
making
embers an
ambiguous
metaphor