– Mark L. Lucker
All poetry, all the time.
Loin cloth, tuxedo;
so many moods, so few nights
we have to ourselves
The young ballplayer drags his bat to the plate, leaving a neat,
shallow furrow in the dirt in which the seeds of success are now
sown; there is purpose to his gait, no fear. He is resolute.
He practice swings the bat in a warped, pendulum loop while his
oversized, red plastic helmet acts a boa constrictor trying to
digest his head. Dogged determination shapes the boys eyes
He stands beside home plate, tongue protruding from the lower
left corner of his mouth in intensity; his face drawn in pseudo-
sneer, he spreads his feet, digs toes firmly into the sacred dirt
The boy is ten.
He looks every bit the ballplayer; body language poised – just
shy of cocky; seriousness finger-painted in bold red dirt streaks
across the white script team name adorning his uniform shirt
His bat slowly rises, coming to rest on his shoulder as he fixes
a nearly-hardened gaze on the adversary forty-six feet ahead;
takes a deep breath, wrinkles his nose to move the sweat off
The pitcher looks at him, cocks his arm, throws. Bait not taken;
a ball! The bat in the boy’s hands wobbles alongside his head,
goes still a brief moment as the next pitch approaches before
whipping violently from his shoulder, thrust in a swept-sword
arc at the hurled sphere coming; arm muscles strain, elbows go
straight, torso and hips spin wildly, eyes close as bat meets ball…
Momentum causes the boy to teeter briefly, before an ungainly
burst from the batter’s box sends him lurching toward first as
the ball, like a flat stone on water, skims the infield dirt, kicking
up four quick puffs of diamond dust and the boy’s thought is of
only one thing; the sudden grandeur of a double – a double! – as
he rounds first, and the ball comes to a stop in the outfield grass
The boy playing right field for the opponents charges in, plucking
the ball from the turf where it has come to rest while in the same
odd, Quixotic-windmill motion he catapults it toward second base
Then it all happens so fast.
The boy has ducked his head rounding first, doggedly running
fast as he ever has or ever will, only looking up in time to see the
ball jutting from the webbing of the glove suddenly before him
the sight alerts the boy’s baseball instincts to his only option;
intuitively he launches his feet out from under him, left leg fully
extended, right leg tucked beneath him, curled at the knee
his left buttock slams into the dirt with a cloud of dust, his body
sliding to a stop a full foot in front of second base, he sees the
glove smack his shin, hearing a soft, excited voice; “You’re out!”
Lying there looking up into fading afternoon sun he can make the
silhouette of his vanquisher; arms raised in exultant triumph, ball
in one hand, glove the other, and a look of surprised satisfaction.
From flat on his back he lifts his head to focus, and through the
dissipating cloud of grit the face of his rival comes into soft focus
from beneth her frayed bent cap brim. No gloating countenance,
the gentle face is a wide smile, large eyes – framed by two tightly-
braided, long, dangling, swaying pig-tails; near the end of each
dangle shiny plastic barrettes the exact hue of her cap and jersey
There is an oddly comforting lilt to her voice saying “You’re out!”
He doesn’t hear moans of disappointment from his team’s bench.
Still on his back, chin on chest, he smiles, repeats; “You’re out.”
His head flops back on the dirt. She leans over him, still holding
the ball, hands on her knees, he again repeats, “You’re out.”
The girl nods. “Yep” she repeats with a broad smile, “You’re out.”
From that moment on, though he will often try, he can never quite
accurately articulate or explain to anyone (even himself) his inate
passion for baseball, his true love. His love of the game.
Young and beautiful
Someday your looks will be gone
When the others turn you off
Who’ll be turnin’ you on
I will, I will, I will,
– The Captain and Tennile, Love Will Keep Us Together
We have been together twenty years
nineteen of those as husband, wife
skeptics be damned; we knew early
it would work – at least I hoped so
First sight? Yes, and most all since
Wedding sermonizing, stray advice
from grizzled old timers cautioned us;
fading rose blooms, finding common
interests as togetherness progressed
counsel heeded, time has brought us
deeper understanding, true partnership
First sight? I remember my initial
glance, the eyebrow-raising view I
got upon arrival at the restaurant we
had decided upon during pre-meeting
phone conversations; I always picture
her sitting on that end of bar stool,
turning toward the door as I entered
the neighborhood café, seeing those
blue eyes, wry smile, cunning figure
Not a difficult task: time hasn’t blurred
the picture nor does it need retouching:
a funny thing happened along the life
road called til-death –do-us –part.
I now know every inch of her intimately
marveling frequently at her Dorian Gray
routine, thankful every day for the gift
her eyes are still the most unique shade
of azure, the little lines around the edges
still crackle with a thousand stories when
she smiles; a smile that still entices
like it did that first night from a barstool
Twenty years -partners, lovers, friends to
whom a funny thing happened on the
way to happily-ever-after; not what they
told me – nothing at all like the song said
“Young and beautiful
Someday your looks will be gone
When the others turn you off
Who’ll be turnin’ you on…
She does, she does. she does…
oh, my! She still really does.
Can I take you to lunch?
May I take you upstairs?
I have only an hour
to go where I desire
to be taken – taking time
for longings, for lunch –
taking time is tempting
as you tempt me,
letting me be taken to
lunch or taken elsewhere,
because I am always taken
The rub here is that I need
to be back in an hour – can
we make this order to go?
Call me when you get this.
Poets have often
I see love in
more esoteric yet
love is tartar sauce.
It looks like hell
you have no idea
what might be in it
yet you always
seem to find
Dinner with my Valentine;
wine and Sinatra
My first Valentine was an always smiling,
friendly, never-ever mean girl named Linda
she had long, blonde hair typically tied up
in bouncy pigtails bound with basic-color
rubber bands, not a shiny ribbon or the big,
gaudy, pink-plastic barrettes the snooty,
untouchable first-grade girls favored
We shared cards and candy conversation
hearts in our chair-back hanging, decorated
shoe boxes, rarely conversed ( but smiled at
each other a lot) never did we consummate
sandbox time. Mrs. Kime sat us side-by-side,
served as all-year chaperone, gave us both A’s
Fifth grade found me in a new town, school –
yet still enticed by a pretty blonde with heavily
swaying pigtails. Laure favored darker dresses
with short hemlines (which I now noticed) but
(contrary to common boy-belief of the time) her
single strap, shiny black patent-leather shoes
did indeed reflect up, didn’t show all that much.
By sixth grade I had graduated to the far more
refined, jaunty, titillating, free-swinging pony tail;
yet another blonde with even shorter hemlines
and longer legs with which to showcase them.
Peggy was far taller than I, was assigned to be my
dance partner in gym class, and I enjoyed the view
I had by rarely looking up while the music played.
That was also the year that a different tall, pony-
tailed blonde named Penny tried repeatedly to be
my Valentine (even out of Cupid season) while I
continually, nervously demurred – mostly out of
adolescent confusion at (for once) being desired,
not the in-vain pursuer; a lost Penny.
Far from being maudlin, romantic lamentations
of lost youth, they are fond remembrances; sweet,
they are, indeed, my Valentine tails of the heart.
I have a recurring dream where I awaken,
naked, on a stainless steel operating table.
Unable to move, I can still speak. I ask the
cutting coroner what it was that killed me.
Without missing a beat, he removes a
bullet, tweezer-dropping it with a ‘clang’
into a shiny tray. “You, sir, died from
a broken heart.” I smile, correcting him.
“No, doc, you got it all wrong. She shot me.”