Ramblin’ Man

Child of the 70’s I am
probably a
half-a-decade behind that
favoring the 60’s

Not much into the Allmans
though lots of friends
certainly were

rearview-mirroring my peers
I get it now
because I lived it then

Lord, I was born a ramblin’ man
Tryin’ to make a livin’ and doin’ the best I can
And when it’s time for leavin’
I hope you’ll understand
That I was born a ramblin’ man

Moving from Minnesota to Colorado
at age ten
only a prelude

trekking back and forth every summer
via classic
Greyhound Sceni-Cruisers

Within a week of high school graduation
I was back on the bus
back to Minneapolis, broadcasting school
kickstarting a career in small towns

Missouri, Iowa
back to Minnesota for wide-ranging
multiple towns, call letters
a true radio vagabond

Lord, I was born a ramblin’ man
Tryin’ to make a livin’ and doin’ the best I can

genetically predisposed, I suppose
descended from
seafaring Vikings and diaspora Jews

My radio days ended, but not my nomadic
approach to the universe
Minneapolis, rural Minnesota again

ten years in New Orleans
as a high school teacher, no less

now back in the urban Midwest
tethered by roots seen
and unnoticed
here to stay, until I’m not

And when it’s time for leavin’
I hope you’ll understand

That I was born a ramblin’ man

Lord, I was born a ramblin’ man
Lord, I was born a ramblin’ man
Lord, I was born a ramblin’ man


– Mark L. Lucker
© 2019



Born to urban parents
decidedly not
of, with nature
living in a duplex

growing up
I ran safe, middle class
streets with abandon
and other kids

played ball in the park
took bike treks
went bowling


By the time I
was six
in summer I was
shipped off to The Lake

retirement oasis for
family friends
my pseudo grandparents

I was enraptured
with all
the woods, the water
had to offer

walking dirt roads
hiking through
primeval forest
playing with frogs

summers were always
much too short


Growing up
moving away from

I worked in small towns
my parents
when visiting
found quaint, peculiar

as they did my
affection and affinity
for these locales


I eventually returned
to the city life
married a girl from
the country

who preferred leaving
the past in the past

my affinity to
woods, water
assuaged by occasional
camping trips

temporary, junkie fix
of pine, birch, dirt


My time
in the woods now

my family not
attuned as I am
to anything not urban

chameleon like
I can
do flannel shirts
as easily as
Oxford and tie

in need of solitude
I guess I just need
to go it alone

old school it
tent, sleeping bag
firewood, frying pan

can of Spam
block of cheese


For now all I can do
is remember

sitting here
chair at desk
open windows

amidst cacophony of
city sounds

my denouement
is to type a
love poem to

the woods
The Lake

expressing my youthful
older man gratitude



– Mark L. Lucker
© 2019

Nature, nurture, not

Those from more rural locales
find urban approaches
to all things nature

Nurturing of lawns
cajoling green lushness
only to immediately cut it
once it gets too high, too lush

symmetric containment of flowers
pride in set aside green spaces
massive cement bowls
adorning boulevards

transformation of
rural America to urban for
those who have grown on the land
find the city more nurture than nature

contrived in it’s simplistic
approach to bringing
the real to those

bring the country
to the big city – people
nature and you’ll observe
neither in their natural habitat

– Mark L. Lucker
© 2019


Alter egos

Prufrock got Eliot all wrong

or it could have been

the other way around

pending misbegotten  ideas

ideals, more on who, what

contradictory or indecisive

right from wrong

wrong from right

is it any wonder

neither of them asked


– Mark L. Lucker
© 2019

Road trippin’

What if

Jack Kerouac


Robert Frost

on a road

well traveled

but with still enough

cachet amongst



to capture the


inherent in


‘he went thataway’


– Mark L. Lucker
© 2019


As kids we would hold dandelions

beneath each others chins

somehow fascinated by learning

who liked butter


dandelions going to seed were

fun to pick, blow on

scattering their fluffy countenance

to the winds until some

adult said to stop it because

all they were were weeds


then dandelion wine was

all the rage

for a time

neighborhood restaurants

feature them

in salads


holdout hippies and

art fair merchants

weave them into headgear

elevating the dandelion to

victors laurel status


times were simpler

when we were younger

though now the simplicity

lies in seeing what

has always been, letting go

with a poof of breath

on downy seed


Those days when I would go off by myself
into the woods, grandma’s admonitions
‘be careful’ ‘make sure you don’t go too far’

‘Too far’ was never really delineated

As an only child alone with grandparents
each summer, all summer, my independence
struggled to keep pace with my curiosity

With each passing summer I strayed further
from the confines of friendships with other kids
different grandkids of different grandparents

Those kids had siblings, cousins, confines

I had what I needed, filling voids and days
with nature, my own thoughts, inquisitiveness
self-taught solitude my badge of honor

Though I knew each square inch of the woods
surrounding Horseshoe Lake, every leaf-strewn
trail, downed log, sun-soaked clearing to sit

It was the land that knew me better than I it

The woods knew when I needed cheering
they brought me birds, scampering chipmunks
days I needed to inspiration – wildflowers

Rainy days, other homes feared bored children
but rain spoke to me, rhythmically, joyously
via scent, sound through open windows

Youthful exploration gave me an understanding
peers lacked, a knowledge of things unseen
a faith I could have never learned in church

Grandma’s long-ago admonitions to ‘not get lost’
were heeded, until adulthood, when I had to
recall what was, what I had learned as a child

When I was lost, I could always get home
even if the home was no longer there, as the
woods know you, even when you are lost.

– Mark L. Lucker
© 2019



The audacity of life

thinking it knows best
thinking it knows you
thinking it should be
thinking for you

Life is what happens
while you’re
making other plans

Still pretty egotistical
still thinking it knows
what’s what and you, too

G-d would say fate is
providence simply
following the script
but he didn’t write so
who the hell knows?

Predestination is really
pre-ordering the life
album before it drops

it really isn’t anything at
all about trust – but more
for the lazy and the
excuse-makers amongst us

Just don’t get caught up in
your personal sagacity.

– Mark L. Lucker
© 2019

Letter to the 20 Year Old Me

Hey, Dude.

I know its tough when someone dies. You’ve done that before but that was old people you knew would die. Different when it’s somebody your own age, really different when it was one of your best friends.

I know it was tough not being there. But truth be told, you learned a lot from handling this one on your own. Twenty, living alone in a small town, far away from family, friends. Your knack for solitude and introspection served you well when Johnny died.

It may not seem like it, but you’ll get passed it. And no, you won’t forget him or the times you had together.  I’d also lie to tell you he’ll be the last but he won’t. Fortunately most of your friends stick around for a long time.

Oh you’ll lose your share, but it is who you expect; grandpa, the pseudo grandpas and grandmas.  Not a lot of them totally unexpected.

Until you’re twenty-eight, and dad dies.  That’s the one that takes its toll. But the good news is, he left you with enough of a legacy that you’ll take it, run with it. You’ll be o.k.

Oh yeah, he also leaves you with some secrets to unravel and in time, you will. Not that it won’t cause some big ol’ headaches along the way.  You will discover some stuff about dad, and his family that may seem less than ideal. Don’t be deceived by first impressions. Or at least, don’t let them take control of the narrative.

In the end you’ll find it more amusing than tragic. At least I think you will. That one is still a work in progress, so I’ll have t9o get back to you.

Death will come easier for you than most, and that will make some folks uncomfortable. But you end up being the ‘go to’ guy for a lot of friends in crisis – and not just when one of the group dies.  Take it as a compliment, because it turns out (much to your surprise) that people trust you.

Strange as this may seem, you’ll find comfort in being ‘the man’.

There is so much more to tell you, but you’re not even of legal age yet.  But you will be soon, and the stuff you’re going through now will all make sense in a big way – but not for a while.

being an only child, you have become a master at figuring things out on your own, connecting the dots in a way a lot of others can’t.  Its part of that trust thing I mentioned earlier.

It doesn’t make sense now, but trust me – it will. And it will be so worth it.

For now, keep living your life the way you have been. Take in the moments, bring the memories with you. Use them, don’t abuse them.

It’s gonna be o.k.

Later dude.

Me, at 60


The dock at the lake
home of grandparents
was my summer hangout

Monument of sturdy

fir one-by-four planks
nailed to two-by-four
stud framing
with number eight nails
anchored on
galvanized steel pipes

fifty-feet from my
bedroom window it would
hide in morning fog

refract moonbeams on
cloudless nights
lull me to sleep

clapped by gentle waves
in harmony with
deepening hush of
the Northwoods on a
summer’s night

painted blueish-gray
sometimes at dusk it would
dissolve into the water
as it all dissolved
into me


– Mark L. Lucker
© 2019

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