How to Bowl

My grandfather was a bowler
pretty good, in fact
national tournaments
league championship teams

Once he bowled a 299
during a league championship
‘299 and a wiggle’ proclaimed
tongue-in-cheek trophy
300 is the most you can score

His teammates gifted him
bowling pin
hand-painted with

Gramps’ caricature –
replete with cigarette dangling
from thin lips, slicked-back
jet-black hair, mischievous eyes

Like many of his immigrant ilk
my grandfather was a
voracious reader

that Christmas
shortly after bowling his 299
Gramps’ cousin
unsurprisingly gifted him a book

How to Bowl was opened
so I was told
to uproarious laughter
Gramps, smooth as Norsk custard
thanking his cousin
with a satisfied grin

kept the book in his bookcase
the next thirty years
caricature bowling pin on
living room floor next to it

When he died
one of my cousins got the pin
I kept the book
even though I have no use for
1947 World Bowling Champion
Ned Day’s advice on

etiquette toward my pin boy
what a Brooklyn Bucket is
difference between
‘pie alleys’ and ‘cheese-cakes’

Though I still love to bowl
I don’t very often, still
How to Bowl is always handy on
the small shelf above my desk

Where I can always pull it down
for quick brushing up on
arcane lingo, quirky phrasing
(all heard in my grandfather’s ‘tick’
Norwegian immigrant accent)

I can also grab How to Bowl
for more meaningful refreshers on
being able to have a
laugh at my own expense
appreciation of doing something well

and just how to always be the coolest
goddamn dude in the room

– Mark L. Lucker
© 2019

Sevenling, Summer

There was a time, special
where summer days, nights
found me alone, content

I found solitude underrated
warmth of sun, cool evenings
some saw me standoffish

I am sure some still do.


– Mark L. Lucker
© 2019

Age is only a number until the wrong number age

‘Sixty is the new forty!’

 – Doctors office fashion magazine headline, 2019

I just turned sixty.
Years of age
not degrees on a sextant
though in my rudderless state

charting a one-eighty
through late middle-age
trying to find a job
befitting my experience
multiple talents
ability to move, mold, lead
others to successful

Sixty is the new forty what?
Forty winks?
Forty lashes?
Forty days and forty nights?

Dubious are those that
would employ me
that my thinking, attitudes
skill-sets would have me
out-of-synch with

Though I am appreciative to
those that simply
ask the question
I am equally as perturbed at
those who vacillate

implying Paleozoic values
intoning as perverse mantra
millennials and youthful as
though a bottle of
five-buck-chuck offers
similar value to differentiation
by vintage, what it goes
best with

There is no dust on
this bottle
but there will be in my wake
as I head for the door with
an I’ll-stop-you-right-there
‘thanks, but no thanks.’


– Mark L. Lucker
© 2019


Your lips touch
my lips
tentative in quizzical
once, twice
third time’s the…
leaning in
your lips touch
my lips
tightened anticipation
firm yet supple
I cannot pull my face
from yours
we have become one
yet I feel you
vaporizing away from
thoughts ethereal
I hear you speak but you
aren’t there
your lips touch mine
but you
aren’t there
and I know I am
wide awake and alive
but the dampness
pillow on cheek
remembering you
could not have been there
at all
at last
as every time in the
past has proven
what I felt for you then
I still do now
never reciprocated
in death as in life
mattering little as in
an hour or so
one of us
will need to simply
get up, and
go to work.


– Mark L. Lucker
© 2019

Lost, found

Neighborhood wallpapered
light poles
bus stop shelters
shop doors

‘Lost cat’
every week, every day
new signs, different cats

Neighborhood social media
exacerbates frenzy
hysterical ‘owners’
angsty postings, pleadings

‘Lost cat’
every week, every day
new signs, different cats

The cats all come home
lost, now found

Seems there is a wise
Basset Hound
around the corner who
knows Zen
has a side gig
selling catnip
out of his human’s
old Buick

– Mark L. Lucker
© 2019

Looking at my garden, mid-June

Horticulturally lame
my garden, half-way through June
who knows how far into Midwestern
growing season

Weeds have a foothold
but we have managed to keep the bulk of
the interloping bastards at bay

One pumpkin plant with
two massive, yellow blossoms
each bigger than the plant itself
my subtle goal of two carvable in
October cultivar spheroids
one for my grandson, one for me
remains shakily on track

Pepper plants getting there
as are some varietal tomatoes
my wife and son planned their
first salsa garden
a bowl or two remains feasible

Ahh, tomatoes!
Umami, oh baby!

A phrase in current lexicon has me
scratching my head at mugs, shirts:
‘haters gonna hate,
potatoes gonna potate’

I question the organizational skills
of our tomatoes, trying to tomate

One plant, in just the past two days
has produced one, two, three…
nine green tomatoes, varying size
and already straining the plant which has
yet to reach my knee in height

Our cilantro so far cilant-no, the basil…?
my ever-blossoming optimisim says
there is still time for the thyme while
our bought-at-a-who-wants-em discount
brussel sprouts do Belgium proud

A rogue carrot is thriving

refuge from last summer via
the previous owners of this house
the past cultivators
of this charmingly uneven plot of
au natural urban agriculture

untouched, allegedly for
many years by chemical compounds
artificially truncating the unwanted
cajoling what is welcome to
come, stay

We are fortunate
that subsistence is not reliant on our
agricultural abilities

Though we could
in a fevered, pioneer pinch rely on
a fence line of wildly flourishing
rhubarb – ubiquitous, still replicating
already having provided
two batches of sauce, one pie

Ahh, but man does not live
by pie alone

Fortuitously my neighborhood has a
charming farmers market, a
grocery store with nice produce
and neighbors who,
in their Midwestern politeness
have not yet commented
on how my tomatoes tomate.

– Mark L. Lucker
© 2019

Prestidigitation age

In the old
Rocky & Bullwinkle cartoons
Bullwinkle the Moose
portraying a magician
continually tries to impress
Rocky the Squirrel
by pulling a rabbit out of a hat

But the rabbit is never a rabbit

Ever proclaiming “Wrong hat!”
at the results
Bullwinkle reaches into his
table-bound, inverted top hat
pulling out
snarling lion
growling bear
snapping alligator or
roaring tiger
before calmly stuffing not-rabbit
back down into the hat

“Duhhh…wrong hat!”

is my tranquil rallying cry
in response to situations profound
and absurd
when my self-professed, usually
accurate charms fail me

Adopting the eminently cool
ever-confident, I-got-this! persona
of a cartoon moose has always
served me well

though I am at a stage now in life
where fewer people know who
Rocky and Bullwinkle are
but fewer still question why it is
I always bring
but never wear
a weathered top hat.

– Mark L. Lucker
© 2019

I am…?

“I yam what I yam.”
– Popeye the Sailor Man, 1929

“I am I, Don Quixote!” once
proclaimed the brave knight
to emulate him I have long strove
sans mule, though never lacking a
suitable Sancho Ponza
I have discombobulated windmills
slain foes with honor, with words

Handy with tongue lance, I am.

“I am I, Don Quixote” in dreams
I speak these words
to no one in particular
to everyone I am trying to prove
myself that I am I, me

It is not a boastful infringement
on G-d’s copyright
proclaiming – I am not – to being
‘a’ or ‘the’ great anything

I am I

dreamer, poet, chaser of parable
wearing dented armor
weathered patina of a life
lived with purpose, I suppose as
resolve frequently gave way
to happenstance-cum-opportunity

I am I, Don Quixote incarnate
in sprit, in thought
not always, I know, in deed

I am I, noble knight errant of now
I am I, who has hired, retired
many a Sancho Panza
those who always kept mules fed
lances sharp
my ego in check

I am I though not Don Quixote

I am I
husband, parent, grandparent
friend, comrade, teacher

Doer of deeds, liver of life

I am I, not Don Quixote though maybe
just once, I would like to don
the great one’s helmet, make
one final, heroic windmill charge


– Mark L. Lucker
© 2019


I am watching the rain
falling, in torrents
cascading off my roof
ala Niagara Falls
the images are overlays
the same, yet
incredibly dissimilar,

as are the sounds
water crashing off roof
to the soggy ground
the rain itself, pelting
glass, the walls, the roof
thunder roils the tableau

and I enjoy the pitch-
perfect harmonies of
an early morning rainstorm.

– Mark L. Lucker
© 2017

All three

There are times – frequent –
even after three decades, more
where you wonder what they
would say, how they would react
to a given moment, my situation

sit-downs full of wisdom never
the style of any of them
they lived life, in an honest,
straightforward way, taking pains
to assure that I did as well

An only child, I was the focus
the one who learned how to
fish, saw, chop, hammer, build,
play cards, bowl, love baseball.

Love life, give it your best. Live.

Every once in a while, I still hear a
voice; dad, Gramps, grandpa Ivar
mixing and matching each to the
situation at hand, the moment

Long since passed from the scene
I can always rely on what they left me;
for safekeeping, and to draw on;
a whole lot of themselves


– Mark L. Lucker
© 2017