Her Best Lesson


My fifth grade teacher was angry.
She thought I was hopeless,
Making the class erupt in laughter with some odd remark
Only a twelve-year-old boy could concoct
While she attempted to pass on some measure of insight
About the War of 1812.

It was but one of a long line of transgressions
I’d committed that school year,
Dedicated as I was to the disruption of order,
So militantly enforced at my small, private school.

Perhaps because she was newly transplanted from England
Where boarding school boys were more compliant,
Her distress at my behavior was so inflamed,
Inspired, even.
After the classroom laughter subsided,
After a measured silence,
With grave solemnity she declared:
Pearls before swine. Pearls before swine!

She was not the first teacher I’d driven to extremes,
But one of the most memorable,
Thanks to her vivid condemnation.

I can still see her, flinging strings of exquisite pearls into the mud
Where corpulent pigs, grunting and snorting,
Trample them beneath their hooves.

It was her best lesson,
Her only lesson I remember,
Something about saying what you really mean,
Something about honesty.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Incarnations


Each morning I awaken as a child,
Staring wide-eyed into the bathroom mirror.
I wash my face,
Then sip a cup of coffee,
Or two,
And I am a young man,
Full of ambition for the new day.

Midday I withdraw from battle
To refuel and recharge,
Determined to vanquish before the sun has set.

By late afternoon I am middle-aged,
Defeated and disappointed by the limitations of the day.

After dinner,
Sitting on the couch watching television,
I am an idle old man,
Too afraid of inner demons for quiet contemplation.

By midnight I drag myself off to bed,
Resigned to the grave,
To insignificant nothingness.

It is a fitful sleep that awakens me at 3 a.m.,
And in the absence of task and purpose,
I am Buddha,
Knowing reincarnation is just a few hours away.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Slipping


Things slip away,
Things I meant to do.

There,
In an old shoebox.
There,
In a dusty, cobweb-covered corner of the garage.
There,
In a cupboard too high to reach without a stepping stool,
All the things I meant to do,
Layers of things,
Saved, for some purpose.

It’s not a single thing anymore
Or even a handful of things I’ve neglected.
It’s a metastasizing percentage of my life,
Overshadowing my days.

Now it’s the fight to stay awake,
Regardless of what I can or cannot do,
To stay awake and remember.
Remember,
The anticipation of joy.
Remember,
The adrenaline of hope.
Remember,
The comforting reassurance that the future is long
And without end.

Summer has passed
And I did not hear the coyotes singing down the sun,
Calling to one another with cries full of energy
And expectation,
Raw with excitement for the hunt,
Echoing along the hillside trail where I once walked
Each evening,
Now among my neglected habits.

I must reclaim,
Something,
Reassemble some of the forgotten pieces,
Retrace my steps.
So I return to the trail
But the distance is longer now,
The incline, steeper,
The steps, multiplied.

I turn back.

It’s almost dark as I finally make my way home.
A bat whisks by my face,
Its blurry, angular shape visible for only a moment,
But the image imprints like the flash of lightning
In a black sky.
The sharp chill of night air stings my cheeks
As I return to the safety of neighborhood sidewalks.
A cottontail bunny scurries across a manicured yard,
From bush to bush.
A man in the yellow light of his garage searches
Through a toolbox,
And in the distance,
The whirring, droning sound of freeway traffic,
Thousands upon thousands,
Rushing toward some kind of future I can no longer imagine.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Contestants


Just another species
We are
The manipulators,
The malcontents
We are
The controllers of an uncontrollable world,
A world that will rise up against us someday
And end all this tinkering,
Making room for the next
Contestants.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved