Two Simple Words


When despair falls from lowly grace,
From mood to physical pain,
From pain to relentless torture,
From torture to final escape,
How grave the absence of hope,
The lost path to something like joy,
Something like acceptance,
The inability to say two simple words,
To say,
I will.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Aged Ones


We are the aged ones,
The last ones living off inheritances,
Consuming,
Consuming,
Nothing much left for the next generation,
Crumbling infrastructures,
Decaying,
Decaying.

We mutely observe the passing of an age,
Greedily outliving all expectations.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

A Little Space


A little space
Is all I need
To sit and rest
And plant a seed,
To someday root
To someday grow
So when I’m old
I’ll someday know.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

If Only I Could


If only I could give you the joy in my heart,
If all I had to do was place my hand on your shoulder,
Look into your eyes and smile.

If I could give you the joy in my heart
By doing these things,
Then I would come to you now,
Interrupt everything,
Announce to the world:
You, are loved!
Saying it over and over again
Until you finally believed it,
Until you finally believe it,
Until you are filled with love,
Cleansed,
Healed,
Ready to begin again.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

If I Were A Little Badger


If I were a little badger
I tell you what I’d do
I’d help all the other badgers
Escape from the L.A. Zoo.

We’d go downtown for coffee
And chat the night away
Around the sidewalk tables
At the badger espresso cafe.

We’d have existential rages
And geopolitical despair
Then we’d sneak back to our cages
And pull out all our hair.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

If


If life were a metaphor
Then the incandescent epiphany
Could rise,
Bloom,
An evening cactus flower,
Jesus alone in the desert
Wrestling with demons.

I awaken,
Late for work.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Idolatry


They crowd around the dirty window
Where the faintest image of Jesus has appeared,
Standing for hours,
Praying,
Hoping to be blessed,
To be sanctified.

All around the world
The faithful are making pilgrimages,
Pressing their lips to sacred artifacts,
Expecting miraculous transformation,
As if God were in one place
And not another.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Owl


Too hot to sleep,
No one to hear my explanations,
I escape my civilized confines
Into the humid, cricket-encrusted night.

Neighbors are locked away
Within the sleepy suburban houses I pass silently by,
Enveloped by darkness.

I find the wooded trail
That snakes along fenced backyards
In the shadows of moonlit hills.

All at once he appears,
An apparition.
Atop a fence post,
A great-horned owl.

We have met before,
During other nights of solitary somnambulance.
I stop to greet him like an old friend,
To wish him luck on the evening’s hunt,
Not without sympathy for the errant mouse.

Our bond of solitude is my illusion,
For I am wandering through this cloud-shaded night
Like a dream,
Lost in thought,
In abstract contemplation,

This owl widens his eyes as I speak,
Measures my size, distance and movement,
My intentions,
Then lifts soundlessly into the air and away,
Gliding through the darkness like a prayer,
Nearly invisible,
Then,
Gone,
Almost a full working day left until dawn.



~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

We Suffer


At this level of incarnation
I suppose our suffering has purpose.
I have learned much from suffering,
Lessons I apparently could not have learned
Had my life been free from suffering,
Had my life been easy.
Lessons I apparently could not have learned
From joy.

Yet how can I condone suffering?
How can I countenance its merciless, random aim?
How can I find reason in the suffering of children?
In the suffering caused by villainy?
In the suffering caused by the collapse of civilization,
When whole countries suffer
From the corruption of a single man?

We are spurred to action and reform by suffering,
The best of us dreaming of a world
Where the last remnants of suffering are accidental
And soon extinguished.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

So Clearly Now


You think it’s over,
The past,
Over and done,
Those mistakes,
Weaknesses,
Errors in judgment,
Sins.

You think your treasured moments,
Your blessings,
Will erase painful memories,
In time,
But they find safe harbor in time,
Awaiting idle moments
To erupt and confront.

Someday when I’m old,
You think,
These haunts will at last subside.
But when old age comes
And all doors are closed,
Awakened from a fitful sleep,
You see so clearly now,
What could have been.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

In Return


Oh how you scoff at religion,
At those who embrace a merciful God,
Who have faith in the promise of heaven.

You list the sins of the righteous,
The historic holy wars,
The blindness of orthodox doctrine,
The wolves in priests’ clothing,
The sainted certainty that employs violence,
That justifies violence,
Violence against body, mind and spirit.

Your debate weighs on the sins of the religious,
As if the evil that humans do
Is an inevitable consequence of faith.

I have an aged friend,
Raised in a small town,
Believing gratitude to God is the way to give thanks,
Thanks for the blessing of another day of life.
If I convinced her of your reasoning,
If I could take all her antiquated beliefs away,
All the naïve notions of religion going back generations,
What would I give her in return?


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Recently Born


So new,
So young,
So ignorant of devious motives,
So free from self-imposed orthodoxies.

So new,
So young.

We race to fill our recently born
With our individual truths,
Our tribal truths,
Our instructions and conclusions,
As if we had no need of change.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Here I Sit


Here I sit at this keyboard,
Poised to type my moral condemnations
Into this computer,
A computer assembled by slave labor in China,
But first I need a bit more inspiration
And so I drink another cup of coffee,
Grown by generations of impoverished Colombians.

I pause and ponder the fate of all the world’s weary workers
Whose assembled sufferings make my life so comfortable,
As if a few empathetic thoughts and words
Could release me from responsibility.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Old Things


Civilization is a stubborn child,
Learning by accident
What was not inherited,
What was forgotten as generations passed.

Culture rises and falls
And that which is new,
No matter how low,
Inevitably supersedes the old,
No matter how noble.

Now we are technological
And our children barely know what to do
With paper and pen,
With a book,
These old things,
Falling, falling away.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

I Think Of You


When I grow weary of you,
Thinking of you,
Longing for you,
Resigned to exhaustion and defeat,
I think of you.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

This Flower


I give you this flower,
Individual,
Containing all flowers,
Containing all my love,
Which cannot be contained.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Hardest Part


The beautiful place in my heart
I never knew,
Filled with the light of you,
The blinding joy . . .

The hardest part,
When the light turned off.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Girlish


Her thoughts are girlish once more,
Though her age is beyond much hope.
Still, the life of her mind is strong.
It sings a dainty song
Not even the mute approach of death can still.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Rules


To achieve an enlightened state of bliss,
How must I position my body?
Shall I sit cross-legged?
Or should I stand?
Should I close my eyes to temporal distractions?
Or should my eyes be open
So that I may learn to transcend all visual stimuli?
Should I join my hands in prayer,
Or perhaps raise a single hand
With fingers positioned to indicate some kind of divinity?

What is the best time of day, month or year
To engage in spiritual disengagement?
Should I face the rising sun
From the solitude of a verdant garden,
Or surrender my ego in a candlelit meditation hall?
Are there special words
Or spiritually empowered sounds I must make?
Must I focus on a specific kind of attainment
Or abandon all egocentric aspirations?

How long should I spend in meditation?
Or should I disregard such structures as time and space?
What should I do?
What should I not do?

Are there really rules about this kind of spiritual quest?
And what did the rule makers do before the rules were made?
When did they decide that everyday life was not enough,
And why?


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

I Saw Her Yesterday


It’s been over long enough now,
Long enough to go through an entire day
Without the ache of memory,
The stab of loss,
Long enough.

I saw her yesterday.

I could not approach her,
Not even a passing smile,
Just a quick retreat,
Acting against every impulse of my soul,
Starting over again.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

My Cat


O the quiet life of my cat,
The empty bliss of this is that.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

I Remove The Stone


In these later years I sometimes despair
When thought returns to unburdened times,
When moist-eyed remembrance,
Sorted from care,
Makes longing for such pleasant fiction
A stone in the heart.

Shamed by my childish discontent,
My sophisticated selfishness,
I hear my breathing,
I see this world,
I remove the stone.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

On This Planet


I am no scholar,
I have no great learning to pass on.
My job is small,
My contribution
To the advance of civilization,
Slight.
Yet I sit each morning
Sipping hot coffee with newspaper in hand
And pass stern judgment on my country,
Contemplating its sure, swift decline.

I shall soon be transported
Like a moth in a velvet cocoon
Across the freeways
To my place of employment
Where such insignificant labors
Nevertheless earn me food, shelter
And many possessions,
Such as the big-screen television
I will watch long into the night
While the less remarkable planets
Whirl by noiselessly in the dark.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Years Go By


When you are ten
A year is monumental,
Sometimes devastating,
Certainly life-altering,
Consciousness-shifting,
One-tenth of your severed-umbilical existence.

But oh how we discard the years
As we grow older,
A wasted year here,
A lost year there.

Some of us lose whole decades,
Smothered by bad luck,
Ill health,
Misguided ambitions,
Weakness,
Until in old age we look back
At the children we once were,
That long summer day
When we were truly happy
And wished for nothing.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

I Imagine


I imagine she is reading these words.
I imagine she loves me still.
I imagine she really did love me,
And so I forgive all mistakes,
For I too made so many.
I imagine she wants to be forgiven.

I imagine she has forgiven me.
I imagine she remembers the best part of me,
The best part of us.
I imagine she is learning to let small things
And hard feelings
Go.

I imagine I really did love her.
I imagine I love her still.

I imagined her then,
I imagine her now.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

I Heard A Bird


I heard a bird
On the lawn
At dawn,
Though I was asleep
A peep or two
Broke through
My slumbrous state,
So I
Did not hesitate
To imagine myself this bird
And without a word
Or a whistle,
As light as a thistle,
Took flight
And with wondrous gaze
Looked on the Earth below
Through cloud-misted haze
And thought,
How right,
How right!


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

We Americans


We Americans
Speak of our founding fathers,
Our proud heritage,
As if it were all etched in stone,
Authored by God,
This young country,
This work in progress,
Fresh from ignorance and sin,
Sinning still.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Old Places


I go back to our old places,
Searching for you,
So young and silly,
Before the weight of the world dampened your laughter,
Before entanglements,
When consequences held little power over spontaneity.

So much of our lives were about beginnings,
About an imaginary future.

Well, here we are in that future,
So abstract then,
So fixed in place now,
This accumulation of time
Where remembrance overwhelms imagination.

Here we are,
You and I,
Still together,
Yet I go back to our old places,
Searching for you,
Searching for me.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

I Do Not Dream Of You


I do not dream of you,
For by the time I finally fall asleep
I am exhausted,
Weary of longing for you
Every waking moment.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Recipe


The two aging kittens grow rougher in their play,
Snap snagging thin sharp claws
On upholstered chairs,
Whizzing calamitous,
Up, down and at all impossible angles
Across the room’s vast terrain.
They launch, skid, tumble and they fly,
Throwing arms and eyes wide,
Fluttering papers,
Toppling stuff,
Skittering across the floor.

My two boys grow more contentious in their play,
Each accusing each of unfair and stupid things.
They shout and mock and pick away
What’s left of childhood’s blossoms,
Scattering them foolishly in aimless paths.

I watch cats and boys with equal awe and confusion,
Wondering what magic recipe stirs us all about,
A mix of chaos and serendipity,
Bolting us headlong into the future
From this too brief interlude of,
Dare I call it,
Bliss?


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved