Two Resolutions


When this life has worn you weary
And each day is a struggle
To find meaning,
Resolve to be honest,
About everything,
All day long.

Resolve to be kind,
With everyone,
All day long.

Then,
Meaning will return.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

I Would Return


I will be dead
By the time this seedling
Grows into its full majesty,
By the time its limbs grow large enough,
Strong enough to bear the weight of a boy.

I would return someday,
Be that boy and climb this tree.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Gifts Of Christmas


1.

A gift,
For me?
Oh you shouldn’t have!

Is it really a selfless expression of your affection?
A gesture of love?
Or an obligation?

Is it genuine?

Does your gift reflect who you think I am?
Who you think I should be?
Perhaps it’s more about who you are,
Who you want me to think you are.

Is it an object of serious intention?
Designed to awaken?
To arouse?
To cause a reaction?
Or is it just for fun,
A playful reminder of the inner child?

Am I taking this too seriously?
Giving too much thought
To what is impersonal?
Is it merely generic?
A gift that says:
We are not close.

Did you wrap it yourself?
With your best paper?
Or was it the tail end of your least favorite roll,
Reserved for those who do not matter?

Have you actually touched this present,
Or did someone else purchase and wrap it for you?
Did it come by mail from a warehouse?


2.

Will those I love most
Disappoint me with thoughtlessness,
Or will I bask in the warmth of their intentions,
However artfully or clumsily conveyed?

Will my more slow-witted relatives
Prove true to my expectations?
Will the superior intelligence of others
Be clearly demonstrated
And make me feel stupid
For the lack of imagination my gifts reveal?

Will the ego of the gift-giver
Overshadow the generosity of the gift?
Or will the giver’s inferiority complex be manifest,
So sadly displayed by the soullessness of what is given?

Will the gift be of use, of value,
Or merely a cheap trifle soon discarded,
Donated to the local thrift shop?

Perhaps the most important gift of all will be absent,
The gift from the one I love most.

Or perhaps after all the wrapping is cleared away,
When the communal ceremony has ceased
And the gift-givers dispersed,
I will steal away to some private place
And press my lips to the gift I treasure above all,
Its meaning so fervently constructed,
Without form.



~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

On Christmas Day


Whose birth do we celebrate on this day?
The living embodiment of God?
The only one?

What about you?
What about me?

Even the tiniest blade of grass struggles toward the light.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

At One


The longer I live
The more I realize
How much I don’t know,
How much I thought I knew
And just how wrong I was,
How arrogant I was,
How certain I was
About what I didn’t know.

The longer I live
The less I say.

I’ve learned to leave out,
Delete,
Expunge
So much that leaves my brain
Before it gets to my mouth.

I’m saying so much less every day
That by the time I’m an old man
I’ll just sit quietly,
Nodding and smiling,
Finally at one with my inner idiot.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Out In The World


Out in the world,
At last.
How does it fit?
How does it taste?
You fully-fledged member of the race.

What will you do?
And why?
Will it matter?
Will you die?
Will you live?
What will you give?
What have you lost?
How much will all of this cost?
And how will you pay
Without giving too much away?

Out in the world,
At last.
So many questions.
Must you answer them all?
Perhaps one at a time?
Before you walk
Must you crawl?

Oh never mind,
Just plunge ahead.
Take a chance.
Do the dance.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Ourselves


We live in an age of distraction,
Mesmerized by a thousand different devices,
But the problem
(Yes, there is a problem)
Lies not within our technology,
Dear Brutus,
But within ourselves.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Only Money


Money matters
So little,
You have discovered
At last,
Now that you are older
And have enough to get by,
Forgetting how many die
From want of a few things
Only money can buy.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

One Small Candle


When we decide to love,
To fall in love,
We luxuriate in our love,
Our precise, exquisite love,
Denied to so many.

We light one small candle
In a dark room,
Believing the whole wide world
Is ablaze.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Fog


So thick tonight,
It muffles the sound of this city,
Makes this place feel small,
Reduced to a single note
That calls like a meditation bell,
Calls me to let it all go,
To forgive,
Even myself.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

One Single Thing


So many distractions,
Never again
One single thing,
“Rrringggtone!”
“Hello?”


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Eight Days Until Christmas


This cloud-crossed moon is nearly full,
But the streets in my village are suspiciously dark.
Apparently there are forgotten corners of this world
Even a full moon cannot illuminate.

Urgent blasts of warning from a speeding freight train
Slam into the sides of ancient stone buildings,
Making sharp retort like the firing of guns at an execution.

Eight days until Christmas and people here are uneasy,
Hair-trigger tempers,
Honking car horns,
Making odd gestures and grimaces,
Racing to complete the tasks of the season.
Possessed.
A frenzied motorist makes a desperate O-turn in the town square,
Nearly hitting a distracted pedestrian staring at her smartphone.

An elderly man carrying no packages smiles as he shuffles past me,
A fixed smile like a grimace
Showing signs of pain and disenchantment,
Trying to put a little paint on a weathered fence.
I smile in return,
Also trying to reconnect with something,
Something.

I stop near an empty intersection in a quiet part of town,
Looking up at the blur of yellow light from a second-floor office
Where someone is working late.
I would climb the steps and walk to the end of a narrow hallway,
Knock on the wood-paneled office door with the brass nameplate,
Take her into my arms and kiss her lips,
Her neck,
And feel an explosion of pure, pointless joy.

Yes, I would do all this were it a year ago.

I don’t know where she lives now,
Now that her life has changed,
Having thought it best to end all communication,
Now that she’s married to such a sensitive young man.

Eight days until Christmas
And I am alone,
Wandering shadowed streets,
Assaulted by the persistence of the ordinary,
In need of a soup kitchen for the soul.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

One Little Tragedy


All it takes is one little tragedy
To bleach the color from this world,
To make you hate life
And its cruel surprises,
To make life’s pursuits and pleasures,
Hollow.

When we were small
We believed the world
Would take care of us,
Keep us from harm.
We were the lucky ones,
To harbor such illusions.

It’s not safe here.
It never was.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

One By One


No,
Not even in my most hope-filled moments
Do I expect humanity to awaken,
Eyes wide,
And begin a new era,
Infused with wisdom,
Love
And light.

As always,
One by one.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

We Dream


Two handsome horses
Pacing inside their pen.
A painted pony,
A muddy mare.

I see them running in full gallop
Through grassy fields.
Without a saddle, I hold tight
To the painted pony’s mane.


They whinny and snort as I walk by
As if they know what I am thinking,
Hoping I would fling open the gate
And let them go.

But where would we go?
This is the edge of a busy city,
Full of cement neighborhoods,
Hundreds of miles from grazing land.

The skin on their backs ripple and twitch
As the evening chill sets in.

Resigned to captivity,
We dream of being free.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

I Would Go Back


A child full of questions,
Asking, asking, asking,
Curious about all she sees in the world,
Her world,
Where all is visible,
So much I no longer see,
Not with her kind of clarity,
A clarity unburdened by worry,
Free from concern about the years ahead,
Free from decades of details that batter the emotions,
That crowd the mind with unpredictable consequences of fear,
Of joy,
Of monotony.
All the years gone by,
Still demanding attention somehow.

I would go back,
Old man that I am,
And begin again.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Each Day


Each day I add to the prayer
That began with my life.

I will not say amen.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

On Us All


Happiness takes care of itself
While the sorrows of this world
Weigh on us all,
Whether we acknowledge them
Or not,
The sorrows of this world
Weigh on us all.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Mood


Anger blowing through town this afternoon,
A spiteful disdain stinging the eyes,
Sharpening the speech,
Tightening the lips.

I try to avoid contact,
Wondering what happened to this morning’s joyful sunshine
Filling me with such unpronounceable hope.

Dusk is coming,
The air growing still and empty.
I long for the evening’s swift descent
Into resignation and amnesia.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Wherever You Are, Wherever You Are Going


The night my grandfather died
A great gray owl
Called, called, called,
From atop an ancient tree
Across a sunburned field
Outside my open window,
Called, called, called,
As I lay awake in the warm breeze
Of that solitary summer evening.

Is that you grandfather?
One last lesson?

Wherever you are,
Wherever you are going,
Your lessons continue,
For the world about me resonates
With the kind and noble qualities
Of your being.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Older Ones


Remember when you were young
And how ridiculous the older ones looked?
Stoop-shouldered and wobbly,
Hobbling down the street,
Their atrocious clothing,
So little self-awareness,
Sputtering.

Now it’s your turn
And no matter how young you were,
How fashionable,
You too have fallen asleep,
Stopped trying,
And the young now look at you and wonder
If you ever look in the mirror,
And if you do
Why can’t you see
What a joke you’ve become,
Now that you’ve given up,
Now that you’re numb.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Intellectual


Yes,
I too admire the intellectual,
On the inside track,
In the know,
Quick,
Quick to dismiss the banalities
Of everyday life,
Dismissive,
Yes,
That’s the word,
So dismissive of the ordinary,
So extraordinary,
So well-read,
Full of facts and figures,
Allusions,
So many allusions
Sending me scurrying to my encyclopedia.

Yes,
I too admire the intellectual,
From afar.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Old Men


What a trick nature plays
When our bodies age
And we are older,
Uglier old men,
And the lust is still strong,
The desire to procreate,
To possess
Something beautiful,
To consume and be consumed.

This is no longer a proper emotion
For old men,
So we pretend not to hunger so,
We feign indifference.

But when Spring’s young woman walks by,
All sinew and curve and bounce,
All smile,
All laughter,
Our old heads turn.
Something inside,
Still young.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Old Lady And The Crow


The old lady wakes up hard
And stiff
And alone
And wonders what Monday means.

The crow caws harshly,
High in the sycamore
And only knows the world is filled with light
Again.

He glides down to her backyard,
Walking measured, deliberate paces
To the patio
Where the cat food dish beckons,
Looking for what the night visitors,
Charming raccoons,
Circumspect possums,
Skittish skunks,
Prowling cats,
May have left behind,
Not much,
Or none.

He is a resourceful optimist
And will trick the old lady
Out of a peanut or two
She leaves for the eager young blue jays
By sitting where they usually sit,
On the fence post
Beneath the overhanging branch,
Acting nonchalant.

She only pretends to be tricked,
Always filling her pocket with extra peanuts,
Knowing the crowing
And the crow
Will come.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Oh Yeah Sure


Oh yeah sure,
Easy for you to say
It was just a joke,
Now that my head is unattached
To my body.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Of Certain Disposition


It comes unannounced,
Slips in quietly
And slowly yet surely takes hold,
Takes over,
Takes control.

Oh it may seem but a trifle
At first,
Something easily disposed of,
Until one actually tries
To stop it.

Then it digs in,
Makes demands
And will not let go,
And all is madness,
And knowing does no good.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved