Now, Begin


Now,
Begin.

Now,
After long day,
Long week,
Long year,
Long life . . .
Now,
Begin.

Now,
In this interstice,
In this collision of inspiration
And exhaustion,
Out of your cage now
Tiny soul.

Emerge,
Unfold,
Stretch
And sing O tarnished voice,
Sing with all candor
And longing,
An unconscious song
Sung half-asleep while dreaming.

Now, begin.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Zero


Zero,
Ever been there?
I hear the weather’s nice
This time of year.

I was there last fall,
Just in time to see no leaves changing no colors on no trees.
So beautiful,
Like nothing I’d ever seen before.

The trip was a little rough,
And long.
Just when it seemed like Zero was in sight,
Along came something else
And my curiosity would get the better of me,
Stopping to explore one thing after another.

But finally,
After a very long day full of starts and stops,
After I was completely worn out,
After I had just about enough of everything,
There it was:
Zero.

So beautiful,
Like nothing I’d ever seen before.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

This World Is Neither


This world is neither full of joy
Nor filled with hate.

It is full of us
And who we are.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

All Day Long


A little brown bird
Sang this song:

I’ve been a little bird
All day long.



~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

After We Die


After we die
We should all have a day
To come back and say,
Now I know why,
Now I know why.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Advice To A New Saint


The hardest thing you will ever do
Is give wisdom to the unwilling,
For as their eyes open
The false flowers of their imaginary gardens
Will wither, crack and crumble,
And they will abandon you for what you have done,
For the certainty you have destroyed,
For they will be as strangers in a new world
And afraid,
Yet unable to return.

The hardest thing you will ever do
Is give love to the unloved,
For as their hearts open
The impenetrable armor that kept them safe
Will come loose and fall to the ground,
And they will abandon you for what you have done,
For the desires you have exposed,
For they will be as strangers in a new world
And afraid,
Yet unable to return.

The best thing you will ever do
Will be without acknowledgement or praise,
Done for its own sake,
And for those who understand,
And for those whose understanding has yet to come,
Though they may never know your true name.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

This Tree


What are your opinions about this tree?
I ask myself,
Standing before this ancient oak
Hidden deep in the forest,
Limbs so wonderfully woven for climbing,
Were I of a climbing age.

How would I rank this tree
Among others of its kind?
How can I judge it?

I cannot,
For I’m not an arborist,
Not a conservationist,
I do not inspect trees,
I simply see them and behold them,
As I would do with the rest of life,
Were I that wise.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Despite My Best Efforts


This moon,
How anxiously it shines,
How hurriedly it rises in the dusk,
How brightly if reflects the sun
Even before the sky’s purple-blue bleeds into black.

O intemperate moon,
I am in no particular hurry,
But you hasten the seasons,
Feverishly pushing and pulling the tides,
Faster, so much faster now.

It is evening again,
Despite my best efforts to forestall the day,
To postpone the end.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Absence


A broken heart is hard enough,
To discover you are unloved after all,
That all those words of love were false,
At best a mistake of the emotions,
At worst a manipulative lie.

A broken heart is hard enough,
But there is healing in seeing things clearly,
In forgiveness,
In forgetting.

A broken heart is hard enough,
The price love can demand,
But the absence is harder still
And does not end.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Called


Fair youth’s enthusiasms
Echo distant in this quiet garden
Where I try to envision
Such thoughts as now drive my son
Out into the world,
Away from home.

I would spare him error and injury,
But cannot
Without hiding him away.
I would see through his eyes
That I could better understand,
But who can live another’s life?

That which I know is of my own universe,
And while there is much that is universal to all,
My young man now walks upon his own feet,
Called forth by his own soul,
And by the fatherless world.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Artist


O what reward
For lifelong labor
To make a beautiful sound,
To see the man in the front row
Fall asleep
While you so delicately evoke
Bach’s most ethereal passages
From your cello,
The instrument of your breathing,
The whisper of your bow
Across the strings.

Respiration from the front row
Works against the composition,
Keeping time in some asynchronous meter,
Growing steadily louder,
Until,
You have lost the reverie Bach intended
And your playing becomes rote,
Labored,
While the man in the front row
Snores,
While the stone-faced woman four rows back
Unwraps a peppermint candy,
Filling the hallowed air
With the crackle of cellophane.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Bob


Bob has five days left
To vacate the building,
The shabby rented house
In which he hides.

So many things to do.
Spent seven hours yesterday
Looking for his watch.
Will look again today.
Can’t find his keys
Though he made three sets,
Put in three different places,
All disappeared, somehow.

Bob sits in a folding chair
Rubbing his bald head in his hands
Trying to remember what to do now.
A framed photograph of him in uniform
Looks handsomely down on his paper-strewn living room
From the corner of the mantelpiece.
Shoeboxes full of unopened mail
Sit on a card table.
He is afraid of bad news.
Half the pages of a yellow legal pad
Are folded over,
Filled with his complaints.
Tiny black letters.

Bob leaves his phone off the hook
And swears it’s the phone company’s fault
That no one calls.

They let him out of the hospital a week ago.
He still wears the plastic bracelet.
His skin is rubbed raw,
Stigmata from where he fought to break free
From his constraints.
He is fighting still.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Acceptable


We know that some will die
In so many different ways
Every day.

Some in war,
Some in peace,
Young and old
And in-between.

Heroes and villains
And ordinary folk,
Every day,
Some will die.

It’s not acceptable,
Never acceptable,
It’s what happens,
Without our permission.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Ad Infinitum


If only you could sort through
All the ideas in your head,
You tell yourself,
You would figure it all out
And arrive at the grand conclusion,
The answer,
The answer to all those relentless questions.

Yet every idea you explore
Gives birth to a myriad more.

Dandelion seeds in the wind.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Adoptee


All these photographs,
All these people
Suddenly of some relation to me,
The lost bastard child who found his way back.

Back to half sisters and brothers,
Living and dead,
Half nieces and nephews,
Living and dead,
A parent or two
And all assorted associations,
All these lives lived without my knowing,
Died without my knowing,
All these lives,
Without knowing.

I was the lost bastard child,
Born by accident,
Anonymous,
Hidden,
Yet despite the best efforts
Of those who thought they knew best,
Welcome or not,
I found my way back.

Knowing,
That was always the necessary thing,
Just knowing.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Absolution


Who is the fortunate soul
Who has not fallen
At one time or another
During this life?

How many of us have sinned
Without detection,
Yet repented without admonition?

How many suffer the consequences of sin
Beneath the guise of anonymity?

Who can say how long such punishment should last?

One might suppose death and its dominions
Washes away Earthly sin,
Yet even death does not erase memory.

The echoes of our imperfect lives reverberate
In histories large and small,
Yet all unruly children are in the heart of God still,
Where only honest and sustained contrition will bring absolution,
The only kind of absolution that really matters.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Words And Meanings


I could say,
What a beautiful day,
And mean it,
And yet be imprisoned
Within the idea of it,
That beautiful day,
Out there,
Outside,
Somewhere.

I could say,
I love you,
And mean it,
Like a weapon
Or a shield,
This love,
Superior,
Disarming,
Untouchable.

Without the heart,
Words and meanings
Fall apart.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Your Most Recent Revelation


When the moment comes,
Light fills the sky
And birds are everywhere in voice,
And you say:

At last,
I have found it.

It passes.

On another day,
You carefully reconstruct
The circumstances
Of your most recent revelation,
And wait.

The sky is brown,
Everywhere dogs are in voice,
A garbage truck fills the air with noise,
Laboring house by house,
Street by street.

It’s gone.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Separation


To the very young
Toys are not toys,
Not representations.
They are real.

It takes years for us to separate
The idea
From the actual.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

A Koan


Those who believe in God,
Abandon God.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

You Think You’re The Only One


Do you feel so crazy inside sometimes
You’ve gotta keep it a secret
Because your friends and family are counting on you,
Expecting you to be a normal person,
To be this person they think you are,
This person you decided to be
Who is not so crazy sometimes?

So you keep it a secret
And never let it out,
But it’s right there behind your eyes,
Buzzing in your ears,
On the tip of your tongue.

You think you’re the only one.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

You Have The Gift


You have the gift
And the challenge,
The challenge to know you have the gift,
The challenge to accept the gift,
To live it.

While we are so busy complaining,
Blessings fall upon us like rain.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Best Seller


He was the anointed one,
And the literati decided,
Agreed,
Conformed and confirmed the book
Was his finest work yet,
Prognosticated as:
“The best book you will read this year,”
Though it was only January,
Though it was generally agreed “the best” was an anachronism.

After all,
Did they really believe the future could be so blanketed,
So predictable,
So immutable?

The book vendors ordered dutifully,
Feverishly,
Inspired by so many reverential author interviews,
So certain this was indeed the next big thing.

Who am I,
Who are we to turn away from such pronouncements?
Such hysteria?

So I,
So we dutifully purchased the book in droves,
Eager to possess the sacred knowledge,
The newly christened insight,
The talisman,
Ready to verify the conclusions of the cognoscenti,
Ready to approach the godhead and be blessed,
Though by page 83 most of us stopped reading,
Already full of enough dispirited angst
To last a lifetime,
Our purchases already having confirmed the acclaim,
The acclaim of the marketplace
Bestowed on all such highly strung best sellers,
So infrequently read to conclusion,
So soon forgotten.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

You Are With Me In The Dark


You are with me in the dark,
Though we’re many miles apart
I can see you with my heart,
You are with me in the dark.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

You Are Not Hidden


I write these words to you who are cruel,
Who know you are cruel,
Who deny your cruelty.

These words are not for those who succumb to weakness,
Who struggle with weakness,
Who sincerely strive to overcome weakness and be kind.

We all have sinned.

These words are for you who are deliberate,
Who forged your cruelty through years of abuse,
No matter how you rationalize,
No matter how you repress,
No matter how conscious or unconscious you may be.

You are not hidden.
No matter how much control you have over us,
You are not hidden.
No matter how compliant we are forced to be,
You are not hidden.

You are condemned in our eyes,
And when you lose your power over us,
When you look in the mirror
And see the monster you have become,
When your punishment comes,
When you realize you have been punished all along,
When you realize each act of cruelty
Has destroyed a part of your soul,
When you have no soul left,
We will rejoice.

We who are kind will take no pleasure in your suffering,
We will not let the anger you placed in our hearts make us cruel,
But we will rejoice when we are free from your cruelty,
When your cruelty is stripped of all power,
When you must answer for each cruel act.
We will rejoice when justice is restored.

You are not hidden.
You pay for each act of cruelty
Whether you realize it or not,
For we know you have no real joy
Because you are not loved.
You are lower than the lowest of us
Who suffer and yet are loved.
You are lower than the lowest of us
Who have died because of your cruelty,
Because we are loved,
And this love is eternal.

You are not hidden.
The eyes of the world are upon you,
The eyes of history are upon you,
The eyes of God are upon you.

The spirit of change is upon the land,
It cannot be stopped.
Lies are temporary,
Injustice is temporary.
Truth is eternal,
Justice is eternal.

You are not hidden.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

A World Gone Mad


If you woke up one morning
And found the entire world gone mad,
How amazed and alarmed you would be.
But what if the world goes mad slowly,
One day at a time,
One small step after another,
Year after year,
Decade after decade,
Would you notice?
Or would it be like trying to watch a tree grow,
Too slow to consciously observe,
But one morning you awaken and realize,
The tree is tall,
Immense,
And its roots are deep.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Erosion


Our amorous embrace of technology,
So insatiable and promiscuous,
So quick to abandon the newly outdated,
Quicker than a snake sheds its skin.
Like an addict injected with a new drug
We are hooked on the rush.

Why, then, this obstinance of belief,
This reverence for ancient prescriptions,
This persistent resistance
To the evolution of the soul?

We shield our carefully crafted personas from scrutiny,
From introspection.
We create entire lives from timeworn templates,
Assembling friends and families
Who believe in these concoctions of fact and fiction,
These cultural clich├ęs we inhabit,
These large immovable stones we become,
Stuck in the river,
Eroding.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Blackjack


Poor old Blackjack,
Battered with one eye swollen shut,
He comes to my back door and cries for food
But he hurts too much to eat.

He cries to bring me out,
To hear the sympathetic sound of my voice,
To feel the rush of warm air from the open door
Against the stiff chill of early morning.

He comes close to the open door
But will not go in.
Some distant memory of being a kitten,
A house cat,
Pulls him to this place of food,
This place of sanctuary from the larger world,
The more dangerous world
He is now too wild to escape.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Yet Living Still


I have awakened with joy,
Delivered from care and concern
By some undeserved grace.
It fades.

I have been torn from sleep by dread,
Weighed down with fearful expectation
By some unrelenting pessimism.
It fades.

Today,
A soft choir embraces me.

This joy arose slowly,
Crept softly,
Disguised as contentment,
Permeating my daily obligations with pangs of pleasure
Yet giving no bold announcement of the spontaneous euphoria
Now made flesh as I walk along this hillside path,
My chores accomplished and forgotten.

Though tomorrow is uncertain,
Today and tomorrow fall away,
For the blue-washed sky is brushed with colored clouds
And the leafy soil is strong-scented from this morning’s rain.

O this painted circumference,
O these careful colors and textures of thawed winter,
And here, this ancient tree,
Lightning-burned, split and scarred,
Yet living still.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Are You?


Are you singing my love?
For I hear your voice in soft melody.
Are you laughing my love?
For I see your glistening smile.
Are you quiet my love?
For a stillness has shaded my thoughts.
Are you crying my love?
For a sorrow is growing within.
Are you praying my love?
For my prayers envision a heaven
Where never would two halves of a single soul
Be kept apart.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Yes


Yes,
You can fall in love,
Even though it is inappropriate,
Inconvenient,
Impossible to do anything about it.

Yes,
You can fall in love,
Carry it around all day long,
Day after day,
Year after year.

Yes,
You can fall in love,
Though you may despair
Nothing will come of it,
Something already has.

Yes.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Few Things As Hard


When my little boy turned cold
And hard,
I knew the world had him
By the throat,
That it would take a long
Long time
For him to shake it loose,
If he ever could,
If he ever can.

There are few things as hard
As becoming a man.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Working World


A little bird flew down
From her nest
Into the old car.

Joseph terribly sad sleeping
In the midday sun,
While the work of the world
Went on all around.

Even the little bird,
Pecking sandwich crumbs
From the dashboard of the open convertible,
Doing little bird work.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Work Of No Work


How this busy world conspires
Against the simple act
Of sitting quietly in a chair
With pen and paper in hand,
Writing down a thought or two,
Or not writing at all,
Doing the work of no work
All poets must do.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Words Will Get Through


By the time my son
Is ready to talk,
Eager to talk,
Full of understanding,
Eyes wide open,
Stripped of all adolescence,
Measured and wise,
Experienced in the ways of the heart,
A seasoned husband and parent,
I’ll be dead,
And his son will be giving him hell,
And at the bottom of some low moment
He will at last speak to me
And he will know what I knew.

He will try to tell his son,
Try to explain the bond between all fathers and sons,
The great chain of being that binds men to one another,
And somehow,
The words will get through.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Wooden Angel


In my low moments
Her quiescent gaze from atop my bookshelf
Keeps me from falling
Too low.
Her golden wings
Pointed toward heaven,
The palms of her tiny hands
Pressed flat together in perfect alignment of fingers,
In supplication,
Her faint illumination
In the shadowed light of a flickering candle
Helps me find some measure of grace.

Just a painted wooden angel,
Frozen in her flowing robes,
Her back straight and head barely bowed,
Balanced on tireless knees
In her cloud-born symmetry of hope
And mercy.
Her eyes are open,
Open to this man-made world
Which offers so little hope for the innocent
Yet squanders so much mercy on scoundrels.

O angel, how can I ask my selfish blessings
In this world where children suffer and die,
Hour upon hour?
Where are their angels?
What have they done to forsake thee
That they should die so young?
O angels, are you all made of wood?
Is it really up to us after all?

Behold!
The work of angels,
So frequently misunderstood.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Wolf, Wolf


Wolf, wolf,
Burning bright,
First wolf I see tonight,
Wish I may,
Wish I might,
Old black joe.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Easier To Love A Memory


Easier to love a memory
Than a man,
So when I’m gone
Forgive my human failings
And love what you can.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Without


Without thinking,
I write these words.

A lie.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Without Words


I am afraid to tell you,
Afraid to say it out loud,
Afraid to write it down,
For you may not feel the same way
And my words may place a barrier between us.

Right now,
We are friends,
And whether our friendship is a beginning,
An ending,
Or something else,
I am afraid I would lose your friendship
By telling you,
By saying it out loud,
By writing it down.

When I see you today
I will smile,
I will look deep into your eyes,
I will do my best to let you know,
Without words.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Wish


It was a cheaply made fountain,
A plastic babbling brook,
An affordable garden accessory,
A motor-driven rivulet
Spilling small streams
From one lily pad to another
To the small pond at the bottom
Where the water swirled.

A little girl following her mother,
Her busy, busy mother,
Into the garden section of the large discount store,
Stopped at the fountain,
Surrounded by this sudden jungle
Of flowers and plants and flowers,
So unlike all the everyday places
Of her unadorned life.

This little lost princess breathed deep,
Inhaling the fragrant floral air,
Then opened her miniature handbag,
Found a tarnished penny
And tossed it earnestly into the fountain.

Always the same, secret wish.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Wind


So windy,
The smog blown away from the mountains,
The dead leaves and dry twigs,
All torn away from the trees.

Such a good idea
To have a fierce wind
Now and then,
Strip away all that is not essential.

Or perhaps
A really big flood.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Visitors


A faint twinkle in the black sky,
A spacecraft,
Posing as Venus,
Then,
Closer,
Scanning my house,
Late,
Late one night,
Early,
Early one morning,
Hours after midnight,
Hours before dawn,
Awakening me,
The gentle throbbing of breeze-blown electromagnetism,
Rumbling subwoofers of elemental particles in my pillow.

We are here.
We are here.
The sudden realization.
Then,
Gone.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Breakdown


I was a fish,
Suddenly aware of water,
Frightened of being wet.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Why One And Not The Other?


Easier to understand when we were animals,
Savages,
Without the grace of modern civilization,
Without protection,
Easier to understand the random hand of fate,
Pulling one down,
Pushing another up.
But now,
When so many millions are safe,
When so many millions are not,
I have yet to discover,
Why one and not the other?


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Old Friend


I saw a young man smiling yesterday.
He looked like you,
When you were young,
When you were happy,
When most of life’s deadlines were so far away,
When time itself was a mirage.

This young man ,
Filled with some kind of impermeable confidence
About the future,
His future,
A confidence you lost somewhere along the way,
So many doors closed,
Closed and locked.

I saw a young man smiling yesterday,
Reminding me of how long it’s been
Since I’ve seen you smile,
Now that the inevitable consequences of your life,
Multiply.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

If I Knew


If I knew
This free-flowing bubble of time
In which I live
Was eternal,
A time machine that only advances
While all around me gently falls away . . .

If I knew
I was this ethereal being
Who would survive the ages,
Bear witness
To the unfolding destiny of the universe . . .

If I knew all this and more,
I would still want pancakes for breakfast.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Some Small Happy Thought


We must find joy
In this world of sorrows
Where the wounds grow deeper,
More permanent,
Every day.

We must find some small happy thought,
Each day,
Some small happy thought,
And smile.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Why Men Lie


Because she wore a spring dress
With a long open back,
Revealing the graceful arch of her spine,
The soft cut of her shoulder blades
Beneath the supple silken blanket
Of her burnished bronze skin,
Because she wanted to be admired
And so she smiled,
Because youth has not left her,
Because youth has left him
And the pleasures of aging
Have yet to reveal themselves,
Because at every turn old age is advancing
And he is not ready,
Because he does not want to die:

This is why men lie.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Whole


When you touch me,
Although we are not yet lovers,
When you touch me,
Though we have not known each other long,
When you touch me,
Although you have not said “love,”
When you touch me,
When you take my hand,
Something fits.

Something that was alone,
Wandering,
Is home,
Whole.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Whither


Cheese from a rat is like soap for a hog,
You can’t write your mother by using a log.
A nose is indifferent to all that is art,
The opera’s a good place to rip loose a fart.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Old Men, Old Women


Old men,
Old women,
Need to be touched,
Caressed,
Lovingly embraced.

Returning from where we came,
We are as uncertain,
Frightened,
As we were in the beginning.

No loving mother guides us
Into the place of letting go.
We are left alone to contemplate
Our journey,
And contemplation fails.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Where Is Your Quiet Place?


Where is your quiet place?
Where you get away from the busy world,
Where no one interrupts your train of thought,
Where you get off the train.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

When You're In Love


When you’re in love,
Surrounded and infused by love,
When it’s all so new and electrifying,
Commanding your thoughts,
Changing your habits,
Making you forget to do all those things
You were doing just to keep busy,
Inspiring you to buy little gifts,
Write confessional messages,
Work so much harder on your appearance,
Memorize romantic quotations,
Speak personally to angels,
Forget to breathe,
Fall asleep dreaming,
And each morning the first thing you think of
Is your loved one’s name.

When you’re in love,
No one can explain it away.
No one can tell you it’s only infatuation,
For whatever name anyone may call it,
It’s a reason to live.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

When You Think About It


When you think about it,
Most of our lives consist of moving our bodies
From one place to another,
Performing tasks.

All the real adventure
Takes place in the mind.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

When The Lights Go Out


Every evening
When the lights go out,
When the streets are dark,
When everything you own is drained of color,
When you are ready for sleep
In the black invisibility of your room,
Now you know
How far you’ve come,
How far you have to go.

Now you know
The only thing you truly own.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

When The Light Shines Down


When the light shines down
I’m gonna feel so lucky,
Gonna feel so nice,
I’m gonna be a big tipper
When the light shines down.

When the light shines down
And I got money in my pocket,
Friends callin’ on the phone,
I’m gonna get down on my knees
And say: Thank You Lord!
Thought this day would never come,
The day the light shined down.

I almost gave up the dream,
Gettin’ so darn mean,
But then the light shined down
And showed me the way,
Hallelujah!
That’s what I’m gonna say.

Say it quiet,
Say it loud,
Say it humble,
Say it proud,
Or I may not make a sound,
Just jump around,
When the light shines down.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Stepping On A Rat


It was a day full of lizards,
Then,
Early that evening,
I stepped on a rat.

The day’s warmth foreshadowed summer,
Bringing out multitudes of sunbathing lizards,
One doing push-ups as I walked by,
Signaling his claim to a particular brick atop the garden wall.

I stepped cautiously around the basking reptiles,
Intentionally scaring some from the center of the sidewalk
To warn them of the peril from passing pedestrians.

As evening came on I forgot about the lizards,
Now surely in retreat as temperatures fell.
I walked more confidently,
Free from concern for lounging lizards underfoot
When I saw a sudden shadow,
A brief glimpse of a furry young rat,
Startled by my footsteps,
Dashing errantly toward me as I put my foot down,
Ever so gently,
Feeling it underfoot.

My reaction time was acute as I quickly withdrew my step,
A day of stepping lightly around lizards
Having trained and prepared me.
The rat scurried off with no apparent harm,
Knowing now what so many lizards had learned
Just a few hours before.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Sun Will Return


The sliver of this crescent moon
In this darkening evening sky
Promises the sun will return,
But will I?


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Birdsong


Even the finest words
Fall away
In early morning birdsong.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

When The Dream Dies


When the dream dies,
Extinguished by reality,
Then,
Cherish the dream.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

When The Demons Take Over


What do you do
When the demons take over?
Do you rant and rave,
Do you become a slave?

How clearly wrong
It all seems the next day
With your appetite sated,
Your lust abated.

What new resolutions
Do you promise to keep
As you pull yourself out
From the dark and the deep?


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

When She Says, I Love You


When she says,
I love you,
I awaken to the world.

I see the exquisite tracery of trees against the hills at sunset,
The rich hues of hills against the mountains,
The full measure of mountains against the sky,
The amber soaring sky against heaven.

I hear voices speak inside myself,
The voices of all who pass by,
All so kindhearted and friendly now.
I understand the language of dogs and birds,
Of babbling babies pushed along in strollers.
They smile and greet me,
Saying: Yes, yes!
It is wonderful to be loved!

I feel the edge of evening coming on now,
So cold against my cheeks.
Oh God,
The rapture!


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Quiet Moments


These quiet moments
When alone I become my truer self,
My unguarded self,
Finger in nose,
Unrestrained flatulence,
Indelicate scratching,
Cursing trivial inconveniences
With profane language I would never use
In the presence of family or friends.

These quiet moments,
Beset by erratic, uncaged thoughts,
Past-life recriminations,
Indulgent, forbidden impulses.

This hidden core,
This embryo untouched by civility,
Unbound,
Disdainful of all my life’s accumulated lessons,
Disconnected from the cloak of identity I have made.
This dark beast will not die.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

When My Children Are In Bed


When my children are in bed
And story time is through,
Sitting in my easy chair
A certain sadness comes.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

When I Pray


When I pray,
First,
I turn off all my electronic devices,
And,
Put my list of things to do aside,
Then,
Close my eyes and ask.

After a while,
I stop asking
And listen.

It takes time.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Something Eternal


I can easily see the second hand move
But no matter how long I stare
The minute hand seems stationary,
The hour hand frozen.

In the mirror
I am the same as yesterday,
Yet the photograph is surprising.
I have aged.

Yes, I see wind-blown clouds changing shapes,
Time-lapsed flowers unfolding,
Water that comes to a boil,
Still,
There is something eternal inside,
Surprised at the passing of time.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

When?


Where did you go?
What did you do?
How many voices are talking to you?

When do you stop?
When do you say:
Now I must put all these voices away.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

What Place Is This?


A troubled sleep,
Two hours till dawn I stumble
Down dark hallway fumble
With dead bolt,
Finger keyhole like braille,
Unlock and open
The back door.

Out in moonlit yard
Away from torment of tangled dreams
I breathe in the sharp chill of night.
In,
Out.

The solace I seek is broken
By the waterfall roar
Of cars and trucks and cars
On not distant freeway,
This small place where I live encircled,
Entwined
With people in pursuit.

What place is this
Place of no rest,
No stopping,
What place is this?


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

What Might Have Been


What might have been,
What might have been,
Such a silly game,
As if you could take the impossible
And give it a possible name.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

What Men Want


When I see her
I hold myself a little tighter,
A little straighter,
Appearing more attractive,
Flexing all appropriate muscles,
Contracting all inappropriate flab,
Making myself desirable,
For she is my sweetheart heartthrob
Honeybunch sex machine
And I want her,
This girlish saint whore
Athletic fashion model intellectual.

I want her.
Now.

I am enraptured by her thin boyish
Sharp-shoulder-bladed frame,
Her overexposed unashamed voluptuous fantastic flesh,
Her long short medium-length hair,
So glossy black chestnut brown honey blonde pumpkin red
Curling straight.

I am lost in her mysterious bold naive uninhibited forbidden
Eyes of swimming pool blue chocolate bar brown
Charcoal briquette black London fog gray
Emerald chameleon green banana tree hazel.

She walks toward me away not moving,
This short long-legged tall small woman girl,
So delicate and strong.
She sees me and smiles
And I am hers,
All over town.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

What Love Is Like


I am lying in a yellow field,
An endless summer day
With nothing to do,
Cradled by the gentle tugging of this earth.

I am alone,
Home is near,
A hawk soars and falls,
Someone I love
Calls.

I am running through golden stalks of wheat
As fast as I can,
My feet leave the ground,
I rise and catch the wind,
I am flying.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

You Did Not Return My Shovel


You did not return my shovel.
I really need it bad.
You left and took my shovel.
It’s made my life so sad.

It was my only shovel.
I had it all these years.
I own no other shovel.
My tool shed sheds such tears.

I can see it now,
Shining in the sun.
Glowing in the rain.
O my lost shovel,
Causes me such pain.

I am cold in the night
Cause my shovel’s not in sight.
How can I carry on
When my shovel’s lost and gone?

Someday when you’re in hell,
You’ll know the reason why.
You horked my beauty shovel,
And digging made you die.



~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Counting Down Of Hours


I could write about the season,
The allusions of Spring,
And extinguish every trace
Of the human race.
But who would I be writing to?
Only a precious few
Have the time
To ponder
The metaphysics of the view.
The rest are possessed,
Scant time to smell flowers,
So much left to do,
The counting down of hours.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

My Angels


My life so lucky,
My angels working overtime,
Looking out for me,
Nudging happenstance in my favor,
Protecting me,
Especially from my own rash inclinations.

My angels scratching their heavenly heads,
Weighing the proper balance
Between consequence and mercy,
Leaving me with a few scars
For instruction,
As a warning,
Yet too heavily invested to let me die,
Yet.

They are patient,
So patient with me,
Still somewhat confident
I may yet make something worthwhile
Of this particular incarnation.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Returning


So long since I walked
This solitary hillside path,
Once a familiar, habitual activity.

Trees are larger now,
Gnarled limbs twisting toward one another,
Closer together.
Open spaces now filled with underbrush,
Overgrown,
Congested.
Light more shaded now,
Dimmed,
Indistinct.

Walking feels harder,
The distance longer,
The inclination to turn back stronger.

So long since I walked this path,
Now grown strange,
No longer a familiar part of me,
The part by which I measured
The passing of each day.

Something has slipped silently away.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Busy Bird


This busy bird,
Leaping in flight
From one altitude to another,
Chirping tiny messages
Full of purpose,
Or are they exuberations of delight?

I wish I knew
If this busy bird
Feels something like joy
This warm spring morning.

Flying from treetop to treetop,
Free-falling,
Playing with gravity,
Lighter than air.

Perhaps it’s all business,
All matter of fact
To one born with wings.

Perhaps it’s all joy.

I wish I knew.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

What Is Bliss?


How wide must I open my eyes?
Must I examine every aging pore?
How beautiful we look in shadows
Where imperfections yield to imagination.

What is bliss?
Not necessarily ignorance,
Just a little moonlit intoxication.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

What I Should Have Done


I’ve said it all,
Upside down, inside out and backward,
And all I’ve done is put all these words
Between us,
All these words
In the way,
When all I really wanted to do was hold you,
But I thought I had to explain,
Everything,
When all I should have done
And all I want to do,
Is stop all this explaining
And hold you.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

What Comes Next


Sometimes
It seems like
Everything’s going wrong,
Then,
Everything gets worse
And you realize
Just how good you had it
Before everything got worse,
Then,
You get sick
And you realize
Just how lucky you were
When you were not sick,
Even though
Things were not going that well,
Then,
You die
And you think,
Oh great,
Here I am,
Dead.
You never made it to retirement,
Everything you ever worked for,
Gone,
And you’re stuck
In some kind of undefinable limbo,
Then,
You hear a voice that says:
You’re not stuck at all,
Come with me.
The next thing you know
You’re in some kind of eternal infinite agony
That must be hell
And you realize
Just how lucky you were
Before everything got worse,
And you don’t even want to think about
What comes next.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

#Alone


No sound,
No voice,
No laughter,
No eye contact,
No tears,
No facial expressions,
No body language,
No appearance,
No touch,
No skin on skin,
No embrace,
No kiss.

It’s the new friendship,
Texting and posting,
Liking and sharing,
Friending,
Friending,
All day long,
#Alone.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

This Crow


This crow,
Walking daintily yet determinately
Across the street.
In no hurry.
Time on his—wings?

No need to fly such a short distance.
No sounds of approaching vehicles.
A quiet neighborhood.
No traffic to worry about.

Should a delivery van suddenly appear,
Hurtling around the corner,
Speeding straight toward him,
Just a few wing flaps would propel him from harm.

I do wonder what it must be
To take flying so for granted,
As if a sudden leap,
High into the sky,
Coming to rest on a slim treetop branch,
Were nothing at all.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

I Took A Little Pill


I took a little pill and it made me happy.

I remember happy, I thought,
That old feeling,
Still there, somehow,
Just waiting for some kind of spark
To jolt a little joy into my life.

But it’s a false sense of happiness,
I argued.
It’s a chemically induced happiness.
It’s not real.

What about my chemically unbalanced depression,
I rebutted.
Is that a preferable reality?

Just because you are temporarily tranquil
Does not mean you’ve healed all your ailments,
I scolded,
Only that you’ve repressed them,
But not all of them.

Oh yeah?
I retorted.
What ailment of mine in particular persists?

How about the most obvious one,
I shot back,
That you are having this conversation with yourself,
Split in two.

You’d better watch yourself,
I threatened.
A couple more pills and you may cease to exist.

Oh yeah?
I threatened back.
A couple more pills and we both may cease to exist.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

What Else Can I Call It?


Once in a while
I catch a sideways glimpse of her
In awkward profile
And see her anew,
As one not in love might see her:
Plain,
Ordinary.
And for a moment I wonder,
Am I really in love with her,
This ordinary girl?

Then she turns to me and speaks,
Her eyes full of surprise and laughter,
She says my name
And the sound of myself upon her lips
Fills me with joy.

If this is not love,
What else can I call it?


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Weekend


Early Saturday morning
All things are possible.
Time suspends
Into the mad pursuit of pleasure.

Regret is vanquished
Until late Sunday afternoon
When pleasures left untended
Gain altitude and soar away,
Unreachable,
Leaving me,
A tiny speck on the darkened landscape,
As Monday draws near.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Lost


It was her favorite ring.
At least it seemed so after she lost it,
Taken off her finger and put in her shirt pocket
To keep it clean while pulling a few weeds
In her overgrown garden.

It was the ring he gave her,
A line of tiny diamonds in the oval opening
Of the brilliant gold setting,
Sparkling jewels erupting
From the entrance of a golden cave.

It was the ring he gave her
When they were entranced,
When she was so sure
The enchantment would last forever,
Now lost,
Unintentionally discarded among the detritus,
Unconsciously abandoned,
Belonging now to that place where lost things go.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Humility


Standing in front of the audience,
Bowing to thunderous applause,
Scattered cheers,
It’s hard to resist the idea of your greatness
After all those wilderness years,
Hard to remember that fame is momentary,
And random,
That legions of fashionable men and women
Become laughable in time,
That villains have been worshiped
And are worshiped still,
That so much of what was once revered
Becomes despised in time,
That only a few things remain eternally true,
One of those being humility.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Not Me


I would never do anything like that,
You think,
Reading about the murderous explosion of rage
From the “quiet man” who lived next door
To his victim.

You stop reading,
Set the newspaper aside and search your soul,
Looking for something in the recesses,
Something that might unleash some inner demon,
Demons,
Some hair trigger waiting to be pulled.

Not me,
You conclude,
I could never do anything like that.

You hear heavy footsteps.
The guard comes,
Unlocks the door,
Escorts you to the courtroom.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Happy Pills


I stopped taking the happy pills.
All that happiness was making me superficial,
Too full of contentment to empathize
With the suffering of friends,
Of the world.

I needed them desperately once,
When I’d fallen too far,
Lost in the darkening forest,
No way out
Until the happy pills lit a small candle.

The flickering flame grew brighter
And the darkness fell away,
The fear slowly evaporating
Like dew on daisies in the warming sun
Of an early summer morning.

We are all wounded by this world.

Normal is an idea in wet cement.

My thoughts dare not contain too much truth now.
I dare not feel all that I know
Lest I relapse,
Compelled to ingest the happy pills once again,
Returned to the gated community of unearned serenity.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The New Version


Not long after you’d pretty much figured it out,
Pretty much,
Sort of,
You were prompted to download the new version,
No doubt enhanced for improved functionality and security,
Better,
No doubt,
Better than what you already had,
Now referred to as the old version,
Practically obsolete,
So you comply,
And each time you do,
Each new version takes another little slice of user autonomy,
Another little nugget of user control,
Away.

Enriched personal data collection,
Upgraded monetization cloud,
The steady trespass of technology
Past all those surrendered boundaries,
Now removed,
Disabled,
Discontinued,
Deleted,
In return for improved functionality
And security.

The new version.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

She Waits


Waiting,
Waiting,
This old woman,
Waiting still,
Settled into waiting,
A warm blanket.

No longer impatient,
No longer young,
Waiting has become familiar,
Comfortable,
Manageable,
A perfect dream.

And the sky shall open
And anointed love shall fall
In soft, springtime showers.

O fervent prophecy,
Divine promise,
Annunciation.

She steps outside her small room,
Searches the sky for a sign.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

All I Ask


All I ask is a tall ship
And a star to steer her by,
Food and drink enough to last
My wayward wandering eye.

A mate or two to hoist the sails,
To swab the deck and sing
A rousing song of seven seas.
What quahogs we will bring!

O we will be a happy ship,
Connected to the net.
When whales are few and seas be calm
Our email we’ll beget.

We’ll chart our journey on a blog
For smartphones all to see,
And keep up with our favored shows
On satellite TV.

We’ll gather in the hot tub steam
When starry nights turn cool,
And when we take on lobster hue
We’ll dive into the pool.

O the call of the open sea,
The smell of briny foam,
O the lure of uncharted lands
That draw us far from home.

All I ask is a tall ship
And a star to steer her by,
Some island girls for pleasure,
And a global positioning system in case we get lost.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Constantly Constant


The cacophony of distraction,
Immersed in an ocean of noise,
Of disjointed action and reaction,
Omnipresent ephemera,
No clear space,
No pausing,
No stopping,
Everything everywhere all the time,
The senses oversaturated,
The brain bombarded,
We are
Constantly constant.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

On Moonlit Freeway


On moonlit freeway
I see the weariness in your eyes,
A few stray strands of hair
Around your face
Illuminated against the black
Inside your car.

It is late.

We who work overtime are driving home
In silent, anonymous autonomy.
Though I’ve seen you a thousand times before
In full fluorescent sun,
Numbed by office decor and decorum,
Tonight in my rearview mirror
I see the phosphorescence of your truer self,
Your innocence.

It is the innocence of the oppressed
Who, after overtime is through,
Have nothing disingenuous left.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Wearing Thin


Some folks say
They want to live
Forever,
But as for me,
This particular person
I am
Is wearing thin.
I can think of few things
Worse
Than an eternity
Chained to this one particular person
I am,
This soul attached,
Forever beset
By this particular concoction
Of insecurities and doubts,
Addictions, duplicities
And happenstance.
Gotta wipe the slate clean,
Someday.

Be somebody else for awhile.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

We Who Are Not Worthy


We who are not worthy
Do not ask for love.
We can live without it,
Prefer living without it,
Keep ourselves busy,
So busy,
Not the least little opening
Where love could leak in.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Day's End


Something stirs as the day recedes,
As the hillsides turn black,
The tracery of trees so delicate against the fading orange sky,
The prisms of purple-blue unfolding toward the evening star
Now bright as a streetlight.

Something reassuring about little chirping birds
Fluttering to their secret places in the woods,
Called to shelter by the darkening horizon,
By the sudden chill on the edge of the air,
By the hoot, hoot, hoot of a twilight owl.

Neighborhood dogs bark at hungry raccoons
Leaving their storm drain tunnels
For an evening of leftover pet food and trash can tidbits.

The distant discord of a passing freight train calls
Like a factory whistle signaling an end to the working day.

Something heartening in the exodus home,
Labor’s machinery turned off awhile.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

We, The Creative


We of the large-brained variety
Are the creative animals.
Survival is not enough,
We must have reasons to survive,
Philosophies,
Theologies.

And just to prove
How creative we really are,
We pretend our imaginings
Are the work of God.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Growing Younger


After this one particular life,
After this body,
Ceases,
I will carry what wisdom I have
Into another life,
But next time,
Born old and wise,
I will grow younger,
Stronger,
Coupling energy with experience,
Knowing that each day brings me closer
To the moment of conception,
Until,
At last,
I return to bliss.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

We Start Out Mad


We don’t go mad,
We start out mad.

Screaming,
Crying,
Full of fear,
Irrational,
Superstitious,
Baby barbarians.

Then,
The anarchy of adolescence,
Gateway to adult temptation,
Free of consequential regard.

We don’t go mad,
We start out mad.

Some of us get better,
On and off,
Off and on.
Some of us get worse.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

We Come From The Sun


We come from the sun,
Shine from the sun
As individual rays of light.
We are the stuff and essence of the sun,
Cast and extended into individuality,
Single lives,
Still connected,
Fueled by the sun.

The barriers we place
Between ourselves and the sun
Dim our light,
Weaken the connection,
And we lose our way.

When we let go of the illusion
Of single, separate lives,
Apart from one another,
Apart from this planet,
When we let go,
Barriers fall away
And darkness is illuminated.

When our individuality ends,
When our physical selves fall away,
Our light will return to the sun,
But the light cast by each life
While dwelling in this place of time
Will remain.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

We Are The Water


Searching for the answers,
For so long,
Until I finally discovered
The expectation of an answer
Is the first delusion.

Answers are stones in the river.
We are the water.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Storytelling


When I tell someone the story of my life,
Even if only a chapter or two,
It has a certain logical symmetry,
A wise, knowing narrative,
A purposeful ordering of events,
So unlike the real life I have lived
Where in spite of my best intentions,
Things happen.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Way Out


If it is a real life you are living,
In the real world,
You are going to hit bottom once in a while.

The joy of life will vanish
And the future will look empty,
Without promise,
Nothing to look forward to.

Yes,
It happens to me.

Love is the way out.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Way Of This World


It was a tall tree,
Not majestic,
But many years old,
Having managed somehow to be planted,
To grow in a clear space,
Clear enough for sunlight,
Far enough from other, taller trees,
A space where humans found it desirable
And so left it alone to grow
All these years.
Singed by the occasional fire,
Parched by the occasional drought,
It grew.

After ferocious winds that would not let me sleep
I walked along this familiar path,
Strewn with leaves, branches and limbs,
And there in the clearing was the tree,
Lying on its side,
Uprooted,
Most of its branches torn away
Except for a line of long, leafless branches still attached,
Now pointing toward the clear, quiet, cloudless sky,
A last gesture.

This had nothing to do with sin,
With punishment
Or even destiny.
Every big wind blows a few trees down.
It is the way of this world.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Warm At Night


Death,
Curled up like a sleeping kitten,
Purrs,
Keeps you warm at night,
Nuzzles against your throat.

It’s so downright reassuring
We forget what it will do,
Someday.
We forget why we’re so goddamned lucky
To be alive,
Because death is sleeping like a kitten
While we suffer the inconveniences
Of utopia,
Always in pursuit of something more,
Something better,
Pretending
This life will go on and on
Forever,
Secretly grateful
It doesn’t.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Walking


Walking seems so futile sometimes,
One step at a time,
So little progress,
One small step
After
Another.

So many small steps
Taking so long,
The mind begins to wander,
The imagination is engaged
And all the things I said of late
Play back,
In and out of sequence.
I think of what I should have said
While I walk blindly by
Men,
Women,
Children,
Traffic and noise,
Traffic and noise.

I think and think
Of what I should have said,
What I will say next time,
And I worry
About what could go wrong,
What could go wrong.

I imagine some great success,
So successful,
Admired by millions.
I begin my speech
As the applause dies down,
The audience respectfully silent.

Yes,
I was just like you,
Afraid of the future,
Hoping against hope,
But I persevered,
I faced down failure,
I endured
And I was blessed
And now I pass my blessings on
To you.
Yes,
We are divine,
We are immortal,
We are . . .


So rudely interrupted
By the honking of a horn,
I awaken and realize
I have been walking a long time,
A long, long time.
All these small steps,
So tedious,
So repetitive,
Have at last taken me
Somewhere
Else.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Waking Up In The Dark


I could never get used to waking up in the dark,
To the cold, pitch-filled sky
Pressed flat against my windows,
To the wetness of water
Shot in hard, straight lines from the shower head,
To the distress of the world,
Just outside my door.

It was no easier for my two boys
Sagging under the weight of sleep,
Unable to speak,
Or my wife
Who would smile
And speak in gentle tones
Despite years of servitude to us all.

Together,
The chaotic particles of ourselves joined,
Forming a radiant wholeness of being.
Together,
We summoned the will
To face the new day
With something like hope.

After all these years I still wake up in the dark,
Remembering the sounds,
The stirrings,
Listening for the click of a light switch.
But now the other half of my bed is empty
And my boys are gone,
Changed into men,
Swallowed up by the world,
Just outside my door.

I have nowhere to go and could sleep until noon,
But each morning I wake up in the dark
And listen for them, still.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Waiting


Yes, I was like you,
Waiting to be perfect before I opened my eyes,
Praying,
Struggling with self-improvement,
Moving forward in spurts
Then falling behind,
A little euphoria now and then,
A little despair,
Yes,
I was like you,
Denying the moment,
Making plans,
Getting things done,
And even though I know better,
This busy world still overwhelms me,
Distracts and diffuses me.

I sit in the light, waiting for the sun.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Cats And Dogs


The old couple had a cat
And a dog,
Their constant companions for so many years.
Loyal,
Affectionate pets.

The aging dog still played fetch,
Still wrestled tug of war with a piece of rope,
Always eager to go on a walk,
Loved to ride in the car with his tongue hanging out in the breeze.

The aging cat still played with her catnip mouse,
Still leaped at the dog from hidden places,
Defiantly pulled her claws on the forbidden chair
Then skittered madly down the long hallway.

After the old man died
The dog lay listless in his bed
Making soft groaning noises,
Keeping an eye on the front door
Just in case the old man came back.
But deep inside the dog knew the old man was gone forever.

After the old man died
The cat began each new day as before,
Begged the old woman for food each morning,
Meowed at the door to be let out into the garden,
Chasing after lizards,
Chirping at little birds,
Back inside stretching out on a soft bedspread next to the window,
Soaking up the morning sun without thought of past or future,
Perfectly satisfied to be immersed in comfort,
Her eyelids half closed,
Keeping watch for the occasional lingering sparrow.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

My Failures


I have come to terms with the truth of my failures,
With the behaviors that perpetuate them,
With the absence of corrective self-discipline.

I now understand the cause and effect of my life,
The sources of my shortcomings,
The volition with which I empower them.

I have given long and careful thought,
Hours of solitary meditation,
Peeling back the layers of my self-deceptions.

I have stepped outside my own being,
Seeing myself as others may see me,
Bearing witness to this concoction of weakness and ignorance.

But mine is a willful ignorance,
Infused with the knowledge of that which I am ignoring,
All those signs and signals I stubbornly resist.

Alas, still human.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Mother And Her Son


The coyotes suddenly singing
Their nightly song
As the last of the helicopters
Flies overhead,
Giving up as darkness takes over,
Giving up the search,
The mother and her son
Swept away
After weeks of torrential rain,
Swept away by the river,
So fascinating to watch
All that water,
So tragic to slip and fall.

Did the boy fall first
And the mother follow after?
No one will ever know,
Certainly not me
As I walk home in the shadow of these mountains,
In the light of the half-lit moon,
Under the sparkling stars,
Thinking how wonderful and terrible life is,
How lucky I am to be walking home
Where I will soon be safe,
Soon be warm,
While the mother and her son,
Swallowed up by the storm.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Vinegar And Oil


I heard someone say,
The heart wants what the heart wants,
And it helped me understand
Why my heart hurts
Even though my mind is clear.

Love and logic
Are like vinegar and oil,
Separate,
Contradictory,
Each unwilling to yield.

I can live with contradiction,
But my broken heart?


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Voice


I have immunized my intellect
Against the ancient superstitions
With science and culture,
Unintentionally masking a primeval wisdom,
A transcendent wisdom.
This island of logic
Surrounded by an ocean of eternity.

Yet something enduring speaks to me anew,
From the intricate vision of the old master artists,
In the refined musical vocabulary of classical composers,
Written into words by literary prophets,
Carried within the hearts and minds of all
Who pursue inspired occupations,
All who feel the gravity of the eternal
And give it voice,
A voice that speaks to us,
Still.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

My Disillusionment


Just as I am about to be overcome by bliss
For my fortunate life,
For the infinite joy that is possible
With each new day,
This world tempers my enthusiasm
With countless reminders of petty human frailty.

It comes as no surprise
There are monsters among us,
Their actions undeniably
Abhorrent,
But my disillusionment
Is fueled by the frail and tattered bond
Between honesty and convenience,
One,
So easily surrendered,
To the other.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

In Our Older Years


If we’re lucky,
Nothing much will happen today,
At least not to us,
Though we may mistake safety for boredom.

If we’re lucky,
No one will call us on the phone
Or send us mail today,
Though we may mistake solitude for loneliness.

If we’re lucky,
Early some morning one of us will awaken
And find the other has died peacefully while sleeping,
Though we may mistake inevitability for tragedy.

If we’re lucky,
The other will quietly follow.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

For Better Or For Worse


For better or for worse
I am sincere,
If not pedestrian,
In my verse.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

If We Will


Many of us would like to be saints,
Or at least look back on our lives and say:
I’ve been a good person.
Many of us can.

But so many more have been so twisted,
So battered by the rougher aspects of reality
That we were trained to be less than good
As a matter of self-defense,
Of survival.

Many of us with some small scrap of innocence left
Eventually summon the will, as we grow older,
The will to remake our lives,
To heal old wounds,
To understand and forgive,
To understand and change,
To pay it back.

But so many more are so deeply damaged,
The best we can hope for is to grow old enough
To wear out our sins,
So old and tired that all we can do
Is shuffle down the sidewalk
And smile at the passing stranger,
If we will.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Verdicts


The verdicts of intellectuals,
So easily overturned.

~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

A Vehicle


It sang on your lips,
It moved your fingers across the keys,
And those who listened knew
Something extraordinary was going on.

The maker of this music
Was not entirely you.
But then,
Intoxicated by adulation,
You forgot it was so.

It was no longer singing in your voice,
No longer moving your hands,
And those who listened
So admiringly before,
Listened no more.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Unmarked Path


What is this betrayal?
Born of honesty
Surrendered to the truth of passion,
Sustained by lies.

What is this fidelity?
Born of pretense
Upheld by the facade of happiness,
Sustained by lies.

All these expectations,
Yours and mine,
So hard to fulfill
In this inexact life.

If we are brutally honest
And unhappy,
If we deceive ourselves
Into joy,
If all of this is illusion and delusion,
Still, there is love in the world
And the unmarked path of the heart.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Unexplainable


It is our nature
To try and explain the unexplainable,
To give it form,
To make it tangible
So that it may be examined,
Analyzed,
Reduced to a concept,
No longer unexplainable,
No longer God.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Age Of The Pure Self


Anarchy,
Not just for the dispossessed anymore,
It's catching on like wildfire,
A fad,
A new sport for the upper crust,
For those separated from the great mass
By privilege,
Power,
Perception.

This perception of superiority,
Now this is the motive force,
Not just for the well-to-do anymore,
No,
Even the lowest inhabitants of the social order
Feel superior these days.

Now,
In our cities and our streets,
In our homes and office buildings,
In all manner of public and private places,
Now,
No one is safe from this self-righteous anarchy.

This is war.

To each their own pure self,
The pure self that needs no law,
That bends to no man, woman or child,
That considers not its own frailties,
Sees no larger world beyond itself,
Enforces its iron rule without mercy,
No matter how trivial or mundane its kingdom may be.

Nor more humility,
No backing up,
No admission of error,
Of guilt,
Of responsibility.
All actions and motives of the pure self are beyond question.

We encounter one another
In our day-to-day lives
And exchange the menacing glance.
All is understood.
Ours is the age of the pure self.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved