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

Unemployment


The clock strikes one,
My lunch is done,
I lost my job,
I load my gun.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Uncertainty


I do not go to church
But there is no denying the power of place,
A focal point,
A refuge.

I do not wear a cross
But the man on his knees before the image of Crucifixion
Has opened a door,
Willing to change.

I do not read the Bible
But within those pages are awakenings,
A path to realization for some,
Everyday eternity.

How do we tell one another what is necessary,
What is essential?
We are all explorers
Without words for the undiscovered.

Life is too big for complete revelation,
The course of our incarnations too short.
We must embrace uncertainty
As surely as we embrace faith.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Poet I Am


I cannot explain the world,
A world too large to understand,
I can only tell the tale
Of this individual man.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Translation


Words are but tame translation
Of the unspoken world
Where meaning gives way
And being is all.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

All I Can Say


Infatuation is easy,
The words pour from my pen.

But lonely desperate love,
Love you can’t live without,
Yet love denied,
That kind of love is hard to write down.

That’s all I can say.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Tracing


All tragedies now exist.

Yet,
Somehow,
Cool shadowed light
Filters through this wooded ravine
Weaving leaf-twig patterns
Across your bare sinewy back.

I trace them with my fingertips
To their inevitable destination.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Touch


Will you be glad you did not touch her?
Such a foolish impulse.
Risk,
Betrayal,
Hunger,
Intimacy.

Yes, intimacy,
The intimacy of a stranger.
Seductive,
Passionate,
Electric,
Animal.

Will you be glad you did not touch her?
Such a responsible decision.
Practical,
Unentangled,
Loyal,
Inevitable.

Yes, inevitable,
The inevitable consequences.
Pretense,
Disruption,
Denial,
Guilt.

And so, after anxious introspection,
Weighing the rational against the emotional,
Without decision,
You take her hand.
You touch her cheek
And search her eyes for the answer.

The answer does not come.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Too Much Work


Too much work
Strips everyday life
Of love
And serendipitous happenstance,
Oh yeah.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Tonight


All the lovers in bliss,
All the babies in pain,
My joy runs through my sadness
Like wind through rain.

~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

To Rise


I stood up fast and rushed to the window
To see a small blue and rust colored bird
When the dizziness came and clouded my sight
And a soft voice inside said:
Old man you are not too long for this world,
And I thought,
What a pleasant way to die,
To rise swiftly,
Then rise again.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Stir


If you use the wrong words,
In the wrong place,
At the wrong time,
You could go to jail.

And that first day in stir
When they ask,
Whaddya in fer?
You give ‘em a low, mean stare
And say:
Vocabulary.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

To My Wife


So pretty when she turns sad,
Her eyes glisten like small, black stones
Washed and worn by the sea.

Her lean, fine-boned features,
Softening slowly,
Losing their distinction
Under the strain of marriage,
The demands of little children.

Hello,
She says,
Looking for the person I used to be,
Looking just long enough to see
A similar sadness in my eyes.

We go no further,
But smile in silent, solemn agreement.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

To My Son, Each One


Do not get stuck on death,
My son.
Though we are flowing fatefully toward it,
We are also blessed
With a thousand rebirths along the way.

Even when our bodies are only images
In forgotten photo albums,
And our lives are reduced to a few inaccurate anecdotes
Told by some kind of relative somewhere,
Trying to forge a link in the chain of being,
Even when the last of our once treasured possessions
Is reduced to dust and vapor,
You and I will persist,
Still connected,
Somehow.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

To Love Or Not To Love


All the reasons,
Why,
Why not,
All the emotions,
Why,
Why not,
All the confusion,
Yes,
No,
All the passion,
Yes,
No,
All the talking,
All the thinking,
The wishing,
The hoping,
The anxiety,
The fear,
The lust,
The guilt,
The despair,
The depression,
The dark,
The light,
The color of the sun,
The color of the sky,
Immortality,
Death,
Resignation,
Saturation,
Obsession,
Exhaustion,
Defeat,
Mourning,
Change,
Strategy,
Luck,
Fate,
Why,
Why not,
Yes,
No,
Yes,
No,
No,
No,
Absolutely no.

Yes.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

This Teacher


The mad rush for the classroom door
When the recess bell rang.
“Stop!” shouted our teacher,
Her large frame blocking the open door.
“Women and children first!” she commanded,
Stepping aside,
Allowing her puzzled students to file quietly out the door.
“Women and children first!”

After recess our new teacher told us about the Titanic,
The iceberg,
The wounded ship slowly sinking into the sea,
The sure knowledge of impending death,
Certain death coming for them all,
Yet even then,
The dignity of life preserved.
“Women and children first!”

If these imperiled souls could face mortality
With such nobility of spirit,
Then how small a thing for us
To file quietly out of the classroom,
Allowing the girls to exit first.

Those courageous men put wives and children into the lifeboats,
She told us in quivering voice,
Knowing there were not enough for all,
Knowing they would never again see their loved ones.
The mighty ship groaned and shifted
In the icy cold waters of the North Atlantic.
The ship’s musicians assembled in reverence to their art,
Playing “Nearer, My God to Thee,”
Accompanied by the cries of frightened children,
The exclamations of tearful women,
The panic rising as the ship lurched lower.

“Women and children first!”
Called out to the fleeing passengers
Over and over again.
“Women and children first!”
As the last of the lifeboats were filled.

Silence.

“Now,” our teacher said to her shocked and stunned students,
“Now, we will practice.”

“Women and children first!” she declared, guiding us quietly to the door.
“Women and children first!” her words now etched into our souls.
“Women and children first!” she repeated like a prayer,
A holy incantation,
A eulogy.
“Women and children first!”

Our hearts were scalded and beating fast
As we moved quietly toward the lifeboats,
Hoping there was still some room,
Suddenly aware of the weight of life and death,
All of us awakened by this magnificent woman,
This teacher.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

To Live Is To Long


To live is to long,
To long too long,
Until life is through.
What else can you do?


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

A Matter Of Time


To you who suffer,
Please know I think of you
And pray for you
Every day
And I don’t understand
What it is in this world
That chooses you
And spares me
And it may only be a matter of time
Until I am chosen
And you are spared.

Yes,
I suppose that’s what it’s all about,
A matter of time.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Timenesia


If you could travel back in time,
You would forget how you got there.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Tiny


Just when they thought they had it nailed,
The smallest, irreducible thing,
The building block of all that matters,
They discovered it has parts.

Then they discovered the parts have parts,
Have parts,
And so on,
And so forth.

So I guess we’ve still got infinity,
Inside and out,
Micro and macro,
Beyond and within.

We are bound in a nutshell
Of infinite space.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Eternity


I can hear eternity
In the happy cries of playing children,
Hours left before the sun goes down.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Should I Not Rejoice?


So is despair
Just a chemical imbalance
After all?
The kind of despair
That strips the world of color
Long after its initial cause?
The kind of despair
That has no apparent cause at all?

O yes, I can sit in the sunshine
And give thanks for the beauty
Of a blue sky,
For what lives beneath,
For the thought.

I can wrestle with the inequities
And let them go,
Surrender to all that is good,
Embrace hope,
Trust in that which is eternal.

Yes,
I have known bliss,
But this world is filled with tragedy,
Tragedy beyond mere happenstance,
Tragedy produced by willful, human conniving,
And with it comes despair.

If I am so lucky to be spared
So much of this world’s misery,
Should I not rejoice?


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Promise


Just when time was finally slowing,
When the world had no more use for me
And old friends with all their chattering
Slipped silently into the ether,
Just when I thought constant change was ceasing,
I was startled by the furious beating of wings,
A burst of birds racing close overhead,
A blur of gray,
Then,
Gone.

Were they chased by the coming clouds?
Or were they pulling the clouds over the path I’d taken,
Like a blanket pulled over the recently deceased?
I was willing to accept this grave omen
When the clouds suddenly thinned and evaporated,
The sunny, powder-blue sky restored,
Along with the promise of yet another spring.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Timeless


Looking back,
The necessity of suffering and sacrifice
Seems obvious.
Looking forward,
Inevitable.

But today,
You and I,
Enraptured,
Timeless.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Did You Try To Sing?


Did you try to sing?

Did you try to sing but the words caught
In the bottom of your throat
And someone sitting in the dark
Said “Next!”
Before you could summon
The clear, sweet song within.
Did you try to sing?

How old were you?

How old were you when the song was frightened
Back inside
Where no one would hear or criticize,
How old were you?

Do you still sing?

Do you still sing to yourself alone,
Bold and strong
When no one’s home,
Or is your singing gone?


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Time As Yet


When you were three
I could tell you about this world,
What things were called,
What to do with a day.

I could read you a happy story
With pretty painted pictures
And watch you fall softly asleep,
Still innocent,
Still safe,
Time as yet but a gentle breeze.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Time Accelerates


Time accelerates
And we grow old,
Always intending to stop some day
And think it over.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Time


There was a day
When the balance between young and old
Shifted,
And what was strong
Began to weaken.

The day passed without notice
Until many years later
When I realized what happened.

Now,
All my ambitions,
All my aspirations,
Reduced to this single phrase:
“While there is still time.”


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Thought For Food


So many
In this
I could
And so forth
And so on
Until
No more.

Better to be
And see
Than so
Busy thinking
All those
We made
So clever
And blind.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

We Call It Civilization


How curious,
Every little bird awakening each morning,
Imbued with an unquestionable sense of purpose,
With no confusion as to the required tasks of the day,
Proceeding with evolutionary confidence
And caution,
Innate senses and skills propelling action and reaction.

In this tumultuous human world
Where millions are stripped of their homes,
Their countries,
Of the most unremarkable aspects of everyday life,
Of survival,
Little birds make their orderly way
Through their tiny lives,
While we make refugees of our mothers and fathers,
Sisters and brothers,
Daughters and sons,
And we call it,
Civilization.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Trees Are People Too


Trees are people too,
Only too slow for us to witness
Their writhings.

To trees we seem confused,
Our kind a rootless blur
In transit.

We live in sovereign spaces,
Each only half aware
Of the sorrow
A sparrow
Can feel.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

A New World


I am different today,
Changed by the passage of something other than time,
Something that resides in the mind,
Something that pushes forward,
Pushes back,
Something that transcends,
Something that forgets.

I would be washed clean someday,
Not by mental infirmity,
But by one life flowing into the next,
What some call heaven,
What some anticipate as a grand reunion,
All those lost loved ones,
Found again.

I have no special knowledge of the afterlife
Or whether the fervent hopes of the heart
Have any effect on the journey of the soul.
If my prayers would be granted,
I would become a child again,
In a new life,
In a new world where I could live awhile.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Rabbit


To look for the rabbit was why I came,
To find him again was my secret game.
I’d slowly edge near him, near as I could,
Near as he’d let me, as near as he should.

I had some strange dream of taming the wild.
It was my best dream, the dream of a child.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

This World


For every little bird that dies,
There’s another little bird that flies.

~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Transition


Now that some time has passed without you,
Knowing you will not come back into my life,
I’ve decided I’m finally ready to let go,
All those letters and emails,
The little gifts and trinkets,
Photographs I can no longer bear to see,
Everything,
Shredded,
Burned,
Deleted,
Given away,
All discarded.

All except this single smooth stone,
A stone I found at ocean’s edge
That warm summer day when we were new,
When the enchantment was real.

I’ll put this stone in a little wooden box,
Perhaps never to open,
Or perhaps one day I will remove the stone
And hold it in my hand once again,
Someday when I am strong.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

A Little Nudge


The stench!
What an intolerable stench!

Awakened to the alarm of a foul, sulfurous odor,
I step outside.
The air is thick with decay,
Stinging the senses
As if I’d awakened in some extraterrestrial miasma,
Some netherworld.

People lining the street,
Looking to the sky for some kind of answer,
Grimacing to one another,
Holding their noses.

Talk on the radio,
On the television,
Speculations about accelerated decomposition
From climate change,
Solar radiation,
Polar shifting,
Oceanic reconstitution,
Tectonic deformation,
Apocalypse.

No one really knew anything.
Months later,
No one really knew much more
Except that the change was permanent.

We adjusted,
Redefining words such as:
Fragrant,
Sweet,
For there was no more sweet
As we had known it,
No more fragrant.

We changed our aesthetics,
Our taste buds,
Our culture,
Reprogramming old orientations.
Old ideas of pleasure and pain,
Changed now by our weary planet,
So weary of who we were,
Giving us a little nudge.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Clouds


No matter how hard I try to forget,
Some wounds are permanent,
Always threatening to cast a shadow
On some happy memory,
Like a stern parent,
A fundamentalist preacher
Who sees unchecked joy as a doorway to sin.

A cloud for every silver lining.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

This Wind


This wind is everywhere
Yet all I can see is movement.

I too am moved
By something unseen.

I wander through philosophy,
Buffeted by wind.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

This Old Woman


Standing in line at the market
She nearly drops her cane
Searching her purse for a coupon,
For her money,
Checking a wrinkled list.

She tilts perilously,
Forgetting to balance herself,
Nervous because she is the next to pay.

This old woman stands
Next to the magazines,
Glossy young women
Ripe for mating.
Everywhere this old woman goes
The young world surrounds,
Confounds,
Reminds her how long it has been
Since desire.

We turn our eyes away,
Pretending not to notice
As she questions the cashier needlessly,
Counts out nickels and pennies,
Drawing out this time of human contact.

She places the coins in the cashier’s hand,
Feels a radiant warmth from his skin.
It startles,
Her hand jerks
And three pennies fall to the counter,
Roll off the edge and are gone.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

This Nothing


At any moment
Something will occur
And call me away from this nothing.

This nothing,
So hard to find
Among all this something.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Coming Of Rain


It is the coming of rain I love,
When sky-filled clouds shade harsh noon
And cushion the noise of the city.
Slim eucalyptus trees sway in anticipation,
Imitating the sound of showers
With the soft applause of leaves.

I alone have stopped here
In this abandoned parking lot
To see the rain come.
I am praying for a deluge,
Enough to make us stop
And for a while be still.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Work And Freedom


Someone once said
The only real freedom
Is freedom from work.

I suppose that’s true for many,
Working only for money,
Interchangeable cogs
In the brutishly indifferent wheel of commerce.

Yet many do take some measure of pride
In a job well done,
Despite being relatively unrewarded
For years of obedience to the task at hand,
Then,
One day,
Anonymously dismissed,
Discarded,
Finally free from work,
Yet not feeling very free at all.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

This Knowledge


In this information age
I have the Library of Alexandria
At my fingertips,
And more.
Almost anything I want to know,
Instantly accessible,
Almost anything,
Except that which I long to know
Above all other knowledge:

The length of your spine beneath my fingers,
The feel of every silken vertebra,
The ripple of pleasure as it spreads
Through every sinew of your naked body,
The action and reaction of desire,
The union of our beings,
The electricity of ecstasy,
Your eyes filled with love,
My heart filled with light.

This knowledge I crave above all,
This knowledge of you.


~ Russ Allison Loar 
© All Rights Reserved

This Idea Of Free


I am so used to this idea of free
I forget how many in this world
Are shackled by ideas,
So many in this free country,
In my hometown,
Shackle themselves with ideas,
Rules for living,
Or no ideas at all,
Just behaviors,
Self-destructive behaviors
Masquerading as freedom.

So confusing,
This idea of free.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Better


You know the saying,
To have loved and lost
Is better . . .

But oh how that word,
Better,
Sticks in the throat.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

I Knew A Young Man


I knew a young man
Who drank warm water
Right from the faucet,
From his cupped hand.

Everything he did,
An act of defiance,
An act of strength,
His way through the world.

They sent him to the war
And he didn’t last a week.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

This Gift


Father,
Thank you for this gift of my suffering,
Suffering so slight,
Measured against the agonies of this world.

May I use it well
To enter the heart of humanity,
Embrace the sorrow words alone cannot describe,
Find within the shattering,
Suddenly,
Without announcement,
Grace.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

This Fire


However much I love you,
You do not
Hang upon the cheek of night
Like a rich jewel in an Ethiop’s ear.

You do,
However,
Glow in the illumination of the street light
Where you wait for me,
Not yet noticing my approach,
Eager to burn
In this fire we have ignited.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Gravity


When it comes right down to it,
I know little more about
God
Than a duck knows about
Newtonian physics.

Try as he might,
The duck cannot explain,
Or defy,
Gravity.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Skipping


My dead relatives see a future they never imagined.

And here I thought the future was so far ahead
I could scarcely imagine it,
Beyond the usual flying cars,
Electricity from air,
Freedom from disease.

My dead relatives say I’m living in the future.

I don’t have to look too far back to see how right they are,
Or too far forward to see how wrong they are.
But right now, right here,
What is this exactly?

It moves so quickly I don’t have time to focus,
My thoughts are blurred,
My explanations obsolete.

I am skipping across the surface of time,
Watching my hair turn white.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Think Of Me


Years from now
When your hair begins to gray,
Think of me.

Remember the sound of our laughter,
The color of my eyes,
The warmth of my hand.

Years from now
When your cheeks are wrinkled,
Think of me.

Remember my awkward mistakes,
My overzealous pronouncements,
My prayers.

Years from now
When time has washed all the hurt away,
When you no longer understand old age,
Be young and unblemished again
And think of me.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Things We Do When Love Is Gone


The things we do when love is gone,
The things we buy,
The things we eat
When love is given up,
The way we face the world,
The way we speak
When love no longer calls,
The things that must be done,
The order that we seek
When love falls apart,
The road we take,
The convictions we make
To shun the lure,
To escape the hook,
The ugly way we look
And feel
When love’s no longer real.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Because You Love


So worried,
About money,
About accomplishment,
About failure.

So overwhelmed,
By work,
By family,
By modern life.

Sometimes,
Late at night,
Early in the morning,
In the middle of the day,
You wonder who you are,
Why your life turned out this way,
So uneventful.

Love,
Love is all you have left,
Mad unrestrained love,
For your family,
For movie stars,
For your friends,
For total strangers,
For babies,
For dogs and cats and birds
And all living things,
Every tree and flower,
For even the sky-darkening clouds
And the rain,
The individual drops of rain
That fall on your cheek
Like tears of forgiveness,
And you realize
You are forgiven,
All is forgiven
Because you love,
And that is enough.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

They Are Golden Now


I see them,
Two little boys waking for school
In toy-stuffed bedrooms,
Staring blankly through sleep
At the half-conscious morning,
Rubbing their eyes with tight little fists.

So sleepy.

They expect to see me still,
Straightening a tie,
Gulping coffee,
Complaining about the time.

So sleepy.

They have not yet remembered
I am gone.

Mother is in the shower
And the sound of her
Triggers something.
Now they recognize the wrenching feeling,
Recognize and identify their wounds.
Like hospital patients
Who dreamed themselves home,
Who could stay in the dream
No longer,
Now they are awake.

I see them,
Hear them call for me
Watch them speak in hushed voices
About where I could be
And when I’ll come back.

I rub my eyes
And struggle to emerge
Into the blank morning
From a night of difficult dreams
In this cardboard motel room.

I love them,
Always loved them,
Loved them all,
Loved too much to ever say no,
Never, ever say no.

Enslaved by meaningless demeaning work,
Smothered by demanding reprimanding family,
Bound in the chains of my own making,
They are now the chains of my own breaking.

I see them,
Shattered and broken.
They are golden, now,
As they move through the diaphanous light
Of my feverish thoughts,
As I move darkly into the day
Toward this unrelenting madness
I can no longer disobey.

They are golden, now.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Theresa


Theresa is large and dark
And sits outside the library
When the library is closed.
She sits and sings,
Or just shakes
From what her brain does to her body.

Theresa is large and dark
And exchanges a kind greeting
When she is not shaking,
When she is not dangling
From the end of some string,
Pulled by whatever demon has her.

Dance with me,
She said.
And though I was never a dancer
And afraid,
We danced ‘round and ‘round
In a clear blue sky,
Weightless.


Theresa is large and dark
And wears a towel wrapped around her head,
An exotic headdress,
And a necklace of silver napkin rings.
Her possessions are packed in a plastic laundry basket,
Notebooks filled with carefully drawn letters,
Favorite words written small and large,
Black and blue ink,
Over and over again.

Theresa is large and dark
And sits outside the library
Where she sings
And shakes,
Where she finds heaven
And hell
In equal measure.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Reminder


The day will come
When Earth is done
With all of us
And everything.

Everything.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

At Play


You call it freedom,
Those afternoons on your dappled horse,
Kicking up dust sparkling in wet ocean air,
Cantering round and round solitary paths
Worn around your father’s estate
Where an old Mexican woman with scars on her knees
Scrubs heel marks off the Spanish tile.

Your orange and white tomcat snags a butterfly,
Yanks off a fluorescent wing
With his needle-nose teeth.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

That's Why


Why?
Because God allows everything.
Everything.

That’s why.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

That One Precious Word


Dear one,
When your life is full of tears,
When love is ripped from your heart
And there is no one,
No one you can tell,
Really tell,
Know you are not alone,
For I too have cried,
I too have stumbled and fallen
When the weight of the world was too great to bear.

Dear one,
Let us join in spirit,
In recognition,
And give each other strength.

We are the wounded ones of the world
Yet we must endure,
We must hold on to that one precious word,
Hope.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved