Snake


Snake on a parking lot curb,
Looking for water in the fourth drought year,
Stares blank-eyed at rows of stove-hot steel automobiles,
Shoots his rubber tongue out and in a few quivers
Then inch-glides his black and tan, rug-patterned self
Over the curb,
His tongue sniffing like a dog nose.

He slides into the gutter and angles toward me.

I’m safe in my car
But I can hear my dead grandmother scream
As he slips underneath my front bumper.


~ 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.
How quickly 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

The Agony Of Ecstasy


The older I get the more I wonder
Why I’ve been spared from so much,
So much of the suffering of this world.
Why, why, why?

O the agony of this incessant good fortune,
This ecstasy,
Will it never cease?


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

A Small Ring Of Different Colors


A small ring of different colors
On two tiny toy flashlights
Is turned,
Red, yellow, green, blue,
Two tiny beams of light
On the bedroom ceiling
After story time is through.

My dead grandfather’s bed
Is big enough for four,
Through we are only three,
My little boys and me.

A father,
I guess,
Is what I am,
But at bedtime I am more like a lamb,
Skipping through painted storybooks
At the edge of sleep
With my little sheep.

Then I switch off the light,
Turn on the dark
And the magic flashlights appear.
Red, yellow, green, blue,
The colored beams dance and duel.

Two luminescent bodies of light
In the enchanted garden of night.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

A Small Price


My sweetheart is angry with me.

I was relentless,
Her debating skills weaker than mine,
Mine,
Driven by a kind of egocentric obsessiveness.
I surrounded her with a great wall of logic,
Stone by stone,
Until at last she could take no more.

“Enough,” she said,
Unwilling to surrender.
“Enough,” she said,
Closing the door of her heart against me,
Withdrawing that sweet vulnerability
Which she had so delicately, tentatively, entrusted,
For which I shall soon recant all my assertions,
Agreeing that planet Earth is indeed flat,
If need be.

A small price to pay for love.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

A Small Depression


The coffee ripples into a small wave in the plastic cup
As I make a left turn onto a sun-melted asphalt road
And my right front tire dips into a small depression,
Causing the wave of coffee to crest and break,
Splashing through the tunnel-shaped opening in the plastic lid,
Falling through space from the arch of my cup-embracing fingers,
Splashing my left pant leg, five inches above the knee.

Three spots of coffee
And I curse,
Feeling the futility of yet another Monday morning
As I drive past an old lady shuffling down the sidewalk,
Moving the aluminum-tubed superstructure of her walker
One step ahead, followed by two or three half-footsteps.

Soon,
Very soon,
I will need another cup of coffee.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Sight For Sore Eyes


How insignificant we are
Among the minions of space
And time.
Yes, yes,
It’s the profound realization of our age
Among those not generally given
To profound realizations.
I hear it all the time,
Spoken with reverential awe
By some initiate
For whom a certain curtain
Has only recently
Lifted.

But what if we are the only things on two legs
That cerebrate so
In the neighborhood of this particular infinity?
The only coffee shop in sight
On that long and lonely interstellar highway?
Well, that would be something,
Wouldn’t it?
We just might be a real sight for sore eyes
After all,
The whole damn bunch of us.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

A Small Dog In France


There is a time for every whatever,
For even ignorance shall have revenge
And the stupid shall be lucky,
Confirming their faith in false gods
While criminals go unpunished
Yet still repent and so be saved.

Much of what we know shall be wrong
Though we will prosper from our illusions
And die happy,
Blissfully free from insight and revelation.

We shall be overcharged for groceries
Again and again
And our overcharges will go undetected
While lazy, good-for-nothing brothers-in-law
Live to their nineties,
Free from disability and disease,
Complaining.

Foolish teenagers shall be hypnotized
With dull employments,
Falling in love with the eternal charm of mediocrity,
Getting married and procreating astronauts.

A small dog in France will speak by accident.
Drinking from a backyard swimming pool
On a sultry summer night,
He will turn quickly to see a skinny orange cat
Slink across the fence top.
His mouth full of unswallowed water,
He will bark: “Bonjour!”
But no one will hear him except the cat,
Who,
Knowing the small fuzzy canine cannot reach him,
Will not care.



~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Bird, Tree and Sky


When my children were young,
Before I went to bed
I’d peek inside each room,
Watch them sleep awhile,
Watch them sinking into the sea of night,
Hear their soft, earnest breathing,
And the voice said:

See the treasure of your life.
This will pass.


I am sitting outside in the morning sun,
Estimating the days I have left.
A scrub jay comes for a peanut,
Stills a moment and looks at me,
Then grabs a peanut off the fence and flies.

She is young, sleek and quicker than an eye blink.
Her flying is more like falling,
Falling from one branch to another,
Then a few strong flaps and gravity is reversed
And she falls up, up,
To the top of a tree and squawks three times,
And the voice says:

Her life is short, yet free from regret.
You will know her children.


The warm sun feels good these late autumn days.
The tree is green, red and brown
And the sky is the color of my eyes,
And the voice says:

Bird, tree and sky,
See the treasure of your life.
This will pass.



~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Last Day Of Summer


The last long summer day,
The last long summer afternoon,
The orange auburn light of the setting sun,
Hastening my play,
Delay, delay.

The air still and cool,
I am alone,
My friends called home,
Alone and still playing,
Delaying, delaying.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Sheeps


The hills are alive
With the sound of sheep,
They sleep all day long
But at night they creep,
Into the houses
Of young girls and boys
And put on their clothes
And play with their toys.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Consequences


You have not said,
I love you,
And I fear you never will.

I have not said,
I love you,
And I fear I never will.

But my greatest fear
Is that we love each other
And are too afraid of consequences to speak.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Seasons Change


The long days
Filled with sunshine
Seemed eternal,
But this morning,
The rain.
It will be dark
By early afternoon.

The longing in my heart
Knows no season.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Disengagement


So many possessions,
A blur as I pass from room to room,
Accumulations,
Decades of forgotten memories,
Tombstones.

Some are gifts,
Dutifully displayed for recognition by the givers,
Some inherited,
Retained by generations,
Heavy with age.

Most are the random ephemera
Of this temporary life,
Temporarily under my custodial care,
Faded by familiarity.

Someday,
Disentangled from ownership,
I will be an old man living an unadorned life,
Having long since digested frivolity,
Ready to make that final disengagement,
Leaving all that is temporal
Behind.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Saying The Word


It’s easy not to believe,
To scoff at the personification of God,
The majestic bearded man
Who decides everything,
The prayer specific saints,
The miraculous interceding angels,
The signs and symbols.

But alone in the dark,
Surrounded by the suffering of this world
I find myself praying,
Saying the word.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Still There?


When you were a baby,
When you cried and no one came,
When you cried and no one held you,
Or when someone finally came
But there was no comforting . . .

Now that you’re older
Do you hunger for affection?
Is the baby still there?
Still crying?
Can you ever let that baby go?


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

I Am Dog


I’ll always be a dog,
God alone knows why,
Not cat, not horse, not snail,
I’ll never open mail,
Though I sometimes try.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Saved


Go ahead and pray,
Pray for things both selfish and unselfish.
If you are blessed,
Many of the things you pray for will not come.

In this way shall you be saved.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Saturday Morning


At the first light of morning
I take a handful of peanuts
And place them beneath the tree
Where the bird feeder swings
From the sudden departure of another early riser.

They are for the crows
Who wait until I am back inside
And even then
Watch me suspiciously
As I watch them
Step cautiously
Toward the peanuts.

The first crow hunches down
And does a ruffled-feather
Head-bobbing “caw caw caw caw!”
To test the safety of the place.
Then the others come,
Walking stiffly,
Taking one,
Two,
Sometimes even three peanuts in their beaks,
Flying hastily away.

The last crow takes a single peanut,
Carries it to the middle of the street
And stabs the shell open
To reach the seed within.

It’s early.
The streets are empty.
The air is filled with mist and fog
And all I hear is the sound of birds
Singing to this new day,
To one another.

The peanut comes white and full
From its shell,
And the salty taste is good.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Satisfied As I Am


Satisfied as I am
With the life I’ve lived,
Marriage and family,
Work and income,
Responsibilities and accomplishments,
Satisfied as I am,
Last night I dreamed.

I am a young artist
Living in a little house overlooking the ocean,
Lying awake in a moonlit room
Next to a dark-skinned girl who loves me,
Listening to the sound of the sea
While she moves her fingers across my shoulder blade,
Slows her breathing,
Then gently kisses my neck.

Satisfied as I am,
Last night I dreamed.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The First Time


Here,
This is the spot,
Beneath this ancient oak,
A perfect climbing tree
With low, outstretched limbs,
Welcoming.

Here,
Beneath this ancient oak
Is where you spread out your blanket
On the cool shaded grass.

A swaying patch of filtered sunlight illuminated us,
Lying so close together on the blanket’s gentle cushion,
Your name sewn in fancy script across the top
By some Chinese factory worker
Who will never know how lovely you lay
Beneath your beautiful name,
A name so beautiful to me
In the fading light of that passing summer afternoon,
When you first wanted me.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Some Small Comfort


At last I understand
How I’m killing myself,
From the inside out,
How I internalize all the stress,
All of life’s disappointments and defeats,
Rerouting them from the psyche
To various essential organs,
Making psychological despair a physical reality,
Something that shows up on a medical exam,
Something I can point to and say:
“Yes, there it is – right there.”

Ennui made flesh.

At last I understand
How I’m killing myself.
Some small comfort,
Knowing how the dying is done.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Shelter


When the moment comes,
When you are alone with time,
Time enough to step outside of time,
When you see things and people from a distance,
From outside the whirlpool,
Earth from the moon,
The universe,
All within the space of thought,
When you walk down a darkened, tree-lined street
And each home is illuminated by electronic screens
Echoing entertainment for world-weary workers,
Defining entertainment,
Then contemplation comes,
Ideas dissolving into feelings without words,
Feelings hard to share
With your busy, distracted friends,
Feelings hard to reveal
To your disinterested, self-absorbed family.

This is a good place you’ve found,
A clear place,
Shelter.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Exiles


Leaving the office late last night
I passed by harshly lit co-worker cubicles,
All the carefully framed photos of smiling children,
Of loved ones,
Precisely placed,
Reassurance during the long working day,
A bond of love in our lives.

We are exiles,
Returning home for a few exhausted hours
To again be husbands and wives,
Parents and children,
Families.

Together again
For those precious few hours
That work allows.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

I Walk


For all the foolish things I’ve done,
I walk.
For all my transgressions,
My sins,
I walk.
For the cleansing of my soul,
One stubborn stain at a time,
I walk.
Step by step on solitary paths
Without sound,
I walk.
Across busy streets,
On crowded sidewalks
Filled with noisy chatter,
I walk,
Alone,
So much undoing to be done.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Books


I do not read books,
I absorb them.

I bring them home from thrift shops,
From library book sales,
From the few remaining bookstores.
They come in the mail
From online booksellers who no longer have stores,
Who never had stores.

I carefully lift off price tags,
Dissolving and removing adhesives,
Erasing random careless markings,
Mending book jackets,
Unfolding and ironing creased pages,
Bent page corners.

I take the book in hand,
Savoring its weight and dimensions,
Marveling at the number of pages the author has filled
While struggling to maintain the interest of the reader
With every page,
Every sentence.

I look at the copyright page,
Determining popularity by number of editions.
If the book is somewhat rare or otherwise notable
I may research the title to see if it is a first printing,
If it has some monetary value.
If worthy, I will reinforce the jacket with a plastic cover.

If the book is especially notable
For some public or private reason,
I will place it in segregation with my other titles of distinction.
But if it is a common edition,
It will likely go on shelves alphabetized by author,
Or those organized by subject matter.

If the work is exuberantly praised and widely read,
A favorite of the literati,
The cognoscenti,
It will join other such highly recommended books,
Pushed to the front of the line,
Waiting to be read.

~ ~ ~

Late at night when uncertainties haunt my troubled soul
I walk past my many bookshelves,
Reading spines,
Titles and authors of books read and unread.
I am filled with characters, places and stories,
Filled with the lives of the writers,
Imbued with the infinite expanse of imagination,
And I succumb.

I pull an intriguing title from the shelf,
Slide into my most comfortable chair,
Turn on the lamp,
Wipe smudges off the lenses of my reading glasses,
Examine the art of jacket design,
The typography,
The illustrations, of some,
Feel the weight and surface texture of the paper,
Marvel at the physicality of the word made flesh,
Turn a few pages and begin.

I am filled with story,
Transported to locale,
Relocated in time,
Gifted with omniscience,
Enlarged by experiences and insights.

Here, in my tiny corner of the universe,
In these solitary hours after midnight,
Bathed in soft yellow lamplight,
My isolation has ended.
I have rejoined the human race,
Alone no more.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Third Banana


This morning I had two bananas,
Brought home from the market,
Placed in an empty bowl,
The same bowl where I always put my bananas.

Two bananas.

Then,
Just for a moment,
A vision from a parallel universe
Slipped through that cosmic boundary
That separates multiverses.

Then,
Just for a moment,
I saw another, older banana in the bowl,
Next to those two new bananas.

Three bananas.

So vivid was this inconsequential vision
That I examined the bowl more closely,
Expecting to see the third banana,
Perhaps lying sideways along the inside curve of the bowl,
Initially obscured from view,
But there were only two.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Too Far, Too Close


I am too far from spring
To wonder what summer will bring,
Too old to plan by season,
Too close to death for reason.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

I Am Leaving


I do have my cherished memories,
But too often they are tarnished with regret
For all those errors in judgment,
Youthful indiscretions,
Actual sin,
Stress-induced confusion,
Knee-jerk anger,
Petty selfishness,
Callous insensitivity,
All so momentary,
Yet haunting,
Still.

I am doing my best to ruthlessly edit,
Cutting as much angst as I can,
But it’s hard to pull out the roots intact,
They remain,
Old wounds reopen.

I am leaving,
Going to the place of forgetting,
Packing light,
For the weight of a long life
Is too much to bear,
All those unresolved thoughts,
The cacophony,
Deafening.

I am leaving.
It is enough to have lived this life,
Enough to have fallen into the bottomless pit of despair,
Enough to have been electrified with joy,
Enough to have made the journey.

I am leaving,
Day by day,
Moment by moment,
Nothing much more to say,
Nothing much more to do,
I am leaving.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved