Shared

I was in a sunny summer meadow
Filled with extravagantly colored butterflies
Moving too fast to catch,
Streaking rainbow colors in their wake,
Yet still I tried.
 
Crows came,
Perched just out of reach,
Taunting me with head-bobbing caw, caw, caws.
Triplets.
 
I hunkered down in the tall grass,
Spying,
Chirping in imitation of the sparrows
Alighting on the grass,
Probing the damp soil.
They saw me and burst into flight.
 
The warm sunlight felt good on my back,
Such a long winter.
I stretched every muscle,
Watched the pulsing shadows of wind-tossed leaves,
And awoke,
Stirring the calico cat on my lap from sleep
Who chirped awake from the dream we shared.

~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Coming Home


Early one evening
After another long day,
I could not turn down the street where I live,
Where my life deposits itself,
Where I always do what must be done,
Work or play,
Every day.

I drove right past without hesitation,
Past the street,
Past the gray blanket of familiarity.

I took the long way around,
Pondering the pathways of my life,
Watching the sky turn dark,
The porch lights blinking on.

Having nowhere else to go,
I came home.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Still Human


Sometimes I can go nearly a week
Inflating my illusion of self-importance,
Transcendent benefactor to mankind that I am.

My uninterrupted enlightenment,
Liberated at last from the squalor of human ignorance.

Then one afternoon,
Walking down a busy city sidewalk,
My nose begins to tickle.

I am seized by a sneeze
And I’ve forgotten my handkerchief.

I quickly cover my nose with my hand
Which becomes coated with mucous
Dripping from my nostrils.

Wondering what to do next,
I feel another sneeze coming on.

Ah yes, still human.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Suburban Twilight


Suburban twilight,
Punctuated by porch lights
Welcoming weary workers home.

“Hello darling,”
She says,
“I missed you,”
Her bare shoulders
Framed by the thin straps,
Too loose,
Of her tiny, translucent dress.

This never happened to me.

A bunch of soccer ball boys,
Too young to go on a date,
Stand together in a jagged circle
On a grass-dirt field
While their parents lie to each other
About nothing in particular,
Waiting for the game to begin.

Back on the boulevard
Commuters swim upstream,
Fighting their way back
To the suburban spawning grounds
For a few hours of fun
Before it all shuts down in sleep,
And regret.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Finger Speaks

for William Michaelian

I don’t ask the question,
Are you happy?
It seems too intrusive,
Too personal for most of my friends.
It’s a question reserved for my lover,
Used sparingly.

But of course I can tell,
Even in the e-mails of distant friends.
Joy infuses their words,
Oozes out from even the briefest missives,
Such as this morning’s message from my old friend,
An entranced grandfather,
Too encumbered to reply with more than a short explanation,
No doubt typed with a single finger:
“Baby on lap!”


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Wrought


Seeing as how this magazine
Was clearly created
For those of superior intelligence,
I figured I should be in on the game.

The pages were heavy and deep,
Filled with myriad analyzations of multifaceted topics
I scarcely knew existed.

What uses to a participatory democracy
Do these cerebrations employ
When we are governed by duplicitous morons
Who will never read these pages
Or consult the experts whose insights lie within?

I continued reading until stopped cold by the phrase:
“The predicament is multipronged. . . .”
Multipronged?
Really?

Clearly, this discourse had pierced the exosphere
On its way back home to some alternative universe.

Several pages ahead an advertisement
For a “Darwin Panama.”

    A warm weather hat with Australian styling,
    Handwoven in Ecuador from toquilla fiber.

O what “On The Origin of Species” hath wrought.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Unamused


I was immortal,
Aflame with youth,
Mad with wishing and wanting,
With joy and despair,
Running everywhere,
Lighter than air.

I shared secrets with my dog,
Whispered words of love to my cat,
Sang to sparrows and cackled at crows.

I picked my nose,
Hid my broccoli beneath the mashed potatoes,
Turned my bicycle into a horse and shot desperados.

I believed in dreams,
That they would lead my aching heart
To some kind of earthly heaven,
A life filled with joy
And love.

Yes,
I still sometimes belch,
Sometimes fart,
This inextinguishable little boy.

My wife is not amused.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Clearing


Yes,
I know,
These words are not enough
To describe the longings of the heart,
To diminish the entanglements of our lives
That too often strangle our finer emotions.

These words are not enough.

We need to find our way
To a clearing in the forest,
To walk into the light with arms outstretched,
To remember.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Civilization


The feast of a new day
Is laid out before me,
Yet all I can think about
Is my insatiable hunger
For more.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Clock Strikes Three


The sound of an old clock,
The rhythm of the pendulum,
The striking of a tiny hammer
Against a metal coil.
The lonely hours after midnight.

The memory of your touch,
Warm,
Gentle, yet firm,
Hungry.
You penetrate my soul.

The clock strikes three.
I am wide awake with longing
For your fingers on my skin.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Confessional


She comes when her heart is wounded,
When the balance between joy and sorrow is lost.
She is bereft,
Overwhelmed by tragedy,
An empty vessel I will fill with inspired words.

I throw her a lifeline,
Pulling her from the tempest,
Back to the land of the living
Where sadness can be borne.

I give her a candle,
Lit with the flickering flame of hope.

She is like so many who bring me their pain,
Seeking something they cannot name.

The fortunate find healing,
Recover a tenuous equilibrium,
Less vulnerable,
More guarded and reserved in expression,
Closing the window against the chill wind of doubt.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Façade


I am wary of posh restaurants,
The thin atmosphere of haute cuisine,
The nagging suspicion that behind
Those tiny plated portions
Are some very clever accountants.

I stand in front of the urinal
And notice the thin yellow puddle,
Left because of intoxication,
Poor eyesight or bad breeding.

Yes, I am standing on a layer
Of some epicurean’s urine,
Repulsed but unsure what I can do.
The soles of my shoes are wet
As I return to the dining room.

It is an evening full of romance
In the eyes of my stylish lover,
Entranced by the sophistication
Of this exquisite façade.


~ 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

Published in the anthology Heart Of A Man, August 2019

This Muse


When it happens,
Whatever you call it,
Love,
Lust,
Infatuation,
Temporary insanity,
This muse pushes all others aside.
She is possessive,
Demanding my full attention,
Even when I’m exhausted and trying to sleep.
She is the muse of desire and will not rest.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Chosen


God has been good to you,
You say,
Helped you succeed,
Helped you prosper.

I wonder why
God pays so much attention
To you
And leaves the prayers of so many millions
Unanswered?


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

A Chance


O yeah you can laugh
At what you think is my naiveté,
All this wishing desiring hoping,
These few shreds of faith,
Faith in something vaguely reassuring.

O yeah I wanna be reassured all right
Cause death comes no matter what you think,
No matter what you plan or decide,
No matter what kind of deal you think you’ve made,
Death comes and rips you loose from this life
Without any consideration at all.

O yeah I’ve gotta believe there’s a chance
That I can rise above all the despair,
All this darkness always pushing,
Pushing against something so simple,
So simple as a sunny disposition.

O yeah I’ve seen ‘em,
People who take life’s knocks
And still smile as an unconscious reflex,
Something maybe about the way they were raised,
Something genetic,
Something maybe about luck.

Whatever it is I want a piece of that
And I don’t care how unsophisticated I look
Or how naïve you think I am.
I just don’t care
Because death comes no matter what you think
And I just gotta get rid of this fear
While I still have a chance.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Choice


There once was a man who built his own house,
Grew his own food,
Bred his own animals,
Then one day he happened upon a Sears catalog
And he was confronted by choice.

Thus, it all began.

Today I stand paralyzed in this everything store,
Staring at a wall of toothbrushes,
Barely knowing how to choose,
Frightened by the length of my shopping list.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Appreciation


Sure, modern life has its problems
And I can line up as many complaints as the next guy,
But on the other hand,
There is my indoor plumbing to consider.

I can’t help but appreciate the fact that every time I flush,
Somebody else takes care of the rest.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Child Abuse


O the constant recitation of sonnets,
The endless Mozart sonatas,
The cavernous museums,
Art, art, art.
Art of all shapes and forms to consume,
Digest,
Regurgitate.

The long lessons,
The querulous questions,
The awful answers,
The proud and ponderous books
Piled high before me,
An Everest of learning,
Of knowing,
Of transcending.

All the advantages
Were mine,
When all I really wanted to do
Was pull the tail of the old tabby
And make him screech.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Sunday


Sunday, oh yes it’s Sunday

Cool, a cool breeze

Fall, it feels like Fall

Riding on the edge

Of the wind

Of the light

Through my open window.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Building


When my great-grandfather was young,
Growing up in a small farming town,
He was needed.
His labor was needed.
Every able-bodied citizen was needed,
And by their labors, the towns grew into cities,
And the cities became a country.

Each morning they were called,
Called to a hundred,
A thousand different employments.

Each morning I am not called.
My labor is not needed.

I imagine my great-grandfather
Choosing an occupation,
Answering the call,
Fulfilling a need,
Building a life,
A city,
A country.

He would not understand this aimless life I lead.
He would not know me.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

I Remember You


This is for the old men,
The old women too,
Who die so old,
Nobody left who remembers
When they were young and strong.

Nobody left
To come to the chapel,
To bear witness
And say: This was my friend.

Nobody left
Except one or two
Who read the notice in the newspaper,
Who whisper to themselves,
I remember you.



~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Seasonal


The heat has passed.

Spring,
An old dream.

Summer,
Gone.

An afternoon breeze
Rattles the precarious leaves,
Shuffles the fallen,
Whispering:
Winter is coming,
Winter is coming.

Two sun-colored sulfur butterflies soar and dive,
Their movements mirrored in amorous acrobatics.
Or is it combat?

I’d like to think it’s passion,
Passion made urgent by the fading light.
These rice-paper-winged creatures,
In terpsichorean surrender to the fleeting moment,
One last ecstasy before everything changes.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Still, I Seek You


O my love you are a constant presence,
Yet incorporeal.
You have inhabited those I’ve loved,
Awakened me when love is new.

Alas, the petty practicalities of this world
Overwhelm and smother
And your instrument is muted.

I am human and often distracted,
But I have never expelled you from my heart.
Still, I seek you.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

This Fragile Light


This fragile light
Warms,
Sings,
Breathes into me,
Awakens this child,
So long asleep.

Can I stay in this fragile light?
Can I stay?


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Courting


If he only knew
How hard she worked to be pretty for him,
Eagerly awaiting his arrival each morning,
Watching the parking lot through the office window,
Then walking down the hall for nothing in particular
So he would see her when he walked in,
See her long, ebony hair
Falling in graceful curls and waves over her shoulders
Across her finely sculpted collarbones,
See her all the way down
To her exquisitely proportioned pale pink toes.

It was meant to be.

She’d been on his busy, distracted mind
More and more lately,
When this morning she walked down the hall
Blurring past busy cubicles,
Fast enough to ripple her diaphanous plum and apricot dress
Just as he entered the office,
Struck by this sudden vision,
This annunciation.

Awakened by her focused, concentrated beauty
Washing over him like a wave,
He speaks,
And it all begins.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

This Morning


Why only this morning
I saw a robin
Poking the grassy earth
Around the wide trunk
Of an ancient oak.

She soon had a fat grub
Wriggling in her beak
And rose into the air
Far above the trees
Faster than my breath.

Why only this morning
I saw a young boy
Walking with his mother
Down a sunlit street
Singing without words.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Casual Observer


for Cheryl

“There is no joy,”
The older man says,
Revealing his casual observation
To his young younger female companion,
Sitting a little too close
In a restaurant booth,
Thinking I will not hear
My condemnation
As I sit nearby,
After a difficult day,
Having a little sustenance
With my wife.

Married thirty years
We have endured many joyless days,
Endured suffering,
Anger
And despair.

The young younger female companion,
Pulled even closer,
Looks into the depths of his wrinkles,
Measures the sag of his neck
And ponders the arrangement.
He smells like her father.

His haphazardly shaved face is rough
And scratches her cheek.
Her body stiffens.
She has visions of long hospital hallways,
A tube in his nose,
A stainless steel tray filled with medicine bottles.

“You can see it in the eyes,”
He says with wine-induced indiscretion,
“No joy,”
Sure that he has everything,
At last.

We leave the restaurant
And walk our nightly walk
Past houses filled with television.

We are predictable,
Becoming set in our ways,
So much quieter now.

We hold hands as we walk
Down dimly lit sidewalks among ancient trees
Who also have a certain understated passion for life,
Often unnoticed by the casual observer.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

I Honor You


I honor you,
Your years of suffering,
Your endurance,
Your victory over injustice.

I honor you,
And with such honoring
I borrow,
I appropriate a modest share of your luminescence.

Moving out of the shadows
Into the circumference of your light,
From the safety of my comfortable life,
I honor you.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Living Still


In those fire-lit caves
We painted
The fearsome power of the mammoth,
The intrepid speed of horses,
The courage of our hunters.

In the chilly, flickering firelight
The images came alive.
We watched them with immeasurable joy
That we were the ones,
Living still.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Certainty


The most common coin is certainty
Spoken with authoritarian tone.
It has no use for ambiguity,
It cuts like ice to the bone.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Clocks


I don’t like early mornings
When I’m still asleep.
I don’t like early bedtimes,
Alone and counting sheep.

Why should I pay attention
To all those clocks I see?
I listen to them ticking.
They listen not to me.


~ Russ Allison Loar
~ Writing The Child.com
© All Rights Reserved

Five Bees


Five bees drowning in a swimming pool,
Caught by a reflection,
A sparkling promise of pollen,
Waterlogged.

Once they touch down the mirage disappears
And they are caught,
Their sodden wings can no longer fly.

Seeing tiny ripples in the water from their struggles
I take my net and lift them out
Onto concrete warmed by the morning sun.

Two are not moving,
But the other three have begun grooming,
Abdomen and thorax,
With every available leg,
Diligently scraping off water.

One is still so exhausted
He cannot keep his balance and tumbles over
From the disproportionate weight of water
Still clinging to one side of his body.

With a leaf stem I help restore his balance
So his meticulous grooming can continue,
So the sun can dry his cellophane wings.

The strongest of the three revs up his wings in a blur
Moving in short bursts across the cement,
His legs still giving support,
Testing.
Then he lifts into the air,
Restored.

Perhaps the other two were in the water longer,
For it takes more grooming and warming
Until they too are free from the terrible gravity of the ground.

It’s hard to fathom the personality of a garden bee,
Why the last two lingered a while.
Perhaps they are older,
More shaken by the sight of their two dead comrades
Lying on their backs,
Legs angled toward heaven,
Without purpose.

Why?
They might wonder,
If they were anything at all like you and me.
Why did God spare only three?

Or do they know what we know,
That when it comes to saving lives,
Some will stay,
Some will go.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

I Go With Them


In the early light he asks me
For protection from the world.
He prays for his family,
For his innocence,
For his tortured soul.
He moves closer to me.

He calls me father
But holds no clear image of what I am.
He wants to be a saint,
An artist,
A wealthy man.

His little boy shouts
Daddy, it’s today!
And they are gone,
Plunging into a freshly painted world of play.
I go with them.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Caution


Go ahead,
Throw caution to the wind,
But keep it on a string,
Fly it like a kite,
Boldly.

When winds turn fierce,
Pull in the string,
Bring caution home again
So it will survive
To fly another day.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Inner Child


We were talking about the inner child,
How it never goes away,
How it’s always there,
Waiting for a chance to surface,
Looking for an opening.

O yes, we were definitely bonding,
Reaching back in time,
Shedding inhibitions.

So I spit my gum out at her
And she slapped me across the face.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Children Still


So many wars of religion,
Large and small,
Between countries,
Between people,
Fought over words,
Ideas,
Symbols.

Our words,
Our ideas,
Our symbols,
All of it representative,
Pointing to that which has no form,
No individual vocabulary,
No contrived ideology,
No exclusive theology.

May we all find comfort and healing
In our decorated places of worship,
Our places of heaven
Where we all must cleanse our hearts,
Where we all are children, still.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Heaven Is A Difficult Place


It’s not at all what I expected.

Heaven is a difficult place,
So full of strife and tragedy,
At times I forget where I am,
Here in this place of extremes,
Of contrast,
Where kindness is born of cruelty,
Where love is born of fear,
Where enlightenment is born of ignorance,
Where all possibilities exist,
Darkness and light being what they are.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Alone


I see them gathering together,
Laughing together,
Belonging,
And I see myself,
Apart,
Separate,
Watching,
A visitor,
So comfortable with rejection,
Too foreign to change,
No longer trying.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Cats


Why am I not a god to these cats?
They sit, long-pawed on my driveway
As I approach in the fearsome monster of steel,
Growling and hissing.
But they watch my advance with disinterest,
Half-closed eyes revealing scant concern.
They are used to my comings and goings
And will not move until the last possible moment,
When a tire threatens to brush a whisker,
When I race the engine to give them a start.
They are becoming accustomed to these things as well.

I step from the roughly idling four-door sedan
And pull open the great wall of aluminum garage door,
Letting it fly upward and crash against the frame.
A few furry heads turn in slumberous response,
Then mechanically turn away.
O what will roust them from this languor?

It is the clack and pop of punctured metal,
The grinding drone of the kitchen can opener
That does the trick.
In an instant they have gathered,
A felonious mob at the back-door stoop,
Meowing in feigned, pitiful supplication,
And God will walk among them once more.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Fear


How difficult it must be
For the impoverished to understand
Our disappointment with material wealth,
Our disaffected boredom with affluence,
Our disillusioned fear
That despite having assembled the contents,
This particular heaven we’ve made contains no joy.

How difficult it must be
For the impoverished to understand
That because this particular heaven we’ve made is without joy,
We must therefore conclude that joy is impossible.

How difficult it must be
For the impoverished to understand
That despite all we own,
For some inaccessible reason,
In this time,
In this place,
In this life,
Joy is denied.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

City Poet


He has no forest to wander through,
No birches,
No woodpile,
No wistful solitary evening
Watching the woods fill up with snow,
No submersion into all that is nature,
All it inspires.

Just the steady roar of traffic,
The sudden screech of tires
Punctuated by exclamations of angry horn honking.

The selfish squalor of urban decay
Does not inspire.
All his inspiration comes from within,
Pricked by conscience
And the occasional sin.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

When The Change Comes


When the change comes,
I watch the rise and fall of your chest
And feel your breath within me.

When it comes,
You run your fingers through your hair
And my fingers tremble,
Your hand becomes my hand.
You reach under the neck of your blouse
To scratch your shoulder
And I feel the bone
Beneath your skin.

When it comes,
You move restlessly in your chair,
Propping elbows on knees,
Stretching the contours of your back
And I embrace you.
I feel the tension of your ribs
Pressing against mine,
Though I sit across the room
And do not know your name.

When it comes,
I cannot stop you from leaving this room
Where I am required to stay
And listen to the words of unimportant people
Who are old and ugly
And starved for love,
Like me.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Know Now


(With hillbilly banjo accompaniment)

If I didn’t know what I know now
I wouldn’t know what I know now.

If I didn’t know what I know now
I wouldn’t know what I know now.

If I didn’t know what,
I know now,

I wouldn’t know what,
I know now but,

I know now what,
I didn’t know when,
I didn’t know what I know now.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Ready At Last


O the young years of literature,
Reading “David Copperfield” all the way through
While home from school with the flu,
Wrestling with e.e. cummings
In a musty room at the Avalon Hotel,
A creaky cockroach rooming house for men only,
Converted from a once fashionable seaside establishment.

O the timeless hours
Consuming every extant word, phrase, sentence, paragraph,
Chapter, story, novel,
Letter and biography of renowned literary luminaries,
In-between and in place of university studies,
Earnestly seeking the intellectual armor of being “well read.”

O the stolen moments
Cannibalizing the contents of the canon
During long lunches,
Dimly lit late evenings in a frayed recliner,
Finally free of neighborhood noise
In dusty, paint-peeled rented houses.

O the lost years
Seeking out the esoteric, the hidden and the unsung,
Dutifully sampling the momentarily celebrated
While the demands of job and family
Multiplied like rabbits.

O the accumulation of time,
No longer able to keep up.
The gifts and recommendations,
The purchases,
Filling my bookshelves unread,
Overflowing my bookshelves,
Wedged on top sideways until at last
Placed into boxes,
Into storage.

O this uneventful spring morning.
The weight of all I will never read
Threatens to crush me
As I sit in my most comfortable chair
Listening to the chattering of busy sparrows,
Sipping my second cup of coffee,
Ready at last
To give up.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Epitaph


He was so skilled,
So disciplined in word and deed,
Not a single action betrayed him.
No one ever suspected.

And when he died,
All the things he secretly wanted to do,
All the people he secretly wanted to be,
Died with him.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Something Still Here


Have you ever watched an old movie
And suddenly realized,
All those people
Are dead?

Yet something inside says:
How can this be?

There they are,
Right in front of you,
Living,
Breathing,
Immortal,
Yet perished.
All.

And here we are,
Striving,
As if there is anything in this world
We can anchor ourselves to,
As if we could stop the rising tide of time
That will envelop us all.

Yet something still seems permanent,
Despite all the loved ones come and gone,
Something still here.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Where Will It End?


You’ve learned so much,
The methods,
The craft of attracting men.

Skillfully applied color,
The revealing cut of your clothes,
The shape and fall of your hair,
Each finger,
Each toe,
Perfect.

Your scent,
The arc and pace of your walk,
The lingering glance,
Just long enough to say:
“I am full of mystery.”

How long will you keep this up?

Look at these aging frumpy women,
So unhappy with what they thought they wanted.
What have they surrendered?

Look at their disappointed, disinterested husbands,
Men who invested their lives in illusion,
Now so brazenly inattentive.

Now ask yourself,
What do you really want and what does it mean?
Where will it end?


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Wounds


Some wounds never heal.

The transgressions of youth,
The persistence of folly,
The weakness of moral resolve,
These are painful in remembrance.

The stubborn refusal to admit mistake,
The inability to yield and in such yielding change behavior.
O yes, maturity has come slow,
In fits and starts,
So easily suspended when truly tested.

These wounds are painful to the touch
But the pain does not go deep.

Some wounds never heal.

The loss of a loved one,
The cruelty of suffering,
The arrogance of evil.
These are constant in this world
And penetrate the core of my being.

I would seek an end to this pain,
Yet such an end would require forgetfulness.
I will not erase those I have loved,
Those I have lost,
For they are of my own soul now,
Of my spirit,
My essence.

This is the price I pay
For living in this imperfect world.

Some wounds never heal.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

But Then


After all the years of trial and error
My memories are stained with embarrassment.
Even the most exquisite chapters of my life
Contain paragraphs that can still make me wince.

And so this morning I am resolved,
Resolved to fast from the feast of self-absorption.

But then,
There are these words.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Sing!


There is a path I have traveled,
At least, to look back upon it,
It seems a marked course of some kind,
Even with its irregularities,
It is something as if planned,
A life,
Beginning with postulation,
Ending in conclusion,
Yet certainty escapes my grasp
More often now.

I have ceased to care
Who is right,
Who is wrong.
Life is a song,
Sing!


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Candles All Blown Out


There is much regret in death,
Regret for what I did not say,
Did not do,
Regret for not being there
On the day,
At the moment.

Death happens in a single day,
I tell myself.
The life,
All the days of the life are what’s important,
I tell myself.

But logic cannot reason away
The wounds of the heart.

If only death were like one last birthday.
We’d have a big party,
Everyone would sing,
Then,
The candles all blown out.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Daredevil


I saw some old newsreel footage,
A limber young woman high atop a skyscraper,
A daredevil,
Hanging on to a steel cable with a single hand,
Dangling playfully a thousand feet above the tiny street.

I shuddered.
Something I’d never do,
Knowing the daredevil in me would be sorely tempted
To let go.


~ 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

Devolution


He was bored,
So bored with routine,
Every morning,
Brushing his teeth,
Making coffee,
Slogging off to work,
To predictable employments.

Then,
Weekend chores,
Social obligations,
So encumbered by family, friends and finance.

The half-slumbering supplicant,
Longing for escape,
His earnest entreaties
Finally heard,
Heard and granted.

Now,
As the first light warms the earth
He drags himself out from under a stone,
Eager to feel the sun against his scales,
The taste of yesterday’s grasshopper
Still lingering on the tongue.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Secrets Of The House


I keep the secrets of the house
Hidden from my family,
Its flaws,
Its persistent decay.

I preserve the illusion of home
As an inviolable sanctuary,
Impervious to entropy.

I alone know the truth:

The rusted screws broken off in their screw holes.
The corroded plumbing improvised into temporary compliance.
The imperceptible but certain slope of the living room floor.
Sagging timbers in dark places steadily pulling apart
Under the weight of an aging roof
That funnels rain into inaccessible attic corners,
Growing mold.
Clumps of unidentifiable wiring.
Termite dust.
Splintered rotting fence boards
A strong wind away from collapse.
The stealthy hairline cracking of cement.
The blister and peel of paint.
The bacteria count of the carpet.

I dare not continue.

I keep the secrets of the house
Hidden from my family,
Pretending we will all live forever,
One day at a time.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

After She Died


She saved almost everything:
Letters and greeting cards,
Junk mail,
Old photos in forgotten boxes,
Tattered piano music with penciled notations,
Business cards,
Decades of buttons,
Shirt stays from her father’s collars,
Powder puffs,
Spoiled perfumes,
Broken jewelry,
Stopped clocks,
Obligatory souvenirs from trips abroad,
Her husband’s defunct electric shavers,
Rusty tools,
Curious parts for obsolete appliances,
(more).

Sorting through drawers, cupboards and closets,
What seemed to me an irrational hoarding
Was fraught with meaning for her,
Each object imbued with purpose,
Each object a crystallized memory,
Each object a desperate wish:
Remember me,
Remember me.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Too Late


Ah yes,
Just before it all slips away,
The realization comes.
How beautiful!

Too late,
Too late.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Older Men


Older men want to be young again
So they fall in love with beautiful young girls,
Believing they can again be new,
Undetermined,
Free from the consequence of years,
Reborn.

Forgive them.
It is their last adolescence.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Never Far


When love embraces trust,
I slowly surrender my polished persona
And show my scars,
Even those self-inflicted,
Especially those self-inflicted.

Yes,
I too am a human being,
I say.

The wounded child,
Never far from the surface.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Coyotes


And the coyotes sang a juicy-cat song,
Leaving their secret places in the foothills,
Following scent trails scattered by the warm Santa Ana wind,
Softly padding together through the maze of asphalt,
Defying the logic of cul-de-sacs,
Then,
Suddenly glad,
So glad to be together
Beneath the tree-shaded suburban street lights,
So happy to be together in the adventure,
Spiriting the neighborhoods of the hairless ones
Who wear clothing.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Call It Poetry


Go ahead,
Call it poetry,
I suppose you’ve got to call it something,
But I’m just talking,
Talking to you,
Telling you as sincerely as I can
What is in my heart
And in my mind,
Trying to strip these words and thoughts
Of pretense,
As best I can,
Not concerned about literary theory,
Just concerned about this life,
This life we are actually living,
Day by day.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Busy


We are trained by the world
To keep busy,
Never stop for too long
Without feeling guilty,
Guilty of not getting something done,
Always something more to get done.

We get things done to get things done,
But no matter how many things we get done
We are never done.

Something is missing,
Something is missing,
Something is missing.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Bottomless Pit


Some things never change,
I say,
Such as your stubborn refusal to admit
That change is the one constant of the universe,
Constant change,
That is.

But love is better than hate,
You say,
Will that ever really change?

If you love evil and hate virtue,
I say,
Then someday,
If you are lucky,
You will change and learn to love the good
And hate the bad.

And so the love of goodness,
You say,
Is right and will always be so.
Surely that will never change.

And I say,
Every day,
If we are lucky,
Our understanding of what is good,
Of how to be good,
Will grow,
And growth is change.

But if change is all there is,
You say,
Is not change itself a process
That will never change?

The process of change,
I say,
Is like a fire that consumes
And alters.
Who can say
This fire will never be extinguished?

But if the fire which is constant change
Is someday extinguished,
You say,
Wouldn’t that be the end of change
Once and for all?
And without change what is left?
Constant nothingness?

Or constant somethingness,
I say.
The end of change could be the beginning
Of something quite different indeed,
Something larger,
Beyond our comprehension.

We talk like this
On and on
Into the night,
Trying to reason out the truth of our existence,
Temporarily unaware that we are growing older,
Slipping along toward death,
Moment by moment.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

This House


When this house was new
It practically took care of itself.
I thought newness was a permanent state,
Something easily maintained.

I repaired occasional wear and tear,
Restoring, preserving,
But eventually the patina of age took hold,
Irreversibly.

I reluctantly learned a degree of acceptance,
Trusting the impervious core of this house
To withstand most of the minor disfigurements.

After all,
So many other deteriorating houses still stand,
Still provide shelter,
A place for a life.

Yet the years accumulate
And that which cannot be repaired
Multiplies,
And the once indestructible sheen of youth
Has given way to an aura of infirmity,
Filling my thoughts with apprehension.

Where will I live when this house is gone?


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Who Is Asking?


What is the shape of my mind?
The shape of my spirit?
My soul?

What is my essence?
What does it look like?
Just an image in the mirror?

Who is writing these words?

Am I a collection?
A collection of pain,
Pleasure,
And everything between and beyond?
Am I a receptacle?
Am I both?
Or neither?

And by the way,
Who is asking?


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Old Cat


Asleep in the midday sun
She is curled atop a couch,
Her old chin cushioned on crossed paws.

A truck bangs its frame on a pothole
But the old Siamese does not stir,
Her tail does not twitch.

She is nearly deaf
And her occasional cries are rough and harsh,
Too loud,
Too full of distress for the routine requests they signal.
She is an old, deaf lady
Who can no longer measure the volume of her speech.

She will awaken soon and cry for food
Or cry to be shown to the litter box
In a place she forgets.
In this way she spends her last days,
Sleeping, eating, excreting
And luxuriating
In the gentle touch
Of the warm hand
That startles her from sleep.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Boundaries Of Heaven


We draw the boundaries of heaven
Around the spaces of ourselves,
Marked off by threat
And bluster,
As if heaven were a place
Unwelcome.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Mystery


When the temporal world turns against you
It’s hard to sustain faith in the eternal,
To embrace the mystery.

Some say our bodies create our minds,
That our sense of a soul,
A spirit,
Is but an illusion created by our physical existence.
But do we not struggle in this life
Between physical desire and spiritual aspiration?
Why would our minds invent such torment?

The cruelties of existence so often extinguish hope,
The fuel of imagination and inspiration
That calls us to dream,
And to bring our dreams out of the ether,
Into our everyday lives.

Some sophisticates reason away spiritual inclinations,
Blessed with fortune and purpose as they are.
But this too shall pass.
Each of us,
At last,
Entering the heart of the mystery.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Books


Books on my shelves,
So meticulously bought
And placed according to thought.
The lines of their spines
Reproach me
For ignoring them so.
In false phrases of praises
My bookstore ambitions go.

What would I know
If I’d read them all
And with total recall
Could bring forth their voices?
Who would I be with such choices,
With such knowledge tamed
And insights gained?

Would I really be changed
If rearranged
By the genius of my age
And of ages before?
Would I be an amazing sage
Or just another incredible bore?


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Sole Companion


This little cat,
My sole companion now.
I had nearly a dozen once
When my children were children.
Some inside and tame,
Others too wild,
Strays who came for food,
Fearful,
Never close enough to pet.

Some people are dog people,
But for my family
It was always cats,
Arriving suddenly from mysterious circumstances,
Finding refuge where we lived,
An old rented house on a large lot
Next to an acre or more of vegetables,
A vacant barn.

Yes,
They’ll give you food,
The old cats would advise the passing stranger.

Not nearly as much space at the new house.
More neighbors,
Closer neighbors,
And coyotes,
Great horned owls.

One by one they died,
Some of old age,
Some before their time,
The last old lady sleeping, sleeping, sleeping,
Then still.

This little calico cat,
So sick in the city shelter,
I nursed her back,
Old man that I am with time, time, time.

She is my sole companion now,
Giving each hour of the day a purpose.
A window for the morning,
Watching the excitement of birds
Flapping on and off the feeder,
Then backyard inspection
Under my overprotective supervision,
Then inside for a snack
And a day of favorite places at favorite times
Until at last the evening.
No longer nocturnal she pulls her claws,
Curls into a circle and rests.
She chirps as I stroke her fur,
Fur soft as silk from my frequent reassurances
That no matter what may come,
Right now,
All is well.

This little cat,
My sole companion now,
Content to share the warmth of my bed,
The warmth of my body
Against these cold winter nights,
This little cat who contains all the cats I’ve ever known,
All the cats who’ve come,
All the cats who’ve gone.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Meaning And Pretense


I was an old young man
Singing songs of social protest,
Words I did not understand,
Words I had not lived.

I am a young old man now,
Singing songs of uncertainty,
Words I understand,
Words I have lived.

Now I understand the difference between meaning and pretense.
Now I know you’ve got to be honest,
You’ve got to tell the truth to tell the difference.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Procreation


Yes,
Your parents were in love.
Well,
At least in lust.
Believe it.
No matter how ugly and ill-suited to romance they now seem,
There is a reason you were born.
Well,
Perhaps not so much a reason
As an emotion,
Drawing them together,
Fulfilling their destiny to create a new human being,
The latest version of evolution,
You,
The dream made flesh,
You,
You snot-nosed ungrateful twerp!


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Parallel Lust


There may be an infinite number of alternate realities,
According to some theories.
For each of us,
An infinite number of individual existences,
One for each possible action,
Each possible outcome.

And so my love,
Despite your current disinterest in my affections,
You may be my ardent lover in some other life
Where I am the reluctant one,
Though I suspect my eagerness will persist
With all the beautiful yet reluctant women I know,
Each destined to become my consummated soul mate
In some of my more salacious autobiographies.

Meanwhile,
In this particular lifespan,
The unremarkable aspects of my love life,
Continue.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Blur


Something about getting older
Speeds things up,
Something we do to ourselves,
Something we want,
Something we accept,
Something we don’t realize,
Don’t think about
Until the hours take flight,
Passing by like minutes.

Hurry,
Hurry,
Everything is hurried,
Speeded up,
Combined,
Stripped down
Until whole decades pass by
Without meaning.

Blur.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

It Is The Dream That Creates Us


It is the dream that creates us,
However carnal or profane,
However blessed by human charity,
However vengeful or inane.
It is the dream that creates us
And awakens us each day,
And opens a path before us
And sends us on our way.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Tru Blue Gurus


True blue gurus
Tell me who I should be
With such certainty:
Honest, honorable and wise,
Trusting in providence,
Patient with injustice,
Content with my haphazard existence.

Yes, yes,
It is a blessing to be alive,
But endless, underpaid labor
Leaving little opportunity for imagination
Does not engender exuberance.

True blue gurus
Tell me there are no real obstacles,
That mind is the matter,
But here in the world outside my mind
Things can go terribly wrong.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Someday I Will Begin


Always another task at hand,
Superseding vague ambitions of transcendence
With immediacy,
The immediacy of earning money,
Of maintenance demanded by inanimate objects,
Then the hungry pursuit of well-deserved reward,
Focused on the more corporeal aspects of existence.

Yet,
That misty, translucent cloud of angelic eternity still hovers,
Just beyond reach,
Beckoning.

Someday,
(I try to assuage my neglected nobility)
Someday,
(I earnestly promise)
I will begin.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Bliss


You will not let yourself fall in love,
Considering the complete impracticality of the situation.
You will be self-disciplined and wise
And never know bliss,
So brief and troublesome.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Consciousness


Ninety-nine percent of all brain function
Is controlled by the subconscious,
Some scientist recently said.
Only one percent,
Awake.
Only one percent,
Consciously aware.

I suspect his findings are the product of his subconscious.
Who knows what demons linger there,
Concocting their devious formulas,
Their sinister yet consciously undetectable little pranks?
How can I hope to make much sense of it
If my perception is mostly governed by my subconscious?

I ponder this conundrum
As I walk to the library,
My head full of conjecture
As I try in vain to open the library door,
Pulling then pushing,
Exasperated,
Momentarily unaware of the bright red letters:
CLOSED


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

My First Book of Poets


Who are these people?
Who are these fearsome souls
Whose stern and somber portraits
Grace this slim compilation of poetry?
What place is this?
On what planet are humans exalted so,
Enshrined,
For a few lines of artfully arranged vocabulary?

I was too young to know much about poetry
Beyond the garden and the goose,
But just old enough to be lightning-struck
By the realization that thought,
Apart from action,
Could be so revered.

O those lofty words of those inspired souls,
So tangled and torn in my child mind,
A foreign language driving me to despair
Over my exclusion,
My denial,
My inability.

Then,
A small shaft of light shone through a window.
Then,
I kicked open a door.
Then,
I stumbled upon the words:
I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
Next to this poem a faded photograph,
Sergeant Joyce Kilmer,
Wearing a steel Army helmet,
A doughboy,
“Killed in action, July 30, 1918.”

Compared to the regal majesty of Longfellow,
The bookish bespectacled gaze of Kipling,
This young man with the feminine first name,
With the shadow of death in his last name,
Looked so peaceful and calm in his uniform,
So compassionate, yet resolute.

He was 31 years old when he died
On a barren French battlefield,
A sniper’s bullet in his brain,
Famous for this poem,
“Trees,”
This poem about the limits of poetry,
About the difference between an idea and a living thing.

So many years and poets later,
He has been called too simplistic,
Too sentimental,
Yet so many years and poets later,
It is he,
He who first taught me,
The difference between a poem
And a tree.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

A Game


It takes a lot of luck,
And money,
To discover
That life is just a game.

It seems much more serious
When you’re unlucky
And broke.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Life Of The Mind


The dream remains a dream for most of us
Who gather together in darkened theaters
To experience the dream made flesh,
Who watch television late into the night
To transfuse contemplation,
Who read best-sellers to absorb meaning into memory,
Memory that overshadows,
Muffles our disappointment with the everyday.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Looking Forward


“When hell freezes over!”
My dearly beloved intoned,
Responding to my request for a hot buttered cinnamon roll.

Not an unpleasant thought,
Not at all.
Free of matrimonial bonds
In the realm of human weakness,
Bundled up against the sudden change in climate,
Sipping hot chocolate
While the scent of warm cinnamon
Drifts lazily into my nostrils
From the buffet of frosted pastries.

O yes, when hell freezes over,
Now there’s something to look forward to.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

This


The profound question:
What happens after we die?

What a surprise it would be,
If this,
Were it.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Into The Heart


When we meet,
Something awakens in her,
Something glows.
She is translucent.

Her smile comes easy and lingers.
She feels the urge to stretch and arches her back,
Tossing her long, curly black hair to one side
Of her bare, sculptured shoulders,
Flashing her dark, penetrating eyes,
Looking long and deep into mine,
Weaving her articulate fingers through the coils of her hair,
Inviting me.

She ties a blue and white scarf around her forehead
And becomes someone else,
Showing she can be beautiful in so many ways.

Her burnished olive skin filters the light
And I touch her cheek.

Something ancient and eternal now guides us
Into the heart of night.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Blinding White Light


This blinding white light
Is paralyzing.
I’ve forgotten who I am.
I don’t know what I want.
I’m filled with a wistful panging of pleasure.
I’m wracked with uncertainty.

What is right?
What is wrong?

Only in the beginning
This tempest.
Before things are settled.
Before decisions are made.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Blinded


Walking along the hillside path,
My love knows the name of almost every plant,
A gathering of white alders
On either side of this cold and clear mountain stream,
A lone black willow,
Dusted with cottony catkins,
Fallen leaves and forgotten stones
Painted with tiny white bouquets of sweet alyssum,
An elderberry embroidered
With the orange stringy stems of witch’s hair.

My love can see health and history
In every flower leaf twig and trunk
While I walk ignorantly along,
Blinded by spring.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

In This Place


This is all we know,
These caffeinated mornings
And crowded freeway commutes,
These peopled places,
Marked,
Altered.

Scheduled repose,
Manufactured entertainments,
The occasional exodus to nature
With the proper reservations,
Row 32,
Space 6.

But doesn’t it all seem a little strange sometimes,
This concoction of paradise and purgatory?
And how blurred their boundaries,
How blurred within our limitless eternal selves,
Living out this highly contrived finite physical existence.

Do you long to resolve contradictions
And in so doing,
Increase their numbers?

We believe what we want to believe
Until belief itself is finally exhausted,
A small, hard thing,
So difficult to discard.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Pain Song


Pain song singing
In a black sky.

No stars.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Vigilance


When I was young,
The flame burned brightly,
For no matter how bleak the passing days,
The future contained more years than I could imagine.

It would take many years to learn
About involuntary psychological templates,
About the reverberation of abuse,
About how deep and permanent wounds can be.

It would take many years to realize
The demons are always near,
Patient,
Waiting.

If life is about anything at all,
It is about vigilance.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

My Refrigerator


Nine years
After my grandparents bought a new refrigerator
My grandmother died.
Two years later
My grandfather died.
Thirty-two years now
And their refrigerator is still running,
Through all the years of my marriage,
My career,
All the places I’ve lived,
By the sea,
Now in the desert.
Once it was filled with baby food,
Then leftover pizza and soft drinks,
Now frozen low-calorie meals,
My children grown and gone.
I sit in the dark and ponder it all
While my refrigerator,
Whirring, whirring,
Goes on.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Craft


You’ve learned so much about the methods,
The craft of attraction,
The skillful application of color and blush,
A certain tilt of your head combined with a certain expression,
How the light catches flecks of jade in your eyes,
The cut, curl and fall of your auburn hair,
Muscular with elasticity,
Casually filtering but not completely concealing
Your expertly-timed penetrating glance,
Lingering just long enough to send the message:
“I am full of mystery.”

Oh if he knew how much time you’ve spent on your nails,
Let alone your cuticles,
Each individual eyelash,
The selection and strategic application of scent,
Your shoes,
The golden ring with the prismatic amber glass,
The balance of accessories,
A level of detail beyond his conscious awareness.

He’s more interested in the revealing cut of your clothes,
The shape and texture of your skin,
Your similarity to the lovely young women on magazine covers,
The effectiveness of his charm,
His ability to make you laugh,
The image of himself he wants you to believe,
He wants to believe,
Verification.

You’ve learned that the magic lies beneath awareness,
In the poking and the prodding of subconscious stimuli.

I watch your performance with awe and inspiration,
Experienced enough,
Old enough now to catch a flashing glimpse of the child,
Still there,
Wondering if anyone can see the uncertainty behind the mask.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

In A Coffee Shop


In a coffee shop
I stop
And sip
And watch.

A mother and her young son,
Helping him with homework.

A college girl and her laptop,
Two young men glancing,
Laughing at their imaginary scenarios,
Glancing.

A boy with earbuds inserted
Fingers a portable computer game.

An attractive woman in her forties enters,
Turning the head of a lonely man
Disinterestedly reading a newspaper
To keep from staring.

The attractive woman orders a regular coffee of the day
From the aproned young man behind the counter
With his stylishly close-cropped facial hair.
Because she is mad at her husband
She smiles at the skinny young coffee vendor
And puts a five dollar bill into his tip jar.

The mother opens a wide, brightly illustrated picture book,
“The Magic Flute,”
And tells her son about Mozart.
“Oh yeah. Mozart!” says the nine-year-old boy,
“I love that guy!”
The mother, who looks dark and Italian, smiles.
She is about twenty pounds overweight
And her light-skinned, fair-haired boy
Looks more like his father,
A happy, enthusiastic silly boy,
His arms and legs animated by the hits of the eighties
Playing in the background.

The college girl looks up from her laptop
To see if anyone is watching her,
So I try not to be noticed,
Middle-aged man that I am,
Too old to be admiring such a pretty young girl,
Not beautiful,
But pretty with the gloss of untarnished youth.
She sees the young men glancing at her
And turns her attention back to her laptop screen.
They are too young and silly.
She will know him when she sees him,
The one she is waiting for.

The lonely man, comfortable in his well-worn suit and tie,
Watches the attractive woman with the faded gold hair
Who does not need to lose weight
And imagines her whispering:
“I love you,”
But he will not speak.
He is also in his forties but still waiting,
Waiting for an invitation.

The teenage earbud boy chugs his coffee,
Picks at the acne on his chin,
Swings his backpack over one shoulder
And walks out the door.
He doesn’t want to say anything to anybody.

The dark-skinned mother says:
“This is my son who will love me forever.”

Her young son says:
“Let’s have fun all the time!”

The college girl says:
“Can you hear me O secret love? I am here.”

The lonely man is afraid to speak,
He expects disappointment.

The attractive woman says:
“My husband has fallen asleep and will not wake.
I am not ordinary.”

The two young men say:
“What a joke. People are so stupid!”

The skinny coffee vendor says:
“Why can’t I be like you? Why am I the servant?”

And I say:
“Here in this small coffee shop,
All the constellations of the universe.”

None of us say anything out loud.
One by one we finish our coffee and leave,
Pretending we are separate.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Leaving For Work


Leaving for work I see my little cat
Streaked in morning light,
White, orange and yellow,
Sitting still with paws folded
On back of an easy chair
Watching circling sea gulls
Flown inland from the storm
As what’s left of the rain
Drips curiously from the eaves.
A slight amusement.

The street scrubbed slick and clean
Refracts radiant points of light,
Myriad tiny suns
Spread across thin wet skin on black asphalt bone,
Black as bare tree trunks
Against cloud-white sky.

Most of the workers are gone from these streets,
I am late,
Most are gone
Yet I cannot help but linger
To taste this forbidden time,
Forbidden to me,
This absence of time.

On my way once more
The chilled air snaps
Little leaves falling as branches blow
The song of some little bird
In some neighboring tree
Singing quietly,
Calling me.

The sound of a passing car also calls.
It calls me as I stand
Transfixed by birdsong,
Beckoned by the world,
Called by my ambitions
And by no ambition at all.

There is so much to see here,
So much not to do,
For the mountains in this valley
Are streaked with virgin snow
Among silent solitary clouds
Frayed and twisted by wind.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Self-Serving Altruism


Let us,
The stupid inhabitants of a dying culture,
Dedicate ourselves to a new generation,
Let them stand upon our shoulders
To see what we cannot see,
So they may solve our problems,
Right our wrongs,
And not kill us
When we’re too old to take care of ourselves.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Temporality


Sometimes the body is weak
And the spirit sags
And I contemplate mortality,
Questioning again the specific location of the soul,
And the old fear returns:

What if the body is all?
What if all my spiritual perceptions are imaginary?

I am rudely interrupted.

My young calico cat Sally jumps into my lap,
Crying for something that is not food,
For the temporality of my attention.

I stroke her tongue-washed fur
And she ripples with pleasure,
Chirping with tuna-scented breath.

She pulls at my pajamas with sharp claws
And together we abandon all hypothetical considerations.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Before I Barely Knew Anything


Before I barely knew anything
I awakened each summer morning
To the cawing of crows
And thought,
How very tall these trees
In which they gather to ruffle their feathers
In the morning breeze,
How tall these trees
And how much these crows must see.

I climbed an orange tree,
So frightened by the height,
So amazed at the sight of neighboring houses
And city streets
And thought about what the crows must see
From the tops of the sycamore trees
And from higher still
As they rise into the sky,
Knowing I would never know
What they know,
Before I barely knew anything.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Bedtime


Josh who is growing older says,

“Good night Dad,”

And I say,

“Hittin’ the hay?”

And Josh who is growing older says,

“Guess so,”

And I say,

“Sweet dreams buddy,”

And Josh who is growing older says,

“See you in the morning,”

And I say,

“Not if I see you first!”

And Josh who is already quite the young man indeed says,

“Yeah, right dad.”


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Thumbs


There will never be a shortage of self-anointed critics,
Self-appointed judges of all manner of things,
Of people and events,
Large and small,
Those who educate,
Those who obfuscate,
Those with knowledge,
Those without,
Those who somehow believe it is their mission,
Their responsibility,
Their calling to point a thumb up or down.

We are blanketed with critics whose only qualification is ego,
Whose pronouncements are so soon forgotten
After scholars and historians assemble research and knowledge,
Honest intellectual inquiry,
To illuminate the past.

Do our media-created, ill-informed, knee-jerk commentators
Believe they are changing hearts and minds,
Guiding the course of a nation,
By unveiling the certain, unquestionable truth?

We are cooperative.

These pontificators give voice to our a priori conclusions,
Assuring us that even the most complex issues of our time
Can be measured by the masquerade of mass hysteria,
By the illusion of popular opinion,
That all we really need do is vote,
One way or another,
Thumbs up or thumbs down.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Becoming


Somewhere,
I suppose,
There may be that perfect person,
Or two,
Who has never sinned,
Though through the eyes of the world’s religions
Nearly everything is a sin to someone,
I suppose.

Somewhere,
I suppose,
There may be that perfect person,
Or two,
But for the rest of us,
Our life’s work is laid out before us,
Day by day,
Hour by hour,
Moment by moment,
The work of becoming.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Here, In This Place


When the darkened room is suddenly filled with light,
When the unexpected wave rises and crashes upon you,
When you cannot find the precise metaphor to describe,
To express the overwhelming emotion
Bursting from your heart and spreading to every sinew,
Awakening,
Awakening,
Awakening your body to its purpose,
Awakening your mind to the joy of existence,
To the bliss of knowing,
Knowing you are desired,
Knowing you are loved,
Then,
It’s more than individual passion,
More than momentary infatuation,
It’s a place you have discovered,
A place in the mind,
In the heart,
In the universe,
A place where angels dwell,
Where inspiration is born,
A place permanently imprinted in memory
No matter how circumstances change,
Always and forever a place you’ve inhabited,
A place you know,
A place of joy and pain,
An eternal place,
Always there,
Waiting for your return.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Beautiful


When we touch,
Illusion enfolds
Our naked bodies,
Erases our imperfections,
And within our bliss
We become
Beautiful.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

They Speak Unceasing


The spirits speak
Too much.

My head is filled with the incessant clatter
Of their most insightful observations.
I am hounded by visions
In the most startling detail.
They crowd my sleep
And spill over into the day,
Beseeching me.

I long for the life of simple stupidity,
Ignorant of the twisted motives
That lie behind the desires of the human heart.
Show me no more
O uninvited spirits who whisper secrets
So casually in my ear.

It does me no good.

This busy world has no interest
In what you reveal.
They think me a deranged fool
In need of medical attention,
And for all I really know,
You may indeed be demons.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Anniversary


What is the secret
Of your long and happy marriage?
They ask.

I stop and reflect for a moment,
Furtively glancing at my watch,
Counting down the minutes
Until I will again meet with her,
My rosy-breasted, eager young mistress.

I am too old for her,
But we both have found a momentary bliss
In the forbidden.

What is your secret?
They ask again.

My mind races to find a suitable reply.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

In The Game


Have you ever suddenly stopped,
A grocery bag half empty on the kitchen counter,
And thought your life was without purpose,
Wondering if you should commit suicide
And be done with the whole inane farce,
When the phone rings,
And you answer,
Called back into the game again.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved