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

Awaken


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

What about you?
What about me?

Awaken!

Even the tiniest blade of grass struggles toward the light.


~ 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

Eight Days Until Christmas


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

A Worried Man


A sleepless night,
So worried,
So sure something was about to go wrong,
Every time the clock struck the hour,
He counted the strikes,
Fearing the clock might make a mistake.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Another Day


Because my days are almost done
I walk this late afternoon by the hillsides,
The fog-chilled air pushing against my cheeks,
The spit of moisture falling on my forehead,
The first crickets beginning,
Singing the sun down behind the ancient mountains
Newly green with spring.

A beautiful young girl with translucent blue eyes passes by
With a small puppy straining against the leash.
She smiles without hesitation and says hello.

Ah the joy,
The joy of another day.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Temptation


O you sanctimonious souls,
I ask you:
At this very moment,
Do you hear the words of the angels?
Do you see the blinding white light?

The greatest temptation of all,
The temptation of knowing.
The hardest thing to surrender,
The sin of certainty.



~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Kiss


After the kiss goodnight the world was glowing.
How wonderful to wake each day,
He thought,
Knowing there is someone in the world who loves me,
Someone I can kiss.

He fell asleep on a cloud of bliss.

After the kiss goodnight the world was threatening.
I will never let that happen again,
She thought.
In the morning she would send him a message,
Something about friendship.

She fell asleep on a cloud of regret.

O the power of a single kiss,
What it starts,
What it stops.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Searching


It’s not nostalgia that brings me back,
Back to this place where I once lived,
This place where my life was young,
Where my sons were little boys,
Where my wife was a lovely young woman,
Where so much of our lives,
Unlived,
Imagined in dreams,
Residing in hope.

It’s not the ache of memory that brings me back,
But the search for something lost,
A part of me that slipped silently away,
Unnoticed amid the clash and clutter of growing old,
A part of me I cannot precisely name,
Something incompletely perfect,
Whole,
Happy,
Distilled now in my restless heart.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Temporary


It was too hot for a week,
Another week,
Then,
A month and more,
And I forgot how temporary weather can be
Until I awoke late this morning.

I feel a different breeze on my skin,
Hear it singing through my open window.
I see the languid leaves
Drinking in the last sun of summer.

Remembering how temporary weather can be,
This tree summons courage,
Stiffens resolve,
Prepares,
Knowing all its lovely leaves will soon be gone,
First autumn,
Then,
The slow sleep of winter coming on.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Survivors


After the hardhearted words,
After they are all spoken,
The impassioned phrases
So proudly pronounced
During love’s disillusioned duel
Reverberate,
Angry echoes
In the deep, dark dungeon of despair
That never quite die out,
That seem always on the lips,
In the cold stare
Of the one you still somehow love,
Who still somehow loves you.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Unavailable


I’d like to take just a moment
To reach you,
But your cell phone is ringing
And you must answer.

I’d like to take you to a quiet place
And tell you about this ache inside,
But you are already late
And have a busy day ahead.

In fact, the entire week looks bad,
So much to do.

When was the last time
You stopped
And let someone take your hand
And talk about love?


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Nothing At All


Just when I thought my little calico cat
And I
Had reached a meeting of minds,
An unspoken understanding
As she sat on my lap,
Joining me in early morning contemplation
Of life’s distractions and essences,
Winnowing away illusion,
Hearing without sound,
Seeing without sight,
Knowing without thought,
Then,
Finally,
That eternal absence that embraces all,
Then,
Kitty leaps from my lap,
Pads daintily across the room,
Sits on her haunches
And stares at the corner of a wall,
Staring,
Staring,
Staring,
At nothing at all.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Annunciation


More than a job,
More than mere employment,
It was a career,
A calling,
A framework of talents and skills
Honed by discipline,
Heightened by dedication,
Then,
Gone.

All your years of earnest labor,
Come to this,
Rejection.
Your life’s work,
Discarded.
Your self-worth,
Shattered.

Yet,
In your lowest moments,
In your despair,
The growing realization:
You are the master of your fate,
The captain of your ship.

Then,
Navigating your way through perilous seas,
Tossed and buffeted by the storm,
Suddenly,
The annunciation:
You are free.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

There Is Wildness Here


There is wildness here,
Raw and raging
Beneath this exterior,
Pulsing.

There are visions here
Of soaring over lifetimes of leaf-filled trees
And rust-colored hills,
Over yellow fields,
Over oceans.

There is forgetting here
Of the small things people say,
The small things people do.

There is a last angry echo
Of the unheard voice,
The deeper self,
The truer self,
The wilder self
That wearies of all man-made things.

There is a silence here
That grows and infuses,
Like the melancholy tint
Of an old photograph,
An old photograph you walk around in,
Examining with wonder the frozen, yet flowing
Moments of a life.

There is a wildness here
That rises like an immense stone,
Floating impossibly
In the pure blue sky
Of a secret spring.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Turn It Off


Hooked on technology
So bad,
Whole generations
Will not miss
A life they never had.

Speaking quietly
Into the night,
Measuring the silence against the soul,
Just thinking about how the busy days go,
Seeing life from afar
Like a firefly in the dark,
Like a candle,
Like a star,
Turn it off,
Be who you are.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Truth Is Not Hard To Find


Truth is not hard to find,
It’s everywhere we are,
In the good and the bad,
In the indifferent.
It’s what actually happens,
Right here,
Minute by minute.

But we resist the truth
When it collides with what we believe
Truth should be.

Our handcrafted truths can be hard to maintain,
What with truth itself,
Getting in the way.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Lost Child


Whose little babe is this
Who now slumbers on city sidewalk
Bundled in tattered sleeping bag
In back of brick and mortared building
Knocked crooked by time . . .

Whose little boy is this
Who now wakes in a garden of cigarette butts
And abandoned pages of old newspapers
On ragged cement
Where only the most desperate weeds
Dare to grow . . .

Whose mother’s son is this
Who now pulls himself up and out
Of the brief escape of sleep
And stands in icy morning air
Extending his thoughts only as far
As the ashen tip of the smoldering cigarette
He sips like a cool, sweet glass of juice . . .

All his generations reduced to this,
A life too young for such resignation,
Too old for much renewal,
Too far from home,
This lost child.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Truth Has Jagged Edges


The truth,
Oh yes, even the truth is mutable,
But tonight will be dark,
For the Earth does revolve around the sun
Despite centuries of disbelief.

Truth is hard.
Self-deception is easy,
Comfortable,
Convenient.

Self-deception is logical.

The truth has jagged edges.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Stone Age


How long has it been?
Not long since the days of the cave.
Seems like only yesterday
We were bringing down bison,
That old gang of mine.

All this was savanna,
And,
Over there,
Near that big boulder,
The barbecue pit.

Ah, the feasting,
The fermented berries,
The grunting.

I took a girl
And our bodies worked well together
Making many children.
We lived a while.

On my last day
My oldest son told me
He would bring me back,
And that I would bring him back,
In turn,
For we are all fathers and mothers,
Sisters and brothers,
Since the beginning of everything,
When every stone could sing.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Sweeper Man


When it rains,
At last the rain,
He goes to his secret place
Behind the dumpster
And gets his broom,
Old, worn and stiff
But still good for sweeping the water on its way.

He sweeps the gutters,
Sweeps trash and leaves into the river’s flow,
Sweeps the water,
Speeding the motion,
The sound.

He is a tool of nature,
Called by God
To do this work,
To help with the cleansing,
The cleansing of it all.

Standing near a busy intersection
He works
And the sound of his furious sweeping echoes.
He is not self-conscious,
He is proud of his job,
Called at last in this year of drought,
Called to do this work.

An underfed scarecrow of indeterminate age,
Eyes ablaze with obsession,
Leather face taught with purpose,
He wears a long, dark coat,
So wet and wetter,
A woolen cap with ear flaps,
And galoshes — galoshes!
Where on Earth did he get those yellow galoshes?

There is too little rain in this place
To wait for rain
And so he sweeps whenever he is called,
But it is futile, desperate work
When all is dust and dirt and dust.

Nevermind,
For the drought is over today,
At last,
And God has called him
To help with the cleansing,
The washing away,
All the jumbled years,
The wandering days,
The frightened nights
Trying to sleep,
To sleep and dream
His favorite dream
Of a world washed clean,
A world swept clean,
Everyone and everything
Starting over again.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Still Dreaming


Acquisitive by nature,
And nurture,
My inclination is to possess,
Especially in matters of love,
Especially romantic love,
Especially you,
But I am defeated by depth,
By the depth of my love for you,
Love beyond selfishness,
Love for who you are without me,
Who you must be without me,
Without me,
This relentless romantic,
Still dreaming of you
With (almost) no hope.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Letting Go


When my son was small
We were walking through a great crowd,
In my dream,
And I felt his little fingers slip
From my hand
And he was swallowed up by the world.

Sometimes, I still take his hand
To make that connection
Between boy and man,
To know he is still safe
In this dangerous place.

But he is so much older now
And feels awkward,
Embarrassed by the act,
And because I understand
The boy is not the man,
I let go.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Speed Of Regret


I can’t quite believe
All these lovely young women
Will grow old so soon
And lose what they labored
So long to possess,
What these ravenous young men
Long to devour.

In less time than they'd guess,
In less time than they’ll know,
With the speed of regret
All the young years go.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Speak To Me Now!


I will not pretend to admire
The esteemed poets of my day.
I do not understand
What they are trying not to say.

My life is too short for such pretense,
I’m growing older every day.
Poets speak to me now!
Or I will cast your words away.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Inside


Inside,
This is where heaven and hell reside,
Where propriety has scant power
To temper the onslaught of extremes,
Where rationality is fleeting,
And the soul, with its accumulations,
Is all.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Spared


A plane crashed in the Ukraine
And here in California the film is on television,
The smoldering wreckage displayed
While the announcer says,
No survivors.

It is a big world
And thousands upon thousands are dying,
Disease, famine and war.

A plane crashed in the Ukraine
And I can no longer separate
One tragedy from another,
The television so full of tragedy
All day long.

I turn it off and breathe deeply,
Trying to clear my thoughts,
Trying to remind myself
This world is also full of joy,
Thousands upon thousands,
Spared.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Somewhere There Is A Boy


Somewhere there is a boy
Dreaming of a horse,
A horse of his own,
A chestnut stallion,
A part of his soul,
A horse he would ride
Through fields and meadows,
Through shadowed woods,
A horse he would greet each morning,
Spend all day with,
Kiss goodnight.

Somewhere there is a boy
Dreaming of horse,
A horse like the one I see here,
Standing in a muddy pen,
Looking wistfully out at me
As I walk by,
This horse,
Alone all day long,
Dreaming of a boy.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Sometimes When I Sleep


Sometimes when I sleep
I go so far away,
When I wake up
I have to remind myself
I cannot fly
And 11 is a number.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Angels Wept


I was thirsty
And my cup was filled.
I was hungry
And food was served upon my plate.
I ate and drank freely
Until my cup was empty,
Until my plate was clean.

I was cold
And I was sheltered.
I was sick
And I was healed.

But the angels wept,
For despite all my blessings,
I’d forgotten to say:
Thank you.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Sometimes I See You


Sometimes I see you
Walking down the sidewalk,
Keeping your little children near and safe,
Or in the supermarket,
Selecting your purchases carefully
For a demanding family,
Or driving by fast,
In a hurry to complete your daily errands.

Sometimes I see you.
Sometimes you see me.
Sometimes we look at each other and recognize,
Something,
Something never meant to be.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Evolution


Feeling the hot breath of the baboon
On the back of the neck,
We overindulged in the refuge of civilization,
Denied being animal at all,
As if inseminated, incubated and initiated
In a place somehow apart from this Earth.

Now we live in a disillusioned age,
Tired of manners, morals and inhibitions,
Tired of orderly existence
In ghettos of steel, cement, glass and plastic.

The restless stirrings of things within us
That have no mind
Scare us no longer.
They lead us,
And our children hunger for raw meat,
Animal again.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Sometimes


Sometimes,
I am a moth flying aimlessly through the dark,
Lost,
Searching for light.

Sometimes,
I am a humming bird flying from flower to flower,
Drinking sweet nectar,
Bathed in sunshine.

Most of the time
I am something else.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Something To Do


Memory,
Memory,
Memory.

Reshuffled yet oh so persistent memory,
Steeped in recrimination,
Sanitized with nostalgia,
Somehow suggesting the past is not finished
But full of things left to be done,
If only in that place where memory resides,
As if I cannot ascend to the now of this moment
Until I have fit all the pieces of the past together,
As if this life were a puzzle,
Jigsawed by God,
Just to give us something to do.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Light


I have grown tired of profound revelations,
Startling insights,
Content now with my first cup of coffee
As this planet tips daintily toward the sun,
Filling the room with light.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Something Young


Something young in the old,
Something angry about the cloak of age,
Something that knows it was just a moment ago
When the body was young
And without concern,
And even now,
The same person inside,
Still dreaming,
Still expecting to fly.


~ 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

Penance


During the last days of the shadowed world
Serpents were driven out
From their shelter in the brush
By frantic, cloud-darkening swarms
Of tiny, ruby-throated birds,
Made insane by famine and drought.
Screeching and swooping,
These minions descended on the serpents,
Devouring them on the vast, darkling plains.

During the last days of the shadowed world
Leaves of all colors and kinds
Shriveled on the branches of ageless trees
But would not fall
And so were ripped from their stems
By merciless, incessant waves of wind,
Their ashes spread upon the waters.

During the last days of the shadowed world,
When the air was finally still and silent,
We walked cautiously out into the beckoning light.
We did not return to the dark places,
And meaning gushed from what had been
A million meaningless things.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Something


Weary singer of unsung songs
Moving in deep, undulating waves
Of subconscious longing for flight,
I plunge upwards into soar and glide,
Infused with the grace of birds,
Like the happy release of death
When very old.

So worn
And wishing for the play of wind
On flight feathers,
I let go and fall
Into something
Beyond these words.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Home Sings


Home sings
In the rattle, clang and clamor
Of kitchen song,
In the cat claw scratching
On the back porch door,
In the vacuum drone humming,
In the going,
In the coming,
In the laughter, shout and hurry,
In the fuss,
In the fury of everyday life,
Home sings
With irregular rhythms of slamming doors,
The sizzle of water in sudden streams
From faucets, showers and various machines,
Home sings
With assorted shoes on linoleum floors
Tapping out a dance of a thousand chores,
A pan in the oven bangs with the heat,
Home sings,
Phones ring,
Doors knock,
A key in the lock,
You give me a hug
And the music begins:
The refrigerator is whirring,
The cats are all purring,
Our children are playing
And my heart is saying
Listen closely
To the song life brings,
We are safe,
We are happy,
Home sings.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Some Small Measure


Even though I knew
This small, furry thing called kitty
Could not live forever,
I find it hard to understand
That this still, lifeless body,
So suspended in time,
Will not awaken,
Shake off death like a bad dream
And find voice
To once again ask for food
And some small measure of companionship.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Some Raindrops


Some raindrops,
The size of a flea.

Others,
The head of a pin.

And so on.

So many gradations.

And they collide,
Join,
Sometimes separate again.

I’m sure you could find a reason why,
Sitting in your laboratory,
Warm and dry.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

So Much Denial


So much denial,
The requirements of everyday life
Being what they are,
Even the requirements of pleasure,
So hastily arranged,
Full of denial,
Of longing
For something essential,
Something.

A small whispering voice,
Reminding,
Asking,
When?

Soon,
You say.
After all the little things are done.
Soon.

And years go by like minutes,
And your life is full of reasons why,
And why not,
Full of explanations,
The occasional stab of memory,
Something faintly remembered,
Something.

Then,
Just a dull ache.
Then,
Nothing.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

So Many Lives


So many lives
Populating this planet,
Falling in love,
Making families,
Fighting wars,
Building cities,
Posing for photographs.

So many lives,
Full of fear and bravado,
All fall away
Without exception.

We have seen them pass
Yet here we are,
Striving still,
As if there is anywhere in this world
To anchor.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

So Busy


My love is talking on the phone,
So busy,
Too busy to hear love’s examination of the heart,
So much to do.

Of course you love me,
Quote unquote,
Make love,
Quote unquote.

So much to do,
So busy,
Who am I?
Who are you?


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

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

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 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

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

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

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

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

Accumulations


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

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

Sanity


Denied and defeated in love,
Sanity slowly returns
And I am again a practical person,
Again able to agitate
Over other pressing matters of the day,
Wiser, but no longer weightless.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Saints In Waiting


If we were saints
Living the lives of abandoned insects
Under parked cars
With our antennae finely tuned
Into God’s frequency,
We would praise the glories
Of our tiny lives,
The stray fast-food crumbs,
A patch of dew-laden crabgrass.

Behold this mighty river of asphalt,
My children,
And fear not the larger beasts.
We are the chosen,
And through our selfless purity
We shall inherit this earth.

Not long now,
Our time to come.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Fanatic


We are the true believers.
We will do anything,
Anything,
For the cause.

How dedicated we are,
That we can so easily dismiss
The sanctity of a human life
To accomplish our quest.

We will show God our righteousness,
Our fearlessness,
No matter how many we have to kill.

No compromise.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Saints


The saints so often say
We must give up wanting,
Surrender desire,
Disregard comfort,
Give everything to the poor
And live a life of service
To others.

They are like so many in this world
Who choose a path,
Who fulfill a destiny,
Then declare it is the only path,
The only destiny.

Even saints suffer from certainty.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Sad


Sad enough
When you try to fly
And fall.

Sadder still
When you do not try
At all.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Sacred


What do you hold sacred?

Not in your places of worship,
Your churches,
Your temples,
Your mosques.

Not in your ceremonies,
Your practices,
Your prayers.

It is no real test
When you are harnessed with the obligations
Of pious behavior.

Show me what you hold sacred
In a crowded parking lot,
When the hunger is upon you
For a really good parking space.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Metamorphic


A rock
Is a rock
Is an idea.

Hold on just a minute!
You say,
A rock is a real tangible thing.

But right now,
I say,
You do not hold a rock in your hand,
You hold it in your mind,
The idea of a rock, that is.

And even when you hold it in your hand,
I say,
It’s the idea of a rock that gives it a name,
That suggests a use,
Such as hurling it at me
So I will stop talking
And go away.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Where Memory Lives


Where memory lives,
Where is this place?

Neurologists can pinpoint the part of the brain
Where memory resides,
Overstuffed file folders
Fading from consciousness with time,
Changed by the imperfections of recall,
Missing chapters reconstructed
By imagination and emotional predisposition,
By storytelling,
By the human habit of constructing a logical narrative
From the random events of a life.

Living memories are different somehow,
Constantly present,
Actively contributing myriad gradations of pleasure and pain
To the unfolding events of our lives,
Content as well as context,
Engaged.

Yes, scientists know where memory is stored,
And perhaps some celestial record of human events
Contains all that we have done,
All that we have thought.
But where memory lives,
Where is this place?


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Rush Hour


O this endless sea,
This endless migration
Of caffeine-injected commuters
Across vast concrete,
Squinting against the glare
Of this newly risen sun
In this unremarkable miracle
Of another new day.

I am captive here.

We are flung through finite space
As fast as fate allows
Until
Ahead
A sea of red
And this procession gravely slows.

All are slowed:
The pursuit of success,
The descent into failure,
The approach of destiny.

All are slowed,
Then slowly stopped,
And then we crawl,
Harnessed to the yoke
Of some terrible master.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Like A Rhino


How like a rhinoceros,
My dissatisfaction,
My petulance.
A rhino in a sushi bar,
All thumbs.
A meadowlark in a turbine,
All feathers.
A guy writing this stuff down,
On paper,
Trying to fabricate meaning,
Watching the tip of his pen
Carefully outline letters, words,
Whole incomplete phrases,
Hoping some great dark muse
Will speak.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Reverence


We are taught to revere the old ways
Of our beloved ancestors,
Their ancient wisdom,
Honed over generations
Into this perfect jewel,
Hard,
Prismatic,
Eternal,
An ornament
Worn so proudly by those who know,
Our teachers,
The guardians of all knowledge,
The caretakers of the past.

Impediments.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

A Reminder


I bought a book
Full of wisdom and light.
Inside its spine,
A small, rectangular anti-theft computer chip,
Reminding me,
I live in a nation of thieves.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Rehab


Honesty,
Pure honesty,
Every waking moment.

See the past,
Change the future,
No matter what you’ve done,
No matter how long it takes,
No matter how many times you fail
And fall,
Start again,
This day,
This moment.

Honesty is the first step,
Pure honesty,
Every waking moment.

From this all blessings come.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

In Winter I Scarcely Remember


In winter I scarcely remember
The long and languid days of summer,
The delicate yellow dress
And how its straps fell
From your thin, sculptured shoulders,
How it melted away
From your golden body.

We were perfect together,
Naked,
Unashamed,
Bathed in sunlight,
Love and lust.

We had all day,
All summer,
And the days were long and languid,
Without end,
Without consequence,
So long ago,
Those summer days I scarcely remember.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Reasons


There are plenty of reasons
Why not,
But they all vanish
At the thought of your touch.

All we have in this life
Are moments,
And another moment with you
Is reason enough.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Really


You do not have to want
What the world wants,
Or be what the world wants you to be.

You can be happy without a fortune,
Content without fame.

Really.

You do not have to seek
What the world seeks,
Or give up what the world gives up.

You can be the first of a kind
And the last,
And never mind.

Really.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Reality


For a while,
It looked like it might be dark
All day,
So few actually taking the time
To believe in the sun anymore.

But familiarity breeds belief,
So the sun again appeared
And filled the sky with light.

It is a lesson to be relearned each morning,
That we must never,
Ever,
Take reality for granted,
As if it would continue on its own,
In a vacuum.

Reality depends on us all.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Real Test


Getting old is the real test,
For everything once so easy and automatic
Falls away,
And the energy to resist
Slows,
And the desire for comfort
Anesthetizes.

Look around you my young friends,
It seems so obvious now,
All the letting go,
So manifest in the old.

Never, you earnestly swear,
Imbued with that quick certainty of youth,
Never will this happen to me.

Wait, I earnestly implore,
Battered by the steady decay of years,
Wait and see.

Getting old is the real test.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Real Love Is Not Clever


Real love is not clever.

Real love is clumsy,
Awkward,
Unsynchronized,
Inappropriate,
Embarrassing,
Stumbling,
Falling,
Grasping,
Letting go,
Giving up,
Miserable,
Necessary.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Real Horror


Another atrocity
And writers all around the world
Take pen to paper,
Knowing the real horror
Resides in the mind
And must be addressed.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

My Table And Chairs


If I had no table and chairs,
No house full of possessions,
Then perhaps I would go to an impoverished land
And give what help I could.

But I am bound by prosperity
And frightened by change,
Blessed and confined by the things I own,
That own me.

Whole generations of my family
Have stayed together,
Remained loyal, long-suffering and patient,
Held together by the glue of family heirlooms,
The ancient oak table and chairs,
Houses full of possessions.

Life is short and my time is running out
And I am called.
Yes, I hear the voice calling me
Out into a new world,
But my table and chairs won’t let me go.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Rapture


I could say,
You awaken something eternal in me,
The ineffable heart of God,
Resuscitated,
Pulsing through every pore,
Deafening,
Blinding,
Revelatory.

I could invent a dozen different ways
To describe how you make me feel,
How I make myself feel when I am with you.

But when we meet,
Words fall away
And all is rapture.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Question and Answer


Are the rigorous fish screaming?

No, I’m dreaming.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Question


I know there are some
Who ask if there is a soul.

Yet is it not a surprising question?
As if someone turned to you,
Stopped you on a crowded city sidewalk
And asked: Do you believe in the body?

Belief comes after the fact.

Yes, I know,
We cannot photograph the soul
Or slip a fragment of it under a microscope.

Yet the very idea of spiritless being
Causes something in me to recoil,
Something that cannot deny its own existence,
Something I call,
If I must,
The soul.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Put Words Away


Stop,
Just for a moment
And speak to me from your heart.

I’m weary of polite conversation,
Workplace banter,
Conventional wisdom.

Walk with me outside our preordained roles
And let our words unfold.
Let us whisper love’s confessions in the dark
Then, put words away.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Put A Pat


When this world feels too rough
For my lamb and honey soul,
I put a pat of butter
On my lovely cinnamon roll.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

A Manageable Ailment


I used to think my old friend despair
Was a measure of my distance
From the angels,
But lately it occurs to me,
What with things the way they are,
Angels may not feel too good themselves
These days.

Scratch the surface of this half-sane man,
See despair coursing through my arteries,
Rich, red stuff,
Spilling out from a wounded heart,
Less than poison,
A manageable ailment.

Yes, I manage it.
It flows and ebbs,
Ebbs and flows,
And at its worst
I accept it as the cost of things,
The way they are.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Prosperity


If you ever get
Everything you want
You will be a slave
To prosperity.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Propriety


At last I understand
Why I am not supposed to love you.

The passage of time,
Distance,
Acceptance,
Have brought me to my senses,
Whatever that means.

Now everything can be explained,
Understood from a psychological perspective.

Reason and logic reassert their power
To expose and embarrass my foolish heart,
My childish dream,
The passion that rages still,
Now confined within this dark prison of propriety.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Prophets


So many prophets,
How we revere them,
Study their lives,
Read their writings,
Marvel at their prognostications,
Follow their instructions,
Dismiss their detractors,
Proselytize the unenlightened,
Prepare for the promised apocalypse.

So many prophets,
Distracting us from the eternity of this moment.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Prison On Sunday


She helped me find God,
Bring God so much closer
By breaking my heart,
For no one else can help me now.

Have you ever been there?
Way down deep where the light is gone?
Where the weight of sorrow
Presses hard against the chest,
Makes it hard to breathe?

Food is so unappetizing,
Sleep is so impossible.
Have you ever been there?
Who do you talk to?

God is the one you talk to,
Confess to,
Ask for peace,
Just a little peace from pain,
A small patch of sunshine.

It feels like prison tonight,
This absence,
Knowing the sweetness of her soul,
Knowing all the mistakes I cannot take back.

Perhaps I’ll wake up some morning and once again see,
See!
That even in my deepest sorrow,
I am blessed,
After a few extended conversations
With the only one I can talk to now,
The only one.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

A Purple Shoelace


As I walk toward the growing darkness
Along the sunset trail,
The last of the after-hour walkers pass me by,
Returning to their parked cars
And nightly routines.

Many are deep in determined conversation,
With walking partners or cellphone voices.
Others are earbud oblivious,
Even to their over-eager dogs,
Straining at the leash.

I am alone in silence,
Bearing witness to the last auburn rays of light
Retreating from nearby hillsides,
Earlier each day now.
I hear rustling leaves whisper the coming of autumn.

And there,
A purple shoelace,
Tied to the chain-link fence.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Prayers


How long do prayers persist?
How often must they be repeated?
What are minutes and hours,
What is the length of a day to a prayer,
Or to God?

Does God tally prayers,
Weighing some against others?
Or is such somber accounting left to angels and saints?
Are prayers judged by earnestness?
Do they ascend by urgency?

It is worry in me that encourages prayer,
Worry and love,
Love and fear,
Knowing that in this world
Science and happenstance will not be denied.

Even if God were no more than disinterested science,
Unyielding to desires both noble and base,
I would not have my heart grow so cold
As to abandon what is so easily accomplished.

You may not believe your prayers are heard,
But if they open your ears to the longings of your heart,
If they inspire reformation and action,
If they awaken the desire to be honest in all things,
If they cast light on the path ahead,
They are not wasted.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

A Ponderous Chain


She walks with some difficulty,
A slight limp,
A bit of a hobble,
Sagging and stooping,
Suffering the burden of her enormity,
Yet still able to push the shopping cart
Packed full of unnecessary food.

Link by link
She has forged a ponderous chain.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Politics


O simple-minded hardworking soul,
Crushed by need
And greed,
I mourn for you
And I celebrate you
As I assemble these thoughts
From the refuge of my comfortable chair
In my comfortable house,
Comfortable neighborhood,
Comfortable life.

Just when you thought your hardscrabble life
Could be exploited no further,
I am here to mourn you,
To celebrate you,
To employ you as an illustration
Of my humanity,
Of my selfless dedication to your well-being,
For which I expect ample praise and admiration.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Ocean


Some of us stand at the edge of the shore,
At a safe distance,
While others come closer,
Getting their feet wet,
Racing away from any sudden surge.
Some wade in deeper,
Yet still careful to avoid strong currents.

I am reckless.
I go in deep,
Enveloped and submerged,
Helplessly swept out to sea.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Poised


Her wings,
So beautiful,
Translucent and glistening in the dewy light of dawn,
So perfect,
Unscarred,
New.

She is ready,
Yet still momentarily poised
Between perfection
And flight.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Going Home


Where did she come from?
Where was she going?
We wondered
As she wandered through our manicured neighborhood,
This disheveled woman in ragged clothes,
A torn bedroll tied to her back,
Her long stringy hair matted and dirty
Like the fur of an old cat too feeble to clean itself.

She shuffled along the sidewalk in the growing twilight,
Past a startled family getting into their shiny white car,
On their way to the new restaurant,
The wide-eyed boy and girl struck dumb
By this alien intruder.

She did not know where she was.
She often didn’t know,
But on this day something called her,
Called her toward the mountains,
The eternal mountains glowing purple in the darkening sky.
Something pulled her through this foreign place,
Past these homes with white-faced windows,
Staring,
Staring,
All staring out at her.

She was returning
And she would know when she got there,
She would know it was the right place,
The place that called her,
Called her past the houses filled with the safe yellow light,
Past the houses filled with the busy sound of happy televisions,
Past the dutiful dog walkers on unbroken sidewalks,
All the way to the underbrush near the hillside trail
Where she would find a private place,
Unroll her sleeping bag,
Watch the sky change from blue violet to black,
Read the twinkling messages of stars,
Receive the omen of the rising amber moon,
Hear the rhythmic hooting of the gatekeeper owl,
Shiver from the sharp penetration of cold and damp,
And dream,
Her eyelids falling,
And dream,
Her breathing slowing.

At last,
At last,
Home again.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Keeping Time


I drive slowly past the place,
The place where she died
Less than an hour ago,
Heard it on the radio,
And there,
Outside my windshield,
The fatal freeway scene.

Traffic is kept moving,
Just a glimpse of ripped steel and fractured glass,
Flashing lights and uniforms,
A double-rig truck knocked crooked,
And then,
Driving fast again.

I fumble with the radio
And find a good station.
I tap the middle finger of my right hand
Against the side of the steering wheel,
Keeping time.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Plotless


Someone is telling my story,
Moving my life from chapter to chapter,
But my storyteller is raw and unskilled.
He labors on and on,
Weaving the most complex and intricate details
Through the most uneventful scenes.

You will wake up early this morning
And drive to work in heavy traffic.
Yes, you will drive to work every day,
Except for the weekends.

Many of us are displeased with our storytellers.
Will our plots ever take some meaningful shape?
I wonder.
These lives are poor fiction.

He wakes up early and takes a cold shower,
Trying to shake off the fatigue
From working late every day this week
In his colorless fluorescent cubicle.
He reties his tie for the third time,
Finds his car keys,
Grabs his half-empty cup of coffee
And begins the long, difficult drive to work.
He listens to the news
And thinks about the many phone calls he must make
When he gets to the office.

It’s a puzzle to me
Why we put up with this at all.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

A Young Woman Waiting For A Bus


She sits alone at the bus stop,
This girl,
With nothing to do
But wait.

She sits alone
Then stands
And runs her left hand,
Her sculptured, articulate fingers,
Down her sunburned hair,
Taking its length
To let the undulating afternoon air
Cool the back of her warm, moist, down-covered neck.

She lets her hair go
Then strokes it again,
A soft sensation of pleasure
Ripples across her skin,
Pleasure from being the lithe, young animal she is.

She looks wistfully down the length of street
For something shaped like a bus
Among the heat-blurred vehicles
Coming toward her.
She is early and expects nothing for a while,
But still she scans the traffic,
Eager to be in motion.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Yippy


It is the time of baby birds and lizards,
Of pollination and persistent sun,
Of rebirth and renewal.

I can hear the tug of Spring
In the spirited barking of Yippy,
The dingy, bedraggled cocker spaniel next door,
Aroused now by every passing dog,
Every wandering cat,
Each exploring squirrel,
Each backyard human.

I remember last year
When Yippy was so full of Spring,
Barking throughout the night at every rustling leaf,
It seemed to Al,
Big Al, we called my neighbor,
A large man bedeviled by barking
As he revisited the ritual of the backyard barbecue.

“God damn that dog!”
I heard him flare across the fence,
Stopping short of formal complaint,
Not one to be outwardly unneighborly.

Perhaps it was all that barbecued red meat that felled Big Al,
Dropping dead at work one chilly day last winter.

Spring has returned
And though old Yippy is clearly a canine in decline,
His barking still carries loud and clear,
And somehow I sense Big Al is near,
Cursing this aged dog who still survives
While human beings drop like flies.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved