Untarnished


When you finally get what you want,
After all the struggling years,
But it does not satisfy,
Then you begin to understand
The untarnished magic of a dream.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Bird's Egg


I’d never seen inside a bird’s nest,
Young as I was.
The miniature, sky-blue speckled eggs.
Gemstones.

I took one,
Cradled in hand
As I climbed carefully down,
Leaving three.

Beautiful as it was,
Illuminated in the sun of an early spring morning,
I could not contain my curiosity
And opened the egg,
Cracking and peeling away sticky flakes of shell
Until the gelatinous mass inside was revealed.

A featherless baby bird,
Curled in embryonic sleep,
Never to awaken,
For I had thwarted the will of nature,
I had become a careless and clumsy god,
Aborting so innocent a thing as a baby bird,
And I recoiled at what I’d done.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Someday


Someday, they’ll look back at us and laugh:

Those glasses!
The hairstyles!
That clothing!

But most of all,
They will be amazed at what we believed.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Revered Old Man Of Letters


More than a celebrity,
He was like a father,
Teaching me things my father never conceived,
Illuminating the past,
Foretelling and forewarning,
Opening my eyes to the moment that is a human life.

He became a celebrity,
Interviewed frequently,
Newspapers, magazines, television,
Events and awards,
Honorary degrees.

He lost the freedom of anonymity
And no longer spent entire days in random thought,
Not much time for self-reflection,
Not much inclination for self-criticism
Now that so many were so admiring.
He had arrived,
And no one near him would dare criticize.

He spent his days repeating,
Reflecting on what he’d already written,
Preparing speeches and presentations,
Anticipating interview questions.

Writing became an afterthought,
Squeezed into shrinking moments of time,
Resting on tried and true templates,
Formulaic.

He was still a brilliant man
But now a singer who sang his hit songs
Over and over again,
Compliant with popular demand,
And so his brilliance was etched in stone
And his new writing was old,
Repetitive,
Tired and imitative
Of who he had been
When he was not yet bound by the chains of adulation.

Years passed and he became an icon,
Reduced to a pop culture concept,
A reliable source for reporters on deadline
Who needed a celebrity quote,
For talk-show bookers
Desperate for a last-minute guest.

In his emeritus years he proclaimed the future had soured,
The younger generations such a disappointment,
Hypnotized by technology.

“All I need is a pad of paper and a pencil,”
He declared,
Drawing the boundaries of meaning around his generation,
His past,
His youth,
A time when he had embraced the emerging unknown
And put his rapture into words,
When he was still young enough to imagine
Without fear of literary obligations,
Before he became the revered old man of letters.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Now, Begin


Now,
Begin.

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

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

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

Now, begin.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Zero


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

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

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

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

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


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

This World Is Neither


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

It is full of us
And who we are.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

All Day Long


A little brown bird
Sang this song:

I’ve been a little bird
All day long.



~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

After We Die


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


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Advice To A New Saint


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

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

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


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

This Tree


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

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

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


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Despite My Best Efforts


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

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

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


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Absence


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

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

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


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Called


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

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

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


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Artist


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

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


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Bob


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

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

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

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

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


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Acceptable


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

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

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

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


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Ad Infinitum


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

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

Dandelion seeds in the wind.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Adoptee


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

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

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

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


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Absolution


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

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

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

Who can say how long such punishment will last?

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

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


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Words And Meanings


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

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

Without the heart,
Words and meanings
Fall apart.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Your Most Recent Revelation


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

At last,
I have found it.


It passes.

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

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

It’s gone.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Separation


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

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


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Belief


Those who believe in God,
Abandon God.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

You Think You’re The Only One


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

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

You think you’re the only one.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

You Have The Gift


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

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


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Best Seller


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

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

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

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

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


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

You Are With Me In The Dark


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


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

You Are Not Hidden


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

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

We all have sinned.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You are not hidden.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

A World Gone Mad


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


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved