My Love Asks Nothing


My love asks nothing of you,
My love is its own reward,
And punishment.

If you do not love me
My love will leave you alone
And I will continue to feel great pleasure,
Great pain.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

An Apple Or An Orange


I could not decide
Whether to buy an apple
Or an orange,
And the harder I tried
The more I realized
Just how bad I feel
About you
And me.

Just pick up one or the other,
I told myself,
Or both,
What does it matter?

I walked out of the store
With nothing.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Amen


When you begin a prayer
You open a door.

Keep the door open.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Courage Is Required


“Oh I reckon,
I reckon I'm a cowboy,"
I wrote in careful, deliberate script
Upon the first page of what would be
The treasured notebook of the new American Shakespeare.

The muse was speaking
And I was listening
When my older, less literary brother appeared,
Yanking the notebook from my hand,
Reading my first half stanza
And laughing.

It would be weeks before he stopped taunting:
"I reckon I'm a cowboy!"
His deeply intimidating stare
Mocking me,
Humiliating me for daring just a little transcendence.

The years have turned my attention,
More practical pursuits,
Yet the muse still faintly calls.
I take pen in hand and see my brother's face,
His mocking, disapproving eyes.

O yes,
The troubled path of the poet.
Courage is required.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

My House


It was barely sprinkling
After several hours of light rain
Early Sunday morning
When I heard the coughing,
The retching,
And looked out my breakfast nook window
To see a young man with his car door open,
Vomiting on the street in front of my house.

My house.

How lucky I am
That I can say the words:
My house,
While aimless young men
Wander through this city,
Regurgitating at will.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Incarnation


Each morning I awaken as a child,
Staring wide-eyed into the bathroom mirror.
I wash my face,
Then sip a cup of coffee,
Or two,
And I am a young man,
Full of ambition for the new day.

Midday I withdraw from battle
To refuel and recharge,
Determined to vanquish before the sun has set.

By late afternoon I am middle-aged,
Defeated and disappointed by the limitations of the day.

After dinner,
Sitting on the couch watching television,
I am an idle old man,
Too afraid of inner demons for quiet contemplation.

By midnight I drag myself off to bed,
Resigned to the grave,
To insignificant nothingness.

It is a fitful sleep that awakens me at 3 a.m.,
And in the absence of task and purpose,
I am Buddha,
Knowing reincarnation is just a few hours away.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

You


I love what is unfinished,
Unfolding,
Undecided,
Free from certainty,
Curious,
Growing,
Eagerly embracing change,
Surprised by each new day,
Listening for the voices of angels,
Ready for a miracle . . .

You.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Playground


We are the little children of God
Who decided we want to do things on our own.

So God said, “OK,”
And put us here in this playground.

We’re still learning how to play together nicely.

We’re a bit slow.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Almost Enough


O circumstance,
Enemy of dreams,
Unyielding wall
That keeps us apart.

Circumstance like science
Cannot be wished away,
Will not be denied,
Only overcome by those
Who allow desire to overcome reason,
A perilous course,
Full of grave consequence.

You and I weighed such consequences
And turned away from love’s unreasoning madness,
Wounded,
Scarred,
Yet saved from eternal sorrow by the words:
I will always love you.

It's almost enough.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

When I Am With You


There is a part of me that awakens
When I am with you.

Not that I had forgotten.
No,
I remember everything.
The blush on your cheek,
The tiny pink ribbon on your delicate white dress,
The curve of your shoulder,
Your restless sleep.

All my memories are charged with emotion,
But they are reflections of the past.

When I am with you
There is a part of me that awakens,
That memory cannot recreate.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Real Thing


True,
Incomparable love
Comes when your heart finds a home.

It may not last,
But if you’ve ever found it,
You’re one of the lucky ones.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

What Do You Really Think?


What do you really think?

No,
Not what you’ve heard,
Those predigested generalizations
Tailored to specific constituencies,
Foot soldiers amassing in the unity of certainty.

What do you think that’s genuinely yours,
Uniquely yours,
The product of your own ingredients,
Of your own mental exercise,
Unaltered by expectations of approval
Or disapproval,
Stripped of cliché,
Of second-hand observations . . .

Summon the truest voice within and tell me,
What do you really think?


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Life Lessons


We grow old and discouraged,
Worn by repetition and disenchantment,
Wondering what life is for.

We forget the answers are all there,
Waiting to be rediscovered in storybooks,
Where Peter never loses the enchantment of youth,
Where Goldilocks learns respect for the sanctity of family,
Where the diligence of a little pig saves the lives of his brothers,
Where running away teaches Dorothy there’s no place like home.

Cradled by a mother’s love
We are safe and we are forgiven.
The world is once again full of wonder
And life will never end.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Angels Can Only Do So Much


Angels can only do so much,
Depending on their age, experience and motivation,
Intercession not being as easy as one might suppose.

Consider political upheavals.
Consider natural disasters.
Angels can only do so much.

And there is considerable reluctance among the winged
To capriciously alter the course of human events,
Knowing how motivational calamity can be,
What with all the problem-solving it requires,
Knowing how the evolution of the human race
Is enhanced by a few obstacles now and then.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Passing Of Another Summer


It kills a little
To see the sun racing down
Earlier each day.

Like the death of an unborn baby,
I am struck by the passing of another summer.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Don't Take This Literally


I’ve been way too coherent lately,
Too literal.
Some of my more artistic friends
Blush
At my naive,
Prosaic,
Poetry.

I actually use the words
“Love,”
And “heart,”
Even “God,” for “Pete’s sake.”

I “dream”
And sometimes I am “sad,”
Sometimes full of “hope” and “joy.”

I apologize to my more sophisticated friends
For my unadorned simple-mindedness
And would deconstruct coherence with obfuscation
But alas,
I am “too far gone.”


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

This Politician


The solemn occasion,
The honored dead,
The grief of a nation assembled in memoriam.

The earnest words,
The inspired speech delivered by this politician,
A showcase of compassion
Cleverly constructed by his speechwriters
To magnify his public image.

O the tortured expressions of sorrow.
Yes, he feels our pain,
Yes, he casts his humanity out upon our weary nation,
A nation so desperately in need of a leader.

This politician presents himself,
Offers himself,
This humble servant of the people,
This shepherd,
Eager to employ the suffering of a nation
To his own ends.

Those skeptics among us,
Aware of his grandiose disingenuousness,
Can not,
Will not forget how many lies he has spoken,
Winning so many earnest hearts and minds
With such sanctimonious deceit.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Life


They're coming,
We're going.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Maria Something


She doesn’t know why her car stopped.
I don’t know why it ran,
A thing many times discarded,
Salvaged only by her desperate situation.

From Mexico she comes,
This young, sculptured woman,
To work the rag trade
In secret sweaty buildings
Where all generations labor
Behind rows of blunt, brutish machines.

I cannot help her,
Knowing little about cars,
Less about miracles.
I lend her my phone.

“Gracias,” she says, smiling so sincerely.
Her eyes are black stars in a white-hot sky.

A breeze riffles her pleated white skirt
With hot and dusty Sunday afternoon air,
Revealing her long, leather-brown legs.

She is calling her cousin,
Waiting for him to answer,
Leaning against the warm metal skin of my car,
Pressing her carved, callused fingers
Against her feverish forehead,
Pulling her burnished brown hair away from her moist neck.

She waits for him to answer.
I wait for him not to answer.

I want to be with her
In some flickering candlelit room,
Her lips brushing against my ear as she whispers.

I want to touch the source
Of this inviolable beauty.
I want to know how she can smile
So killingly sweet,
Knowing what America would do
With such a life.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Politician


He's said so much
To so many,
He's almost convinced himself.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Sliding


I’ve let whole days slip through my fingers,
Whole years,
Decades squandered making money,
Buying stuff,
Carefully packing it all into boxes,
Unpacking it again,
Fixing things up,
Throwing things away,
Going to different places
And coming back again.

I’m sliding down hard ice,
Faster,
No meaning,
Faster,
No feeling,
Faster,
No bottom in sight.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Something Sleeps


Ordinary life,
A blessing really,
For those of us who have it.

Food,
Shelter,
Family,
Friends.

Yet,
Something sleeps in ordinariness.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

I Am Called


Your smile calls across the room,
Across time and incarnation,
Calls from the past,
From the future.

You smile and I am called,
Into the eternal now.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Cold Water


It’s been nearly forty years
Since my grandfather died,
A father to my troubled heart,
Though I have yet to learn all his lessons.

We would walk and talk
And he filled me full of ideas,
Ideas I was nowhere near ready to use,
Knowing, when I was ready,
He’d be gone.

One morning he taught me how to wake up,
To wash my face with cold water
The very first thing,
To wash away sleep and clear the mind.
I was young and woke up hard,
Too hard for the shock,
Especially when the weather was cold,
Too fragile.

Now, the cold water wakes and refreshes me,
Washes away sleep and clears my mind.
Now, with every drop of water upon my face,
My grandfather, with me, still.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Seeing


Take everything you know,
Write it down on a blank sheet of paper,
Then fold the paper and put it in an envelope.

Say out loud:
Here is all I know, all I have learned,
As you light the envelope on fire,
Watching it burn to ashes.

Now walk freely into the world and see everything,
No longer masked by certainty.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Car Wash


It’s a slow morning at the car wash
And the Mexicans are relaxed,
Making each other laugh,
Whistling,
Free from the manic afternoon rush to come.

One of them walks by,
Spinning a towel on a single finger,
Smiling at me with missing teeth,
Looking like a man who feels lucky,
Lucky to have this job in sunny Southern California.

Now he is drying my car with a towel in each hand,
Bending and stretching,
Familiar with all the secret places where water hides.
He jams his body upside down
Into an impossible back-seat angle
To wash the inside rear window.

A car horn honks and a woman sitting near me startles,
Finishes whatever she was doing with her cell phone
And walks to her car,
Walks around her car,
Inspecting,
Pointing at small spots only she can see
While the obliging car wash worker looks on,
Generously wiping his cloth where her finger points,
Smiling patiently.
She gives him her receipt and a dollar,
Not quite satisfied,
Not expecting to be quite satisfied.

The man working on my car finishes
And twirls a towel high above his head,
Like a pizza chef.
He is a virtuoso towel twirler,
A talented man who asks very little from life,
Who expects less.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Chosen


Dear little princess,
So young,
We will fill your head with words,
With desires,
With expectations,
Until your wide-eyed wonder
Becomes the confident stare of certainty,
Until your playful innocence
Becomes an ambitious longing
For all your highness is entitled.

Yes, you are the chosen one,
Born of privilege,
The platinum spoon,
The glass slipper,
The iron gate that keeps them out,
Keeps you in.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Afterlife


The afterlife will not be unfamiliar.
It will look very much like today,
A place with mornings and evenings,
Just a few small changes,
Change continuing at its usual pace
With all the occasional upheavals,
Depending on where we are,
Who we are.

For those of us who believe in heaven,
Heaven will slowly appear.
For those who refuse contrition,
Hell will remain.

The possibility of change and growth will remain,
For all of us,
Change and growth,
Confusion and revelation.

We will share where we live with others,
With friends,
Strangers,
With those who are kind
And those who are not.
We will help or hurt them,
Or ignore them,
And they will help or hurt,
Or ignore us in turn.

We will witness the working of change upon our lives
Without certainty about the future,
For the future will be malleable.
There will be times when the old fear returns,
When we contemplate that our existences, however new,
May be extinguished.
Yet joy and hope will temper the anxiety of unknowing,
Reassurance that we need not fear eternity.

The afterlife will not be unfamiliar.
It will start tomorrow morning,
As usual.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved