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

The Song


This light breeze sings
A music only plants can hear,
Moving leaves and shadows in rhythms,
Then still,
Pianissimo,
Allowing the warm counterpoint of the sun
To swell,
Then rising again,
Stronger now,
Reinterpreting a theme.

While we are oh so busy worrying,
The song of the Earth plays on.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

My Word


Last night an angel came.
I will give you one word
And you must take this word into your heart
And live this word,
Eat and drink,
Inhale and exhale this word.
Absorb this word into your blood,
Into every particle of your being.
The angel bent low and whispered into my ear:
Is!
Then dissolved into air.

O preachers with all your discourse,
Your obedience,
Your years of theological parsing,
Construction and reconstruction,
Your lessons,
Now I must put them all aside.

I have my word to work on.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Nothing Special


No special time,
No special place.

Any time,
Any place.

When I was young
I believed in preparation,
Years of preparations.
But now,
After years of preparations,
I can,
At last,
Let preparations go.

Now,
With imagination exhausted,
I blunder my way into enlightenment,
Not walking into heaven,
But leaving heaven,
And hell.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Hugs


It was a friendly hug,
A hello hug,
A nice-to-see-you hug,
For her.

For me,
It was love,
It was touch,
It was lust.

O this vast desert,
O this oasis,
These few drops of water,
Keeping me alive.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

All The Way


She climbed a mountain,
Struggled and suffered her way to the summit.
Looking out over the vast landscape,
Looking up into the dome of the sky,
She said:
I am closer to God,
Not realizing God was with her,
All the way up,
Not realizing God would be with her,
All the way down.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Reincarnate


How many things we do
Without thought,
Things we’ve done so long,
For so many years,
Becoming habitually unconscious.

Actions and reactions
Assembled into support systems of self-identity,
Reinforcing who we think we are,
Who we think we aren’t.

Strip them all away and who is left?
A newborn?
Or just a very old human being,
Finally ready to begin again,
Somehow.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Welcome To New York


Easy to feel sorry for someone with no home,
Imagine shelterless days and nights
Picking through trash discarded food,
Penetrating heart-shivering cold,
Angry voices.

I have felt sorry,
Given money,
Prayed,
Expressed righteous outrage
At indifferent tolerance.

I entertain such thoughts and feelings,
Yet in a corner of a New York City subway station
The feet of a homeless man
Were mud-stained,
Calloused, cracked, bleeding, swollen yellow-purple,
Each toenail turning black.

He was curled up like a kitten,
Lost in shivering sleep,
The winter chill coming on.

Easy to feel sorry,
To give money,
To relieve conscience with care and concern.
But who will wash this man’s feet?
Who will put salve on this man’s wounds?
Who will reassemble his life?
Who can?

I left him there.
We all walked by and left him there,
His wounded feet exposed to everyone,
Looking like Christ’s feet must have looked,
Nailed to the cross.
Actual, physical evidence,
The painful journey of an abandoned soul.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

There Are Words


There are words that lead into words,
That pull you in like the sudden spike
Of a strong drug,
Words whose meanings unfold,
Revealing layer upon layer,
Myriad thoughts,
The petals of old roses,
Shark teeth.

But each revelation is incomplete,
Relies on the understanding
Of an additional equation
Always a few pages ahead.
It is gravity in reverse,
Where conclusion precedes supposition,
A house of mirrors for the mind.

There are words that lead away from words,
That do not command,
Less than certain,
They paint a cerulean sea
And tell how the pelican folds his wings in flight
Like a collapsed umbrella
And dives into a shoal of sardines,
Shimmering,
Silver,
To satisfy his hunger.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Peace And Quiet


I had almost reached some eternal state of bliss
When my reverie was rudely interrupted
By my birth.

I need not tell you of the emotional quagmire
That is life.

I have suffered less than many.

Yet just when things began to settle down
My reverie was rudely interrupted
By my death.

Perhaps now I can finally get some peace and quiet.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Special Delivery


When I want love too much,
I remind myself not to be so selfish,
That love should be delivered
By winged messenger
With balloons.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The World


The trouble,
The consternation comes
When I try to make sense of the world.

Now which world is it I struggle to behold?

All human,
All animal,
All biological,
All cultural,
All political,
All geographical,
All cosmological,
All these worlds and millions more,
All somehow coagulated in mind and imagination,
All one world?

From my first waking hours
To my restless, fitful sleep,
I travel through myriad worlds of self,
Past, present and future worlds,
Full of memory, supposition and hypothesis,
Full of knowledge and ignorance,
Full of fear and hope,
And always,
Always,
The ever-present now,
Calling me to awaken,
Commanding immediacy,
Constantly defining and redefining this mercurial existence.

How can I ever make sense of it all,
Ever slip under a microscope
Such a fanciful idea as a world?


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Vaya Con Dios


I could kill you with this little finger,
He says,
Jutting the scabrous thing out into the shivering night,
Pointed menacingly toward the enemy
Only he can see,
While tourists scuttle by
Keeping a wary eye on this ragged man
Who has me cornered by his confessions,
And his need
To tell me how three tours of duty
Left him so - strung - out.

He is enlarged, distended,
Eager to tell anyone on this street
About his hotel room and how much it costs,
Only a few dollars a month left over for food
From disability checks that come in the mail,
How his first wife drove him crazy,
How he was crazy anyway because of the war,
How he killed a man he thought was the enemy
But it was long after he returned
And the man was just a man,
How he spent thirteen years in prison
And how I don’t want to be like this anymore,
And the hospital
Where he missed his last appointment with the psychiatrist,
How he wants to find his way back to something good inside,
But this guy grabbed him by the throat last night
And threw him against a wall,
How he gets so angry sometimes
He just explodes,
How the woman he lives with made him so angry
He punched his fist through a window
And he shows me the open cuts
On his dirt-encrusted hand and arm.

I am tempest-tossed
Between seeing him as my forsaken, younger brother
And my murderer,
My insane executioner who forgot why,
Why he was on the street in the first place,
To get a little money so he could buy something to eat.

I give him five dollars and he nearly weeps,
Puts his festering arm around me,
Hugs me tight as deeply disturbed tourists
Sidle by apprehensively.

Vaya con Dios man, Vaya con Dios!
He shouts as I walk briskly away,
Inspired,
Repulsed,
Ultimately torn.

Vaya con Dios to you too buddy.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Old Cat Sighed


The old cat sighed.
Suddenly realizing
Just how limited a cat’s life really is,
The old cat died.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Haunting


Some call it haunting,
These visits I make
To the places I lived,
Where my life was made,
To my childhood home:
The sidewalks still here
Where I rode my bike.
I hear the voice of my grandmother
Calling me in from play
For a sandwich and a glass of milk.
That long summer day
Walking with my grandfather
And all the things he said
About the life that was coming,
Things I scarcely understood,
Things that have guided me,
Lifted me when I fell
So I could begin again
To be like him,
A decent man.

I will not reawaken childhood sorrows.
I have buried them here
After years of torment,
And questions,
And finally,
Resolution.
Yet,
There is a light breeze of melancholy
Blowing through this place,
Blowing through all the places of my life
Where joy and sorrow,
Anger and ecstasy once lived.

Some call it haunting,
These visits I make
To the places where my life took shape,
On my own in tiny rooms,
In anonymous cities:
The rooming house and it’s red-haired landlady,
Mothering the young and single men there
With morality, discipline and compassion,
Teaching us how to respect
What was once a grand hotel
Where dignified gentlemen and ladies
Gracefully ascended
The carpeted stairs of the seaside resort.
And how many lonely nights
Did I sit on the sand at ocean’s edge
Learning how to listen?

Without chronology I travel,
My haunting is outside of time,
Drawn to the passions,
The silly exclamations,
So silly and profound this human animal,
This creature that can love:
Love that girl who gave me her life.
We exchanged lives,
Awakening,
Awakening,
In passion and in play,
Keeping the outside world away.

There are sad and angry rooms
Where I will not return,
For my haunting is to be free from regret,
Except for a kind of regret that sends me back,
Back in time to where happiness began,
Where happiness had the power to overwhelm,
To overwhelm life’s myriad frustrations.
O my soul has traveled in dark haunts enough,
Finally worn out its punishments,
Deserved and undeserved,
My penance,
Paid.

Now my soul travels in light,
In melancholy radiance:
I see my young family,
Laughter in their voices,
Youth and electricity in every movement,
And the future is infinite,
Full of imagination,
Full of hope,
And the growing of my life
Becomes the growing of my family
And I am no longer a single being,
I am larger.

Some call it haunting,
These visits I make
To where all my beginnings began.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

When?


When you start praying
When do you say:
Now I can put
All my praying away.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Scholar


The learned, white-haired scholar
Sits atop a wooden library stepping stool,
Head bowed in deep concentration,
Reading from a book pulled from overstuffed shelves,
A backdrop of accumulated wisdom and folly
Surrounded by an island of ancient volumes strewn about the floor.

He is a serious man,
Dressed in formal attire,
Shoulders permanently stooped from decades of study,
Burnished in gold and mounted on black stone,
A bookend that keeps my unread volumes straight.

Although tempted by worlds both real and unreal,
By fictional dreams and nonfictional revelations,
By theologies and philosophies,
By research and supposition,
By fact and fancy,
By pretty pictures and childhood reveries,
I leave this dusty room,
For the day is new and the sun is warm
And everywhere little birds are singing in leaf-filled trees,
Beckoning,
Beckoning me to the more tangible world outside my door.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Hungry


Nature has made us hungry,
The necessary motivation for procreation,
Assuring perpetuity,
Even when reason resists.

By design or accident,
Or design of accident,
Over and over again,
We are born.

Modesty shames our unchecked explosions of lust,
So we attach the appropriate fig leaves
And walk out of the garden,
Into the world,
Imbued with socially appropriate decorum
Disguising our baser animal instincts.

Yet secretly,
Or not so secretly,
We cast the wandering eye,
Hungry.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

What It Is


This is,
What it is.

Now I know.

I said it was something else,
Way back then,
When I was ignorant
And thought I knew.

This is,
What it is.

Now I know.

And I've decided
It’s up to me
To tell you so.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

A Home In My Heart


There is a home in my heart
For each person I love,
Whether they love me,
Or not.

They’re all I’ve got.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Testing


Testing,
Testing.
Testing one, two, three,
Testing.
Onetwo, Onetwo,
Check onetwo.
Can you hear me back there in the cheap seats?
Am I coming through?
Testing,
Testing.
One, two, three,
Testing.
Should I turn it up?
Can you hear me?
Should I turn it up?
Give me a little more juice here.
Testing testing onetwo onetwo.
Refuse to comply.
Testing onetwo,
Onetwo.
Louder?
You want it louder?
REFUSE TO COMPLY!
Testing onetwothreefour,
Testing.
Tear down the system.
TEAR DOWN THE SYSTEM!
Testing.
Checkin’ one two,
Check, check,
Onetwothreefour.
A little louder please.
Revolution.
Revolution now!
REVOLUTION NOW!
Testing,
Onetwo,
Threefour,
Testing,
Testing.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

In The Wind


Love is in the wind,
A rootless passion,
A bird in flight,
An annunciation.

Love comes,
Love goes,
That is our illusion,
For we are the wind
And our passions are birds in flight,
Touching down here and there,
While love,
Like air,
Is everywhere.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Stuff


Hunting,
Gathering,
Acquiring,
Perfectly natural instincts,
Especially considering the vagaries
Of our primordial environments.

But now,
Knee-deep in storage containers,
The mechanism runs wild.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Two Resolutions


When this life has worn you weary
And each day is a struggle
To find meaning,
Resolve to be honest,
About everything,
All day long.

Resolve to be kind,
With everyone,
All day long.

Then,
Meaning will return.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Critique


I think I am,
Therefore,
I have to get up in the morning
And drive to work.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved