Balzac In Paris


This pretentious, unbridled egotism,
Bridled by academic sycophancy,
Shackled by erudite nonconformity,
Eruditely enforced by the last living literati
Hanging onto the endangered species list
By his and/or her precarious pedicured pedigrees.

This turgid landscape bleeds sour
For want of a coat of arms
Worthy of such shame,
Such intrepid debasement,
Oh yes,
Here in de basement
I goo goo too,
This awful-god game,
La comédie humaine.

Some call it poetry.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Suffocated


The morning light awakens
But I cannot tell the day,
What day it is.

Then,
The mind clears a bit
And I remember who I am,
What day it is,
What I must do
And how little time I have
To assemble myself and leave for work.

This day is not unlike any other work day,
Not unlike years of repetitive practical habits
That propel me into this persona,
This predictable working life,
So unlike the life of the sleeper
Who travels by thought through time,
Backward and forward,
In and out of time,
The true nature of my soul,
Suffocated by this working world.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Upper Crust


His finely manicured fingernails,
So clean.
He never earned money with those hands,
This denizen of the upper crust,
So certain that poverty is the fault of the impoverished,
A moral judgment upon those unworthy of wealth,
While he takes credit for the accident of his birth.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Mantra


Paralyzed,
He takes one last look over the ledge,
The edge of the precipice,
Imagining the staggering, unknowable falling.
He shudders and backs away.

He retraces his steps,
Returning to a place of safety,
A place of predictability.

I am too old, he assures himself,
Shuddering again at the image of the ledge,
The smothering abyss,
The surrender.

He drives to work with a new appreciation for sameness,
For the certainty of Monday,
For the harness of employment,
While deep inside in some unfocused, dimly lit room
He sits alone on a simple wooden chair,
Reciting the mantra he fears but cannot dismiss:

Nothing lasts forever,
Nothing lasts forever,
Nothing lasts forever.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Balance


Your stricken conscience
Grieves over the suffering in this world.

Convulsed with joy,
A baby laughs.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

That Word


Each of us struggles,
Trying to find that place,
Trying to remember that feeling,
That word.

What was it?

Trying to get it back,
Confused about it,
Tricked by pretense,
Tricked by empty promises,
By such sincere insincerity.

Some of us give up.

The passing of youth’s optimism,
The weight of daily subsistence,
The dream smothered by distractions,
By disasters.

Giving up is easier
If the bliss of a happy childhood was denied,
If you never found that place,
If you never felt those emotions,
If the word escaped you.

Giving up is growing up,
You tell yourself.

But if you were lucky,
If you were a happy child,
If you were loved,
If you loved in return,
If you worked or stumbled your way into the dream,
If the dream was thrust upon you,
The dream made real,
If you watched it fall away,
If the ache of memory persists . . .

Some of us grow old in melancholy,
Remembering,
Forgetting,
Then remembering again,
That place,
That feeling,
That word.

What was it?

Oh yes,
That place,
That feeling,
That word,
Joy.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

At Last You Begin


Reaching your destination at last,
You begin,
Because conclusions do not satisfy
Anyone but everyone,
And everyone is no one at all.

So you finally arrive at the beginning,
Exhausted,
Confused,
Worn out,
Finished with ideas of all sorts and kinds,
Ready at last.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

In Disguise


I recall that old man
Who turned to me in anger,
Impatient with my immaturity.

I did not recognize he was me.

I remember that young woman
Who cradled my hand in her hands,
Grateful for my kindness.

I did not realize she was me.

Now that I think on it,
It was often me,
Returning in disguise,
Trying to provoke.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

As If


O this revolving world,
I am dizzy with all this spinning,
Cumulative now in my later years.
I feel the solar winds
Tugging at my sleeves
As we hurtle through space,
Madly erecting shopping centers
As if there were no tomorrow.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Employee


Summer flowers dance softly in the afternoon breeze,
Far from the unfeeling glare of artificial light
In which I am encased all day long,
Muted.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Inside


Inside,
I forget the meaning of birdsong,
How hard the mockingbird works
To attract a mate,
His virtuosity.

Inside,
I forget how fallen leaves move,
Swept into corners
By gusts of wind.

Inside,
I forget the sun is alive,
Every moment,
Creating and destroying.

Inside,
I forget I live on a planet
Whirling through space,
Somewhere between the beginning
And the end.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

That Destiny


In you I imagine
And hypothesize
That which belongs to destiny.

Yes,
That destiny,
The one you said is inevitable,
Unalterable.

Yes,
That destiny,
The one I said is malleable,
Uncertain.

One must force the hand of destiny,
I said,
Looking into your infinite eyes,
Afraid to declare my love,
Afraid of what destiny might do.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Guardian


She walks among us,
Taking physical form for a moment,
Watching.

But when I am particularly low,
When my light is flickering,
She comes closer,
Smiles into my eyes,
Deep,
And I am renewed.

Only later do I realize,
I have seen her again.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Answer


Alone and grieving
I search the evening sky.
The full moon rises
With a big happy face.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Something To Remember


These small children would rather run than walk,
Rather jump than step,
They would rather wave their arms and scream
Than politely speak in turn.

So newly arrived,
Reborn without pain,
Recharged with euphoria,
They are mostly unencumbered by gravity.

Something to remember
As the distractions of responsibility
Accumulate.
Something to remember
As the weight of years
Multiplies.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Another Day At The Office


The black-winged fungus of death
Would like to have a word with you
And is holding on Line 2.

Take a message,
Say I,
For the splintering semen of rebirth
Is Miss Ledger’s hand on my thigh.

Encountering my limitless non-self
I give her nothing but love,
Baby.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Fathers And Daughters


O sweet child,
Father wants you to be happy
And will buy you many pretty things
And dust your life with confectioners’ sugar
And keep the world away
For at least another day.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Infinity


A gentle pulsing breeze blows
Through the evening,
Through the windbreak of elderly eucalyptus.
For a moment,
I hear only the sound the wind makes,
The way it must have sounded here before
Cars, planes and people.

I follow the breeze back to an ancient time,
Or is it a distant future,
After all the important things people do are done?
I wonder.

It is a place my soul longs to inhabit,
A place where I can stop and listen
To the uninterrupted stirrings of the wind,
To infinity.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Trash Day


I hear the truck lumbering down my street,
Creeping around the cul-de-sac,
Transmission torquing,
Short bursts of brakes screeching.

The side loader clamps and lifts
And shakes empty the black containers,
Metal clanging,
Hydraulics hissing,
The packer compacting trash in the hopper.

The diesel engine groans toward my house
And I run outside.

I invite the garbage man in for coffee and coffee cake
And we talk about his family:
Aging parents from Slovakia
Who still call themselves Czechoslovakians.
“It is from where we were born!”
A tattooed son who will not go to college,
A daughter still young enough to play with dolls
But pretty enough to cause him worry,
A wife who works at the hospital.
“No more night shifts!”

Driving the big truck
“Is a good job now.”
Sitting sky high in the cab.
No more lifting like the old days.

He goes to church each Sunday.
The stained-glass windows are midnight blue and apple red
And fill the air with color.

I offer to warm up his coffee
While my next-door neighbor looks out his window,
Wonders what in the hell is going on.


~ 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

Lotto Life


I could already be
A millionaire.

Somebody’s gotta win.

Had a funny feelin’
My ticket was a winner
When the Pakistani clerk
Said “Good luck!” and with a jerk
Slapped the change into my palm,
The change
Into my palm,
Where I have yet to find
My luck line,
Where lines are so faint and fractured
Even gypsies cannot tell.

What the hell,
Somebody’s gotta win.

I could already be
A millionaire.

Feel it in my bones.

Gonna check my lucky numbers,
Check ‘em real careful.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Another Cold Day


The weather report,
Another cold day
In the city where you live,
Without me,
And it breaks my heart
I cannot be there
To hold you,
Keep you warm.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Poet And The Ink


Did you ever stop and smell
The stink of ink
From your fountain pen
And think:
When, oh when
Will I write again?

Or did you dwell
On the smell
And think:
What the hell,
I’ll have a drink.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Cacophony


. . . of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weakness of the flesh.

~ Ecclesiastes, Chapter XII, Verse 12



How fervent,
How intricately detailed our entreaties,
How reason-filled our requests,
How impassioned our pleas.

How many books have we made,
Filled with tiny words,
Preaching,
How many?

All these tiny words
Speaking on our behalf,
Speaking to instruct us,
Explaining,
Imploring.
From the beginning of the printed word,
The beginning of the spoken word,
How many?

Now, imagine you are God,
Imagine the cacophony,
Imagine your delight
In one single, solitary, silent prayer.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Awakened


Some mornings I wake early
And sit awhile with Sally
Who sits awhile with me
Keeping warm on my blanket
Against the chill.

Sally rotates an ear:
An over-excited dog straining a leash,
The rusty squeak of an old truck’s leaf springs,
A sharp word rising from a late-for-work neighbor,
Two starlings touching down in the patio,
Wary birdy bleatings.

Sally meow-chirps in emulation,
Her only impression.

Now lifting her chin,
Sally points her ears toward the back bedroom
Where my wife rises from sleep:
Turning on water,
Clattering the soap dish,
Tapping a toothbrush on the edge of the sink,
Opening a closet door.

Sally leaps from my lap
To greet her mistress,
Leaving me here,
Awakened.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Another


After all these years of earnest self-improvement,
After all the studying,
All the prayers,
The self-examination,
The questions,
The meditation,
The false euphoria,
The despair,
If I awaken one morning
As another,
If I am new,
If my sight has been restored,
If I again see the world
Through the innocent eyes of a happy child,
But the world I have made,
The life I have lived,
All my old obligations
Beckon still,
Then?


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Animal Force


There is an animal force
That moves me toward you
But I resist,
For there is no heart in it.
It is all accident,
An accident of time,
Circumstance,
Genetics.

I admit all manner of impulse
For honesty’s sake,
And for the same reason
Withdraw consent.

Conditioning and confinement,
So much to blame
For our transgressions.
We look to all available drugs
To ease what cannot be so quickly cured.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

She Is Living Still


In an expensive restaurant,
Sitting at the shadowed bar,
The aging beauty sips a glass of wine,
Sways slightly to the prerecorded music,
And old recording of a young Tony Bennett,
“It had to be you . . .”

This is her favorite place,
Surrounded by her wealthy, aging friends,
Bathed in frivolity and alcohol-fueled laughter
About nothing in particular,
Just the pleasure of being momentarily amused.

She sees me watching her
And instinctively angles her bare left shoulder forward,
Her best feature at this delicate age,
The smooth, sun-freckled skin of her shoulders.
She rests her chin on the back of her right hand,
Pulling the wrinkled skin of her neck a little tighter,
Her worst feature, despite the surgery.

It is a practiced pose,
Coming so naturally now,
Reflexively engaged when the old passions stir,
When a younger man catches her attention.

O that sleek young girl who turned every head,
Who won the heart of more than one wealthy man,
Who considered all offers,
Negotiated the best deal available,
O that lost and lonely young girl,
Living still.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Headstones


We are tucked in safely below the turf
For our last long sleep.
From a distance,
No one would know we were there.

But in the old sections
The ancients rise above.
They are from another time,
From a different world,
Believers in the annunciation of mortality.

We lie beneath them.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Anguished Soul


Your anguished soul cries out
Because your dreams of fame and fortune
Are only dreams
And evaporate like dew at sunrise,
Just a little daylight
And the real world takes over.

But you persevere,
You work on those dreams
In all your spare moments
Until one day
You finally get a break
And the Company decides
Your Anguished Soul
Is the next big thing
And it happens:
T-shirts and coffee mugs,
The Anguished Soul Tour,
Television talk shows.

You become the voice for all those anguished souls
Who watch television late into the night
And dream of being you,
Not realizing
They already are.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved