Transition


Now that some time has passed without you,
Knowing you will not come back into my life,
I’ve decided I’m finally ready to let go,
All those letters and emails,
The little gifts and trinkets,
Photographs I can no longer bear to see,
Everything,
Shredded,
Burned,
Deleted,
Given away,
All discarded.

All except this single smooth stone,
A stone I found at ocean’s edge
That warm summer day when we were new,
When the enchantment was real.

I’ll put this stone in a little wooden box,
Perhaps never to open,
Or perhaps one day I will remove the stone
And hold it in my hand once again,
Someday when I am strong.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

A Little Nudge


The stench!
What an intolerable stench!

Awakened to the alarm of a foul, sulfurous odor,
I step outside.
The air is thick with decay,
Stinging the senses
As if I’d awakened in some extraterrestrial miasma,
Some netherworld.

People lining the street,
Looking to the sky for some kind of answer,
Grimacing to one another,
Holding their noses.

Talk on the radio,
On the television,
Speculations about accelerated decomposition
From climate change,
Solar radiation,
Polar shifting,
Oceanic reconstitution,
Tectonic deformation,
Apocalypse.

No one really knew anything.
Months later,
No one really knew much more
Except that the change was permanent.

We adjusted,
Redefining words such as:
Fragrant,
Sweet,
For there was no more sweet
As we had known it,
No more fragrant.

We changed our aesthetics,
Our taste buds,
Our culture,
Reprogramming old orientations.
Old ideas of pleasure and pain,
Changed now by our weary planet,
So weary of who we were,
Giving us a little nudge.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Clouds


No matter how hard I try to forget,
Some wounds are permanent,
Always threatening to cast a shadow
On some happy memory,
Like a stern parent,
A fundamentalist preacher
Who sees unchecked joy as a doorway to sin.

A cloud for every silver lining.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

This Wind


This wind is everywhere
Yet all I can see is movement.

I too am moved
By something unseen.

I wander through philosophy,
Buffeted by wind.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

I Will Mourn, Sooner Or Later


When you die
I will mourn for you.

I may even mourn for you
Before you die,
Now and then.

But I’m more likely to judge,
Rather than mourn,
While you’re still alive,
Knowing once you are dead,
The mourning will come easier.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

This Cat


If I didn’t have this cat
I would be reading about the perilous state
Of geopolitical affairs,
Uninterrupted,
Pondering the decline of participatory democracies
Engineered by religious terrorists and dictators,
Too often aided and abetted by a brainwashed populace.

But because I do indeed have this cat,
I must put my reading down
And extract the rubber spider from beneath the couch.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

This Old Woman


Standing in line at the market
She nearly drops her cane
Searching her purse for a coupon,
For her money,
Checking a wrinkled list.

She tilts perilously,
Forgetting to balance herself,
Nervous because she is the next to pay.

This old woman stands
Next to the magazines,
Glossy young women
Ripe for mating.
Everywhere this old woman goes
The young world surrounds,
Confounds,
Reminds her how long it has been
Since desire.

We turn our eyes away,
Pretending not to notice
As she questions the cashier needlessly,
Counts out nickels and pennies,
Drawing out this time of human contact.

She places the coins in the cashier’s hand,
Feels a radiant warmth from his skin.
It startles,
Her hand jerks
And three pennies fall to the counter,
Roll off the edge and are gone.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Coming Of Rain


It is the coming of rain I love,
When sky-filled clouds shade harsh noon
And cushion the noise of the city.
Slim eucalyptus trees sway in anticipation,
Imitating the sound of showers
With the soft applause of leaves.

I alone have stopped here
In this abandoned parking lot
To see the rain come.
I am praying for a deluge,
Enough to make us stop
And for a while be still.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Work And Freedom


Someone once said
The only real freedom
Is freedom from work.

I suppose that’s true for many,
Working only for money,
Interchangeable cogs
In the brutishly indifferent wheel of commerce.

Yet many do take some measure of pride
In a job well done,
Despite being relatively unrewarded
For years of obedience to the task at hand,
Then,
One day,
Anonymously dismissed,
Discarded,
Finally free from work,
Yet not feeling very free at all.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

This Knowledge


In this information age
I have the Library of Alexandria
At my fingertips,
And more.
Almost anything I want to know,
Instantly accessible,
Almost anything,
Except that which I long to know
Above all other knowledge:

The length of your spine beneath my fingers,
The feel of every silken vertebra,
The ripple of pleasure as it spreads
Through every sinew of your naked body,
The action and reaction of desire,
The union of our beings,
The electricity of ecstasy,
Your eyes filled with love,
My heart filled with light.

This knowledge I crave above all,
This knowledge of you.


~ Russ Allison Loar 
© All Rights Reserved

This Idea Of Free


I am so used to this idea of free
I forget how many in this world
Are shackled by ideas,
So many in this free country,
In my hometown,
Shackle themselves with ideas,
Rules for living,
Or no ideas at all,
Just behaviors,
Self-destructive behaviors
Masquerading as freedom.

So confusing,
This idea of free.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

If I Could Choose


Yeah,
Heaven may be swell,
For a while,
But what do you do with all you’ve experienced,
All you’ve learned?
Do you just sit around with family and friends,
Drinking wine at sunset,
Forever?

If I could choose my soul’s progression,
My soul’s destiny,
I would take all that I know,
All that I am
And be the seed of a new world.

Imagine being the initiating spirit,
The infusing spirit of a new existence,
For better or for worse,
The spirit that inspires,
The spirit that destroys,
Or something in-between,
Something complex,
Something that grows beyond its beginnings,
Something that evolves,
Kind of like planet Earth,
Which makes me wonder
Just what kind of erratic genius gave birth to this world?


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Better


You know the saying,
To have loved and lost
Is better . . .

But oh how that word,
Better,
Sticks in the throat.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

We Suffer


At this level of incarnation
I suppose our suffering has purpose.
I have learned much from suffering,
Lessons I apparently could not have learned
Had my life been free from suffering,
Had my life been easy.
Lessons I apparently could not have learned
From joy.

Yet how can I condone suffering?
How can I countenance its merciless, random aim?
How can I find reason in the suffering of children?
In the suffering caused by villainy?
In the suffering caused by the collapse of civilization,
When whole countries suffer
From the corruption of a single man?

We are spurred to action and reform by suffering,
The best of us dreaming of a world
Where the last remnants of suffering are accidental
And soon extinguished.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

So Clearly Now


You think it’s over,
The past,
Over and done,
Those mistakes,
Weaknesses,
Errors in judgment,
Sins.

You think your treasured moments,
Your blessings,
Will erase painful memories,
In time,
But they find safe harbor in time,
Awaiting idle moments
To erupt and confront.

Someday when I’m old,
You think,
These haunts will at last subside.
But when old age comes
And all doors are closed,
Awakened from a fitful sleep,
You see so clearly now,
What could have been.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Recently Born


So new,
So young,
So ignorant of devious motives,
So free from self-imposed orthodoxies.

So new,
So young.

We race to fill our recently born
With our individual truths,
Our tribal truths,
Our instructions and conclusions,
As if we had no need of change.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

This Gift


Father,
Thank you for this gift of my suffering,
Suffering so slight,
Measured against the agonies of this world.

May I use it well
To enter the heart of humanity,
Embrace the sorrow words alone cannot describe,
Find within the shattering,
Suddenly,
Without announcement,
Grace.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Rules


To achieve an enlightened state of bliss,
How must I position my body?
Shall I sit cross-legged?
Or should I stand?
Should I close my eyes to temporal distractions?
Or should my eyes be open
So that I may learn to transcend all visual stimuli?
Should I join my hands in prayer,
Or perhaps raise a single hand
With fingers positioned to indicate some kind of divinity?

What is the best time of day, month or year
To engage in spiritual disengagement?
Should I face the rising sun
From the solitude of a verdant garden,
Or surrender my ego in a candlelit meditation hall?
Are there special words
Or spiritually empowered sounds I must make?
Must I focus on a specific kind of attainment
Or abandon all egocentric aspirations?

How long should I spend in meditation?
Or should I disregard such structures as time and space?
What should I do?
What should I not do?

Are there really rules about this kind of spiritual quest?
And what did the rule makers do before the rules were made?
When did they decide that everyday life was not enough,
And why?


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

This Fire


However much I love you,
You do not
Hang upon the cheek of night
Like a rich jewel in an Ethiop’s ear.

You do,
However,
Glow in the illumination of the street light
Where you wait for me,
Not yet noticing my approach,
Eager to burn
In this fire we have ignited.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Gravity


When it comes right down to it,
I know little more about
God
Than a duck knows about
Newtonian physics.

Try as he might,
The duck cannot explain,
Or defy,
Gravity.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Skipping


My dead relatives see a future they never imagined.

And here I thought the future was so far ahead
I could scarcely imagine it,
Beyond the usual flying cars,
Electricity from air,
Freedom from disease.

My dead relatives say I’m living in the future.

I don’t have to look too far back to see how right they are,
Or too far forward to see how wrong they are.
But right now, right here,
What is this exactly?

It moves so quickly I don’t have time to focus,
My thoughts are blurred,
My explanations obsolete.

I am skipping across the surface of time,
Watching my hair turn white.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Think Of Me


Years from now
When your hair begins to gray,
Think of me.

Remember the sound of our laughter,
The color of my eyes,
The warmth of my hand.

Years from now
When your cheeks are wrinkled,
Think of me.

Remember my awkward mistakes,
My overzealous pronouncements,
My prayers.

Years from now
When time has washed all the hurt away,
When you no longer understand old age,
Be young and unblemished again
And think of me.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Things We Do When Love Is Gone


The things we do when love is gone,
The things we buy,
The things we eat
When love is given up,
The way we face the world,
The way we speak
When love no longer calls,
The things that must be done,
The order that we seek
When love falls apart,
The road we take,
The convictions we make
To shun the lure,
To escape the hook,
The ugly way we look
And feel
When love’s no longer real.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

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

After I Died


I am walking on a long, outstretched path,
Somewhere I’ve never been
Yet familiar somehow,
Past verdant bushes and trees,
New life sprouting, flashing from every direction,
Bushels of multicolored leaves,
Rainbows of sudden spring flowers,
Glistening gold and green painted hillsides,
Walking without destination
Yet toward something, large.

A promise?
A transformation?

I am walking alone
In the cool crisp air of morning,
Or is it evening?
No sense of time.
A yellow sparrow flutters down
A few steps ahead,
Deliberately attracting my attention,
Then hopping along with me,
Keeping a safe distance,
Leading me from her nesting place
Until we’ve traveled far enough away,
Then she is gone.

I am walking without destination
But something significant is happening.
I am changing in some undefinable way,
Transforming into something long wished,
A childhood dream.

Then,
Suddenly,
Without thought,
I rise and take flight.


~ 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

Are You?


Are you singing my love?
For I hear your voice in soft melody.
Are you laughing my love?
For I see your glistening smile.
Are you quiet my love?
For a stillness has shaded my thoughts.
Are you crying my love?
For a sorrow is growing within.
Are you praying my love?
For my prayers envision a heaven
Where never would two halves of a single soul
Be kept apart.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Punishment


Can you imagine living a thousand years?
Every reflective thought
Awakening hundreds of painful memories,
An avalanche of regret.

I am nowhere near a hundred years old
Yet I struggle to resolve past indiscretions
With only limited success.
Try as I might, I cannot sanitize the truth of my past.
I cannot undo the injuries I’ve caused,
No matter how fervently I try to heal the wounds.

It’s not that my life has been without joy,
Without moral achievement,
Without love,
But a more mature honesty now calls me
To unrepress the intimate knowledge of my sins,
To face them honestly,
And,
At last,
Render the long-delayed verdict of my conflicted soul.

The punishment has already begun.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Just Happy, That’s All


Here they come,
A lady and her dog,
A diminutive dog,
Galloping to keep pace with his mistress,
His little legs a blur.

Here they come,
And I swear this little fluffy dog
Has a smile upon his face,
So happy to be out in the larger world
Beyond the backyard,
So full of energy,
While his mistress strides on determinately,
Talking on her small plastic phone,
Talking about a plan that fell through
And what she plans to do,
About it.

She doesn’t see me as I walk by.
She doesn’t see the fading orange of the dusky sky
Whose wind-whipped clouds paintbrush the horizon.
She doesn’t see the hillside shadows
Or feel the sudden chill coming on.
She doesn’t hear the evening chorus of chirping, chittering birds
Or even the sound of her own footsteps.

Her life is complex,
So many decisions that must be made.
She weighs them,
While her little dog trots jubilantly along,
Panting,
Smiling,
Just happy,
That’s all.


~ 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