Storytelling


When I tell someone the story of my life,
Even if only a chapter or two,
It has a certain logical symmetry,
A wise, knowing narrative,
A purposeful ordering of events,
So unlike the real life I have lived
Where in spite of my best intentions,
Things happen.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Way Out


If it is a real life you are living,
In the real world,
You are going to hit bottom once in a while.

The joy of life will vanish
And the future will look empty,
Without promise,
Nothing to look forward to.

Yes,
It happens to me.

Love is the way out.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Warm At Night


Death,
Curled up like a sleeping kitten,
Purrs,
Keeps you warm at night,
Nuzzles against your throat.

It’s so downright reassuring
We forget what it will do,
Someday.
We forget why we’re so goddamned lucky
To be alive,
Because death is sleeping like a kitten
While we suffer the inconveniences
Of utopia,
Always in pursuit of something more,
Something better,
Pretending
This life will go on and on
Forever,
Secretly grateful
It doesn’t.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Walking


Walking seems so futile sometimes,
One step at a time,
So little progress,
One small step
After
Another.

So many small steps
Taking so long,
The mind begins to wander,
The imagination is engaged
And all the things I said of late
Play back,
In and out of sequence.
I think of what I should have said
While I walk blindly by
Men,
Women,
Children,
Traffic and noise,
Traffic and noise.

I think and think
Of what I should have said,
What I will say next time,
And I worry
About what could go wrong,
What could go wrong.

I imagine some great success,
So successful,
Admired by millions.
I begin my speech
As the applause dies down,
The audience respectfully silent.

Yes,
I was just like you,
Afraid of the future,
Hoping against hope,
But I persevered,
I faced down failure,
I endured
And I was blessed
And now I pass my blessings on
To you.
Yes,
We are divine,
We are immortal,
We are . . .


So rudely interrupted
By the honking of a horn,
I awaken and realize
I have been walking a long time,
A long, long time.
All these small steps,
So tedious,
So repetitive,
Have at last taken me
Somewhere
Else.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Waking Up In The Dark


I could never get used to waking up in the dark,
To the cold, pitch-filled sky
Pressed flat against my windows,
To the wetness of water
Shot in hard, straight lines from the shower head,
To the distress of the world,
Just outside my door.

It was no easier for my two boys
Sagging under the weight of sleep,
Unable to speak,
Or my wife
Who would smile
And speak in gentle tones
Despite years of servitude to us all.

Together,
The chaotic particles of ourselves joined,
Forming a radiant wholeness of being.
Together,
We summoned the will
To face the new day
With something like hope.

After all these years I still wake up in the dark,
Remembering the sounds,
The stirrings,
Listening for the click of a light switch.
But now the other half of my bed is empty
And my boys are gone,
Changed into men,
Swallowed up by the world,
Just outside my door.

I have nowhere to go and could sleep until noon,
But each morning I wake up in the dark
And listen for them, still.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Waiting


Yes, I was like you,
Waiting to be perfect before I opened my eyes,
Praying,
Struggling with self-improvement,
Moving forward in spurts
Then falling behind,
A little euphoria now and then,
A little despair,
Yes,
I was like you,
Denying the moment,
Making plans,
Getting things done,
And even though I know better,
This busy world still overwhelms me,
Distracts and diffuses me.

I sit in the light, waiting for the sun.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Cats And Dogs


The old couple had a cat
And a dog,
Their constant companions for so many years.
Loyal,
Affectionate pets.

The aging dog still played fetch,
Still wrestled tug of war with a piece of rope,
Always eager to go on a walk,
Loved to ride in the car with his tongue hanging out in the breeze.

The aging cat still played with her catnip mouse,
Still leaped at the dog from hidden places,
Defiantly pulled her claws on the forbidden chair
Then skittered madly down the long hallway.

After the old man died
The dog lay listless in his bed
Making soft groaning noises,
Keeping an eye on the front door
Just in case the old man came back.
But deep inside the dog knew the old man was gone forever.

After the old man died
The cat began each new day as before,
Begged the old woman for food each morning,
Meowed at the door to be let out into the garden,
Chasing after lizards,
Chirping at little birds,
Back inside stretching out on a soft bedspread next to the window,
Soaking up the morning sun without thought of past or future,
Perfectly satisfied to be immersed in comfort,
Her eyelids half closed,
Keeping watch for the occasional lingering sparrow.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

My Failures


I have come to terms with the truth of my failures,
With the behaviors that perpetuate them,
With the absence of corrective self-discipline.

I now understand the cause and effect of my life,
The sources of my shortcomings,
The volition with which I empower them.

I have given long and careful thought,
Hours of solitary meditation,
Peeling back the layers of my self-deceptions.

I have stepped outside my own being,
Seeing myself as others may see me,
Bearing witness to this concoction of weakness and ignorance.

But mine is a willful ignorance,
Infused with the knowledge of that which I am ignoring,
All those signs and signals which I refuse to employ.

My failures, enlightened.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Mother And Her Son


The coyotes suddenly singing
Their nightly song
As the last of the helicopters
Flies overhead,
Giving up as darkness takes over,
Giving up the search,
The mother and her son
Swept away
After weeks of torrential rain,
Swept away by the river,
So fascinating to watch
All that water,
So tragic to slip and fall.

Did the boy fall first
And the mother follow after?
No one will ever know,
Certainly not me
As I walk home in the shadow of these mountains,
In the light of the half-lit moon,
Under the sparkling stars,
Thinking how wonderful and terrible life is,
How lucky I am to be walking home
Where I will soon be safe,
Soon be warm,
While the mother and her son,
Swallowed up by the storm.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Vinegar And Oil


I heard someone say,
The heart wants what the heart wants,
And it helped me understand
Why my heart hurts
Even though my mind is clear.

Love and logic
Are like vinegar and oil,
Separate,
Contradictory,
Each unwilling to yield.

I can live with contradiction,
But my broken heart?


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Voice


I have immunized my intellect
Against the ancient superstitions
With science and culture,
Unintentionally masking a primeval wisdom,
A transcendent wisdom,
An island of eternity
Encompassed by an ocean of ignorance.

Yet something enduring speaks to me anew,
From the intricate vision of the old master artists,
In the refined musical vocabulary of classical composers,
Written into words by literary prophets,
Carried within the hearts and minds of all
Who pursue inspired occupations,
All who feel the gravity of the eternal
And give it voice,
A voice that speaks to us,
Still.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

My Disillusionment


Just as I am about to be overcome by bliss
For my fortunate life,
For the infinite joy that is possible
With each new day,
This world tempers my enthusiasm
With countless reminders of petty human frailty.

It comes as no surprise
There are monsters among us,
Their actions undeniably
Abhorrent,
But my disillusionment
Is fueled by the frail and tattered bond
Between honesty and convenience,
One,
So easily surrendered,
To the other.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

In Our Older Years


If we’re lucky,
Nothing much will happen today,
At least not to us,
Though we may mistake safety for boredom.

If we’re lucky,
No one will call us on the phone
Or send us mail today,
Though we may mistake solitude for loneliness.

If we’re lucky,
Early some morning one of us will awaken
And find the other has died peacefully while sleeping,
Though we may mistake inevitability for tragedy.

If we’re lucky,
The other will quietly follow.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

For Better Or For Worse


For better or for worse
I am sincere,
If not pedestrian,
In my verse.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

If We Will


Many of us would like to be saints,
Or at least look back on our lives and say:
I’ve been a good person.
Many of us can.

But so many more have been so twisted,
So battered by the rougher aspects of reality
That we were trained to be less than good
As a matter of self-defense,
Of survival.

Many of us with some small scrap of innocence left
Eventually summon the will, as we grow older,
The will to remake our lives,
To heal old wounds,
To understand and forgive,
To understand and change,
To pay it back.

But so many more are so deeply damaged,
The best we can hope for is to grow old enough
To wear out our sins,
So old and tired that all we can do
Is shuffle down the sidewalk
And smile at the passing stranger,
If we will.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Killer Asteroid


When we knew the asteroid was coming,
The killer asteroid,
We knew it would be the end of us,
All of us,
Even the inhabitants of the space station,
Although they would be the last to go.

What a vision they would behold,
The exploding Earth,
The smothering black clouds
Enveloping all.
The fragmented debris
Hurtling through space,
Sounding like hailstones inside the space station,
Sporadic,
Intensifying,
Exploding,
Then,
Nothing.
The last humans,
Gone.

I’ve always felt sorry for the dinosaurs,
Their terrible majesty vanquished,
Extinguished,
Survived by cockroaches.

Now,
As the killer asteroid accelerates,
Now,
As the end of the human experience draws near,
I wonder,
What manner of life will survive?
What will replace us?
It is said the meek shall inherit the Earth,
But cockroaches?
Still?


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Verdicts


The verdicts of intellectuals,
So easily overturned.

~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Unmarked Path


What is this betrayal?
Born of honesty
Surrendered to the truth of passion,
Sustained by lies.

What is this fidelity?
Born of pretense
Upheld by the facade of happiness,
Sustained by lies.

All these expectations,
Yours and mine,
So hard to fulfill
In this inexact life.

If we are brutally honest
And unhappy,
If we deceive ourselves
Into joy,
If all of this is illusion and delusion,
Still, there is love in the world
And the unmarked path of the heart.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Unexplainable


It is our nature
To try and explain the unexplainable,
To give it form,
To make it tangible
So that it may be examined,
Analyzed,
Reduced to a concept,
No longer unexplainable,
No longer God.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Age Of The Pure Self


Anarchy,
Not just for the dispossessed anymore,
It's catching on like wildfire,
A fad,
A new sport for the upper crust,
For those separated from the great mass
By privilege,
Power,
Perception.

This perception of superiority,
Now this is the motive force,
Not just for the well-to-do anymore,
No,
Even the lowest inhabitants of the social order
Feel superior these days.

Now,
In our cities and our streets,
In our homes and office buildings,
In all manner of public and private places,
Now,
No one is safe from this self-righteous anarchy.

This is war.

To each their own pure self,
The pure self that needs no law,
That bends to no man, woman or child,
That considers not its own frailties,
Sees no larger world beyond itself,
Enforces its iron rule without mercy,
No matter how trivial or mundane its kingdom may be.

Nor more humility,
No backing up,
No admission of error,
Of guilt,
Of responsibility.
All actions and motives of the pure self are beyond question.

We encounter one another
In our day-to-day lives
And exchange the menacing glance.
All is understood.
Ours is the age of the pure self.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

What Are People For?


He was born full of wonder,
Full of beginnings,
A believer in eternity,
Infinity,
A fearless explorer of existence,
Sure that every discovery would bring joy,
The joy of knowing life’s secrets.

Then one day he learned our sun would die,
One of many billions of suns
Whose passing would be barely noticed by the universe,
A universe destined to be pulled apart,
Into some kind of cosmic stew.

He wondered what will become of us,
Of all we’ve learned,
Of who we’ve become,
And for the first time he questioned:
Just what are people for?


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Uncertainty


I do not go to church
But there is no denying the power of place,
A focal point,
A refuge.

I do not wear a cross
But the man on his knees before the image of Crucifixion
Has opened a door,
Willing to change.

I do not read the Bible
But within those pages are awakenings,
A path to realization for some,
Everyday eternity.

How do we tell one another what is necessary,
What is essential?
We are all explorers
Without words for the undiscovered.

Life is too big for complete revelation,
The course of our incarnations too short.
We must embrace uncertainty
As surely as we embrace faith.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Unemployment


The clock strikes one,
My lunch is done,
I lost my job,
I load my gun.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Poet I Am


I cannot explain the world,
A world too large to understand,
I can only tell the tale
Of this individual man.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Translation


Words are but tame translation
Of the unspoken world
Where meaning gives way
And being is all.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

All I Can Say


Infatuation is easy,
The words pour from my pen.

But lonely desperate love,
Love you can’t live without,
Yet love denied,
That kind of love is hard to write down.

That’s all I can say.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Tracing


All tragedies now exist.

Yet,
Somehow,
Cool shadowed light
Filters through this wooded ravine
Weaving leaf-twig patterns
Across your bare sinewy back.

I trace them with my fingertips
To their inevitable destination.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Touch


Will you be glad you did not touch her?
Such a foolish impulse.
Risk,
Betrayal,
Hunger,
Intimacy.

Yes, intimacy,
The intimacy of a stranger.
Seductive,
Passionate,
Electric,
Animal.

Will you be glad you did not touch her?
Such a responsible decision.
Practical,
Unentangled,
Loyal,
Inevitable.

Yes, inevitable,
The inevitable consequences.
Pretense,
Disruption,
Denial,
Guilt.

And so, after anxious introspection,
Weighing the rational against the emotional,
Without decision,
You take her hand.
You touch her cheek
And search her eyes for the answer.

The answer does not come.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Too Much Work


Too much work
Strips everyday life
Of love
And serendipitous happenstance,
Oh yeah.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Homecoming


When it all falls apart
And you have nowhere left to go,
Where do you go?

You go home,
To that little house on the corner,
In that little town,
That little room with that little bed,
Still there,
As if your parents knew
You would not make it on your own,
Out there.

They kept your room ready
For your homecoming,
Coming home to where it’s all too small
For this forsaken soul you are,
A child once more.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

To My Wife


So pretty when she turns sad,
Her eyes glisten like small, black stones
Washed and worn by the sea.

Her lean, fine-boned features,
Softening slowly,
Losing their distinction
Under the strain of marriage,
The demands of little children.

Hello,
She says,
Looking for the person I used to be,
Looking just long enough to see
A similar sadness in my eyes.

We go no further,
But smile in silent, solemn agreement.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved