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

At Play


You call it freedom,
Those afternoons on your dappled horse,
Kicking up dust sparkling in wet ocean air,
Cantering round and round solitary paths
Worn around your father’s estate
Where an old Mexican woman with scars on her knees
Scrubs heel marks off the Spanish tile.

Your orange and white tomcat snags a butterfly,
Yanks off a fluorescent wing
With his needle-nose teeth.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

That's Why


Why?
Because God allows everything.
Everything.

That’s why.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

That One Precious Word


Dear one,
When your life is full of tears,
When love is ripped from your heart
And there is no one,
No one you can tell,
Really tell,
Know you are not alone,
For I too have cried,
I too have stumbled and fallen
When the weight of the world was too great to bear.

Dear one,
Let us join in spirit,
In recognition,
And give each other strength.

We are the wounded ones of the world
Yet we must endure,
We must hold on to that one precious word,
Hope.


~ 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

Remembering


How old you want to be
May depend
On how much you want to remember.

Some enjoy the bliss of erasing unhappy memories
As the years
Go
By.

Not me.

Events and circumstances
Pester me,
Suddenly appearing from the fog of the past,
In the middle of the day
While sitting in a café eating a deviled egg sandwich
On rye.

Suddenly,
There it is,
The afternoon I slapped my elderly father across the face,
His glasses skidding across the kitchen floor.

Now,
Old failures and sins line up to be revisited,
Reminding me of how much more I could have achieved,
How much kinder I should have been.

Oh yes, too many unpleasant memories,
Too vivid,
Too detailed,
Telling me I’ve lived long enough,
Long enough to appreciate death and its cleansing power,
Ready now to be reborn,
Ready for the slate wiped clean.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Remember Me


Years from now,
When I can no longer find your address,
When your hair is gray,
Remember me.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Temptation


O you sanctimonious souls,
I ask you:
At this very moment,
Do you hear the words of the angels?
Do you see the blinding white light?

The greatest temptation of all,
The temptation of knowing.
The hardest thing to surrender,
The sin of certainty.



~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Kiss


After the kiss goodnight the world was glowing.
How wonderful to wake each day,
He thought,
Knowing there is someone in the world who loves me,
Someone I can kiss.

He fell asleep on a cloud of bliss.

After the kiss goodnight the world was threatening.
I will never let that happen again,
She thought.
In the morning she would send him a message,
Something about friendship.

She fell asleep on a cloud of regret.

O the power of a single kiss,
What it starts,
What it stops.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Searching


It’s not nostalgia that brings me back,
Back to this place where I once lived,
This place where my life was young,
Where my sons were little boys,
Where my wife was a lovely young woman,
Where so much of our lives,
Unlived,
Imagined in dreams,
Residing in hope.

It’s not the ache of memory that brings me back,
But the search for something lost,
A part of me that slipped silently away,
Unnoticed amid the clash and clutter of growing old,
A part of me I cannot precisely name,
Something incompletely perfect,
Whole,
Happy,
Distilled now in my restless heart.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

First Things


This caveman
Had a brain
Capable of rocket science,
But he could not make the leap
Without millenniums of prerequisites,
So this caveman spent his days
Perfecting a way to strike stones together
To make a cutting tool.

If he gets it right,
His descendants will walk on the moon.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Wounds Of The Heart


Yes, the wounds of the heart
Will heal,
In time,
But they leave scars,
Some so sensitive
That the slightest touch
Awakens memory.

The pain returns.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Diamonds


Another gala celebration,
The glitterati presenting each other with awards,
Making grand speeches with feigned humility,
Basking in mutually assured admiration.

Where is your award
For facing an uncertain future
So bravely?
For rising each morning to endure another working day,
For living with the fear of expendability?

No celebration will be held for you today,
No award,
No acknowledgment
That you are one of the everyday workers of the world
Who make everyday life possible.

Let you and I set the celebrities aside and celebrate one another.
Let us bask in the light of fervent friendship
And award each other with loyalty and love,
For we are the everyday workers of the world
Who make everyday life possible.

Uncut diamonds
Are so easily overlooked
In a world too blinded by brilliance.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Temporary


It was too hot for a week,
Another week,
Then,
A month and more,
And I forgot how temporary weather can be
Until I awoke late this morning.

I feel a different breeze on my skin,
Hear it singing through my open window,
I see the languid leaves
Drinking in the last sun of summer.

Remembering how temporary weather can be,
This tree summons courage,
Stiffens resolve,
Prepares,
Knowing all its lovely leaves will soon be gone,
First autumn,
Then,
The slow sleep of winter coming on.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Survivors


After the hardhearted words,
After they are all spoken,
The impassioned phrases
So proudly pronounced
During love’s disillusioned duel
Reverberate,
Angry echoes
In the deep, dark dungeon of despair
That never quite die out,
That seem always on the lips,
In the cold stare
Of the one you still somehow love,
Who still somehow loves you.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Unavailable


I’d like to take just a moment
To reach you,
But your cell phone is ringing
And you must answer.

I’d like to take you to a quiet place
And tell you about this ache inside,
But you are already late
And have a busy day ahead.

In fact, the entire week looks bad,
So much to do.

When was the last time
You stopped
And let someone take your hand
And talk about love?


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Choice


There once was a man who built his own house,
Grew his own food,
Bred his own animals,
Then one day he happened upon a Sears catalog
And he was confronted by choice.

Thus, it all began.

Today I stand paralyzed in this everything store,
Staring at a wall of toothbrushes,
Barely knowing how to choose,
Frightened by the length of my shopping list.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Building


When my great-grandfather was young,
Growing up in a small farming town,
He was needed.
His labor was needed.
Every able-bodied citizen was needed,
And by their labors, the towns grew into cities,
And the cities became a country.

Each morning they were called,
Called to a hundred,
A thousand different employments.

Each morning I am not called.
My labor is not needed.

I imagine my great-grandfather
Choosing an occupation,
Answering the call,
Fulfilling a need,
Building a life,
A city,
A country.

He would not understand this aimless life I lead.
He would not know me.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Nothing At All


Just when I thought my little calico cat
And I
Had reached a meeting of minds,
An unspoken understanding
As she sat on my lap,
Joining me in early morning contemplation
Of life’s distractions and essences,
Winnowing away illusion,
Hearing without sound,
Seeing without sight,
Knowing without thought,
Then,
Finally,
That eternal absence that embraces all,
Then,
Kitty leaps from my lap,
Pads daintily across the room,
Sits on her haunches
And stares at the corner of a wall,
Staring,
Staring,
Staring,
At nothing at all.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Life Went On


It was Sunday,
And many millions
Living in the most powerful nation on Earth
Spent most of the day
Watching the big football game on television,
Cheering,
Moaning,
Screaming at the electronic moving pictures of football players
Running back and forth and sideways,
Trying desperately,
Valiantly to get hold of the football
And take it to one end,
Or another,
Of the green plastic space
Some still call a field.

The next day,
Life went on,
Much as it had before.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Annunciation


More than a job,
More than mere employment,
It was a career,
A calling,
A framework of talents and skills
Honed by discipline,
Heightened by dedication,
Then,
Gone.

All your years of earnest labor,
Come to this,
Rejection.
Your life’s work,
Discarded.
Your self-worth,
Shattered.

Yet,
In your lowest moments,
In your despair,
The growing realization:
You are the master of your fate,
The captain of your ship.

Then,
Navigating your way through perilous seas,
Tossed and buffeted by the storm,
Suddenly,
The annunciation:
You are free.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

There Is Wildness Here


There is wildness here,
Raw and raging
Beneath this exterior,
Pulsing.

There are visions here
Of soaring over lifetimes of leaf-filled trees
And rust-colored hills,
Over yellow fields,
Over oceans.

There is forgetting here
Of the small things people say,
The small things people do.

There is a last angry echo
Of the unheard voice,
The deeper self,
The truer self,
The wilder self
That wearies of all man-made things.

There is a silence here
That grows and infuses,
Like the melancholy tint
Of an old photograph,
An old photograph you walk around in,
Examining with wonder the frozen, yet flowing
Moments of a life.

There is a wildness here
That rises like an immense stone,
Floating impossibly
In the pure blue sky
Of a secret spring.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Turn It Off


Hooked on technology
So bad,
Whole generations
Will not miss
A life they never had.

Speaking quietly
Into the night,
Measuring the silence against the soul,
Just thinking about how the busy days go,
Seeing life from afar
Like a firefly in the dark,
Like a candle,
Like a star,
Turn it off,
Be who you are.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Truth Is Not Hard To Find


Truth is not hard to find,
It’s everywhere we are,
In the good and the bad,
In the indifferent,
It’s what actually happens,
Right here,
Minute by minute.

But we resist the truth
When it collides with what we think
Truth should be.

Our personal truth is hard to find,
Because truth itself, keeps getting in the way.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

After She Died


She saved almost everything:
Letters and greeting cards,
Junk mail,
Old photos in forgotten boxes,
Tattered piano music with penciled notations,
Business cards,
Decades of buttons,
Shirt stays from her father’s collars,
Powder puffs,
Spoiled perfumes,
Broken jewelry,
Stopped clocks,
Obligatory souvenirs from trips abroad,
Her husband’s defunct electric shavers,
Rusty tools,
Curious parts for obsolete appliances,
(more).

Sorting through drawers, cupboards and closets,
What seemed to me an irrational hoarding
Was fraught with meaning for her,
Each object imbued with purpose,
Each object a crystallized memory,
Each object a desperate wish:
Remember me,
Remember me.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Lost Child


Whose little babe is this
Who now slumbers on city sidewalk
Bundled in tattered sleeping bag
In back of brick and mortared building
Knocked crooked by time . . .

Whose little boy is this
Who now wakes in a garden of cigarette butts
And abandoned pages of old newspapers
On ragged cement
Where only the most desperate weeds
Dare to grow . . .

Whose mother’s son is this
Who now pulls himself up and out
Of the brief escape of sleep
And stands in icy morning air
Extending his thoughts only as far
As the ashen tip of the smoldering cigarette
He sips like a cool, sweet glass of juice . . .

All his generations reduced to this,
A life too young for such resignation,
Too old for much renewal,
Too far from home,
This lost child.


~ 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