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

Eight Days Until Christmas


This cloud-crossed moon is nearly full,
But the streets in my village are suspiciously dark.
Apparently there are forgotten corners of this world
Even a full moon cannot illuminate.

Urgent blasts of warning from a speeding freight train
Slam into the sides of ancient stone buildings,
Making sharp retort like the firing of guns at an execution.

Eight days until Christmas and people here are uneasy,
Hair-trigger tempers,
Honking car horns,
Making odd gestures and grimaces,
Racing to complete the tasks of the season.
Possessed.
A frenzied motorist makes a desperate O-turn in the town square,
Nearly hitting a distracted pedestrian staring at her smartphone.

An elderly man carrying no packages smiles as he shuffles past me,
A fixed smile like a grimace
Showing signs of pain and disenchantment,
Trying to put a little paint on a weathered fence.
I smile in return,
Also trying to reconnect with something,
Something.

I stop near an empty intersection in a quiet part of town,
Looking up at the blur of yellow light from a second-floor office
Where someone is working late.
I would climb the steps and walk to the end of a narrow hallway,
Knock on the wood-paneled office door with the brass nameplate,
Take her into my arms and kiss her lips,
Her neck,
And feel an explosion of pure, pointless joy.

Yes, I would do all this were it a year ago.

I don’t know where she lives now,
Now that her life has changed,
Having thought it best to end all communication,
Now that she’s married to such a sensitive young man.

Eight days until Christmas
And I am alone,
Wandering shadowed streets,
Assaulted by the persistence of the ordinary,
In need of a soup kitchen for the soul.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Truth Has Jagged Edges


The truth,
Oh yes, even the truth is mutable,
But tonight will be dark,
For the Earth does revolve around the sun
Despite centuries of disbelief.

Truth is hard.
Self-deception is easy,
Comfortable,
Convenient.

Self-deception is logical.

The truth has jagged edges.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Stone Age


How long has it been?
Not long since the days of the cave.
Seems like only yesterday
We were bringing down bison,
That old gang of mine.

All this was savanna,
And,
Over there,
Near that big boulder,
The barbecue pit.

Ah, the feasting,
The fermented berries,
The grunting.

I took a girl
And our bodies worked well together
Making many children.
We lived a while.

On my last day
My oldest son told me
He would bring me back,
And that I would bring him back,
In turn,
For we are all fathers and mothers,
Sisters and brothers,
Since the beginning of everything,
When every stone could sing.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Sweeper Man


When it rains,
At last the rain,
He goes to his secret place
Behind the dumpster
And gets his broom,
Old, worn and stiff
But still good for sweeping the water on its way.

He sweeps the gutters,
Sweeps trash and leaves into the river’s flow,
Sweeps the water,
Speeding the motion,
The sound.

He is a tool of nature,
Called by God
To do this work,
To help with the cleansing,
The cleansing of it all.

Standing near a busy intersection
He works
And the sound of his furious sweeping echoes.
He is not self-conscious,
He is proud of his job,
Called at last in this year of drought,
Called to do this work.

An underfed scarecrow of indeterminate age,
Eyes ablaze with obsession,
Leather face taught with purpose,
He wears a long, dark coat,
So wet and wetter,
A woolen cap with ear flaps,
And galoshes — galoshes!
Where on Earth did he get those yellow galoshes?

There is too little rain in this place
To wait for rain
And so he sweeps whenever he is called,
But it is futile, desperate work
When all is dust and dirt and dust.

Nevermind,
For the drought is over today,
At last,
And God has called him
To help with the cleansing,
The washing away,
All the jumbled years,
The wandering days,
The frightened nights
Trying to sleep,
To sleep and dream
His favorite dream
Of a world washed clean,
A world swept clean,
Everyone and everything
Starting over again.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Still Dreaming


Acquisitive by nature,
And nurture,
My inclination is to possess,
Especially in matters of love,
Especially romantic love,
Especially you,
But I am defeated by depth,
By the depth of my love for you,
Love beyond selfishness,
Love for who you are without me,
Who you must be without me,
Without me,
This relentless romantic,
Still dreaming of you
With (almost) no hope.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Letting Go


When my son was small
We were walking through a great crowd,
In my dream,
And I felt his little fingers slip
From my hand
And he was swallowed up by the world.

Sometimes, I still take his hand
To make that connection
Between boy and man,
To know he is still safe
In this dangerous place.

But he is so much older now
And feels awkward,
Embarrassed by the act,
And because I understand
The boy is not the man,
I let go.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Speed Of Regret


I can’t quite believe
All these lovely young women
Will grow old so soon
And lose what they labored
So long to possess,
What these ravenous young men
Long to devour.

In less time than they'd guess,
In less time than they’ll know,
With the speed of regret
All the young years go.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Time Keeper


I am the one who turns back time
This chilly gray morning
While wife and children slumber
In the hibernation of Sunday.

I sneak like a tooth fairy
From room to room,
Setting back clocks,
Slipping another hour of sleep
Silently under their pillows,
Hastening the darkening of a season
Already too dark for my timeless soul.


~ 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

Speak To Me Now!


I will not pretend to admire
The esteemed poets of my day.
I do not understand
What they are trying not to say.

My life is too short for such pretense,
I’m growing older every day.
Poets speak to me now!
Or I will cast your words away.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Inside


Inside,
This is where heaven and hell reside,
Where propriety has scant power
To temper the onslaught of extremes,
Where rationality is fleeting,
And the soul, with its accumulations,
Is all.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Spared


A plane crashed in the Ukraine
And here in California the film is on television,
The smoldering wreckage displayed
While the announcer says,
No survivors.

It is a big world
And thousands upon thousands are dying,
Disease, famine and war.

A plane crashed in the Ukraine
And I can no longer separate
One tragedy from another,
The television so full of tragedy
All day long.

I turn it off and breathe deeply,
Trying to clear my thoughts,
Trying to remind myself
This world is also full of joy,
Thousands upon thousands,
Spared.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Somewhere There Is A Boy


Somewhere there is a boy
Dreaming of a horse,
A horse of his own,
A chestnut stallion,
A part of his soul,
A horse he would ride
Through fields and meadows,
Through shadowed woods,
A horse he would greet each morning,
Spend all day with,
Kiss goodnight.

Somewhere there is a boy
Dreaming of horse,
A horse like the one I see here,
Standing in a muddy pen,
Looking wistfully out at me
As I walk by,
This horse,
Alone all day long,
Dreaming of a boy.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Sometimes When I Sleep


Sometimes when I sleep
I go so far away,
When I wake up
I have to remind myself
I cannot fly
And 11 is a number.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Sometimes I See You


Sometimes I see you
Walking down the sidewalk,
Keeping your little children near and safe,
Or in the supermarket,
Selecting your purchases carefully
For a demanding family,
Or driving by fast,
In a hurry to complete your daily errands.

Sometimes I see you.
Sometimes you see me.
Sometimes we look at each other and recognize,
Something,
Something never meant to be.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Evolution


Feeling the hot breath of the baboon
On the back of the neck,
We overindulged in the refuge of civilization,
Denied being animal at all,
As if inseminated, incubated and initiated
In a place somehow apart from this Earth.

Now we live in a disillusioned age,
Tired of manners, morals and inhibitions,
Tired of orderly existence
In ghettos of steel, cement, glass and plastic.

The restless stirrings of things within us
That have no mind
Scare us no longer.
They lead us,
And our children hunger for raw meat,
Animal again.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Angels Can Only Do So Much


Angels can only do so much,
Depending on their age, experience and motivation,
Intercession not being as easy as one might suppose.

Consider political upheavals.
Consider natural disasters.
Angels can only do so much.

And there is considerable reluctance among the winged
To capriciously alter the course of human events,
Knowing how motivational calamity can be,
What with all the problem-solving it requires,
Knowing how the evolution of the human race
Is enhanced by a few obstacles now and then.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

This Politician


The solemn occasion,
The honored dead,
The grief of a nation assembled in memoriam.

The earnest words,
The inspired speech delivered by this politician,
A showcase of compassion
Cleverly constructed by his speechwriters
To magnify his public image.

O the tortured expressions of sorrow.
Yes, he feels our pain,
Yes, he casts his humanity out upon our weary nation,
A nation so desperately in need of a leader.

This politician presents himself,
Offers himself,
This humble servant of the people,
This shepherd,
Eager to employ the suffering of a nation
To his own ends.

Those skeptics among us,
Aware of his grandiose disingenuousness,
Can not,
Will not forget how many lies he has spoken,
Winning so many earnest hearts and minds
With such sanctimonious deceit.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Sometimes


Sometimes,
I am a moth flying aimlessly through the dark,
Lost,
Searching for light.

Sometimes,
I am a humming bird flying from flower to flower,
Drinking sweet nectar,
Bathed in sunshine.

Most of the time
I am something else.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved