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

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