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


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,
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,
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


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


It was too hot for a week,
Another week,
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,
Knowing all its lovely leaves will soon be gone,
First autumn,
The slow sleep of winter coming on.

~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved


After the hardhearted words,
After they are all spoken,
The impassioned phrases
So proudly pronounced
During love’s disillusioned duel
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


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


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


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,
That eternal absence that embraces all,
Kitty leaps from my lap,
Pads daintily across the room,
Sits on her haunches
And stares at the corner of a wall,
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,
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,

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

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

Navigating your way through perilous seas,
Tossed and buffeted by the storm,
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,

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,

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.

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.
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,

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,

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,
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.

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


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


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,

~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved