Dream-Killer


Take this dream,
Go ahead,
Take it and break it.
That’s what you’re good at
Mister Real World.
You take little dreams
Before they have a chance to grow
And scare them back into dark places
With your swagger and bluster.
You flail them with reason
And bludgeon them with precedent.

Scorn,
Derision,
Intimidation,
Unleashed!
Until at last the little dream,
Stilled and silent,
Dies.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Future Past


Our past was once the future,
Many years away from the melancholy glaze of reverence,
Many years away from the hallowed ground of institutionalization,
Feared by some,
Despised by others,
A threat to sacred rituals,
The demonized specter of change.

Those comfortable now in sameness,
Defenders of static conformity,
They might be hailed as visionaries
Were they catapulted back into antiquity
With beliefs and convictions intact,
Or perhaps burned at the stake.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

A Door Opens, A Door Closes


A door that was open,
Closes,
It fades into the wall,
Becomes the wall,
And you realize
You will never be
On the other side
Of that wall,
The other side
Where everything is different,
In the land of What Could Have Been.

Or maybe you walked through that door,
And then it closed,
Faded into the wall,
Became the wall,
And now you realize
You can never get back
To the other side
Of that wall,
The other side
Where everything was really okay after all,
Back in the land of Leave Well Enough Alone.

A door opens,
A door closes.



~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Compromised


The people I am
Contend.

The adult disciplines the child,
The child disdains the adult,
One too wild and unrestrained,
The other too boring and slow.

The lover resents the married man
So predictably encased in rote and routine behaviors.
The married man rejects the lover
So impulsively surrendering reason to emotion.

So many people I’ve been,
All contesting for dominance,
Not one even slightly satisfied with the mandatory compromise
That is this single human being.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Every Damn Day


OK,
So there is no Santa Claus
And there’s no Santa Claus god,
Because even though my neighbor with the new Mercedes
Swears God personally wanted him to have that car,
There’s all these little children,
Stricken,
Suffering,
Dying in droves.

So,
God says,
“You’re on your own Earthlings!”
But still we pray for just a little advice,
A hot tip:
“Come on God, just a hint?”
And maybe you get a revelation.

Me,
I just get a headache,
And no matter how hard I try
It’s the same old me,
Every damn day,
Still trying to have a meaningful conversation
With God.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Gifts Of Christmas


1.

A gift,
For me?
Oh you shouldn’t have!

Is it really a selfless expression of your affection?
A gesture of love?
Or an obligation?

Is it genuine?

Does your gift reflect who you think I am?
Who you think I should be?
Perhaps it’s more about who you are,
Who you want me to think you are.

Is it an object of serious intention?
Designed to awaken?
To arouse?
To cause a reaction?
Or is it just for fun,
A playful reminder of the inner child?

Am I taking this too seriously?
Giving too much thought
To what is impersonal?
Is it merely generic?
A gift that says:
We are not close.

Did you wrap it yourself?
With your best paper?
Or was it the tail end of your least favorite roll,
Reserved for those who do not matter?

Have you actually touched this present,
Or did someone else purchase and wrap it for you?
Did it come by mail from a warehouse?


2.

Will those I love most
Disappoint me with thoughtlessness,
Or will I bask in the warmth of their intentions,
However artfully or clumsily conveyed?

Will my more slow-witted relatives
Prove true to my expectations?
Will the superior intelligence of others
Be clearly demonstrated
And make me feel stupid
For the lack of imagination my gifts reveal?

Will the ego of the gift-giver
Overshadow the generosity of the gift?
Or will the giver’s inferiority complex be manifest,
So sadly displayed by the soullessness of what is given?

Will the gift be of use, of value,
Or merely a cheap trifle soon discarded,
Donated to the local thrift shop?

Perhaps the most important gift of all will be absent,
The gift from the one I love most.

Or perhaps after all the wrapping is cleared away,
When the communal ceremony has ceased
And the gift-givers dispersed,
I will steal away to some private place
And press my lips to the gift I treasure above all,
It’s meaning so fervently constructed,
Without form.



~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

On Christmas Day


Whose birth do we celebrate on this day?
The living embodiment of God?
The only one?

What about you?
What about me?

Even the tiniest blade of grass struggles toward the light.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

What Next?


Amphibians,
No so long ago.

What next?

More than what we make,
What we own.
Something undiscovered
About what we are,
What we might be,
Without device.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Do You Remember?


~ for Plato

Before words,
Before explanations,
Before memory,
Before appearances,
Before reactions,
Before culture,
Before environment,
Before your body,
Before your parents,
Before all your generations,
Before all of us,
Before everything,
Remember?

Do you remember?


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Do Not Know


Look backward,
Look forward,
Then,
Know,
Then,
Do not know.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Discarded Lovers


We are discarded lovers,
Wandering the streets,
Our heads hung down,
Too discouraged to look anyone in the eye.

We try to keep busy,
Always something to do,
Another task to complete,
To cover up the absence.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Dictionary


A word
Silently waits.

Pages are turning,
Closer.

Blazing white light,
Sweet warm breath,
Blinking blue eyes.

Finger!


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Deus Ex Machina


They’ve read all the big fat important books
And they want you to know,
You ain’t nobody
Until you know what they know.

Here on planet Earth
They think there are rules about these things,
And they want you to know,
You ain’t nobody
Until you follow the rules.

I say to hell with the whole damn bunch of ‘em.
Let ‘em stew in their own pot.
After all,
We ain’t talkin’ about somethin’
You could fit inside a test tube
Anyhow.

And just who was it exactly who appointed them
To tell me what to think?

You can give ‘em all Pulitzer prizes
‘Til you’re blue in the face
But that don’t mean nothin’ to me.

I don’t have to spend my entire life in the library
To know they just made it all up.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Definitions


We believe in definitions
Of definitions
Ad nauseum,
Alas.

We must have words,
But we layer our meanings
Like a hero sandwich,
Too big to get into the brain.

We forget the essential fact,
While labeling the labels
With the contrived clichés
Of the moment.

We have all become
So incredibly clever
We no longer know
How to tie our shoes.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Decisions


All the hours of anticipation,
The preparations,
Imagining his face,
His eyes,
So close.

You will wear your special perfume,
The dress that reveals the curve of your breasts.
You will touch his cheek with the palm of your hand
And say,
And say,
And say?


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

All This Eternity


Some pray for wisdom
And go mad.

Some pray for health
And are struck down.

Some pray for love
And are left alone.

Some pray for peace
And do not live to see it.

All this eternity
Will level things out someday.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Deathbed View


No device,
No contriving,
No high-minded shuffling
And reshuffling of language
Into passages only the literati can decipher.

No wile,
No wordplay,
No conceptual crossword puzzles
Demonstrating my keen intelligence
And desire to be admired.

Awakened by mortality,
I have a deathbed view,
And those most ordinary of subjects
Such as love,
People,
The day at hand,
Are the only subjects that matter,
Really matter.

Life itself, that is.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Love Songs


You’re way too sophisticated for love songs
And roll your eyes at all the familiar phrases,
The clichéd expressions of romantic euphoria,
The saccharin melodies of longing and desolation.

It’s been a long time since you fell in love,
If ever,
The kind of falling that has no end,
No reason,
No control.

You think yourself too mature for such adolescence,
Such fairy tales.

But if you’ve loved a princess
And lost a princess,
Only the inarticulate language of a love song
Can speak to your broken heart,
And every word rings true.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Dear Children


Dear children,
We encourage you to try
What we never tried,
But we must caution you
About what we have done.

That is,
We would warn you about trying
What we tried in vain.

You see,
Dear children,
We want you to succeed where we failed,
But we also want you to avoid our mistakes
And be safe,
Though as the years wander by
We must confess some regret
About being a little too safe.

We want you to be successful,
But do remember what seems like success
May turn out to be failure in disguise.

So,
Go boldly ahead,
We advise,
But do be careful.
You will regret never having taken a chance,
But if you risk everything
You may be throwing your lives away.

In other words,
This is the real world
And there is absolutely nothing
Your parents can do
About it.



~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Killer Angels


I can see it now,
Heaven on Earth,
Finally,
Humankind evolved,
Enlightened beings,
Killer angels
Executing sinners,
Just like we do now.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Haunted


Something moves
Within these walls,
Something,
Here,
Now,
With me,
In this room.

I fear this sorrow,
This dark, thick melancholy,
Singing ragged and out of tune,
Stuck,
Obsessed,
Familiar.

Something moves
Within,
Something,
Here,
Now,
A face in the mirror
That knows me,
That is not mine.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Dead


How often has it been said
Of the dead,
They would not have the dearly undeparted
Suffer undue grief.

They would have us renewed with joy,
After an appropriate mourning,
Reaffirming the gift of our daily existence
With fond reminiscences.

Will the dead never let us go?


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Dark Age


Can I do anything with a word when the world is sparking through wires and cables and atmosphere crackling on screens drawing current from electrochemical Homo sapiens?

Can I do anything with a word when the chemicals come so easy and hit so hard and run so fast and shoot so high and last so long?

Can I do anything with a word when art is for intellectuals and commoners are jettisoned to their easy pulp?

Can I find a word that will cut through meanness and shame power lust and inspire the meek and disable the unjust and pull the disguise off everyday life?

What can I do when I am tortured by the mind and bleeding from the heart and enslaved by the logical and brainwashed by the desirable and distracted by discourse and people are dying in droves and killing is a political option and this is the real world and Jesus has already come and gone and the kind-hearted are cheated and the vicious are prosperous and I am honest by accident and duplicitous by nature and into the night I lie awake searching for a word.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Cure


I am used to distress
I will not take the cure
Of the even-tempered life
Lobotomized and pure.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Knowing Changes Everything


Sure,
Falling in love is easy,
It happens
And happens.
But at some point,
You’ve got to make your own way,
Make your own way in this world.
At some point,
You’ve got to demand a little respect,
Demand a little respect from this world.
At some point,
You don’t give in,
Don’t give in.

At some point,
You are the boss,
The boss of yourself,
And the very idea of falling head over heels
In love,
Becomes ludicrous.
The very idea of surrendering your soul
To love,
Becomes ridiculous.

You know better now,
And knowing changes everything.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Criminals


How they laugh,
How they swagger,
How they talk as tough as death.

How they stare you down,
Until they are in custody,
Then how their lawyers expound
The tragedies of their rudderless lives,
What honest and honorable souls
They could have been
And with just one more chance,
Still could be.

I read the newspaper accounts,
Their unhappy childhoods,
And laugh.

They were always the rough ones
Who made childhood unhappy,
Who stained innocence with threat,
With violence,
These practitioners of unchecked power.

Were this another age,
They would conquer nations.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Still Too Young


I remember the shock,
Seeing the lifeless brown bird
So still on the ground,
The blank, clouded eye
That could not see,
The unmoving feathers,
The crooked wings
Never again to lift this silent sparrow
Up, up and up into the air.

So this is death,
I thought.
Falling, falling and falling
From the top of the tallest tree,
Still too young to realize
Death would someday come for me.



~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

A Cricket In Paris


It is a sultry summer night
And the chirp of a cricket in my garage
Reminds me of Paris,
Where I’ve never been,
And despite my sedentary life,
How lucky I am
I was not born a cricket,
Although I suppose being a cricket in Paris
Is quite a different thing altogether.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Her Best Lesson


My fifth grade teacher was angry.
She thought I was hopeless,
Making the class erupt in laughter with some odd remark
Only a twelve-year-old boy could concoct
While she attempted to pass on some measure of insight
About the War of 1812.

It was but one of a long line of transgressions
I’d committed that school year,
Dedicated as I was to the disruption of order,
So militantly enforced at my small, private school.

Perhaps because she was newly transplanted from England
Where boarding school boys were more compliant,
Her distress at my behavior was so inflamed,
Inspired, even.
After the classroom laughter subsided,
After a measured silence,
With grave solemnity she declared:
Pearls before swine. Pearls before swine!

She was not the first teacher I’d driven to extremes,
But one of the most memorable,
Thanks to her vivid condemnation.

I can still see her, flinging strings of exquisite pearls into the mud
Where corpulent pigs, grunting and snorting,
Trample them beneath their hooves.

It was her best lesson,
Her only lesson I remember,
Something about saying what you really mean,
Something about honesty.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Slipping


Things slip away,
Things I meant to do.

There,
In an old shoebox.
There,
In a dusty, cobweb-covered corner of the garage.
There,
In a cupboard too high to reach without a stepping stool,
All the things I meant to do,
Layers of things,
Saved, for some purpose.

It’s not a single thing anymore
Or even a handful of things I’ve neglected.
It’s a metastasizing percentage of my life,
Overshadowing my days.

Now it’s the fight to stay awake,
Regardless of what I can or cannot do,
To stay awake and remember.
Remember,
The anticipation of joy.
Remember,
The adrenaline of hope.
Remember,
The comforting reassurance that the future is long
And without end.

Summer has passed
And I did not hear the coyotes singing down the sun,
Calling to one another with cries full of energy and expectation,
Raw with excitement for the hunt,
Echoing along the hillside trail where I once walked each evening,
Now among my neglected habits.

I must reclaim,
Something,
Reassemble some of the forgotten pieces,
Retrace my steps.
So I return to the trail
But the distance is longer now,
The incline, steeper,
The steps, multiplied.

I turn back.

It’s almost dark as I finally make my way home.
A bat whisks by my face,
Its blurry, angular shape visible for only a moment,
But the image imprints like the flash of lightning in a black sky.
The sharp chill of night air stings my cheeks
As I return to the safety of neighborhood sidewalks.
A cottontail bunny scurries across a manicured yard,
From bush to bush.
A man in the yellow light of his garage searches through a toolbox,
And in the distance,
The whirring, droning sound of freeway traffic,
Thousands upon thousands,
Rushing toward some kind of future I can no longer imagine.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Contestants


Just another species
We are
The manipulators,
The malcontents
We are
The controllers of an uncontrollable world,
A world that will rise up against us someday
And end all this tinkering,
Making room for the next
Contestants.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Consider


Although you swear God has intervened,
Protected you,
(Or was it angels?)
Stop your self-righteous certainty
For a moment.

Consider all the children
Who die each day,
Each year,
Since the beginning.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Art


It is a half-filled aquarium
With three basketballs floating inside,
On a pedestal,
Next to a young man in uniform,
A museum guard
Staring with scarcely disguised disdain
At the museumgoers
Who stare with scarcely disguised bemusement
At the exhibit.

Some laugh and shake their heads,
Cast a lingering glance at the guard as if to ask:
Is this a joke?

But most give indifferent deference
To the buoyant rubber orbs,
Assuming the exhibit must be fraught with meaning,
Seeing as how it’s on a pedestal,
In an art museum.

The young museum guard who never went to college
Directs his dispassionate gaze
From observers to the observed,
Certain he could make something,
Anything,
Better.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

This Great Gift


When the end of things finally came
We rejoiced.
The end of sadness,
Of hate,
Of despair.
But then rejoicing also came to an end,
For it was the end of all things,
The end of joy,
Of love,
Of hope.

When the end of all things was finally finished,
We were struck blind and deaf,
Mute,
Without the discriminating power,
Without time or temporality,
Blank.
Then we ceased to exist,
For it was the end of everything.

Now we are back,
Complaining again,
Believing in the possibility of utopia,
Working to put an end to all that is unjust,
This great gift of contention once again begun,
Still unfinished,
This great gift of life.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Enchanted Princess


She is glowing
And her light penetrates me,
Fills me with unexplainable joy.

She dances playfully around my soul
And I am awakened,
Enchanted.
All is love beyond love.

She has placed a diamond in my heart.

I do not understand the blind
Who cannot see her,
Who see only another pretty girl,
An object to possess,
To label and put into some convenient category.

It weighs on her fragile heart
That anyone should expect her to live
An ordinary life,
This enchanted princess,
Surrounded by so much that is ordinary,
This enchanted princess,
So ready for the magic to begin.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Sally Sleeps


Sally sleeps soundly upon my lap,
Dreaming the dreams of a kitty-cat,
Of stalking small birds with a stealthy creep
While I recall scenes from my fitful sleep.

Climbing a mountain so terribly tall,
Losing my footing in a plunging fall,
Falling through guilt, through confusion and strife,
Waking in a sweat, reclaiming my life.

Such is the nature of my human mind,
That I must engage in distress of this kind,
While Sally sleeps here upon my lap,
Dreaming the dreams of a kitty-cat.



~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

This Word


The dizziness came on so bad
I figured I’d better write something down
Before I fell down dead,
Something important,
The most important thing.

I took out my pen
And wrote this word:

Infinity.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

One Last Winding


One last winding
Before the clock runs down.
Not the end of time,
Just the end of this single, solitary clock,
No one left to wind it again.

One last winding,
Another day or two or three
Before the winder ceases to be,
Not the end of time,
Just the end of me.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Things


Cars are lined up in back of the Goodwill store.
Can’t give it away fast enough.

We commemorate our lives with trinkets,
Making memory concrete,
Memory placed on a shelf,
Eventually ignored,
Finally discarded.

“I wonder,” ponders Mr. Emeritus,
“If my sons would find meaning in these things?”
Looking at a row of commemorative coffee mugs,
Each representing an achievement,
A significant moment
Anchored in time.

His thoughts return to when his mother died,
So many years alone in that big house
Filled with the ephemera of a long life,
A life rooted in poverty,
Making everything valuable,
Every thing potentially useful.

He remembers the agony of sorting through it all,
Deciding which memories to save,
Which memories to give away.

“An entire life is too much to preserve,” he reasons,
Surveying his possessions,
Calculating his lifespan.

“It’s enough to have lived,” Mr. Emeritus concludes,
Saving what he must,
Letting go of the rest.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Connected


The reason
Why your busy ambitions
Amuse,
Is connected to
The reason
Why I sit outside this evening
In an old lawn chair,
Fanning away insects
And the gentle breeze of thought.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Conditional


Waiting,
Listening,
Praying for divine guidance,
As long as the holy message
Conforms
With certain theological predilections
And does not require
Too much humility.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Still Human


Sometimes I can go nearly a week
Inflating my illusion of self-importance,
Transcendent benefactor to mankind that I am.

My uninterrupted enlightenment,
Liberated at last from the squalor of human ignorance.

Then one afternoon,
Walking down a busy city sidewalk,
My nose begins to tickle.

I am seized by a sneeze
And I’ve forgotten my handkerchief.

I quickly cover my nose with my hand
Which becomes coated with mucous
Dripping from my nostrils.

Wondering what to do next,
I feel another sneeze coming on.

Ah yes, still human.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Clock Strikes Three


The sound of an old clock,
The rhythm of the pendulum,
The striking of a tiny hammer
Against a metal coil.
The lonely hours after midnight.

The memory of your touch,
Warm,
Gentle, yet firm,
Hungry.
You penetrate my soul.

The clock strikes three.
I am wide awake with longing
For your fingers on my skin.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Clearing


Yes,
I know,
These words are not enough
To describe the longings of the heart,
To diminish the entanglements of our lives
That too often strangle our finer emotions.

These words are not enough.

We need to find our way
To a clearing in the forest,
To walk into the light with arms outstretched,
To remember.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Civilization


The feast of a new day
Is laid out before me,
Yet all I can think about
Is my insatiable hunger
For more.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Suburban Twilight


Suburban twilight,
Punctuated by porch lights
Welcoming weary workers home.

“Hello darling,”
She says,
“I missed you,”
Her bare shoulders
Framed by the thin straps,
Too loose,
Of her tiny, translucent dress.

This never happened to me.

A bunch of soccer ball boys,
Too young to go on a date,
Stand together in a jagged circle
On a grass-dirt field
While their parents lie to each other
About nothing in particular,
Waiting for the game to begin.

Back on the boulevard
Commuters swim upstream,
Fighting their way back
To the suburban spawning grounds
For a few hours of fun
Before it all shuts down in sleep,
And regret.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Confessional


She comes when her heart is wounded,
When the balance between joy and sorrow is lost.
She is bereft,
Overwhelmed by tragedy,
An empty vessel I will fill with inspired words.

I throw her a lifeline,
Pulling her from the tempest,
Back to the land of the living
Where sadness can be borne.

I give her a candle,
Lit with the flickering flame of hope.

She is like so many who bring me their pain,
Seeking something they cannot name.

The fortunate find healing,
Recover a tenuous equilibrium,
Less vulnerable,
More guarded and reserved in expression,
Closing the window against the chill wind of doubt.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

This Muse


When it happens,
Whatever you call it,
Love,
Lust,
Infatuation,
Temporary insanity,
This muse pushes all others aside.
She is possessive,
Demanding my full attention,
Even when I’m exhausted and trying to sleep.
She is the muse of desire and will not rest.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Chosen


God has been good to you,
You say,
Helped you succeed,
Helped you prosper.

I wonder why
God pays so much attention
To you
And leaves the prayers of so many millions
Unanswered?


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

A Chance


O yeah you can laugh
At what you think is my naiveté,
All this wishing desiring hoping,
These few shreds of faith,
Faith in something vaguely reassuring.

O yeah I wanna be reassured all right
Cause death comes no matter what you think,
No matter what you plan or decide,
No matter what kind of deal you think you’ve made,
Death comes and rips you loose from this life
Without any consideration at all.

O yeah I’ve gotta believe there’s a chance
That I can rise above all the despair,
All this darkness always pushing,
Pushing against something so simple,
So simple as a sunny disposition.

O yeah I’ve seen ‘em,
People who take life’s knocks
And still smile as an unconscious reflex,
Something maybe about the way they were raised,
Something genetic,
Something maybe about luck.

Whatever it is I want a piece of that
And I don’t care how unsophisticated I look
Or how naïve you think I am.
I just don’t care
Because death comes no matter what you think
And I just gotta get rid of this fear
While I still have a chance.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Appreciation


Sure, modern life has its problems
And I can line up as many complaints as the next guy,
But on the other hand,
There is my indoor plumbing to consider.

I can’t help but appreciate the fact that every time I flush,
Somebody else takes care of the rest.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Sunday


Sunday, oh yes it’s Sunday

Cool, a cool breeze

Fall, it feels like Fall

Riding on the edge

Of the wind

Of the light

Through my open window.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

I Remember You


This is for the old men,
The old women too,
Who die so old,
Nobody left who remembers
When they were young and strong.

Nobody left
To come to the chapel,
To bear witness
And say: This was my friend.

Nobody left
Except one or two
Who read the notice in the newspaper,
Who whisper to themselves,
I remember you.



~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Seasonal


The heat has passed.

Spring,
An old dream.

Summer,
Gone.

An afternoon breeze
Rattles the precarious leaves,
Shuffles the fallen,
Whispering:
Winter is coming,
Winter is coming.

Two sun-colored sulfur butterflies soar and dive,
Their movements mirrored in amorous acrobatics.
Or is it combat?

I’d like to think it’s passion,
Passion made urgent by the fading light.
These rice-paper-winged creatures,
In terpsichorean surrender to the fleeting moment,
One last ecstasy before everything changes.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Still, I Seek You


O my love you are a constant presence,
Yet incorporeal.
You have inhabited those I’ve loved,
Awakened me when love is new.

Alas, the petty practicalities of this world
Overwhelm and smother
And your instrument is muted.

I am human and often distracted,
But I have never expelled you from my heart.
Still, I seek you.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

This Fragile Light


This fragile light
Warms,
Sings,
Breathes into me,
Awakens this child,
So long asleep.

Can I stay in this fragile light?
Can I stay?


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Courting


If he only knew
How hard she worked to be pretty for him,
Eagerly awaiting his arrival each morning,
Watching the parking lot through the office window,
Then walking down the hall for nothing in particular
So he would see her when he walked in,
See her long, ebony hair
Falling in graceful curls and waves over her shoulders
Across her finely sculpted collarbones,
See her all the way down
To her exquisitely proportioned pale pink toes.

It was meant to be.

She’d been on his busy, distracted mind
More and more lately,
When this morning she walked down the hall
Blurring past busy cubicles,
Fast enough to ripple her diaphanous plum and apricot dress
Just as he entered the office,
Struck by this sudden vision,
This annunciation.

Awakened by her focused, concentrated beauty
Washing over him like a wave,
He speaks,
And it all begins.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

This Morning


Why only this morning
I saw a robin
Poking the grassy earth
Around the wide trunk
Of an ancient oak.

She soon had a fat grub
Wriggling in her beak
And rose into the air
Far above the trees
Faster than my breath.

Why only this morning
I saw a young boy
Walking with his mother
Down a sunlit street
Singing without words.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Casual Observer


for Cheryl

“There is no joy,”
The older man says,
Revealing his casual observation
To his young younger female companion,
Sitting a little too close
In a restaurant booth,
Thinking I will not hear
My condemnation
As I sit nearby,
After a difficult day,
Having a little sustenance
With my wife.

Married thirty years
We have endured many joyless days,
Endured suffering,
Anger
And despair.

The young younger female companion,
Pulled even closer,
Looks into the depths of his wrinkles,
Measures the sag of his neck
And ponders the arrangement.
He smells like her father.

His haphazardly shaved face is rough
And scratches her cheek.
Her body stiffens.
She has visions of long hospital hallways,
A tube in his nose,
A stainless steel tray filled with medicine bottles.

“You can see it in the eyes,”
He says with wine-induced indiscretion,
“No joy,”
Sure that he has everything,
At last.

We leave the restaurant
And walk our nightly walk
Past houses filled with television.

We are predictable,
Becoming set in our ways,
So much quieter now.

We hold hands as we walk
Down dimly lit sidewalks among ancient trees
Who also have a certain understated passion for life,
Often unnoticed by the casual observer.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

I Honor You


I honor you,
Your years of suffering,
Your endurance,
Your victory over injustice.

I honor you,
And with such honoring
I borrow,
I appropriate a modest share of your luminescence.

Moving out of the shadows
Into the circumference of your light,
From the safety of my comfortable life,
I honor you.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Living Still


In those fire-lit caves
We painted
The fearsome power of the mammoth,
The intrepid speed of horses,
The courage of our hunters.

In the chilly, flickering firelight
The images came alive.
We watched them with immeasurable joy
That we were the ones,
Living still.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Certainty


The most common coin is certainty
Spoken with authoritarian tone.
It has no use for ambiguity,
It cuts like ice to the bone.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Clocks


I don’t like early mornings
When I’m still asleep.
I don’t like early bedtimes,
Alone and counting sheep.

Why should I pay attention
To all those clocks I see?
I listen to them ticking.
They listen not to me.


~ Russ Allison Loar
~ Writing The Child.com
© All Rights Reserved

I Go With Them


In the early light he asks me
For protection from the world.
He prays for his family,
For his innocence,
For his tortured soul.
He moves closer to me.

He calls me father
But holds no clear image of what I am.
He wants to be a saint,
An artist,
A wealthy man.

His little boy shouts
Daddy, it’s today!
And they are gone,
Plunging into a freshly painted world of play.
I go with them.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Caution


Go ahead,
Throw caution to the wind,
But keep it on a string,
Fly it like a kite,
Boldly.

When winds turn fierce,
Pull in the string,
Bring caution home again
So it will survive
To fly another day.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Inner Child


We were talking about the inner child,
How it never goes away,
How it’s always there,
Waiting for a chance to surface,
Looking for an opening.

O yes, we were definitely bonding,
Reaching back in time,
Shedding inhibitions.

So I spit my gum out at her
And she slapped me across the face.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Children Still


So many wars of religion,
Large and small,
Between countries,
Between people,
Fought over words,
Ideas,
Symbols.

Our words,
Our ideas,
Our symbols,
All of it representative,
Pointing to that which has no form,
No individual vocabulary,
No contrived ideology,
No exclusive theology.

May we all find comfort and healing
In our decorated places of worship,
Our places of heaven
Where we all must cleanse our hearts,
Where we all are children, still.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Heaven Is A Difficult Place


It’s not at all what I expected.

Heaven is a difficult place,
So full of strife and tragedy,
At times I forget where I am,
Here in this place of extremes,
Of contrast,
Where kindness is born of cruelty,
Where love is born of fear,
Where enlightenment is born of ignorance,
Where all possibilities exist,
Darkness and light being what they are.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Cats


Why am I not a god to these cats?
They sit, long-pawed on my driveway
As I approach in the fearsome monster of steel,
Growling and hissing.
But they watch my advance with disinterest,
Half-closed eyes revealing scant concern.
They are used to my comings and goings
And will not move until the last possible moment,
When a tire threatens to brush a whisker,
When I race the engine to give them a start.
They are becoming accustomed to these things as well.

I step from the roughly idling four-door sedan
And pull open the great wall of aluminum garage door,
Letting it fly upward and crash against the frame.
A few furry heads turn in slumberous response,
Then mechanically turn away.
O what will roust them from this languor?

It is the clack and pop of punctured metal,
The grinding drone of the kitchen can opener
That does the trick.
In an instant they have gathered,
A felonious mob at the back-door stoop,
Meowing in feigned, pitiful supplication,
And God will walk among them once more.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Alone


I see them gathering together,
Laughing together,
Belonging,
And I see myself,
Apart,
Separate,
Watching,
A visitor,
So comfortable with rejection,
Too foreign to change,
No longer trying.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Fear


How difficult it must be
For the impoverished to understand
Our disappointment with material wealth,
Our disaffected boredom with affluence,
Our disillusioned fear
That despite having assembled the contents,
This particular heaven we’ve made contains no joy.

How difficult it must be
For the impoverished to understand
That because this particular heaven we’ve made is without joy,
We must therefore conclude that joy is impossible.

How difficult it must be
For the impoverished to understand
That despite all we own,
For some inaccessible reason,
In this time,
In this place,
In this life,
Joy is denied.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

When The Change Comes


When the change comes,
I watch the rise and fall of your chest
And feel your breath within me.

When it comes,
You run your fingers through your hair
And my fingers tremble,
Your hand becomes my hand.
You reach under the neck of your blouse
To scratch your shoulder
And I feel the bone
Beneath your skin.

When it comes,
You move restlessly in your chair,
Propping elbows on knees,
Stretching the contours of your back
And I embrace you.
I feel the tension of your ribs
Pressing against mine,
Though I sit across the room
And do not know your name.

When it comes,
I cannot stop you from leaving this room
Where I am required to stay
And listen to the words of unimportant people
Who are old and ugly
And starved for love,
Like me.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Know Now


(With hillbilly banjo accompaniment)

If I didn’t know what I know now
I wouldn’t know what I know now.

If I didn’t know what I know now
I wouldn’t know what I know now.

If I didn’t know what,
I know now,

I wouldn’t know what,
I know now but,

I know now what,
I didn’t know when,
I didn’t know what I know now.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Ready At Last


O the young years of literature,
Reading “David Copperfield” all the way through
While home from school with the flu,
Wrestling with e.e. cummings
In a musty room at the Avalon Hotel,
A creaky cockroach rooming house for men only,
Converted from a once fashionable seaside establishment.

O the timeless hours
Consuming every extant word, phrase, sentence, paragraph,
Chapter, story, novel,
Letter and biography of renowned literary luminaries,
In-between and in place of university studies,
Earnestly seeking the intellectual armor of being “well read.”

O the stolen moments
Cannibalizing the contents of the canon
During long lunches,
Dimly lit late evenings in a frayed recliner,
Finally free of neighborhood noise
In dusty, paint-peeled rented houses.

O the lost years
Seeking out the esoteric, the hidden and the unsung,
Dutifully sampling the momentarily celebrated
While the demands of job and family
Multiplied like rabbits.

O the accumulation of time,
No longer able to keep up.
The gifts and recommendations,
The purchases,
Filling my bookshelves unread,
Overflowing my bookshelves,
Wedged on top sideways until at last
Placed into boxes,
Into storage.

O this uneventful spring morning.
The weight of all I will never read
Threatens to crush me
As I sit in my most comfortable chair
Listening to the chattering of busy sparrows,
Sipping my second cup of coffee,
Ready at last
To give up.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Epitaph


He was so skilled,
So disciplined in word and deed,
Not a single action betrayed him.
No one ever suspected.

And when he died,
All the things he secretly wanted to do,
All the people he secretly wanted to be,
Died with him.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Something Still Here


Have you ever watched an old movie
And suddenly realized,
All those people
Are dead?

Yet something inside says:
How can this be?

There they are,
Right in front of you,
Living,
Breathing,
Immortal,
Yet perished.
All.

And here we are,
Striving,
As if there is anything in this world
We can anchor ourselves to,
As if we could stop the rising tide of time
That will envelop us all.

Yet something still seems permanent,
Despite all the loved ones come and gone,
Something still here.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Where Will It End?


You’ve learned so much,
The methods,
The craft of attracting men.

Skillfully applied color,
The revealing cut of your clothes,
The shape and fall of your hair,
Each finger,
Each toe,
Perfect.

Your scent,
The arc and pace of your walk,
The lingering glance,
Just long enough to say:
“I am full of mystery.”

How long will you keep this up?

Look at these aging frumpy women,
So unhappy with what they thought they wanted.
What have they surrendered?

Look at their disappointed, disinterested husbands,
Men who invested their lives in illusion,
Now so brazenly inattentive.

Now ask yourself,
What do you really want and what does it mean?
Where will it end?


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Wounds


Some wounds never heal.

The transgressions of youth,
The persistence of folly,
The weakness of moral resolve,
These are painful in remembrance.

The stubborn refusal to admit mistake,
The inability to yield and in such yielding change behavior.
O yes, maturity has come slow,
In fits and starts,
So easily suspended when truly tested.

These wounds are painful to the touch
But the pain does not go deep.

Some wounds never heal.

The loss of a loved one,
The cruelty of suffering,
The arrogance of evil.
These are constant in this world
And penetrate the core of my being.

I would seek an end to this pain,
Yet such an end would require forgetfulness.
I will not erase those I have loved,
Those I have lost,
For they are of my own soul now,
Of my spirit,
My essence.

This is the price I pay
For living in this imperfect world.

Some wounds never heal.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

But Then


After all the years of trial and error
My memories are stained with embarrassment.
Even the most exquisite chapters of my life
Contain paragraphs that can still make me wince.

And so this morning I am resolved,
Resolved to fast from the feast of self-absorption.

But then,
There are these words.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Sing!


There is a path I have traveled,
At least, to look back upon it,
It seems a marked course of some kind,
Even with its irregularities,
It is something as if planned,
A life,
Beginning with postulation,
Ending in conclusion,
Yet certainty escapes my grasp
More often now.

I have ceased to care
Who is right,
Who is wrong.
Life is a song,
Sing!


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Candles All Blown Out


There is much regret in death,
Regret for what I did not say,
Did not do,
Regret for not being there
On the day,
At the moment.

Death happens in a single day,
I tell myself.
The life,
All the days of the life are what’s important,
I tell myself.

But logic cannot reason away
The wounds of the heart.

If only death were like one last birthday.
We’d have a big party,
Everyone would sing,
Then,
The candles all blown out.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Daredevil


I saw some old newsreel footage,
A limber young woman high atop a skyscraper,
A daredevil,
Hanging on to a steel cable with a single hand,
Dangling playfully a thousand feet above the tiny street.

I shuddered.
Something I’d never do,
Knowing the daredevil in me would be sorely tempted
To let go.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Devolution


He was bored,
So bored with routine,
Every morning,
Brushing his teeth,
Making coffee,
Slogging off to work,
To predictable employments.

Then,
Weekend chores,
Social obligations,
So encumbered by family, friends and finance.

The half-slumbering supplicant,
Longing for escape,
His earnest entreaties
Finally heard,
Heard and granted.

Now,
As the first light warms the earth
He drags himself out from under a stone,
Eager to feel the sun against his scales,
The taste of yesterday’s grasshopper
Still lingering on the tongue.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Secrets Of The House


I keep the secrets of the house
Hidden from my family,
Its flaws,
Its persistent decay.

I preserve the illusion of home
As an inviolable sanctuary,
Impervious to entropy.

I alone know the truth:

The rusted screws broken off in their screw holes.
The corroded plumbing improvised into temporary compliance.
The imperceptible but certain slope of the living room floor.
Sagging timbers in dark places steadily pulling apart
Under the weight of an aging roof
That funnels rain into inaccessible attic corners,
Growing mold.
Clumps of unidentifiable wiring.
Termite dust.
Splintered rotting fence boards
A strong wind away from collapse.
The stealthy hairline cracking of cement.
The blister and peel of paint.
The bacteria count of the carpet.

I dare not continue.

I keep the secrets of the house
Hidden from my family,
Pretending we will all live forever,
One day at a time.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Too Late


Ah yes,
Just before it all slips away,
The realization comes.
How beautiful!

Too late,
Too late.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Older Men


Older men want to be young again
So they fall in love with beautiful young girls,
Believing they can again be new,
Undetermined,
Free from the consequence of years,
Reborn.

Forgive them.
It is their last adolescence.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Never Far


When love embraces trust,
I slowly surrender my polished persona
And show my scars,
Even those self-inflicted,
Especially those self-inflicted.

Yes,
I too am a human being,
I say.

The wounded child,
Never far from the surface.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Coyotes


And the coyotes sang a juicy-cat song,
Leaving their secret places in the foothills,
Following scent trails scattered by the warm Santa Ana wind,
Softly padding together through the maze of asphalt,
Defying the logic of cul-de-sacs,
Then,
Suddenly glad,
So glad to be together
Beneath the tree-shaded suburban street lights,
So happy to be together in the adventure,
Spiriting the neighborhoods of the hairless ones
Who wear clothing.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Call It Poetry


Go ahead,
Call it poetry,
I suppose you’ve got to call it something,
But I’m just talking,
Talking to you,
Telling you as sincerely as I can
What is in my heart
And in my mind,
Trying to strip these words and thoughts
Of pretense,
As best I can,
Not concerned about literary theory,
Just concerned about this life,
This life we are actually living,
Day by day.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Busy


We are trained by the world
To keep busy,
Never stop for too long
Without feeling guilty,
Guilty of not getting something done,
Always something more to get done.

We get things done to get things done,
But no matter how many things we get done
We are never done.

Something is missing,
Something is missing,
Something is missing.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Bottomless Pit


Some things never change,
I say,
Such as your stubborn refusal to admit
That change is the one constant of the universe,
Constant change,
That is.

But love is better than hate,
You say,
Will that ever really change?

If you love evil and hate virtue,
I say,
Then someday,
If you are lucky,
You will change and learn to love the good
And hate the bad.

And so the love of goodness,
You say,
Is right and will always be so.
Surely that will never change.

And I say,
Every day,
If we are lucky,
Our understanding of what is good,
Of how to be good,
Will grow,
And growth is change.

But if change is all there is,
You say,
Is not change itself a process
That will never change?

The process of change,
I say,
Is like a fire that consumes
And alters.
Who can say
This fire will never be extinguished?

But if the fire which is constant change
Is someday extinguished,
You say,
Wouldn’t that be the end of change
Once and for all?
And without change what is left?
Constant nothingness?

Or constant somethingness,
I say.
The end of change could be the beginning
Of something quite different indeed,
Something larger,
Beyond our comprehension.

We talk like this
On and on
Into the night,
Trying to reason out the truth of our existence,
Temporarily unaware that we are growing older,
Slipping along toward death,
Moment by moment.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

This House


When this house was new
It practically took care of itself.
I thought newness was a permanent state,
Something easily maintained.

I repaired occasional wear and tear,
Restoring, preserving,
But eventually the patina of age took hold,
Irreversibly.

I reluctantly learned a degree of acceptance,
Trusting the impervious core of this house
To withstand most of the minor disfigurements.

After all,
So many other deteriorating houses still stand,
Still provide shelter,
A place for a life.

Yet the years accumulate
And that which cannot be repaired
Multiplies,
And the once indestructible sheen of youth
Has given way to an aura of infirmity,
Filling my thoughts with apprehension.

Where will I live when this house is gone?


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Who Is Asking?


What is the shape of my mind?
The shape of my spirit?
My soul?

What is my essence?
What does it look like?
Just an image in the mirror?

Who is writing these words?

Am I a collection?
A collection of pain,
Pleasure,
And everything between and beyond?
Am I a receptacle?
Am I both?
Or neither?

And by the way,
Who is asking?


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Old Cat


Asleep in the midday sun
She is curled atop a couch,
Her old chin cushioned on crossed paws.

A truck bangs its frame on a pothole
But the old Siamese does not stir,
Her tail does not twitch.

She is nearly deaf
And her occasional cries are rough and harsh,
Too loud,
Too full of distress for the routine requests they signal.
She is an old, deaf lady
Who can no longer measure the volume of her speech.

She will awaken soon and cry for food
Or cry to be shown to the litter box
In a place she forgets.
In this way she spends her last days,
Sleeping, eating, excreting
And luxuriating
In the gentle touch
Of the warm hand
That startles her from sleep.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Boundaries Of Heaven


We draw the boundaries of heaven
Around the spaces of ourselves,
Marked off by threat
And bluster,
As if heaven were a place
Unwelcome.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Mystery


When the temporal world turns against you
It’s hard to sustain faith in the eternal,
To embrace the mystery.

Some say our bodies create our minds,
That our sense of a soul,
A spirit,
Is but an illusion created by our physical existence.
But do we not struggle in this life
Between physical desire and spiritual aspiration?
Why would our minds invent such torment?

The cruelties of existence so often extinguish hope,
The fuel of imagination and inspiration
That calls us to dream,
And to bring our dreams out of the ether,
Into our everyday lives.

Sophisticates reason away spiritual inclinations,
For they are blessed with fortune and purpose.
But this too shall pass
And each of us shall be reduced,
Left for a moment,
Or an eternity,
To enter the heart of the mystery.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Books


Books on my shelves,
So meticulously bought
And placed according to thought.
The lines of their spines
Reproach me
For ignoring them so.
In false phrases of praises
My bookstore ambitions go.

What would I know
If I’d read them all
And with total recall
Could bring forth their voices?
Who would I be with such choices,
With such knowledge tamed
And insights gained?

Would I really be changed
If rearranged
By the genius of my age
And of ages before?
Would I be an amazing sage
Or just another incredible bore?


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Sole Companion


This little cat,
My sole companion now.
I had nearly a dozen once
When my children were children.
Some inside and tame,
Others too wild,
Strays who came for food,
Fearful,
Never close enough to pet.

Some people are dog people,
But for my family
It was always cats,
Arriving suddenly from mysterious circumstances,
Finding refuge where we lived,
An old rented house on a large lot
Next to an acre or more of vegetables,
A vacant barn.

Yes,
They’ll give you food,
The old cats would advise the passing stranger.

Not nearly as much space at the new house.
More neighbors,
Closer neighbors,
And coyotes,
Great horned owls.

One by one they died,
Some of old age,
Some before their time,
The last old lady sleeping, sleeping, sleeping,
Then still.

This little calico cat,
So sick in the city shelter,
I nursed her back,
Old man that I am with time, time, time.

She is my sole companion now,
Giving each hour of the day a purpose.
A window for the morning,
Watching the excitement of birds
Flapping on and off the feeder,
Then backyard inspection
Under my overprotective supervision,
Then inside for a snack
And a day of favorite places at favorite times
Until at last the evening.
No longer nocturnal she pulls her claws,
Curls into a circle and rests.
She chirps as I stroke her fur,
Fur soft as silk from my frequent reassurances
That no matter what may come,
Right now,
All is well.

This little cat,
My sole companion now,
Content to share the warmth of my bed,
The warmth of my body
Against these cold winter nights,
This little cat who contains all the cats I’ve ever known,
All the cats who’ve come,
All the cats who’ve gone.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Meaning And Pretense


I was an old young man
Singing songs of social protest,
Words I did not understand,
Words I had not lived.

I am a young old man now,
Singing songs of uncertainty,
Words I understand,
Words I have lived.

Now I understand the difference between meaning and pretense.
Now I know you’ve got to be honest,
You’ve got to tell the truth to tell the difference.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Procreation


Yes,
Your parents were in love.
Well,
At least in lust.
Believe it.
No matter how ugly and ill-suited to romance they now seem,
There is a reason you were born.
Well,
Perhaps not so much a reason
As an emotion,
Drawing them together,
Fulfilling their destiny to create a new human being,
The latest version of evolution,
You,
The dream made flesh,
You,
You snot-nosed ungrateful twerp!


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Parallel Lust


There may be an infinite number of alternate realities,
According to some theories.
For each of us,
An infinite number of individual existences,
One for each possible action,
Each possible outcome.

And so my love,
Despite your current disinterest in my affections,
You may be my ardent lover in some other life
Where I am the reluctant one,
Though I suspect my eagerness will persist
With all the beautiful yet reluctant women I know,
Each destined to become my consummated soul mate
In some of my more salacious autobiographies.

Meanwhile,
In this particular lifespan,
The unremarkable aspects of my love life,
Continue.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Blur


Something about getting older
Speeds things up,
Something we do to ourselves,
Something we want,
Something we accept,
Something we don’t realize,
Don’t think about
Until the hours take flight,
Passing by like minutes.

Hurry,
Hurry,
Everything is hurried,
Speeded up,
Combined,
Stripped down
Until whole decades pass by
Without meaning.

Blur.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

It Is The Dream That Creates Us


It is the dream that creates us,
However carnal or profane,
However blessed by human charity,
However vengeful or inane.
It is the dream that creates us
And awakens us each day,
And opens a path before us
And sends us on our way.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Tru Blue Gurus


True blue gurus
Tell me who I should be
With such certainty:
Honest, honorable and wise,
Trusting in providence,
Patient with injustice,
Content with my haphazard existence.

Yes, yes,
It is a blessing to be alive,
But endless, underpaid labor
Leaving little opportunity for imagination
Does not engender exuberance.

True blue gurus
Tell me there are no real obstacles,
That mind is the matter,
But here in the world outside my mind
Things can go terribly wrong.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Someday I Will Begin


Always another task at hand,
Superseding vague ambitions of transcendence
With immediacy,
The immediacy of earning money,
Of maintenance demanded by inanimate objects,
Then the hungry pursuit of well-deserved reward,
Focused on the more corporeal aspects of existence.

Yet,
That misty, translucent cloud of angelic eternity still hovers,
Just beyond reach,
Beckoning.

Someday,
(I try to assuage my neglected nobility)
Someday,
(I earnestly promise)
I will begin.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Bliss


You will not let yourself fall in love,
Considering the complete impracticality of the situation.
You will be self-disciplined and wise
And never know bliss,
So brief and troublesome.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Consciousness


Ninety-nine percent of all brain function
Is controlled by the subconscious,
Some scientist recently said.
Only one percent,
Awake.
Only one percent,
Consciously aware.

I suspect his findings are the product of his subconscious.
Who knows what demons linger there,
Concocting their devious formulas,
Their sinister yet consciously undetectable little pranks?
How can I hope to make much sense of it
If my perception is mostly governed by my subconscious?

I ponder this conundrum
As I walk to the library,
My head full of conjecture
As I try in vain to open the library door,
Pulling then pushing,
Exasperated,
Momentarily unaware of the bright red letters:
CLOSED


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Last Day Of Summer


The last long summer day,
The last long summer afternoon,
The orange auburn light of the setting sun,
Hastening my play,
Delay, delay.

The air still and cool,
I am alone,
My friends called home,
Alone and still playing,
Delaying, delaying.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

My First Book of Poets


Who are these people?
Who are these fearsome souls
Whose stern and somber portraits
Grace this slim compilation of poetry?
What place is this?
On what planet are humans exalted so,
Enshrined,
For a few lines of artfully arranged vocabulary?

I was too young to know much about poetry
Beyond the garden and the goose,
But just old enough to be lightning-struck
By the realization that thought,
Apart from action,
Could be so revered.

O those lofty words of those inspired souls,
So tangled and torn in my child mind,
A foreign language driving me to despair
Over my exclusion,
My denial,
My inability.

Then,
A small shaft of light shone through a window.
Then,
I kicked open a door.
Then,
I stumbled upon the words:
I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
Next to this poem a faded photograph,
Sergeant Joyce Kilmer,
Wearing a steel Army helmet,
A doughboy,
“Killed in action, July 30, 1918.”

Compared to the regal majesty of Longfellow,
The bookish bespectacled gaze of Kipling,
This young man with the feminine first name,
With the shadow of death in his last name,
Looked so peaceful and calm in his uniform,
So compassionate, yet resolute.

He was 31 years old when he died
On a barren French battlefield,
A sniper’s bullet in his brain,
Famous for this poem,
“Trees,”
This poem about the limits of poetry,
About the difference between an idea and a living thing.

So many years and poets later,
He has been called too simplistic,
Too sentimental,
Yet so many years and poets later,
It is he,
He who first taught me,
The difference between a poem
And a tree.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

A Game


It takes a lot of luck,
And money,
To discover
That life is just a game.

It seems much more serious
When you’re unlucky
And broke.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Life Of The Mind


The dream remains a dream for most of us
Who gather together in darkened theaters
To experience the dream made flesh,
Who watch television late into the night
To transfuse contemplation,
Who read best-sellers to absorb meaning into memory,
Memory that overshadows,
Muffles our disappointment with the everyday.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Looking Forward


“When hell freezes over!”
My dearly beloved intoned,
Responding to my request for a hot buttered cinnamon roll.

Not an unpleasant thought,
Not at all.
Free of matrimonial bonds
In the realm of human weakness,
Bundled up against the sudden change in climate,
Sipping hot chocolate
While the scent of warm cinnamon
Drifts lazily into my nostrils
From the buffet of frosted pastries.

O yes, when hell freezes over,
Now there’s something to look forward to.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

This


The profound question:
What happens after we die?

What a surprise it would be,
If this,
Was it.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Into The Heart


When we meet,
Something awakens in her,
Something glows.
She is translucent.

Her smile comes easy and lingers.
She feels the urge to stretch and arches her back,
Tossing her long, curly black hair to one side
Of her bare, sculptured shoulders,
Flashing her dark, penetrating eyes,
Looking long and deep into mine,
Weaving her articulate fingers through the coils of her hair,
Inviting me.

She ties a blue and white scarf around her forehead
And becomes someone else,
Showing she can be beautiful in so many ways.

Her burnished olive skin filters the light
And I touch her cheek.

Something ancient and eternal now guides us
Into the heart of night.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Blinding White Light


This blinding white light
Is paralyzing.
I’ve forgotten who I am.
I don’t know what I want.
I’m filled with a wistful panging of pleasure.
I’m wracked with uncertainty.

What is right?
What is wrong?

Only in the beginning
This tempest.
Before things are settled.
Before decisions are made.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Blinded


Walking along the hillside path,
My love knows the name of almost every plant,
A gathering of white alders
On either side of this cold and clear mountain stream,
A lone black willow,
Dusted with cottony catkins,
Fallen leaves and forgotten stones
Painted with tiny white bouquets of sweet alyssum,
An elderberry embroidered
With the orange stringy stems of witch’s hair.

My love can see health and history
In every flower leaf twig and trunk
While I walk ignorantly along,
Blinded by spring.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

In This Place


This is all we know,
These caffeinated mornings
And crowded freeway commutes,
These peopled places,
Marked,
Altered.

Scheduled repose,
Manufactured entertainments,
The occasional exodus to nature
With the proper reservations,
Row 32,
Space 6.

But doesn’t it all seem a little strange sometimes,
This concoction of paradise and purgatory?
And how blurred their boundaries,
How blurred within our limitless eternal selves,
Living out this highly contrived finite physical existence.

Do you long to resolve contradictions
And in so doing,
Increase their numbers?

We believe what we want to believe
Until belief itself is finally exhausted,
A small, hard thing,
So difficult to discard.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Pain Song


Pain song singing
In a black sky.

No stars.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Vigilance


When I was young,
The flame burned brightly,
For no matter how bleak the passing days,
The future contained more years than I could imagine.

It would take many years to learn
About involuntary psychological templates,
About the reverberation of abuse,
About how deep and permanent wounds can be.

It would take many years to realize
The demons are always near,
Patient,
Waiting.

If life is about anything at all,
It is about vigilance.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

My Refrigerator


Nine years
After my grandparents bought a new refrigerator
My grandmother died.
Two years later
My grandfather died.
Thirty-two years now
And their refrigerator is still running,
Through all the years of my marriage,
My career,
All the places I’ve lived,
By the sea,
Now in the desert.
Once it was filled with baby food,
Then leftover pizza and soft drinks,
Now frozen low-calorie meals,
My children grown and gone.
I sit in the dark and ponder it all
While my refrigerator,
Whirring, whirring,
Goes on.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved