Bird, Tree and Sky


When my children were young,
Before I went to bed
I’d peek inside each room,
Watch them sleep awhile,
Watch them sinking into the sea of night,
Hear their soft, earnest breathing,
And the voice said:

See the treasure of your life.
This will pass.


I am sitting outside in the morning sun,
Estimating the days I have left.
A scrub jay comes for a peanut,
Stills a moment and looks at me,
Then grabs a peanut off the fence and flies.

She is young, sleek and quicker than an eye blink.
Her flying is more like falling,
Falling from one branch to another,
Then a few strong flaps and gravity is reversed
And she falls up, up,
To the top of a tree and squawks three times,
And the voice says:

Her life is short, yet free from regret.
You will know her children.


The warm sun feels good these late autumn days.
The tree is green, red and brown
And the sky is the color of my eyes,
And the voice says:

Bird, tree and sky,
See the treasure of your life.
This will pass.



~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

A Worried Man


A sleepless night,
So worried,
So sure something was about to go wrong,
Every time the clock struck the hour,
He counted the strikes,
Fearing the clock might make a mistake.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

You


I love what is unfinished,
Unfolding,
Undecided,
Free from certainty,
Curious,
Growing,
Eagerly embracing change,
Surprised by each new day,
Listening for the voices of angels,
Ready for a miracle . . .

You.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Tonight


All the lovers in bliss,
All the babies in pain,
My joy runs through my sadness
Like wind through rain.

~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

You Are With Me In The Dark


You are with me in the dark,
Though we’re many miles apart
I can see you with my heart,
You are with me in the dark.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

To Rise


I stood up fast and rushed to the window
To see a small blue and rust colored bird
When the dizziness came and clouded my sight
And a soft voice inside said:
Old man you are not too long for this world,
And I thought,
What a pleasant way to die,
To rise swiftly,
Then rise again.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Stir


If you use the wrong words,
In the wrong place,
At the wrong time,
You could go to jail.

And that first day in stir
When they ask,
Whaddya in fer?
You give ‘em a low, mean stare
And say:
Vocabulary.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Accumulations


So many possessions,
A blur as I pass from room to room,
Accumulations,
Decades of forgotten memories,
Tombstones.

Some are gifts,
Dutifully displayed for recognition by the givers,
Some inherited,
Retained by generations,
Heavy with age.

Most are the random ephemera
Of this temporary life,
Temporarily under my custodial care,
Faded by familiarity.

Someday,
Disentangled from ownership,
I will be an old man living an unadorned life,
Having long since digested frivolity,
Ready to make that final disengagement,
Leaving all that is temporal
Behind.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

To My Son, Each One


Do not get stuck on death,
My son.
Though we are flowing fatefully toward it,
We are also blessed
With a thousand rebirths along the way.

Even when our bodies are only images
In forgotten photo albums,
And our lives are reduced to a few inaccurate anecdotes
Told by some kind of relative somewhere,
Trying to forge a link in the chain of being,
Even when the last of our once treasured possessions
Is reduced to dust and vapor,
You and I will persist,
Still connected,
Somehow.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

To Love Or Not To Love


All the reasons,
Why,
Why not,
All the emotions,
Why,
Why not,
All the confusion,
Yes,
No,
All the passion,
Yes,
No,
All the talking,
All the thinking,
The wishing,
The hoping,
The anxiety,
The fear,
The lust,
The guilt,
The despair,
The depression,
The dark,
The light,
The color of the sun,
The color of the sky,
Immortality,
Death,
Resignation,
Saturation,
Obsession,
Exhaustion,
Defeat,
Mourning,
Change,
Strategy,
Luck,
Fate,
Why,
Why not,
Yes,
No,
Yes,
No,
No,
No,
Absolutely no.

Yes.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Too Far, Too Close


I am too far from spring
To wonder what summer will bring,
Too old to plan by season,
Too close to death for reason.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

A Matter Of Time


To you who suffer,
Please know I think of you
And pray for you
Every day
And I don’t understand
What it is in this world
That chooses you
And spares me
And it may only be a matter of time
Until I am chosen
And you are spared.

Yes,
I suppose that’s what it’s all about,
A matter of time.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

To Live Is To Long


To live is to long,
To long too long,
Until life is through.
What else can you do?


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Everything I Say Is A Lie


We’re all pretty much the same
Except for those who are different,
But then most of us are different once in a while,
Which makes us all pretty much the same,
Except for those who are only sometimes the same
And mostly different,
Along with those who will be different most of the time
After years and years of being mostly the same.

Some of the others will be the same as they were
And continue to shift back and forth,
While still others among them
Will sometimes be different and the same simultaneously.

Some will think they’re different yet remain the same,
While others will think they’re the same,
Not realizing how different they truly are.

Many will hardly think about these things at all.

As for me,
I guess I’m pretty much like everybody else,
Trying in vain to be the same,
Yet not really that much different at all.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Seasons Change


The long days
Filled with sunshine
Seemed eternal,
But this morning,
The rain.
It will be dark
By early afternoon.

The longing in my heart
Knows no season.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Saying The Word


It’s easy not to believe,
To scoff at the personification of God,
The majestic bearded man
Who decides everything,
The prayer specific saints,
The miraculous interceding angels,
The signs and symbols.

But alone in the dark,
Surrounded by the suffering of this world
I find myself praying,
Saying the word.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Still There?


When you were a baby,
When you cried and no one came,
When you cried and no one held you,
Or when someone finally came
But there was no comforting . . .

Now that you’re older
Do you hunger for affection?
Is the baby still there?
Still crying?
Can you ever let that baby go?


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Saved


Go ahead and pray,
Pray for things both selfish and unselfish.
If you are blessed,
Many of the things you pray for will not come.

In this way shall you be saved.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Saturday Morning


At the first light of morning
I take a handful of peanuts
And place them beneath the tree
Where the bird feeder swings
From the sudden departure of another early riser.

They are for the crows
Who wait until I am back inside
And even then
Watch me suspiciously
As I watch them
Step cautiously
Toward the peanuts.

The first crow hunches down
And does a ruffled-feather
Head-bobbing “caw caw caw caw!”
To test the safety of the place.
Then the others come,
Walking stiffly,
Taking one,
Two,
Sometimes even three peanuts in their beaks,
Flying hastily away.

The last crow takes a single peanut,
Carries it to the middle of the street
And stabs the shell open
To reach the seed within.

It’s early.
The streets are empty.
The air is filled with mist and fog
And all I hear is the sound of birds
Singing to this new day,
To one another.

The peanut comes white and full
From its shell,
And the salty taste is good.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Satisfied As I Am


Satisfied as I am
With the life I’ve lived,
Marriage and family,
Work and income,
Responsibilities and accomplishments,
Satisfied as I am,
Last night I dreamed.

I am a young artist
Living in a little house overlooking the ocean,
Lying awake in a moonlit room
Next to a dark-skinned girl who loves me,
Listening to the sound of the sea
While she moves her fingers across my shoulder blade,
Slows her breathing,
Then gently kisses my neck.

Satisfied as I am,
Last night I dreamed.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The First Time


Here,
This is the spot,
Beneath this ancient oak,
A perfect climbing tree
With low, outstretched limbs,
Welcoming.

Here,
Beneath this ancient oak
Is where you spread out your blanket
On the cool shaded grass.

A swaying patch of filtered sunlight illuminated us,
Lying so close together on the blanket’s gentle cushion,
Your name sewn in fancy script across the top
By some Chinese factory worker
Who will never know how lovely you lay
Beneath your beautiful name,
A name so beautiful to me
In the fading light of that passing summer afternoon,
When you first wanted me.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Some Small Comfort


At last I understand
How I’m killing myself,
From the inside out,
How I internalize all the stress,
All of life’s disappointments and defeats,
Rerouting them from the psyche
To various essential organs,
Making psychological despair a physical reality,
Something that shows up on a medical exam,
Something I can point to and say:
“Yes, there it is – right there.”

Ennui made flesh.

At last I understand
How I’m killing myself.
Some small comfort,
Knowing how the dying is done.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Shelter


When the moment comes,
When you are alone with time,
Time enough to step outside of time,
When you see things and people from a distance,
From outside the whirlpool,
Earth from the moon,
The universe,
All within the space of thought,
When you walk down a darkened, tree-lined street
And each home is illuminated by electronic screens
Echoing entertainment for world-weary workers,
Defining entertainment,
Then contemplation comes,
Ideas dissolving into feelings without words,
Feelings hard to share
With your busy, distracted friends,
Feelings hard to reveal
To your disinterested, self-absorbed family.

This is a good place you’ve found,
A clear place,
Shelter.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Exiles


Leaving the office late last night
I passed by harshly lit co-worker cubicles,
All the carefully framed photos of smiling children,
Of loved ones,
Precisely placed,
Reassurance during the long working day,
A bond of love in our lives.

We are exiles,
Returning home for a few exhausted hours
To again be husbands and wives,
Parents and children,
Families.

Together again
For those precious few hours
That work allows.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

I Walk


For all the foolish things I’ve done,
I walk.
For all my transgressions,
My sins,
I walk.
For the cleansing of my soul,
One stubborn stain at a time,
I walk.
Step by step on solitary paths
Without sound,
I walk.
Across busy streets,
On crowded sidewalks
Filled with noisy chatter,
I walk,
Alone,
So much undoing to be done.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Books


I do not read books,
I absorb them.

I bring them home from thrift shops,
From library book sales,
From the few remaining bookstores.
They come in the mail
From online booksellers who no longer have stores,
Who never had stores.

I carefully lift off price tags,
Dissolving and removing adhesives,
Erasing random careless markings,
Mending book jackets,
Unfolding and ironing creased pages,
Bent page corners.

I take the book in hand,
Savoring its weight and dimensions,
Marveling at the number of pages the author has filled
While struggling to maintain the interest of the reader
With every page,
Every sentence.

I look at the copyright page,
Determining popularity by number of editions.
If the book is somewhat rare or otherwise notable
I may research the title to see if it is a first printing,
If it has some monetary value.
If worthy, I will reinforce the jacket with a plastic cover.

If the book is especially notable
For some public or private reason,
I will place it in segregation with my other titles of distinction.
But if it is a common edition,
It will likely go on shelves alphabetized by author,
Or those organized by subject matter.

If the work is exuberantly praised and widely read,
A favorite of the literati,
The cognoscenti,
It will join other such highly recommended books,
Pushed to the front of the line,
Waiting to be read.

~ ~ ~

Late at night when uncertainties haunt my troubled soul
I walk past my many bookshelves,
Reading spines,
Titles and authors of books read and unread.
I am filled with characters, places and stories,
Filled with the lives of the writers,
Imbued with the infinite expanse of imagination,
And I succumb.

I pull an intriguing title from the shelf,
Slide into my most comfortable chair,
Turn on the lamp,
Wipe smudges off the lenses of my reading glasses,
Examine the art of jacket design,
The typography,
The illustrations, of some,
Feel the weight and surface texture of the paper,
Marvel at the physicality of the word made flesh,
Turn a few pages and begin.

I am filled with story,
Transported to locale,
Relocated in time,
Gifted with omniscience,
Enlarged by experiences and insights.

Here, in my tiny corner of the universe,
In these solitary hours after midnight,
Bathed in soft yellow lamplight,
My isolation has ended.
I have rejoined the human race,
Alone no more.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

I Am Leaving


I do have my cherished memories,
But too often they are tarnished with regret
For all those errors in judgment,
Youthful indiscretions,
Actual sin,
Stress-induced confusion,
Knee-jerk anger,
Petty selfishness,
Callous insensitivity,
All so momentary,
Yet haunting,
Still.

I am doing my best to ruthlessly edit,
Cutting as much angst as I can,
But it’s hard to pull out the roots intact,
They remain,
Old wounds reopen.

I am leaving,
Going to the place of forgetting,
Packing light,
For the weight of a long life
Is too much to bear,
All those unresolved thoughts,
The cacophony,
Deafening.

I am leaving.
It is enough to have lived this life,
Enough to have fallen into the bottomless pit of despair,
Enough to have been electrified with joy,
Enough to have made the journey.

I am leaving,
Day by day,
Moment by moment,
Nothing much more to say,
Nothing much more to do,
I am leaving.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Sanity


Denied and defeated in love,
Sanity slowly returns
And I am again a practical person,
Again able to agitate
Over other pressing matters of the day,
Wiser, but no longer weightless.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Saints In Waiting


If we were saints
Living the lives of abandoned insects
Under parked cars
With our antennae finely tuned
Into God’s frequency,
We would praise the glories
Of our tiny lives,
The stray fast-food crumbs,
A patch of dew-laden crabgrass.

Behold this mighty river of asphalt,
My children,
And fear not the larger beasts.
We are the chosen,
And through our selfless purity
We shall inherit this earth.

Not long now,
Our time to come.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Fanatic


We are the true believers.
We will do anything,
Anything,
For the cause.

How dedicated we are,
That we can so easily dismiss
The sanctity of a human life
To accomplish our quest.

We will show God our righteousness,
Our fearlessness,
No matter how many we have to kill.

No compromise.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Saints


The saints so often say
We must give up wanting,
Surrender desire,
Disregard comfort,
Give everything to the poor
And live a life of service
To others.

They are like so many in this world
Who choose a path,
Who fulfill a destiny,
Then declare it is the only path,
The only destiny.

Even saints suffer from certainty.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Sad


Sad enough
When you try to fly
And fall.

Sadder still
When you do not try
At all.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Sacred


What do you hold sacred?

Not in your places of worship,
Your churches,
Your temples,
Your mosques.

Not in your ceremonies,
Your practices,
Your prayers.

It is no real test
When you are harnessed with the obligations
Of pious behavior.

Show me what you hold sacred
In a crowded parking lot,
When the hunger is upon you
For a really good parking space.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Metamorphic


A rock
Is a rock
Is an idea.

Hold on just a minute!
You say,
A rock is a real tangible thing.

But right now,
I say,
You do not hold a rock in your hand,
You hold it in your mind,
The idea of a rock, that is.

And even when you hold it in your hand,
I say,
It’s the idea of a rock that gives it a name,
That suggests a use,
Such as hurling it at me
So I will stop talking
And go away.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Where Memory Lives


Where memory lives,
Where is this place?

Neurologists can pinpoint the part of the brain
Where memory resides,
Overstuffed file folders
Fading from consciousness with time,
Changed by the imperfections of recall,
Missing chapters reconstructed
By imagination and emotional predisposition,
By storytelling,
By the human habit of constructing a logical narrative
From the random events of a life.

Living memories are different somehow,
Constantly present,
Actively contributing myriad gradations of pleasure and pain
To the unfolding events of our lives,
Content as well as context,
Engaged.

Yes, scientists know where memory is stored,
And perhaps some celestial record of human events
Contains all that we have done,
All that we have thought.
But where memory lives,
Where is this place?


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Rush Hour


O this endless sea,
This endless migration
Of caffeine-injected commuters
Across vast concrete,
Squinting against the glare
Of this newly risen sun
In this unremarkable miracle
Of another new day.

I am captive here.

We are flung through finite space
As fast as fate allows
Until
Ahead
A sea of red
And this procession gravely slows.

All are slowed:
The pursuit of success,
The descent into failure,
The approach of destiny.

All are slowed,
Then slowly stopped,
And then we crawl,
Harnessed to the yoke
Of some terrible master.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Like A Rhino


How like a rhinoceros,
My dissatisfaction,
My petulance.
A rhino in a sushi bar,
All thumbs.
A meadowlark in a turbine,
All feathers.
A guy writing this stuff down,
On paper,
Trying to fabricate meaning,
Watching the tip of his pen
Carefully outline letters, words,
Whole incomplete phrases,
Hoping some great dark muse
Will speak.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Reverence


We are taught to revere the old ways
Of our beloved ancestors,
Their ancient wisdom,
Honed over generations
Into this perfect jewel,
Hard,
Prismatic,
Eternal,
An ornament
Worn so proudly by those who know,
Our teachers,
The guardians of all knowledge,
The caretakers of the past.

Impediments.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

A Reminder


I bought a book
Full of wisdom and light.
Inside its spine,
A small, rectangular anti-theft computer chip,
Reminding me,
I live in a nation of thieves.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Rehab


Honesty,
Pure honesty,
Every waking moment.

See the past,
Change the future,
No matter what you’ve done,
No matter how long it takes,
No matter how many times you fail
And fall,
Start again,
This day,
This moment.

Honesty is the first step,
Pure honesty,
Every waking moment.

From this all blessings come.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

In Winter I Scarcely Remember


In winter I scarcely remember
The long and languid days of summer,
The delicate yellow dress
And how its straps fell
From your thin, sculptured shoulders,
How it melted away
From your golden body.

We were perfect together,
Naked,
Unashamed,
Bathed in sunlight,
Love and lust.

We had all day,
All summer,
And the days were long and languid,
Without end,
Without consequence,
So long ago,
Those summer days I scarcely remember.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Reasons


There are plenty of reasons
Why not,
But they all vanish
At the thought of your touch.

All we have in this life
Are moments,
And another moment with you
Is reason enough.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Really


You do not have to want
What the world wants,
Or be what the world wants you to be.

You can be happy without a fortune,
Content without fame.

Really.

You do not have to seek
What the world seeks,
Or give up what the world gives up.

You can be the first of a kind
And the last,
And never mind.

Really.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Reality


For a while,
It looked like it might be dark
All day,
So few actually taking the time
To believe in the sun anymore.

But familiarity breeds belief,
So the sun again appeared
And filled the sky with light.

It is a lesson to be relearned each morning,
That we must never,
Ever,
Take reality for granted,
As if it would continue on its own,
In a vacuum.

Reality depends on us all.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Real Test


Getting old is the real test,
For everything once so easy and automatic
Falls away,
And the energy to resist
Slows,
And the desire for comfort
Anesthetizes.

Look around you my young friends,
It seems so obvious now,
All the letting go,
So manifest in the old.

Never, you earnestly swear,
Imbued with that quick certainty of youth,
Never will this happen to me.

Wait, I earnestly implore,
Battered by the steady decay of years,
Wait and see.

Getting old is the real test.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Real Love Is Not Clever


Real love is not clever.

Real love is clumsy,
Awkward,
Unsynchronized,
Inappropriate,
Embarrassing,
Stumbling,
Falling,
Grasping,
Letting go,
Giving up,
Miserable,
Necessary.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Real Horror


Another atrocity
And writers all around the world
Take pen to paper,
Knowing the real horror
Resides in the mind
And must be addressed.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Passing Of Another Summer


It kills a little
To see the sun racing down
Earlier each day.

Like the death of an unborn baby,
I am struck by the passing of another summer.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Inside


Inside,
I forget the meaning of birdsong,
How hard the mockingbird works
To attract a mate,
His virtuosity.

Inside,
I forget how fallen leaves move,
Swept into corners
By gusts of wind.

Inside,
I forget the sun is alive,
Every moment,
Creating and destroying.

Inside,
I forget I live on a planet
Whirling through space,
Somewhere between the beginning
And the end.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

In Disguise


I recall that old man
Who turned to me in anger,
Impatient with my immaturity.

I did not recognize he was me.

I remember that young woman
Who cradled my hand in her hands,
Grateful for my kindness.

I did not realize she was me.

Now that I think on it,
It was often me,
Returning in disguise,
Trying to provoke.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Suffocated


The morning light awakens
But I cannot tell the day,
What day it is.

Then,
The mind clears a bit
And I remember who I am,
What day it is,
What I must do
And how little time I have
To assemble myself and leave for work.

This day is not unlike any other work day,
Not unlike years of repetitive practical habits
That propel me into this persona,
This predictable working life,
So unlike the life of the sleeper
Who travels by thought through time,
Backward and forward,
In and out of time,
The true nature of my soul,
Suffocated by this working world.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Balzac In Paris


This pretentious, unbridled egotism,
Bridled by academic sycophancy,
Shackled by erudite nonconformity,
Eruditely enforced by the last living literati
Hanging onto the endangered species list
By his and/or her precarious pedicured pedigrees.

This turgid landscape bleeds sour
For want of a coat of arms
Worthy of such shame,
Such intrepid debasement,
Oh yes,
Here in de basement
I goo goo too,
This awful-god game,
La comédie humaine.

Some call it poetry.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Mantra


Paralyzed,
He takes one last look over the ledge,
The edge of the precipice,
Imagining the staggering, unknowable falling.
He shudders and backs away.

He retraces his steps,
Returning to a place of safety,
A place of predictability.

I am too old, he assures himself,
Shuddering again at the image of the ledge,
The smothering abyss,
The surrender.

He drives to work with a new appreciation for sameness,
For the certainty of Monday,
For the harness of employment,
While deep inside in some unfocused, dimly lit room
He sits alone on a simple wooden chair,
Reciting the mantra he fears but cannot dismiss:

Nothing lasts forever,
Nothing lasts forever,
Nothing lasts forever.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

They Speak Unceasing


The spirits speak
Too much.

My head is filled with the incessant clatter
Of their most insightful observations.
I am hounded by visions
In the most startling detail.
They crowd my sleep
And spill over into the day,
Beseeching me.

I long for the life of simple stupidity,
Ignorant of the twisted motives
That lie behind the desires of the human heart.
Show me no more
O uninvited spirits who whisper secrets
So casually in my ear.

It does me no good.

This busy world has no interest
In what you reveal.
They think me a deranged fool
In need of medical attention,
And for all I really know,
You may indeed be demons.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Cliché Examination


In thought,
Yes.

Lost,
No.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Coming Home


Early one evening
After another long day,
I could not turn down the street where I live,
Where my life deposits itself,
Where I always do what must be done,
Work or play,
Every day.

I drove right past without hesitation,
Past the street,
Past the gray blanket of familiarity.

I took the long way around,
Pondering the pathways of my life,
Watching the sky turn dark,
The porch lights blinking on.

Having nowhere else to go,
I came home.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Façade


I am wary of posh restaurants,
The thin atmosphere of haute cuisine,
The nagging suspicion that behind
Those tiny plated portions
Are some very clever accountants.

I stand in front of the urinal
And notice the thin yellow puddle,
Left because of intoxication,
Poor eyesight or bad breeding.

Yes, I am standing on a layer
Of some epicurean’s urine,
Repulsed but unsure what I can do.
The soles of my shoes are wet
As I return to the dining room.

It is an evening full of romance
In the eyes of my stylish lover,
Entranced by the sophistication
Of this exquisite façade.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Finger Speaks


I don’t ask the question,
Are you happy?
It seems too intrusive,
Too personal for most of my friends.
It’s a question reserved for my lover,
Used sparingly.

But of course I can tell,
Even in the e-mails of distant friends.
Joy infuses their words,
Oozes out from even the briefest missives,
Such as this morning’s message from my old friend,
An entranced grandfather,
Too encumbered to reply with more than a short explanation,
No doubt typed with a single finger:
“Baby on lap!”


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Confession


All the knowledge
I have so carefully gathered
For so many years,
All my opinions,
My experiences,
Achievements,
All that I am
Means so very little
Compared to the touch of your hand,
The sound of your voice,
Confessing love.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Angelic


I used to think angels were perfect,
Unstained,
Untouched by human frailty,
Until,
In a low moment
An angel comforted me,
The kind of comfort only an angel could bring,
An angel who knows what it is to be human,
Who knows what it is to fail.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Heaven And Hell


Sometimes this peaceful suburban landscape
Seems like heaven.

I am momentarily reprieved
And the people in my tiny town glow,
Translucent arcs of light
Moving about their daily tasks.

We stop and talk a while.

Hell returns.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

House Of Cards


Our cherished way of life,
So recently contrived,
Defended with such vigor,
With such zeal,
Inspired by insecurity,
Knowing it is belief,
And only belief,
That keeps this house of cards
From collapse.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

How Soon We Let Go


How soon we let go of love
For more practical pursuits.

A discarded hobby,
Love leans against a corner
In a dark closet,
Gathering dust.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

I Can’t Explain Passion


I can’t explain passion,
And if I could,
I wouldn’t.

I can’t explain passion,
And if I would,
I shouldn’t.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Love Is A Vibration


His pocket is vibrating,
On and off all day long
With messages of love
From his eager new girlfriend,
Vibrating with urgency
On his cell phone.

But he is at work
And cannot stop.
Besides,
The words don’t matter.
The vibration is enough.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Here To Stay


My children who've grown older
Have moved away.

Now the children they once were
Are here to stay.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Enshrined


The light in her eyes when she sees her love
Illuminated beneath a streetlight,
Knowing their evening of romance has just begun,
Believing it has no end . . .

How quickly they come together,
So tightly embrace,
Looking deep into each other’s eyes,
A long kiss without caring who sees . . .

Their fingers entwine,
Their bodies stay close walking down the sidewalk
Into the enchanted night,
Arm in arm,
Heart in heart . . .

When I see them I think of you,
Of our eternal moments together,
Alive within me still,
Enshrined.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Here On Earth


Here on Earth,
God sees through our eyes.
Here on Earth,
God works with our hands.
Here on Earth,
We are the conscience of God.

Yet you ask,
Why does God not see?
Why does God not act?
Where is God’s mercy?

Look within your heart.
You will find the answers there.

Each of us is called.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Bird Calls


These birds
Do not appreciate my impersonations,
The whistling,
The forced chirping through pursed lips.
They point their beaks at one another
And tilt their heads sarcastically
As I call:
Here birdy-birdy-birdy.

Incredulous,
They raise their eyes toward the treetops
And sigh,
Tiny puffs of air,
Ruffle a feather or two
And fly.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

How Hard It Is


How hard it is
To repair the damage
Of an unlucky childhood,
To break the mold,
To reinvent the life
When all the anger
Still echoes.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Shadowed Man


The shadowed man hides in dark places,
Hidden from scrutiny by most,
But not from me.

I often walk through this village late at night
And I see him,
See where he sleeps,
A narrow patch of grass between two brick buildings,
Hidden by overgrown bushes.

I see his dark profile as I walk down a nearby alley.
He is not young, but I cannot tell his age,
Even on this moonlit night.
He moves in determinate ways,
Like one with years of practice in living without a home.

Of all the dark corners in this village
He has chosen well.
Close enough to shuttered restaurants and discarded food,
Barely visible only to the rare midnight wanderer.

There is something deep and dark about this man,
Something like a force field that surrounds him,
Charged with misery and anger.
He is lost in a smothering fog of regret.

I keep my distance,
Pretending not to notice
As he moves purposefully in the dark,
Doing something with his few possessions.

He frightens me and I wonder if he carries a knife,
Wonder if he kidnaps little children on their way to school,
If he has been in prison,
If he’s a wanted man.

I hear the clack of punctured metal,
The opening of a can.
He steps out from the shadows,
Into the moonlight,
Into an empty parking lot
Where a gray and black tabby races to greet him,
Tail high with affection and appreciation
For this guardian angel who brings dinner each night,
This shadowed man who has ventured out,
Into the light.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Another Temporary Visitor


I knew when he walked into the coffee shop,
When this tall black man hesitated before sitting down,
Casting a wide, smiling inspection of the dozen or so diners,
So pleased to be in our company,
So joyful to be among the living,
I knew he was back from the grave,
Now seeing the everyday world through the eyes of a child,
Entranced by the sound of talking and laughing.

What was once so ordinary was now extraordinary.
He’d crossed the line between life and death,
Then crossed back again.

I wouldn’t be surprised if he were some kind of angel,
Taking physical form for a day to see and be seen,
To marvel at the magic of human existence.

How long did he have before returning?
And to where?
I wonder.
How long do I have?

He smiled at me as I walked by on my way out,
Recognizing, acknowledging another temporary visitor.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

This Place


If I am humble,
I can take all insults,
All personal affronts,
In stride.

But when I believe in the illusion of myself
As an all-knowing, superior being,
Every imagined disrespect ignites my rage,
A rage which will not be calmed
Until revenge has cleansed my troubled soul.

The angels of tolerance,
The demons of anger,
Always close,
Contending,
Here on this ancient planet,
This place of good and evil
Where we struggle still.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Meek


The meek may indeed inherit the Earth,
But they will not explore it.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Wandering Time


This time of loss,
This wandering in the desert,
This desolation.

My father never told me,
Never warned me,
Never prepared me.

Perhaps he thought this time of loss
Was a private, personal weakness.

I saw him,
Bent by the weight of it,
Barely knowing
Yet suffering,
Keeping busy,
Distracted,
Not realizing,
Not acknowledging this other rite of passage,
Coming so late in life,
This time of loss,
This wandering in the desert,
This desolation.

My father’s ghost is with me now
In this, my wandering time.
I cannot tell if he knows the way.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

You Are Not Hidden


I write these words to you who are cruel,
Who know you are cruel,
Who deny your cruelty.

These words are not for those who succumb to weakness,
Who struggle with weakness,
Who sincerely strive to overcome weakness and be kind.

We all have sinned.

These words are for you who are deliberate,
Who forged your cruelty through years of abuse,
No matter how you rationalize,
No matter how you repress,
No matter how conscious or unconscious you may be.

You are not hidden.
No matter how much control you have over us,
You are not hidden.
No matter how compliant we are forced to be,
You are not hidden.

You are condemned in our eyes,
And when you lose your power over us,
When you look in the mirror
And see the monster you have become,
When your punishment comes,
When you realize you have been punished all along,
When you realize each act of cruelty
Has destroyed a part of your soul,
When you have no soul left,
We will rejoice.

We who are kind will take no pleasure in your suffering,
We will not let the anger you placed in our hearts make us cruel,
But we will rejoice when we are free from your cruelty,
When your cruelty is stripped of all power,
When you must answer for each cruel act.
We will rejoice when justice is restored.

You are not hidden.
You pay for each act of cruelty
Whether you realize it or not,
For we know you have no real joy
Because you are not loved.
You are lower than the lowest of us
Who suffer and yet are loved.
You are lower than the lowest of us
Who have died because of your cruelty,
Because we are loved,
And this love is eternal.

You are not hidden.
The eyes of the world are upon you,
The eyes of history are upon you,
The eyes of God are upon you.

The spirit of change is upon the land,
It cannot be stopped.
Lies are temporary,
Injustice is temporary.
Truth is eternal,
Justice is eternal.

You are not hidden.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Men


Someday soon I will turn to you in anger
For no particular reason,
Because I am damaged
And often lose my tenuous hold
On the better side of my nature.

This is how I reward your loyalty,
Your perseverance,
Your love,
With the dispassionate whine
Of the stronger sex,
Still managing to keep the upper hand,
To rule my vainglorious kingdom
While my subjects weep.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Memory


I have to stop and think
To remember the date of my father’s birth,
And is this still Tuesday?
My head always in the clouds,
As they say.
So many of life’s little details
Are lost,
Lost to me.

Yet somehow I remember
The sick sarcastic look on the thin old man’s face
Thirty-two years ago
When I drove out of a parking lot
Across the sidewalk where he shuffled toward me.

I remember his tight-lipped scowl,
The scrape of his petulant, brittle voice
When forced to stop
To allow my car to pass,
When he so sharply said:
Thank you very much!


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Rapture


I could say,
You awaken something eternal in me,
The ineffable heart of God,
Resuscitated,
Pulsing through every pore,
Deafening,
Blinding,
Revelatory.

I could invent a dozen different ways
To describe how you make me feel,
How I make myself feel when I am with you.

But when we meet,
Words fall away
And all is rapture.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

My Table And Chairs


If I had no table and chairs,
No house full of possessions,
Then perhaps I would go to an impoverished land
And give what help I could.

But I am bound by prosperity
And frightened by change,
Blessed and confined by the things I own,
That own me.

Whole generations of my family
Have stayed together,
Remained loyal, long-suffering and patient,
Held together by the glue of family heirlooms,
The ancient oak table and chairs,
Houses full of possessions.

Life is short and my time is running out
And I am called.
Yes, I hear the voice calling me
Out into a new world,
But my table and chairs won’t let me go.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Question and Answer


Are the rigorous fish screaming?

No, I’m dreaming.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Question


I know there are some
Who ask if there is a soul.

Yet is it not a surprising question?
As if someone turned to you,
Stopped you on a crowded city sidewalk
And asked: Do you believe in the body?

Belief comes after the fact.

Yes, I know,
We cannot photograph the soul
Or slip a fragment of it under a microscope.

Yet the very idea of spiritless being
Causes something in me to recoil,
Something that cannot deny its own existence,
Something I call,
If I must,
The soul.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Put Words Away


Stop,
Just for a moment
And speak to me from your heart.

I’m weary of polite conversation,
Workplace banter,
Conventional wisdom.

Walk with me outside our preordained roles
And let our words unfold.
Let us whisper love’s confessions in the dark
Then, put words away.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Put A Pat


When this world feels too rough
For my lamb and honey soul,
I put a pat of butter
On my lovely cinnamon roll.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

A Manageable Ailment


I used to think my old friend despair
Was a measure of my distance
From the angels,
But lately it occurs to me,
What with things the way they are,
Angels may not feel too good themselves
These days.

Scratch the surface of this half-sane man,
See despair coursing through my arteries,
Rich, red stuff,
Spilling out from a wounded heart,
Less than poison,
A manageable ailment.

Yes, I manage it.
It flows and ebbs,
Ebbs and flows,
And at its worst
I accept it as the cost of things,
The way they are.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Prosperity


If you ever get
Everything you want
You will be a slave
To prosperity.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Propriety


At last I understand
Why I am not supposed to love you.

The passage of time,
Distance,
Acceptance,
Have brought me to my senses,
Whatever that means.

Now everything can be explained,
Understood from a psychological perspective.

Reason and logic reassert their power
To expose and embarrass my foolish heart,
My childish dream,
The passion that rages still,
Now confined within this dark prison of propriety.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Prophets


So many prophets,
How we revere them,
Study their lives,
Read their writings,
Marvel at their prognostications,
Follow their instructions,
Dismiss their detractors,
Proselytize the unenlightened,
Prepare for the promised apocalypse.

So many prophets,
Distracting us from the eternity of this moment.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Prison On Sunday


She helped me find God,
Bring God so much closer
By breaking my heart,
For no one else can help me now.

Have you ever been there?
Way down deep where the light is gone?
Where the weight of sorrow
Presses hard against the chest,
Makes it hard to breathe?

Food is so unappetizing,
Sleep is so impossible.
Have you ever been there?
Who do you talk to?

God is the one you talk to,
Confess to,
Ask for peace,
Just a little peace from pain,
A small patch of sunshine.

It feels like prison tonight,
This absence,
Knowing the sweetness of her soul,
Knowing all the mistakes I cannot take back.

Perhaps I’ll wake up some morning and once again see,
See!
That even in my deepest sorrow,
I am blessed,
After a few extended conversations
With the only one I can talk to now,
The only one.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

A Purple Shoelace


As I walk toward the growing darkness
Along the sunset trail,
The last of the after-hour walkers pass me by,
Returning to their parked cars
And nightly routines.

Many are deep in determined conversation,
With walking partners or cellphone voices.
Others are earbud oblivious,
Even to their over-eager dogs,
Straining at the leash.

I am alone in silence,
Bearing witness to the last auburn rays of light
Retreating from nearby hillsides,
Earlier each day now.
I hear rustling leaves whisper the coming of autumn.

And there,
A purple shoelace,
Tied to the chain-link fence.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Prayers


How long do prayers persist?
How often must they be repeated?
What are minutes and hours,
What is the length of a day to a prayer,
Or to God?

Does God tally prayers,
Weighing some against others?
Or is such somber accounting left to angels and saints?
Are prayers judged by earnestness?
Do they ascend by urgency?

It is worry in me that encourages prayer,
Worry and love,
Love and fear,
Knowing that in this world
Science and happenstance will not be denied.

Even if God were no more than disinterested science,
Unyielding to desires both noble and base,
I would not have my heart grow so cold
As to abandon what is so easily accomplished.

You may not believe your prayers are heard,
But if they open your ears to the longings of your heart,
If they inspire reformation and action,
If they awaken the desire to be honest in all things,
If they cast light on the path ahead,
They are not wasted.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

A Ponderous Chain


She walks with some difficulty,
A slight limp,
A bit of a hobble,
Sagging and stooping,
Suffering the burden of her enormity,
Yet still able to push the shopping cart
Packed full of unnecessary food.

Link by link
She has forged a ponderous chain.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Politics


O simple-minded hardworking soul,
Crushed by need
And greed,
I mourn for you
And I celebrate you
As I assemble these thoughts
From the refuge of my comfortable chair
In my comfortable house,
Comfortable neighborhood,
Comfortable life.

Just when you thought your hardscrabble life
Could be exploited no further,
I am here to mourn you,
To celebrate you,
To employ you as an illustration
Of my humanity,
Of my selfless dedication to your well-being,
For which I expect ample praise and admiration.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Ocean


Some of us stand at the edge of the shore,
At a safe distance,
While others come closer,
Getting their feet wet,
Racing away from any sudden surge.
Some wade in deeper,
Yet still careful to avoid strong currents.

I am reckless.
I go in deep,
Enveloped and submerged,
Helplessly swept out to sea.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Poised


Her wings,
So beautiful,
Translucent and glistening in the dewy light of dawn,
So perfect,
Unscarred,
New.

She is ready,
Yet still momentarily poised
Between perfection
And flight.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Going Home


Where did she come from?
Where was she going?
We wondered
As she wandered through our manicured neighborhood,
This disheveled woman in ragged clothes,
A torn bedroll tied to her back,
Her long stringy hair matted and dirty
Like the fur of an old cat too feeble to clean itself.

She shuffled along the sidewalk in the growing twilight,
Past a startled family getting into their shiny white car,
On their way to the new restaurant,
The wide-eyed boy and girl struck dumb
By this alien intruder.

She did not know where she was.
She often didn’t know,
But on this day something called her,
Called her toward the mountains,
The eternal mountains glowing purple in the darkening sky.
Something pulled her through this foreign place,
Past these homes with white-faced windows,
Staring,
Staring,
All staring out at her.

She was returning
And she would know when she got there,
She would know it was the right place,
The place that called her,
Called her past the houses filled with the safe yellow light,
Past the houses filled with the busy sound of happy televisions,
Past the dutiful dog walkers on unbroken sidewalks,
All the way to the underbrush near the hillside trail
Where she would find a private place,
Unroll her sleeping bag,
Watch the sky change from blue violet to black,
Read the twinkling messages of stars,
Receive the omen of the rising amber moon,
Hear the rhythmic hooting of the gatekeeper owl,
Shiver from the sharp penetration of cold and damp,
And dream,
Her eyelids falling,
And dream,
Her breathing slowing.

At last,
At last,
Home again.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Keeping Time


I drive slowly past the place,
The place where she died
Less than an hour ago,
Heard it on the radio,
And there,
Outside my windshield,
The fatal freeway scene.

Traffic is kept moving,
Just a glimpse of ripped steel and fractured glass,
Flashing lights and uniforms,
A double-rig truck knocked crooked,
And then,
Driving fast again.

I fumble with the radio
And find a good station.
I tap the middle finger of my right hand
Against the side of the steering wheel,
Keeping time.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Plotless


Someone is telling my story,
Moving my life from chapter to chapter,
But my storyteller is raw and unskilled.
He labors on and on,
Weaving the most complex and intricate details
Through the most uneventful scenes.

You will wake up early this morning
And drive to work in heavy traffic.
Yes, you will drive to work every day,
Except for the weekends.

Many of us are displeased with our storytellers.
Will our plots ever take some meaningful shape?
I wonder.
These lives are poor fiction.

He wakes up early and takes a cold shower,
Trying to shake off the fatigue
From working late every day this week
In his colorless fluorescent cubicle.
He reties his tie for the third time,
Finds his car keys,
Grabs his half-empty cup of coffee
And begins the long, difficult drive to work.
He listens to the news
And thinks about the many phone calls he must make
When he gets to the office.

It’s a puzzle to me
Why we put up with this at all.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

A Young Woman Waiting For A Bus


She sits alone at the bus stop,
This girl,
With nothing to do
But wait.

She sits alone
Then stands
And runs her left hand,
Her sculptured, articulate fingers,
Down her sunburned hair,
Taking its length
To let the undulating afternoon air
Cool the back of her warm, moist, down-covered neck.

She lets her hair go
Then strokes it again,
A soft sensation of pleasure
Ripples across her skin,
Pleasure from being the lithe, young animal she is.

She looks wistfully down the length of street
For something shaped like a bus
Among the heat-blurred vehicles
Coming toward her.
She is early and expects nothing for a while,
But still she scans the traffic,
Eager to be in motion.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Yippy


It is the time of baby birds and lizards,
Of pollination and persistent sun,
Of rebirth and renewal.

I can hear the tug of Spring
In the spirited barking of Yippy,
The dingy, bedraggled cocker spaniel next door,
Aroused now by every passing dog,
Every wandering cat,
Each exploring squirrel,
Each backyard human.

I remember last year
When Yippy was so full of Spring,
Barking throughout the night at every rustling leaf,
It seemed to Al,
Big Al, we called my neighbor,
A large man bedeviled by barking
As he revisited the ritual of the backyard barbecue.

“God damn that dog!”
I heard him flare across the fence,
Stopping short of formal complaint,
Not one to be outwardly unneighborly.

Perhaps it was all that barbecued red meat that felled Big Al,
Dropping dead at work one chilly day last winter.

Spring has returned
And though old Yippy is clearly a canine in decline,
His barking still carries loud and clear,
And somehow I sense Big Al is near,
Cursing this aged dog who still survives
While human beings drop like flies.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

A Place In Your Heart


There is a place in your heart
No one has shared,
A garden filled with a solitary beauty
Only you can see.

You walk and walk,
Entranced,
Without words,
Searching,
Still hoping someone will come
Who will see what no one else has seen,
Who will know without knowing
That you are the one.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Pick A Flower


Pick a flower
Hold it in your hand
Study it closely
Do not expect anything.

Put the flower in a vase
Wait
Wait
Take it out of the vase
Look at how the petals fall.

Pick up all the petals
Put them in a small envelope
Place it in the back of a drawer.

Eighty years later
Some idle young girl
Will find the envelope
And pour the pieces,
Cracked and broken,
Into her hand.

She rubs both hands together
And turns the petals into dust.
She opens her hands
And blows the remnants over her garden,
A believer in certain unspoken things.

Her favorite rose bush has a bud,
Soon a pale pink flower.
She watches it unfold
Then cuts it from the plant
And puts it in a vase.

After the flower dies,
She takes it from the vase
And drops it into a wastebasket.

Then she remembers.
She retrieves her discarded flower,
The petals slip from her hand
Into a small envelope.

She writes “For You” in her finest hand
And puts it back into the same drawer
And wonders what color
The eyes of her first child will be.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Phone Call


You called me,
A matter of fact phone call,
A small practical matter
Which could not be misconstrued
As anything else,
Could it?

Because I was paralyzed with joy
To hear your voice
And wanted no damage to our friendship,
I could not say anything
Outside of the socially acceptable,
Even less than I might have said
If I did not love you.

After the last formality was exchanged,
The polite liturgy concluded,
I said good-bye
And waited,
But did not hear your voice.

Did we say good-bye simultaneously,
Each hearing only our own voice?
Did you hang up?
I did not hear the connection break.

I stayed on the line,
Listening,
Wondering if you were listening too,
Afraid to speak,
Afraid to hang up,
So lonely in the growing dark of the evening,
Listening for the sound of breathing.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Phantasy


O these love poems that men have wrought,
What woman is so foolish to believe?
Such extravagant, embellished images of thought
Constructed to entice and deceive.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Petty Anarchy


They are spray-painting the trees.

They have turned their inattention
To the natural world
And will not stop
Until they have made it unnatural,
Marred and scarred
With their proclamations of petty anarchy.

They would make this a world
Where nothing is sacred,
Nothing holy,
Not even the infinite grace
Of the least single tree.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Searching For Sugar


This solitary ant walks across the desert
Of my bathroom floor,
Stopping,
Then starting,
Then stopping and starting,
Over and over,
Slight course corrections,
Searching for scent.

The sugar bowl is in another country,
In the land of kitchen,
In a high cupboard,
High above the floor
Where another solitary ant,
Finding a few grains of spilled sugar,
Sensing the source is near,
Needing neither hope nor faith,
Continues.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

People Are


People are
The most dangerous things I know,
Just wind them up
And watch them go.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Vaya Con Dios


I could kill you with this little finger,
He says,
Jutting the scabrous thing out into the shivering night,
Pointed menacingly toward the enemy
Only he can see,
While tourists scuttle by
Keeping a wary eye on this ragged man
Who has me cornered by his confessions,
And his need
To tell me how three tours of duty
Left him so - strung - out.

He is enlarged, distended,
Eager to tell anyone on this street
About his hotel room and how much it costs,
Only a few dollars a month left over for food
From disability checks that come in the mail,
How his first wife drove him crazy,
How he was crazy anyway because of the war,
How he killed a man he thought was the enemy
But it was long after he returned
And the man was just a man,
How he spent thirteen years in prison
And how I don’t want to be like this anymore,
And the hospital
Where he missed his last appointment with the psychiatrist,
How he wants to find his way back to something good inside,
But this guy grabbed him by the throat last night
And threw him against a wall,
How he gets so angry sometimes
He just explodes,
How the woman he lives with made him so angry
He punched his fist through a window
And he shows me the open cuts
On his dirt-encrusted hand and arm.

I am tempest-tossed
Between seeing him as my forsaken, younger brother
And my murderer,
My insane executioner who forgot why,
Why he was on the street in the first place,
To get a little money so he could buy something to eat.

I give him five dollars and he nearly weeps,
Puts his festering arm around me,
Hugs me tight as deeply disturbed tourists
Sidle by apprehensively.

Vaya con Dios man, Vaya con Dios!
He shouts as I walk briskly away,
Inspired,
Repulsed,
Ultimately torn.

Vaya con Dios to you too buddy.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Pearl


Having found a pearl of great value,
He declared:
“This is the only true pearl,”
And he worshipped it,
For it was his
And he was blinded by the sight of it.

He put it away in a safe place,
Kept it hidden,
And never returned to the great open sea
Where there are so many pearls of great value,
Still.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Paul


Early afternoon Paul
Walked out into the middle
Of a busy street.

Standing straight and tall Paul
Removed all of his clothing,
Flinging it about.

Sitting squarely down Paul
Announced to all who’d listen:
“I have seen the light!”

Free and clear Paul
Was reborn on that day,
In the middle of the street
In downtown L.A.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Passion Passes


It hurts to see hot lust
Behind steamy backseat windows
And feel the tug of pure, witless feeling.

Years of intellectual discipline
Have left me addicted to rational things,
Starved for the unspoken language of the young.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Parting


And where is home?
You wonder,
When home and family fall apart
And you’re starting over again,
Driving down darkened streets
That lead to this new place
You hesitate to call home,
Unpacking boxes,
Wondering what kind of logic
Will help you decide
Where old possessions should go.

You cradle a music box,
The first gift.
Too expensive,
Your mother said.
On its lid a portrait
Of two rosy-cheeked children
Sharing a single umbrella,
And you remember all the rainy days
You both walked and walked,
Just to be in motion together.

How young your hearts
In a world so dull and indifferent,
Changed for a while.
The world spreads out before you now
Like a desert,
This new world that seemed so right
In the fever of your white-hot rage,
That seems so blank,
Alone.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Truth Has Jagged Edges


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

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

Self-deception is logical.

The truth has jagged edges.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Overwhelmed


Overwhelmed by love,
I have nothing left to say,
For when our bodies join,
Pretensions slip away.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Over My Dead Body


If you happen to stumble over my dead body
Someday,
Do not grieve,
Unless it’s mayhem,
And yet you may then
Envy
The way I have taken
My leave.

For if you happen to stumble over my dead body
Someday,
Know I preferred death that way,
Like the swatting of a fly,
In the blink of an eye.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

At One


The longer I live
The more I realize
How much I don’t know,
How much I thought I knew
And just how wrong I was,
How arrogant I was,
How certain I was
About what I didn’t know.

The longer I live
The less I say.

I’ve learned to leave out,
Delete,
Expunge
So much that leaves my brain
Before it gets to my mouth.

I’m saying so much less every day
That by the time I’m an old man
I’ll just sit quietly,
Nodding and smiling,
Finally at one with my inner idiot.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Out In The World


Out in the world,
At last.
How does it fit?
How does it taste?
You fully-fledged member of the race.

What will you do?
And why?
Will it matter?
Will you die?
Will you live?
What will you give?
What have you lost?
How much will all of this cost?
And how will you pay
Without giving too much away?

Out in the world,
At last.
So many questions.
Must you answer them all?
Perhaps one at a time?
Before you walk
Must you crawl?

Oh never mind,
Just plunge ahead.
Take a chance.
Do the dance.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Ourselves


We live in an age of distraction,
Mesmerized by a thousand different devices,
But the problem
(Yes, there is a problem)
Lies not within our technology,
Dear Brutus,
But within ourselves.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Only Money


Money matters
So little,
You have discovered
At last,
Now that you are older
And have enough to get by,
Forgetting how many die
From want of a few things
Only money can buy.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

One Small Candle


When we decide to love,
To fall in love,
We luxuriate in our love,
Our precise, exquisite love,
Denied to so many.

We light one small candle
In a dark room,
Believing the whole wide world
Is ablaze.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Fog


So thick tonight,
It muffles the sound of this city,
Makes this place feel small,
Reduced to a single note
That calls like a meditation bell,
Calls me to let it all go,
To forgive,
Even myself.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

One Single Thing


So many distractions,
Never again
One single thing,
“Rrringggtone!”
“Hello?”


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

One Little Tragedy


All it takes is one little tragedy
To bleach the color from this world,
To make you hate life
And its cruel surprises,
To make life’s pursuits and pleasures,
Hollow.

When we were small
We believed the world
Would take care of us,
Keep us from harm.
We were the lucky ones,
To harbor such illusions.

It’s not safe here.
It never was.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

One By One


No,
Not even in my most hope-filled moments
Do I expect humanity to awaken,
Eyes wide,
And begin a new era,
Infused with wisdom,
Love
And light.

As always,
One by one.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

On Us All


Happiness takes care of itself
While the sorrows of this world
Weigh on us all,
Whether we acknowledge them
Or not,
The sorrows of this world
Weigh on us all.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Mood


Anger blowing through town this afternoon,
A spiteful disdain stinging the eyes,
Sharpening the speech,
Tightening the lips.

I try to avoid contact,
Wondering what happened to this morning’s joyful sunshine
Filling me with such unpronounceable hope.

Dusk is coming,
The air growing still and empty.
I long for the evening’s swift descent
Into resignation and amnesia.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved