For Better Or For Worse


For better or for worse
I am sincere,
If not pedestrian,
In my verse.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

If We Will


Many of us would like to be saints,
Or at least look back on our lives and say:
I’ve been a good person.
Many of us can.

But so many more have been so twisted,
So battered by the rougher aspects of reality
That we were trained to be less than good
As a matter of self-defense,
Of survival.

Many of us with some small scrap of innocence left
Eventually summon the will, as we grow older,
The will to remake our lives,
To heal old wounds,
To understand and forgive,
To understand and change,
To pay it back.

But so many more are so deeply damaged,
The best we can hope for is to grow old enough
To wear out our sins,
So old and tired that all we can do
Is shuffle down the sidewalk
And smile at the passing stranger,
If we will.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Killer Asteroid


When we knew the asteroid was coming,
The killer asteroid,
We knew it would be the end of us,
All of us,
Even the inhabitants of the space station,
Although they would be the last to go.

What a vision they would behold,
The exploding Earth,
The smothering black clouds
Enveloping all.
The fragmented debris
Hurtling through space,
Sounding like hailstones inside the space station,
Sporadic,
Intensifying,
Exploding,
Then,
Nothing.
The last humans,
Gone.

I’ve always felt sorry for the dinosaurs,
Their terrible majesty vanquished,
Extinguished,
Survived by cockroaches.

Now,
As the killer asteroid accelerates,
Now,
As the end of the human experience draws near,
I wonder,
What manner of life will survive?
What will replace us?
It is said the meek shall inherit the Earth,
But cockroaches?
Still?


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Verdicts


The verdicts of intellectuals,
So easily overturned.

~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Unmarked Path


What is this betrayal?
Born of honesty
Surrendered to the truth of passion,
Sustained by lies.

What is this fidelity?
Born of pretense
Upheld by the facade of happiness,
Sustained by lies.

All these expectations,
Yours and mine,
So hard to fulfill
In this inexact life.

If we are brutally honest
And unhappy,
If we deceive ourselves
Into joy,
If all of this is illusion and delusion,
Still, there is love in the world
And the unmarked path of the heart.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Unexplainable


It is our nature
To try and explain the unexplainable,
To give it form,
To make it tangible
So that it may be examined,
Analyzed,
Reduced to a concept,
No longer unexplainable,
No longer God.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Age Of The Pure Self


Anarchy,
Not just for the dispossessed anymore,
It's catching on like wildfire,
A fad,
A new sport for the upper crust,
For those separated from the great mass
By privilege,
Power,
Perception.

This perception of superiority,
Now this is the motive force,
Not just for the well-to-do anymore,
No,
Even the lowest inhabitants of the social order
Feel superior these days.

Now,
In our cities and our streets,
In our homes and office buildings,
In all manner of public and private places,
Now,
No one is safe from this self-righteous anarchy.

This is war.

To each their own pure self,
The pure self that needs no law,
That bends to no man, woman or child,
That considers not its own frailties,
Sees no larger world beyond itself,
Enforces its iron rule without mercy,
No matter how trivial or mundane its kingdom may be.

Nor more humility,
No backing up,
No admission of error,
Of guilt,
Of responsibility.
All actions and motives of the pure self are beyond question.

We encounter one another
In our day-to-day lives
And exchange the menacing glance.
All is understood.
Ours is the age of the pure self.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

What Are People For?


He was born full of wonder,
Full of beginnings,
A believer in eternity,
Infinity,
A fearless explorer of existence,
Sure that every discovery would bring joy,
The joy of knowing life’s secrets.

Then one day he learned our sun would die,
One of many billions of suns
Whose passing would be barely noticed by the universe,
A universe destined to be pulled apart,
Into some kind of cosmic stew.

He wondered what will become of us,
Of all we’ve learned,
Of who we’ve become,
And for the first time he questioned:
Just what are people for?


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Uncertainty


I do not go to church
But there is no denying the power of place,
A focal point,
A refuge.

I do not wear a cross
But the man on his knees before the image of Crucifixion
Has opened a door,
Willing to change.

I do not read the Bible
But within those pages are awakenings,
A path to realization for some,
Everyday eternity.

How do we tell one another what is necessary,
What is essential?
We are all explorers
Without words for the undiscovered.

Life is too big for complete revelation,
The course of our incarnations too short.
We must embrace uncertainty
As surely as we embrace faith.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Unemployment


The clock strikes one,
My lunch is done,
I lost my job,
I load my gun.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Poet I Am


I cannot explain the world,
A world too large to understand,
I can only tell the tale
Of this individual man.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Translation


Words are but tame translation
Of the unspoken world
Where meaning gives way
And being is all.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

All I Can Say


Infatuation is easy,
The words pour from my pen.

But lonely desperate love,
Love you can’t live without,
Yet love denied,
That kind of love is hard to write down.

That’s all I can say.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Tracing


All tragedies now exist.

Yet,
Somehow,
Cool shadowed light
Filters through this wooded ravine
Weaving leaf-twig patterns
Across your bare sinewy back.

I trace them with my fingertips
To their inevitable destination.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Touch


Will you be glad you did not touch her?
Such a foolish impulse.
Risk,
Betrayal,
Hunger,
Intimacy.

Yes, intimacy,
The intimacy of a stranger.
Seductive,
Passionate,
Electric,
Animal.

Will you be glad you did not touch her?
Such a responsible decision.
Practical,
Unentangled,
Loyal,
Inevitable.

Yes, inevitable,
The inevitable consequences.
Pretense,
Disruption,
Denial,
Guilt.

And so, after anxious introspection,
Weighing the rational against the emotional,
Without decision,
You take her hand.
You touch her cheek
And search her eyes for the answer.

The answer does not come.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Too Much Work


Too much work
Strips everyday life
Of love
And serendipitous happenstance,
Oh yeah.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Homecoming


When it all falls apart
And you have nowhere left to go,
Where do you go?

You go home,
To that little house on the corner,
In that little town,
That little room with that little bed,
Still there,
As if your parents knew
You would not make it on your own,
Out there.

They kept your room ready
For your homecoming,
Coming home to where it’s all too small
For this forsaken soul you are,
A child once more.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

To My Wife


So pretty when she turns sad,
Her eyes glisten like small, black stones
Washed and worn by the sea.

Her lean, fine-boned features,
Softening slowly,
Losing their distinction
Under the strain of marriage,
The demands of little children.

Hello,
She says,
Looking for the person I used to be,
Looking just long enough to see
A similar sadness in my eyes.

We go no further,
But smile in silent, solemn agreement.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

This Teacher


The mad rush for the classroom door
When the recess bell rang.
“Stop!” shouted our teacher,
Her large frame blocking the open door.
“Women and children first!” she commanded,
Stepping aside,
Allowing her puzzled students to file quietly out the door.
“Women and children first!”

After recess our new teacher told us about the Titanic,
The iceberg,
The wounded ship slowly sinking into the sea,
The sure knowledge of impending death,
Certain death coming for them all,
Yet even then,
The dignity of life preserved.
“Women and children first!”

If these imperiled souls could face mortality
With such nobility of spirit,
Then how small a thing for us
To file quietly out of the classroom,
Allowing the girls to exit first.

Those courageous men put wives and children into the lifeboats,
She told us in quivering voice,
Knowing there were not enough for all,
Knowing they would never again see their loved ones.
The mighty ship groaned and shifted
In the icy cold waters of the North Atlantic.
The ship’s musicians assembled in reverence to their art,
Playing “Nearer, My God to Thee,”
Accompanied by the cries of frightened children,
The exclamations of tearful women,
The panic rising as the ship lurched lower.

“Women and children first!”
Called out to the fleeing passengers
Over and over again.
“Women and children first!”
As the last of the lifeboats were filled.

Silence.

“Now,” our teacher said to her shocked and stunned students,
“Now, we will practice.”

“Women and children first!” she declared, guiding us quietly to the door.
“Women and children first!” her words now etched into our souls.
“Women and children first!” she repeated like a prayer,
A holy incantation,
A eulogy.
“Women and children first!”

Our hearts were scalded and beating fast
As we moved quietly toward the lifeboats,
Hoping there was still some room,
Suddenly aware of the weight of life and death,
All of us awakened by this magnificent woman,
This teacher.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Timenesia


If you could travel back in time,
You would forget how you got there.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Eternity


I can hear eternity
In the happy cries of playing children,
Hours left before the sun goes down.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Should I Not Rejoice?


So is despair
Just a chemical imbalance
After all?
The kind of despair
That strips the world of color
Long after its initial cause?
The kind of despair
That has no apparent cause at all?

O yes, I can sit in the sunshine
And give thanks for the beauty
Of a blue sky,
For what lives beneath,
For the thought.

I can wrestle with the inequities
And let them go,
Surrender to all that is good,
Embrace hope,
Trust in that which is eternal.

Yes,
I have known bliss,
But this world is filled with tragedy,
Tragedy beyond mere happenstance,
Tragedy produced by willful, human conniving,
And with it comes despair.

If I am so lucky to be spared
So much of this world’s misery,
Should I not rejoice?


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved