The Scholar


The learned, white-haired scholar
Sits atop a wooden library stepping stool,
Head bowed in deep concentration,
Reading from a book pulled from overstuffed shelves,
A backdrop of accumulated wisdom and folly
Surrounded by an island of ancient volumes strewn about the floor.

He is a serious man,
Dressed in formal attire,
Shoulders permanently stooped from decades of study,
Burnished in gold and mounted on black stone,
A bookend that keeps my unread volumes straight.

Although tempted by worlds both real and unreal,
By fictional dreams and nonfictional revelations,
By theologies and philosophies,
By research and supposition,
By fact and fancy,
By pretty pictures and childhood reveries,
I leave this dusty room,
For the day is new and the sun is warm
And everywhere little birds are singing in leaf-filled trees,
Beckoning,
Beckoning me to the more tangible world outside my door.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Hungry


Nature has made us hungry,
The necessary motivation for procreation,
Assuring perpetuity,
Even when reason resists.

By design or accident,
Or design of accident,
Over and over again,
We are born.

Modesty shames our unchecked explosions of lust,
So we attach the appropriate fig leaves
And walk out of the garden,
Into the world,
Imbued with socially appropriate decorum
Disguising our baser animal instincts.

Yet secretly,
Or not so secretly,
We cast the wandering eye,
Hungry.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

What It Is


This is,
What it is.

Now I know.

I said it was something else,
Way back then,
When I was ignorant
And thought I knew.

This is,
What it is.

Now I know.

And I've decided
It’s up to me
To tell you so.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

A Home In My Heart


There is a home in my heart
For each person I love,
Whether they love me,
Or not.

They’re all I’ve got.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Testing


Testing,
Testing.
Testing one, two, three,
Testing.
Onetwo, Onetwo,
Check onetwo.
Can you hear me back there in the cheap seats?
Am I coming through?
Testing,
Testing.
One, two, three,
Testing.
Should I turn it up?
Can you hear me?
Should I turn it up?
Give me a little more juice here.
Testing testing onetwo onetwo.
Refuse to comply.
Testing onetwo,
Onetwo.
Louder?
You want it louder?
REFUSE TO COMPLY!
Testing onetwothreefour,
Testing.
Tear down the system.
TEAR DOWN THE SYSTEM!
Testing.
Checkin’ one two,
Check, check,
Onetwothreefour.
A little louder please.
Revolution.
Revolution now!
REVOLUTION NOW!
Testing,
Onetwo,
Threefour,
Testing,
Testing.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

In The Wind


Love is in the wind,
A rootless passion,
A bird in flight,
An annunciation.

Love comes,
Love goes,
That is our illusion,
For we are the wind
And our passions are birds in flight,
Touching down here and there,
While love,
Like air,
Is everywhere.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Stuff


Hunting,
Gathering,
Acquiring,
Perfectly natural instincts,
Especially considering the vagaries
Of our primordial environments.

But now,
Knee-deep in storage containers,
The mechanism runs wild.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Critique


I think I am,
Therefore,
I have to get up in the morning
And drive to work.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Winding Down


I am a wind-up clock,
A multitude of wind-up clocks,
All winding down.

In younger years
I sprang into life each new day,
Wound tight by youth and enthusiasm.

Now, I cannot wind my clocks as tightly as before,
And some have stopped and will not be restarted,
Worn out beyond repair.

Now, the momentum of time increases.
Hours and days and years are speeding up
As my clocks run slow, slow, slower.
It is an odd equation.

I am a wind-up clock,
A multitude of wind-up clocks,
All winding down
As I fall fast, fast, faster
Toward that place,
That inevitable, timeless place.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

There Are Reasons


My young cat bit through the skin on my hand,
Playfully,
And now the weather’s turned cold.

Rain is on the way
And there are two circular puncture wounds
Where little bitty kitty bit me.

I’d better get up on the roof before the rain starts.

I have my reasons.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Embrace


Here,
In this embrace,
I remember hating you.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Love Is Not Philosophy


1. Love Is Easy

Unlike philosophy,
Love is easy,
Actual.
You wake up each morning
And joy fills your heart
Because someone you love will say,
“I love you,”
Before the day is through,
And you will hold each other close
In a moment of eternity.


2. Love Is Hard

Unlike philosophy,
Love is hard,
Actual.
You wake up each morning
And pain fills your heart
Because someone you love has said,
“I don’t love you,”
And all day long
You will feel wounded and empty,
Hoping it won’t last forever.


3. Love Is Mysterious

Unlike philosophy,
Love is mysterious,
Ethereal.
You wake up each morning
And both joy and pain fill your heart
Because you ache to say,
“I love you,”
If only you could find someone
Before the end of another lonely day
And see the dream awaken.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Filled With Light


When I was younger
It was just me alone,
Staring into the abyss,
Waiting,
Without knowing what I was waiting for,
Falling into the deepest part of night,
So dark.

I am kinder now
And wait until sunny birdsong morning
To enter the place of no place.
Old fears still come and go
But now I face them with a warm cup of coffee
In a pleasant room,
Filled with light.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Each Day


Each day I add to the prayer
That began with my life.

I will not say amen.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Very Busy


God sent an angel to speak to you
But you’ve been very busy lately,
Even on Sundays,
Hurrying off to church,
Reading and reciting,
Praising the Lord
And all that.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Clearing


Do I live too long?
I sometimes wonder
During these long, childless days,
Now that my work is done.

Bored with idle pleasures
I fill my hours with trivial chores,
Unnecessary obligations,
Trying to shift my attention
From this slow but steady disintegration.

O poor old self,
How I mourn for your loss,
How I long for your renewal,
Yet, it is a kind of relief to see you go,
All the rantings,
The mad pursuits,
Worn out at last.

The clearing.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

All This Absence


If she were angry with me,
That would be quite another thing,
But this friendly indifference,
Her cold, controlled smile,
Her appropriate words
Kept at the appropriate distance,
Her brief eye contact
Signifying nothing.

No anger,
No joy,
Not even a little curiosity.

If she were angry with me,
Then,
Something to hope for,
But all this absence . . .


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Can We Rise?


Is it a kind of betrayal
If we rise
While others fall?

Are we entitled to happiness
While others suffer so?

Must happiness be tempered
And sorrow obeyed?

Can you compare one life
To another?
Balance one life
With another
When circumstances diverge
And intentions splinter?

If those around us are falling,
Is it a kind of betrayal
If we rise?


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Marrow


The stillness,
Spreading,
Slowing me down.

Anchored,
Observing,
Vicarious.

A passion to be young again
Stirs.
I pull myself loose.

But the process is irreversible.

The roots will grow,
Sink deeper,
Hold fast,
Until someday,
I am absorbed into the marrow.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Sharing The Light


Every time I shared my light with him,
His insincere heart extinguished the flame.
He could not keep the candle lit,
And I finally learned
I could not give him
What was not already his.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Ready To Fly


They say,
Never give up on your dreams,
They say,
You only fail if you quit trying,
They say,
Failures are the stepping stones to success,
They say,
Believe in yourself and all things are possible.

Everywhere I turn I am encouraged
By celebrities and self-help gurus,
Inspiring me to believe in my dreams,
To visualize my dreams,
To act on my dreams
And be bold in my actions,
Persistent in the face of failure,
To endure,
And most important of all,
Never, ever give up.

So once again I am here,
Standing on the edge of the roof,
Wearing the wings I have constructed
From rice paper and cotton balls,
Ready to fly.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Freedom From Want


Freedom from want means
Freedom from thinking about what you want
Cause,
After all,
You’ve already got what you wanted,
So now,
You can spend your time being so incredibly bored,
Trying to think of something else you want.

Soon,
You will go shopping.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

This Mother's Prayer


God,
Oh yes that troublesome word,
She has trouble with that word,
Visions of blind obeisance,
A fairy tale euphoria,
Ignorance,
Superstition,
A certain lack of precise intellectual focus,
Oh yes she has trouble with that word.

Yet in her most private, personal moments
Something like a prayer emerges,
If only as the last obligation
Of a mother whose children have left home,
Her children,
Out there somewhere.

And so she prays,
Trying as we all try
To bend the course of destiny
To our will.

Atheist that she is,
She will not abandon her children
To a godless world.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Shedding


They say a leopard
Cannot change its spots,
But a snake can shed its skin,
And so if you begin
To bring your old life to an end
You may have to shed a friend,
Or two.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

A Certain Freedom


I am no one in particular,
Nobody special,
Never promoted,
Lucky to have a job actually,
To earn a living.

My wife is tired of me.
My children are preoccupied.
Life does not expect too much from me,
Which allows a certain freedom.

I get up early each morning,
Alone in the dark,
Make a cup of coffee
And sit in my favorite chair
Watching the world get light.

I hear soft voices
And I am filled with joy.
How very good it is to be alive.
How very, very good it is,
Indeed.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

My Children Come To My Deathbed


My children come to my deathbed,
Thirsty,
Drinking from the pool of my mortality,
Filling up with momentous thoughts
And feelings,
Eager for resolution
And change.

My father is dying,
The silent mantra,
My father is dying,
My father is dying.

I want to tell them something,
Something I see so clearly now,
Something that explains so much,
Without explaining,
Just a word,
But I cannot move my lips,
No longer in control of this machine.

They each kiss my cheek
And leave the room,
Finished.

At last the word I struggle to produce
Comes forth,
Like a newborn I cry out
But my children are gone,
And the lady who is paid to sit alone
In the corner of the room
Turns the pages of her magazine
And does not hear.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Cracked


Thought I’d finally found myself
When the self I thought I was
Cracked,
Shattered into a thousand jagged pieces.

Now I know why Humpty had to fall.
He had to free himself
From his own illusion.

There was no Humpty left
To be put back together again,
His pieces now scattered
Among the pieces of the world.

He was larger.
Multitudes contained him.

Shattered as I am,
I cannot put my pieces back together again.
It was only an illusion
That made them seem whole.

More than the sum of my parts
I am the sum of all parts
And the space between.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Back At Work


Did you stop by his desk and say:
It’s good to see you back at work,
Carefully avoiding any mention of his daughter
Who died.

He had to drive four and a half hours
To reach the small apartment where she lived alone,
Touching everything,
Deciding what to keep.
He gave all her furniture away.


He wanted to tell someone where he’d been,
What he’d done and how it made him feel,
But we were too busy trying to cheer him up,
Assuring him that time heals all wounds,
As if the death of his only child,
Nothing more than a temporary ailment,
This little girl he once cradled,
This young woman he sent out into the world,
Fearing what all good parents fear
But scarcely dare to think.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

He's Got The Dying Right


He never figured out how to live,
But he’s got the dying right,
Perfected over the course of years,
Slowly,
Slowly,
Making all the right wrong moves,
Winning sympathy from friends and family,
The poor victim of a cruel world,
What he could have been.

They’ve taken him in,
Given him religion
And he’s become a professional object of charity.
Poor me, he thinks.

Sleeping late,
Eating well,
Slowly,
O so slowly,
From the inside out,
He’s got the dying right.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Holding On


What can we hold onto?
When everything changes,
When everything passes,
When the years recreate who we are,
Sometimes lifting us,
Sometimes tearing us apart.

O love,
The clich├ęd word so easily pronounced,
The greeting card verse
Spoken without feeling,
O love,
If kept alive and breathing . . .

There is so much to love in this world.
Even when you are old and confined
You can love a memory.
Even when memories fall away
You can love an idea.
Even when cognition falters,
When fear invades,
When the dark idea of godless death threatens,
Believe!

Hold onto love,
However untranslatable it may seem.
Love will persist.
You will be saved.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Death And Love


O majestic death,
Rattling around in my bedsprings
Like an old man’s cough,
You are too easy and obvious
For poetry.

O mercurial love,
Rising in my chest
Like opening night stage fright,
You are too easy and obvious
For poetry.

Yet somehow,
After all this writing,
Death is,
Still profound,
Love is,
Still precious.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Goodbye Little House


Goodbye little house,
Wretched little place
I thought I'd never escape,
Place of rotting wood, peeling paint,
Dirt as permanent as plaster,
Where everything old gets older,
Everything in disrepair
Remains.
We never owned this little house,
We peopled it,
And our children grew
From toy-hungry babes
To disdainful young adults,
Too big for their rooms now so small.
Goodbye little house,
We leave your careless, untidy neighborhood
For a place where old habits can be refined
And old sins forgiven.
Goodbye little house,
Where all the sloppy work of becoming a family
Was done,
Where the anguish of being and becoming
Was borne.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved