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

Sheeps


The hills are alive
With the sound of sheep,
They sleep all day long
But at night they creep,
Into the houses
Of young girls and boys
And put on their clothes
And play with their toys.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Consequences


You have not said,
I love you,
And I fear you never will.

I have not said,
I love you,
And I fear I never will.

But my greatest fear
Is that we love each other
And are too afraid of consequences to speak.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

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

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

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

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

I Am Dog


I’ll always be a dog,
God alone knows why,
Not cat, not horse, not snail,
I’ll never open mail,
Though I sometimes try.


~ 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

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

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