Two Resolutions


When this life has worn you weary
And each day is a struggle
To find meaning,
Resolve to be honest,
About everything,
All day long.

Resolve to be kind,
With everyone,
All day long.

Then,
Meaning will return.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Because You Love


So worried,
About money,
About accomplishment,
About failure.

So overwhelmed,
By work,
By family,
By modern life.

Sometimes,
Late at night,
Early in the morning,
In the middle of the day,
You wonder who you are,
Why your life turned out this way,
So uneventful.

Love,
Love is all you have left,
Mad unrestrained love,
For your family,
For movie stars,
For your friends,
For total strangers,
For babies,
For dogs and cats and birds
And all living things,
Every tree and flower,
For even the sky-darkening clouds
And the rain,
The individual drops of rain
That fall on your cheek
Like tears of forgiveness,
And you realize
You are forgiven,
All is forgiven
Because you love,
And that is enough.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

They Are Golden Now


I see them,
Two little boys waking for school
In toy-stuffed bedrooms,
Staring blankly through sleep
At the half-conscious morning,
Rubbing their eyes with tight little fists.

So sleepy.

They expect to see me still,
Straightening a tie,
Gulping coffee,
Complaining about the time.

So sleepy.

They have not yet remembered
I am gone.

Mother is in the shower
And the sound of her
Triggers something.
Now they recognize the wrenching feeling,
Recognize and identify their wounds.
Like hospital patients
Who dreamed themselves home,
Who could stay in the dream
No longer,
Now they are awake.

I see them,
Hear them call for me
Watch them speak in hushed voices
About where I could be
And when I’ll come back.

I rub my eyes
And struggle to emerge
Into the blank morning
From a night of difficult dreams
In this cardboard motel room.

I love them,
Always loved them,
Loved them all,
Loved too much to ever say no,
Never, ever say no.

Enslaved by meaningless demeaning work,
Smothered by demanding reprimanding family,
Bound in the chains of my own making,
They are now the chains of my own breaking.

I see them,
Shattered and broken.
They are golden, now,
As they move through the diaphanous light
Of my feverish thoughts,
As I move darkly into the day
Toward this unrelenting madness
I can no longer disobey.

They are golden, now.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Theresa


Theresa is large and dark
And sits outside the library
When the library is closed.
She sits and sings,
Or just shakes
From what her brain does to her body.

Theresa is large and dark
And exchanges a kind greeting
When she is not shaking,
When she is not dangling
From the end of some string,
Pulled by whatever demon has her.

Dance with me,
She said.
And though I was never a dancer
And afraid,
We danced ‘round and ‘round
In a clear blue sky,
Weightless.


Theresa is large and dark
And wears a towel wrapped around her head,
An exotic headdress,
And a necklace of silver napkin rings.
Her possessions are packed in a plastic laundry basket,
Notebooks filled with carefully drawn letters,
Favorite words written small and large,
Black and blue ink,
Over and over again.

Theresa is large and dark
And sits outside the library
Where she sings
And shakes,
Where she finds heaven
And hell
In equal measure.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Reminder


The day will come
When Earth is done
With all of us
And everything.

Everything.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Awaken


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

What about you?
What about me?

Awaken!

Even the tiniest blade of grass struggles toward the light.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

On Christmas Day


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

What about you?
What about me?

Even the tiniest blade of grass struggles toward the light.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

At Play


You call it freedom,
Those afternoons on your dappled horse,
Kicking up dust sparkling in wet ocean air,
Cantering round and round solitary paths
Worn around your father’s estate
Where an old Mexican woman with scars on her knees
Scrubs heel marks off the Spanish tile.

Your orange and white tomcat snags a butterfly,
Yanks off a fluorescent wing
With his needle-nose teeth.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

That's Why


Why?
Because God allows everything.
Everything.

That’s why.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

That One Precious Word


Dear one,
When your life is full of tears,
When love is ripped from your heart
And there is no one,
No one you can tell,
Really tell,
Know you are not alone,
For I too have cried,
I too have stumbled and fallen
When the weight of the world was too great to bear.

Dear one,
Let us join in spirit,
In recognition,
And give each other strength.

We are the wounded ones of the world
Yet we must endure,
We must hold on to that one precious word,
Hope.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Eight Days Until Christmas


This cloud-crossed moon is nearly full,
But the streets in my village are suspiciously dark.
Apparently there are forgotten corners of this world
Even a full moon cannot illuminate.

Urgent blasts of warning from a speeding freight train
Slam into the sides of ancient stone buildings,
Making sharp retort like the firing of guns at an execution.

Eight days until Christmas and people here are uneasy,
Hair-trigger tempers,
Honking car horns,
Making odd gestures and grimaces,
Racing to complete the tasks of the season.
Possessed.
A frenzied motorist makes a desperate O-turn in the town square,
Nearly hitting a distracted pedestrian staring at her smartphone.

An elderly man carrying no packages smiles as he shuffles past me,
A fixed smile like a grimace
Showing signs of pain and disenchantment,
Trying to put a little paint on a weathered fence.
I smile in return,
Also trying to reconnect with something,
Something.

I stop near an empty intersection in a quiet part of town,
Looking up at the blur of yellow light from a second-floor office
Where someone is working late.
I would climb the steps and walk to the end of a narrow hallway,
Knock on the wood-paneled office door with the brass nameplate,
Take her into my arms and kiss her lips,
Her neck,
And feel an explosion of pure, pointless joy.

Yes, I would do all this were it a year ago.

I don’t know where she lives now,
Now that her life has changed,
Having thought it best to end all communication,
Now that she’s married to such a sensitive young man.

Eight days until Christmas
And I am alone,
Wandering shadowed streets,
Assaulted by the persistence of the ordinary,
In need of a soup kitchen for the soul.


~ 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

Another Day


Because my days are almost done
I walk this late afternoon by the hillsides,
The fog-chilled air pushing against my cheeks,
The spit of moisture falling on my forehead,
The first crickets beginning,
Singing the sun down behind the ancient mountains
Newly green with spring.

A beautiful young girl with translucent blue eyes passes by
With a small puppy straining against the leash.
She smiles without hesitation and says hello.

Ah the joy,
The joy of another day.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Temptation


O you sanctimonious souls,
I ask you:
At this very moment,
Do you hear the words of the angels?
Do you see the blinding white light?

The greatest temptation of all,
The temptation of knowing.
The hardest thing to surrender,
The sin of certainty.



~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Kiss


After the kiss goodnight the world was glowing.
How wonderful to wake each day,
He thought,
Knowing there is someone in the world who loves me,
Someone I can kiss.

He fell asleep on a cloud of bliss.

After the kiss goodnight the world was threatening.
I will never let that happen again,
She thought.
In the morning she would send him a message,
Something about friendship.

She fell asleep on a cloud of regret.

O the power of a single kiss,
What it starts,
What it stops.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Searching


It’s not nostalgia that brings me back,
Back to this place where I once lived,
This place where my life was young,
Where my sons were little boys,
Where my wife was a lovely young woman,
Where so much of our lives,
Unlived,
Imagined in dreams,
Residing in hope.

It’s not the ache of memory that brings me back,
But the search for something lost,
A part of me that slipped silently away,
Unnoticed amid the clash and clutter of growing old,
A part of me I cannot precisely name,
Something incompletely perfect,
Whole,
Happy,
Distilled now in my restless heart.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Temporary


It was too hot for a week,
Another week,
Then,
A month and more,
And I forgot how temporary weather can be
Until I awoke late this morning.

I feel a different breeze on my skin,
Hear it singing through my open window.
I see the languid leaves
Drinking in the last sun of summer.

Remembering how temporary weather can be,
This tree summons courage,
Stiffens resolve,
Prepares,
Knowing all its lovely leaves will soon be gone,
First autumn,
Then,
The slow sleep of winter coming on.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Survivors


After the hardhearted words,
After they are all spoken,
The impassioned phrases
So proudly pronounced
During love’s disillusioned duel
Reverberate,
Angry echoes
In the deep, dark dungeon of despair
That never quite die out,
That seem always on the lips,
In the cold stare
Of the one you still somehow love,
Who still somehow loves you.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Unavailable


I’d like to take just a moment
To reach you,
But your cell phone is ringing
And you must answer.

I’d like to take you to a quiet place
And tell you about this ache inside,
But you are already late
And have a busy day ahead.

In fact, the entire week looks bad,
So much to do.

When was the last time
You stopped
And let someone take your hand
And talk about love?


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Nothing At All


Just when I thought my little calico cat
And I
Had reached a meeting of minds,
An unspoken understanding
As she sat on my lap,
Joining me in early morning contemplation
Of life’s distractions and essences,
Winnowing away illusion,
Hearing without sound,
Seeing without sight,
Knowing without thought,
Then,
Finally,
That eternal absence that embraces all,
Then,
Kitty leaps from my lap,
Pads daintily across the room,
Sits on her haunches
And stares at the corner of a wall,
Staring,
Staring,
Staring,
At nothing at all.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Annunciation


More than a job,
More than mere employment,
It was a career,
A calling,
A framework of talents and skills
Honed by discipline,
Heightened by dedication,
Then,
Gone.

All your years of earnest labor,
Come to this,
Rejection.
Your life’s work,
Discarded.
Your self-worth,
Shattered.

Yet,
In your lowest moments,
In your despair,
The growing realization:
You are the master of your fate,
The captain of your ship.

Then,
Navigating your way through perilous seas,
Tossed and buffeted by the storm,
Suddenly,
The annunciation:
You are free.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

There Is Wildness Here


There is wildness here,
Raw and raging
Beneath this exterior,
Pulsing.

There are visions here
Of soaring over lifetimes of leaf-filled trees
And rust-colored hills,
Over yellow fields,
Over oceans.

There is forgetting here
Of the small things people say,
The small things people do.

There is a last angry echo
Of the unheard voice,
The deeper self,
The truer self,
The wilder self
That wearies of all man-made things.

There is a silence here
That grows and infuses,
Like the melancholy tint
Of an old photograph,
An old photograph you walk around in,
Examining with wonder the frozen, yet flowing
Moments of a life.

There is a wildness here
That rises like an immense stone,
Floating impossibly
In the pure blue sky
Of a secret spring.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Turn It Off


Hooked on technology
So bad,
Whole generations
Will not miss
A life they never had.

Speaking quietly
Into the night,
Measuring the silence against the soul,
Just thinking about how the busy days go,
Seeing life from afar
Like a firefly in the dark,
Like a candle,
Like a star,
Turn it off,
Be who you are.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Truth Is Not Hard To Find


Truth is not hard to find,
It’s everywhere we are,
In the good and the bad,
In the indifferent.
It’s what actually happens,
Right here,
Minute by minute.

But we resist the truth
When it collides with what we believe
Truth should be.

Our handcrafted truths can be hard to maintain,
What with truth itself,
Getting in the way.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Lost Child


Whose little babe is this
Who now slumbers on city sidewalk
Bundled in tattered sleeping bag
In back of brick and mortared building
Knocked crooked by time . . .

Whose little boy is this
Who now wakes in a garden of cigarette butts
And abandoned pages of old newspapers
On ragged cement
Where only the most desperate weeds
Dare to grow . . .

Whose mother’s son is this
Who now pulls himself up and out
Of the brief escape of sleep
And stands in icy morning air
Extending his thoughts only as far
As the ashen tip of the smoldering cigarette
He sips like a cool, sweet glass of juice . . .

All his generations reduced to this,
A life too young for such resignation,
Too old for much renewal,
Too far from home,
This lost child.


~ 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

Stone Age


How long has it been?
Not long since the days of the cave.
Seems like only yesterday
We were bringing down bison,
That old gang of mine.

All this was savanna,
And,
Over there,
Near that big boulder,
The barbecue pit.

Ah, the feasting,
The fermented berries,
The grunting.

I took a girl
And our bodies worked well together
Making many children.
We lived a while.

On my last day
My oldest son told me
He would bring me back,
And that I would bring him back,
In turn,
For we are all fathers and mothers,
Sisters and brothers,
Since the beginning of everything,
When every stone could sing.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Sweeper Man


When it rains,
At last the rain,
He goes to his secret place
Behind the dumpster
And gets his broom,
Old, worn and stiff
But still good for sweeping the water on its way.

He sweeps the gutters,
Sweeps trash and leaves into the river’s flow,
Sweeps the water,
Speeding the motion,
The sound.

He is a tool of nature,
Called by God
To do this work,
To help with the cleansing,
The cleansing of it all.

Standing near a busy intersection
He works
And the sound of his furious sweeping echoes.
He is not self-conscious,
He is proud of his job,
Called at last in this year of drought,
Called to do this work.

An underfed scarecrow of indeterminate age,
Eyes ablaze with obsession,
Leather face taught with purpose,
He wears a long, dark coat,
So wet and wetter,
A woolen cap with ear flaps,
And galoshes — galoshes!
Where on Earth did he get those yellow galoshes?

There is too little rain in this place
To wait for rain
And so he sweeps whenever he is called,
But it is futile, desperate work
When all is dust and dirt and dust.

Nevermind,
For the drought is over today,
At last,
And God has called him
To help with the cleansing,
The washing away,
All the jumbled years,
The wandering days,
The frightened nights
Trying to sleep,
To sleep and dream
His favorite dream
Of a world washed clean,
A world swept clean,
Everyone and everything
Starting over again.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Still Dreaming


Acquisitive by nature,
And nurture,
My inclination is to possess,
Especially in matters of love,
Especially romantic love,
Especially you,
But I am defeated by depth,
By the depth of my love for you,
Love beyond selfishness,
Love for who you are without me,
Who you must be without me,
Without me,
This relentless romantic,
Still dreaming of you
With (almost) no hope.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Letting Go


When my son was small
We were walking through a great crowd,
In my dream,
And I felt his little fingers slip
From my hand
And he was swallowed up by the world.

Sometimes, I still take his hand
To make that connection
Between boy and man,
To know he is still safe
In this dangerous place.

But he is so much older now
And feels awkward,
Embarrassed by the act,
And because I understand
The boy is not the man,
I let go.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved