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

Verdicts


The verdicts of intellectuals,
So easily overturned.

~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

A Vehicle


It sang on your lips,
It moved your fingers across the keys,
And those who listened knew
Something extraordinary was going on.

The maker of this music
Was not entirely you.
But then,
Intoxicated by adulation,
You forgot it was so.

It was no longer singing in your voice,
No longer moving your hands,
And those who listened
So admiringly before,
Listened no more.


~ 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

Unemployment


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


~ 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Life Went On


It was Sunday,
And many millions
Living in the most powerful nation on Earth
Spent most of the day
Watching the big football game on television,
Cheering,
Moaning,
Screaming at the electronic moving pictures of football players
Running back and forth and sideways,
Trying desperately,
Valiantly to get hold of the football
And take it to one end,
Or another,
Of the green plastic space
Some still call a field.

The next day,
Life went on,
Much as it had before.


~ 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

Tiny


Just when they thought they had it nailed,
The smallest, irreducible thing,
The building block of all that matters,
They discovered it has parts.

Then they discovered the parts have parts,
Have parts,
And so on,
And so forth.

So I guess we’ve still got infinity,
Inside and out,
Micro and macro,
Beyond and within.

We are bound in a nutshell
Of infinite space.


~ 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