Happy Pills


I stopped taking the happy pills.
All that happiness was making me superficial,
Too full of contentment to empathize
With the suffering of friends,
Of the world.

I needed them desperately once,
When I’d fallen too far,
Lost in the darkening forest,
No way out
Until the happy pills lit a small candle.

The flickering flame grew brighter
And the darkness fell away,
The fear slowly evaporating
Like dew on daisies in the warming sun
Of an early summer morning.

We are all wounded by this world.

Normal is an idea in wet cement.

My thoughts dare not contain too much truth now.
I dare not feel all that I know
Lest I relapse,
Compelled to ingest the happy pills once again,
Returned to the gated community of unearned serenity.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The New Version


Not long after you’d pretty much figured it out,
Pretty much,
Sort of,
You were prompted to download the new version,
No doubt enhanced for improved functionality and security,
Better,
No doubt,
Better than what you already had,
Now referred to as the old version,
Practically obsolete,
So you comply,
And each time you do,
Each new version takes another little slice of user autonomy,
Another little nugget of user control,
Away.

Enriched personal data collection,
Upgraded monetization cloud,
The steady trespass of technology
Past all those surrendered boundaries,
Now removed,
Disabled,
Discontinued,
Deleted,
In return for improved functionality
And security.

The new version.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

She Waits


Waiting,
Waiting,
This old woman,
Waiting still,
Settled into waiting,
A warm blanket.

No longer impatient,
No longer young,
Waiting has become familiar,
Comfortable,
Manageable,
A perfect dream.

And the sky shall open
And anointed love shall fall
In soft, springtime showers.

O fervent prophecy,
Divine promise,
Annunciation.

She steps outside her small room,
Searches the sky for a sign.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

All I Ask


All I ask is a tall ship
And a star to steer her by,
Food and drink enough to last
My wayward wandering eye.

A mate or two to hoist the sails,
To swab the deck and sing
A rousing song of seven seas.
What quahogs we will bring!

O we will be a happy ship,
Connected to the net.
When whales are few and seas be calm
Our email we’ll beget.

We’ll chart our journey on a blog
For smartphones all to see,
And keep up with our favored shows
On satellite TV.

We’ll gather in the hot tub steam
When starry nights turn cool,
And when we take on lobster hue
We’ll dive into the pool.

O the call of the open sea,
The smell of briny foam,
O the lure of uncharted lands
That draw us far from home.

All I ask is a tall ship
And a star to steer her by,
Some island girls for pleasure,
And a global positioning system in case we get lost.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Constantly Constant


The cacophony of distraction,
Immersed in an ocean of noise,
Of disjointed action and reaction,
Omnipresent ephemera,
No clear space,
No pausing,
No stopping,
Everything everywhere all the time,
The senses oversaturated,
The brain bombarded,
We are
Constantly constant.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

On Moonlit Freeway


On moonlit freeway
I see the weariness in your eyes,
A few stray strands of hair
Around your face
Illuminated against the black
Inside your car.

It is late.

We who work overtime are driving home
In silent, anonymous autonomy.
Though I’ve seen you a thousand times before
In full fluorescent sun,
Numbed by office decor and decorum,
Tonight in my rearview mirror
I see the phosphorescence of your truer self,
Your innocence.

It is the innocence of the oppressed
Who, after overtime is through,
Have nothing disingenuous left.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Wearing Thin


Some folks say
They want to live
Forever,
But as for me,
This particular person
I am
Is wearing thin.
I can think of few things
Worse
Than an eternity
Chained to this one particular person
I am,
This soul attached,
Forever beset
By this particular concoction
Of insecurities and doubts,
Addictions, duplicities
And happenstance.
Gotta wipe the slate clean,
Someday.

Be somebody else for awhile.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

We Who Are Not Worthy


We who are not worthy
Do not ask for love.
We can live without it,
Prefer living without it,
Keep ourselves busy,
So busy,
Not the least little opening
Where love could leak in.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Day's End


Something stirs as the day recedes,
As the hillsides turn black,
The tracery of trees so delicate against the fading orange sky,
The prisms of purple-blue unfolding toward the evening star
Now bright as a streetlight.

Something reassuring about little chirping birds
Fluttering to their secret places in the woods,
Called to shelter by the darkening horizon,
By the sudden chill on the edge of the air,
By the hoot, hoot, hoot of a twilight owl.

Neighborhood dogs bark at hungry raccoons
Leaving their storm drain tunnels
For an evening of leftover pet food and trash can tidbits.

The distant discord of a passing freight train calls
Like a factory whistle signaling an end to the working day.

Something heartening in the exodus home,
Labor’s machinery turned off awhile.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

We, The Creative


We of the large-brained variety
Are the creative animals.
Survival is not enough,
We must have reasons to survive,
Philosophies,
Theologies.

And just to prove
How creative we really are,
We pretend our imaginings
Are the work of God.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Growing Younger


After this one particular life,
After this body,
Ceases,
I will carry what wisdom I have
Into another life,
But next time,
Born old and wise,
I will grow younger,
Stronger,
Coupling energy with experience,
Knowing that each day brings me closer
To the moment of conception,
Until,
At last,
I return to bliss.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

We Start Out Mad


We don’t go mad,
We start out mad.

Screaming,
Crying,
Full of fear,
Irrational,
Superstitious,
Baby barbarians.

Then,
The anarchy of adolescence,
Gateway to adult temptation,
Free of consequential regard.

We don’t go mad,
We start out mad.

Some of us get better,
On and off,
Off and on.
Some of us get worse.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

We Come From The Sun


We come from the sun,
Shine from the sun
As individual rays of light.
We are the stuff and essence of the sun,
Cast and extended into individuality,
Single lives,
Still connected,
Fueled by the sun.

The barriers we place
Between ourselves and the sun
Dim our light,
Weaken the connection,
And we lose our way.

When we let go of the illusion
Of single, separate lives,
Apart from one another,
Apart from this planet,
When we let go,
Barriers fall away
And darkness is illuminated.

When our individuality ends,
When our physical selves fall away,
Our light will return to the sun,
But the light cast by each life
While dwelling in this place of time
Will remain.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

We Are The Water


Searching for the answers,
For so long,
Until I finally discovered
The expectation of an answer
Is the first delusion.

Answers are stones in the river.
We are the water.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Storytelling


When I tell someone the story of my life,
Even if only a chapter or two,
It has a certain logical symmetry,
A wise, knowing narrative,
A purposeful ordering of events,
So unlike the real life I have lived
Where in spite of my best intentions,
Things happen.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Way Out


If it is a real life you are living,
In the real world,
You are going to hit bottom once in a while.

The joy of life will vanish
And the future will look empty,
Without promise,
Nothing to look forward to.

Yes,
It happens to me.

Love is the way out.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Way Of This World


It was a tall tree,
Not majestic,
But many years old,
Having managed somehow to be planted,
To grow in a clear space,
Clear enough for sunlight,
Far enough from other, taller trees,
A space where humans found it desirable
And so left it alone to grow
All these years.
Singed by the occasional fire,
Parched by the occasional drought,
It grew.

After ferocious winds that would not let me sleep
I walked along this familiar path,
Strewn with leaves, branches and limbs,
And there in the clearing was the tree,
Lying on its side,
Uprooted,
Most of its branches torn away
Except for a line of long, leafless branches still attached,
Now pointing toward the clear, quiet, cloudless sky,
A last gesture.

This had nothing to do with sin,
With punishment
Or even destiny.
Every big wind blows a few trees down.
It is the way of this world.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Warm At Night


Death,
Curled up like a sleeping kitten,
Purrs,
Keeps you warm at night,
Nuzzles against your throat.

It’s so downright reassuring
We forget what it will do,
Someday.
We forget why we’re so goddamned lucky
To be alive,
Because death is sleeping like a kitten
While we suffer the inconveniences
Of utopia,
Always in pursuit of something more,
Something better,
Pretending
This life will go on and on
Forever,
Secretly grateful
It doesn’t.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Walking


Walking seems so futile sometimes,
One step at a time,
So little progress,
One small step
After
Another.

So many small steps
Taking so long,
The mind begins to wander,
The imagination is engaged
And all the things I said of late
Play back,
In and out of sequence.
I think of what I should have said
While I walk blindly by
Men,
Women,
Children,
Traffic and noise,
Traffic and noise.

I think and think
Of what I should have said,
What I will say next time,
And I worry
About what could go wrong,
What could go wrong.

I imagine some great success,
So successful,
Admired by millions.
I begin my speech
As the applause dies down,
The audience respectfully silent.

Yes,
I was just like you,
Afraid of the future,
Hoping against hope,
But I persevered,
I faced down failure,
I endured
And I was blessed
And now I pass my blessings on
To you.
Yes,
We are divine,
We are immortal,
We are . . .


So rudely interrupted
By the honking of a horn,
I awaken and realize
I have been walking a long time,
A long, long time.
All these small steps,
So tedious,
So repetitive,
Have at last taken me
Somewhere
Else.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Waking Up In The Dark


I could never get used to waking up in the dark,
To the cold, pitch-filled sky
Pressed flat against my windows,
To the wetness of water
Shot in hard, straight lines from the shower head,
To the distress of the world,
Just outside my door.

It was no easier for my two boys
Sagging under the weight of sleep,
Unable to speak,
Or my wife
Who would smile
And speak in gentle tones
Despite years of servitude to us all.

Together,
The chaotic particles of ourselves joined,
Forming a radiant wholeness of being.
Together,
We summoned the will
To face the new day
With something like hope.

After all these years I still wake up in the dark,
Remembering the sounds,
The stirrings,
Listening for the click of a light switch.
But now the other half of my bed is empty
And my boys are gone,
Changed into men,
Swallowed up by the world,
Just outside my door.

I have nowhere to go and could sleep until noon,
But each morning I wake up in the dark
And listen for them, still.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Waiting


Yes, I was like you,
Waiting to be perfect before I opened my eyes,
Praying,
Struggling with self-improvement,
Moving forward in spurts
Then falling behind,
A little euphoria now and then,
A little despair,
Yes,
I was like you,
Denying the moment,
Making plans,
Getting things done,
And even though I know better,
This busy world still overwhelms me,
Distracts and diffuses me.

I sit in the light, waiting for the sun.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Cats And Dogs


The old couple had a cat
And a dog,
Their constant companions for so many years.
Loyal,
Affectionate pets.

The aging dog still played fetch,
Still wrestled tug of war with a piece of rope,
Always eager to go on a walk,
Loved to ride in the car with his tongue hanging out in the breeze.

The aging cat still played with her catnip mouse,
Still leaped at the dog from hidden places,
Defiantly pulled her claws on the forbidden chair
Then skittered madly down the long hallway.

After the old man died
The dog lay listless in his bed
Making soft groaning noises,
Keeping an eye on the front door
Just in case the old man came back.
But deep inside the dog knew the old man was gone forever.

After the old man died
The cat began each new day as before,
Begged the old woman for food each morning,
Meowed at the door to be let out into the garden,
Chasing after lizards,
Chirping at little birds,
Back inside stretching out on a soft bedspread next to the window,
Soaking up the morning sun without thought of past or future,
Perfectly satisfied to be immersed in comfort,
Her eyelids half closed,
Keeping watch for the occasional lingering sparrow.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

My Failures


I have come to terms with the truth of my failures,
With the behaviors that perpetuate them,
With the absence of corrective self-discipline.

I now understand the cause and effect of my life,
The sources of my shortcomings,
The volition with which I empower them.

I have given long and careful thought,
Hours of solitary meditation,
Peeling back the layers of my self-deceptions.

I have stepped outside my own being,
Seeing myself as others may see me,
Bearing witness to this concoction of weakness and ignorance.

But mine is a willful ignorance,
Infused with the knowledge of that which I am ignoring,
All those signs and signals which I refuse to employ.

My failures, enlightened.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Mother And Her Son


The coyotes suddenly singing
Their nightly song
As the last of the helicopters
Flies overhead,
Giving up as darkness takes over,
Giving up the search,
The mother and her son
Swept away
After weeks of torrential rain,
Swept away by the river,
So fascinating to watch
All that water,
So tragic to slip and fall.

Did the boy fall first
And the mother follow after?
No one will ever know,
Certainly not me
As I walk home in the shadow of these mountains,
In the light of the half-lit moon,
Under the sparkling stars,
Thinking how wonderful and terrible life is,
How lucky I am to be walking home
Where I will soon be safe,
Soon be warm,
While the mother and her son,
Swallowed up by the storm.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Vinegar And Oil


I heard someone say,
The heart wants what the heart wants,
And it helped me understand
Why my heart hurts
Even though my mind is clear.

Love and logic
Are like vinegar and oil,
Separate,
Contradictory,
Each unwilling to yield.

I can live with contradiction,
But my broken heart?


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Voice


I have immunized my intellect
Against the ancient superstitions
With science and culture,
Unintentionally masking a primeval wisdom,
A transcendent wisdom,
An island of eternity
Encompassed by an ocean of ignorance.

Yet something enduring speaks to me anew,
From the intricate vision of the old master artists,
In the refined musical vocabulary of classical composers,
Written into words by literary prophets,
Carried within the hearts and minds of all
Who pursue inspired occupations,
All who feel the gravity of the eternal
And give it voice,
A voice that speaks to us,
Still.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

My Disillusionment


Just as I am about to be overcome by bliss
For my fortunate life,
For the infinite joy that is possible
With each new day,
This world tempers my enthusiasm
With countless reminders of petty human frailty.

It comes as no surprise
There are monsters among us,
Their actions undeniably
Abhorrent,
But my disillusionment
Is fueled by the frail and tattered bond
Between honesty and convenience,
One,
So easily surrendered,
To the other.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

In Our Older Years


If we’re lucky,
Nothing much will happen today,
At least not to us,
Though we may mistake safety for boredom.

If we’re lucky,
No one will call us on the phone
Or send us mail today,
Though we may mistake solitude for loneliness.

If we’re lucky,
Early some morning one of us will awaken
And find the other has died peacefully while sleeping,
Though we may mistake inevitability for tragedy.

If we’re lucky,
The other will quietly follow.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

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