A Reminder


I bought a book
Full of wisdom and light.
Inside its spine,
A small, rectangular anti-theft computer chip,
Reminding me,
I live in a nation of thieves.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Rehab


Honesty,
Pure honesty,
Every waking moment.

See the past,
Change the future,
No matter what you’ve done,
No matter how long it takes,
No matter how many times you fail
And fall,
Start again,
This day,
This moment.

Honesty is the first step,
Pure honesty,
Every waking moment.

From this all blessings come.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

In Winter I Scarcely Remember


In winter I scarcely remember
The long and languid days of summer,
The delicate yellow dress
And how its straps fell
From your thin, sculptured shoulders,
How it melted away
From your golden body.

We were perfect together,
Naked,
Unashamed,
Bathed in sunlight,
Love and lust.

We had all day,
All summer,
And the days were long and languid,
Without end,
Without consequence,
So long ago,
Those summer days I scarcely remember.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Reasons


There are plenty of reasons
Why not,
But they all vanish
At the thought of your touch.

All we have in this life
Are moments,
And another moment with you
Is reason enough.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Really


You do not have to want
What the world wants,
Or be what the world wants you to be.

You can be happy without a fortune,
Content without fame.

Really.

You do not have to seek
What the world seeks,
Or give up what the world gives up.

You can be the first of a kind
And the last,
And never mind.

Really.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Reality


For a while,
It looked like it might be dark
All day,
So few actually taking the time
To believe in the sun anymore.

But familiarity breeds belief,
So the sun again appeared
And filled the sky with light.

It is a lesson to be relearned each morning,
That we must never,
Ever,
Take reality for granted,
As if it would continue on its own,
In a vacuum.

Reality depends on us all.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Real Test


Getting old is the real test,
For everything once so easy and automatic
Falls away,
And the energy to resist
Slows,
And the desire for comfort
Anesthetizes.

Look around you my young friends,
It seems so obvious now,
All the letting go,
So manifest in the old.

Never, you earnestly swear,
Imbued with that quick certainty of youth,
Never will this happen to me.

Wait, I earnestly implore,
Battered by the steady decay of years,
Wait and see.

Getting old is the real test.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Real Love Is Not Clever


Real love is not clever.

Real love is clumsy,
Awkward,
Unsynchronized,
Inappropriate,
Embarrassing,
Stumbling,
Falling,
Grasping,
Letting go,
Giving up,
Miserable,
Necessary.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Real Horror


Another atrocity
And writers all around the world
Take pen to paper,
Knowing the real horror
Resides in the mind
And must be addressed.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Homecoming


When it all falls apart
And you have nowhere left to go,
Where do you go?

You go home,
To that little house on the corner,
In that little town,
That little room with that little bed,
Still there,
As if your parents knew
You would not make it on your own,
Out there.

They kept your room ready
For your homecoming,
Coming home to where it’s all too small
For this forsaken soul you are,
A child once more.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Rapture


I could say,
You awaken something eternal in me,
The ineffable heart of God,
Resuscitated,
Pulsing through every pore,
Deafening,
Blinding,
Revelatory.

I could invent a dozen different ways
To describe how you make me feel,
How I make myself feel when I am with you.

But when we meet,
Words fall away
And all is rapture.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

My Table And Chairs


If I had no table and chairs,
No house full of possessions,
Then perhaps I would go to an impoverished land
And give what help I could.

But I am bound by prosperity
And frightened by change,
Blessed and confined by the things I own,
That own me.

Whole generations of my family
Have stayed together,
Remained loyal, long-suffering and patient,
Held together by the glue of family heirlooms,
The ancient oak table and chairs,
Houses full of possessions.

Life is short and my time is running out
And I am called.
Yes, I hear the voice calling me
Out into a new world,
But my table and chairs won’t let me go.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Question and Answer


Are the rigorous fish screaming?

No, I’m dreaming.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Question


I know there are some
Who ask if there is a soul.

Yet is it not a surprising question?
As if someone turned to you,
Stopped you on a crowded city sidewalk
And asked: Do you believe in the body?

Belief comes after the fact.

Yes, I know,
We cannot photograph the soul
Or slip a fragment of it under a microscope.

Yet the very idea of spiritless being
Causes something in me to recoil,
Something that cannot deny its own existence,
Something I call,
If I must,
The soul.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Put Words Away


Stop,
Just for a moment
And speak to me from your heart.

I’m weary of polite conversation,
Workplace banter,
Conventional wisdom.

Walk with me outside our preordained roles
And let our words unfold.
Let us whisper love’s confessions in the dark
Then, put words away.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Put A Pat


When this world feels too rough
For my lamb and honey soul,
I put a pat of butter
On my lovely cinnamon roll.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

A Manageable Ailment


I used to think my old friend despair
Was a measure of my distance
From the angels,
But lately it occurs to me,
What with things the way they are,
Angels may not feel too good themselves
These days.

Scratch the surface of this half-sane man,
See despair coursing through my arteries,
Rich, red stuff,
Spilling out from a wounded heart,
Less than poison,
A manageable ailment.

Yes, I manage it.
It flows and ebbs,
Ebbs and flows,
And at its worst
I accept it as the cost of things,
The way they are.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Prosperity


If you ever get
Everything you want
You will be a slave
To prosperity.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Propriety


At last I understand
Why I am not supposed to love you.

The passage of time,
Distance,
Acceptance,
Have brought me to my senses,
Whatever that means.

Now everything can be explained,
Understood from a psychological perspective.

Reason and logic reassert their power
To expose and embarrass my foolish heart,
My childish dream,
The passion that rages still,
Now confined within this dark prison of propriety.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Prophets


So many prophets,
How we revere them,
Study their lives,
Read their writings,
Marvel at their prognostications,
Follow their instructions,
Dismiss their detractors,
Proselytize the unenlightened,
Prepare for the promised apocalypse.

So many prophets,
Distracting us from the eternity of this moment.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

A Purple Shoelace


As I walk toward the growing darkness
Along the sunset trail,
The last of the after-hour walkers pass me by,
Returning to their parked cars
And nightly routines.

Many are deep in determined conversation,
With walking partners or cellphone voices.
Others are earbud oblivious,
Even to their over-eager dogs,
Straining at the leash.

I am alone in silence,
Bearing witness to the last auburn rays of light
Retreating from nearby hillsides,
Earlier each day now.
I hear rustling leaves whisper the coming of autumn.

And there,
One lost purple shoelace,
Tied to the chain-link fence.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Prayers


How long do prayers persist?
How often must they be repeated?
What are minutes and hours,
What is the length of a day to a prayer,
Or to God?

Does God tally prayers,
Weighing some against others?
Or is such somber accounting left to angels and saints?
Are prayers judged by earnestness?
Do they ascend by urgency?

It is worry in me that encourages prayer,
Worry and love,
Love and fear,
Knowing that in this world
Science and happenstance will not be denied.

Even if God were no more than disinterested science,
Unyielding to desires both noble and base,
I would not have my heart grow so cold
As to abandon what is so easily accomplished.

You may not believe your prayers are heard,
But if they open your ears to the longings of your heart,
If they inspire reformation and action,
If they awaken the desire to be honest in all things,
If they cast light on the path ahead,
They are not wasted.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

A Ponderous Chain


She walks with some difficulty,
A slight limp,
A bit of a hobble,
Sagging and stooping,
Suffering the burden of her enormity,
Yet still able to push the shopping cart
Packed full of unnecessary food.

Link by link
She has forged a ponderous chain.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Politics


O simple-minded hardworking soul,
Crushed by need
And greed,
I mourn for you
And I celebrate you
As I assemble these thoughts
From the refuge of my comfortable chair
In my comfortable house,
Comfortable neighborhood,
Comfortable life.

Just when you thought your hardscrabble life
Could be exploited no further,
I am here to mourn you,
To celebrate you,
To employ you as an illustration
Of my humanity,
Of my selfless dedication to your well-being,
For which I expect ample praise and admiration.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Ocean


Some of us stand at the edge of the shore,
At a safe distance,
While others come closer,
Getting their feet wet,
Racing away from any sudden surge.
Some wade in deeper,
Yet still careful to avoid strong currents.

I am reckless.
I go in deep,
Enveloped and submerged,
Helplessly swept out to sea.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Poised


Her wings,
So beautiful,
Translucent and glistening in the dewy light of dawn,
So perfect,
Unscarred,
New.

She is ready,
Yet still momentarily poised
Between perfection
And flight.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Going Home


Where did she come from?
Where was she going?
We wondered
As she wandered through our manicured neighborhood,
This disheveled woman in ragged clothes,
A torn bedroll tied to her back,
Her long stringy hair matted and dirty
Like the fur of an old cat too feeble to clean itself.

She shuffled along the sidewalk in the growing twilight,
Past a startled family getting into their shiny white car,
On their way to the new restaurant,
The wide-eyed boy and girl struck dumb
By this alien intruder.

She did not know where she was.
She often didn’t know,
But on this day something called her,
Called her toward the mountains,
The eternal mountains glowing purple in the darkening sky.
Something pulled her through this foreign place,
Past these homes with white-faced windows,
Staring,
Staring,
All staring out at her.

She was returning
And she would know when she got there,
She would know it was the right place,
The place that called her,
Called her past the houses filled with the safe yellow light,
Past the houses filled with the busy sound of happy televisions,
Past the dutiful dog walkers on unbroken sidewalks,
All the way to the underbrush near the hillside trail
Where she would find a private place,
Unroll her sleeping bag,
Watch the sky change from blue violet to black,
Read the twinkling messages of stars,
Receive the omen of the rising amber moon,
Hear the rhythmic hooting of the gatekeeper owl,
Shiver from the sharp penetration of cold and damp,
And dream,
Her eyelids falling,
And dream,
Her breathing slowing.

At last,
At last,
Home again.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Keeping Time


I drive slowly past the place,
The place where she died
Less than an hour ago,
Heard it on the radio,
And there,
Outside my windshield,
The fatal freeway scene.

Traffic is kept moving,
Just a glimpse of ripped steel and fractured glass,
Flashing lights and uniforms,
A double-rig truck knocked crooked,
And then,
Driving fast again.

I fumble with the radio
And find a good station.
I tap the middle finger of my right hand
Against the side of the steering wheel,
Keeping time.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Plotless


Someone is telling my story,
Moving my life from chapter to chapter,
But my storyteller is raw and unskilled.
He labors on and on,
Weaving the most complex and intricate details
Through the most uneventful scenes.

You will wake up early this morning
And drive to work in heavy traffic.
Yes, you will drive to work every day,
Except for the weekends.

Many of us are displeased with our storytellers.
Will our plots ever take some meaningful shape?
I wonder.
These lives are poor fiction.

He wakes up early and takes a cold shower,
Trying to shake off the fatigue
From working late every day this week
In his colorless fluorescent cubicle.
He reties his tie for the third time,
Finds his car keys,
Grabs his half-empty cup of coffee
And begins the long, difficult drive to work.
He listens to the news
And thinks about the many phone calls he must make
When he gets to the office.

It’s a puzzle to me
Why we put up with this at all.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

A Young Woman Waiting For A Bus


She sits alone at the bus stop,
This girl,
With nothing to do
But wait.

She sits alone
Then stands
And runs her left hand,
Her sculptured, articulate fingers,
Down her sunburned hair,
Taking its length
To let the undulating afternoon air
Cool the back of her warm, moist, down-covered neck.

She lets her hair go
Then strokes it again,
A soft sensation of pleasure
Ripples across her skin,
Pleasure from being the lithe, young animal she is.

She looks wistfully down the length of street
For something shaped like a bus
Among the heat-blurred vehicles
Coming toward her.
She is early and expects nothing for a while,
But still she scans the traffic,
Eager to be in motion.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Yippy


It is the time of baby birds and lizards,
Of pollination and persistent sun,
Of rebirth and renewal.

I can hear the tug of Spring
In the spirited barking of Yippy,
The dingy, bedraggled cocker spaniel next door,
Aroused now by every passing dog,
Every wandering cat,
Each exploring squirrel,
Each backyard human.

I remember last year
When Yippy was so full of Spring,
Barking throughout the night at every rustling leaf,
It seemed to Al,
Big Al, we called my neighbor,
A large man bedeviled by barking
As he revisited the ritual of the backyard barbecue.

“God damn that dog!”
I heard him flare across the fence,
Stopping short of formal complaint,
Not one to be outwardly unneighborly.

Perhaps it was all that barbecued red meat that felled Big Al,
Dropping dead at work one chilly day last winter.

Spring has returned
And though old Yippy is clearly a canine in decline,
His barking still carries loud and clear,
And somehow I sense Big Al is near,
Cursing this aged dog who still survives
While human beings drop like flies.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved