Where Will It End?


You’ve learned so much,
The methods,
The craft of attracting men.

Skillfully applied color,
The revealing cut of your clothes,
The shape and fall of your hair,
Each finger,
Each toe,
Perfect.

Your scent,
The arc and pace of your walk,
The lingering glance,
Just long enough to say:
“I am full of mystery.”

How long will you keep this up?

Look at these aging frumpy women,
So unhappy with what they thought they wanted.
What have they surrendered?

Look at their disappointed, disinterested husbands,
Men who invested their lives in illusion,
Now so brazenly inattentive.

Now ask yourself,
What do you really want and what does it mean?
Where will it end?


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Wounds


Some wounds never heal.

The transgressions of youth,
The persistence of folly,
The weakness of moral resolve,
These are painful in remembrance.

The stubborn refusal to admit mistake,
The inability to yield and in such yielding change behavior.
O yes, maturity has come slow,
In fits and starts,
So easily suspended when truly tested.

These wounds are painful to the touch
But the pain does not go deep.

Some wounds never heal.

The loss of a loved one,
The cruelty of suffering,
The arrogance of evil.
These are constant in this world
And penetrate the core of my being.

I would seek an end to this pain,
Yet such an end would require forgetfulness.
I will not erase those I have loved,
Those I have lost,
For they are of my own soul now,
Of my spirit,
My essence.

This is the price I pay
For living in this imperfect world.

Some wounds never heal.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

But Then


After all the years of trial and error
My memories are stained with embarrassment.
Even the most exquisite chapters of my life
Contain paragraphs that can still make me wince.

And so this morning I am resolved,
Resolved to fast from the feast of self-absorption.

But then,
There are these words.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Sing!


There is a path I have traveled,
At least, to look back upon it,
It seems a marked course of some kind,
Even with its irregularities,
It is something as if planned,
A life,
Beginning with postulation,
Ending in conclusion,
Yet certainty escapes my grasp
More often now.

I have ceased to care
Who is right,
Who is wrong.
Life is a song,
Sing!


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Candles All Blown Out


There is much regret in death,
Regret for what I did not say,
Did not do,
Regret for not being there
On the day,
At the moment.

Death happens in a single day,
I tell myself.
The life,
All the days of the life are what’s important,
I tell myself.

But logic cannot reason away
The wounds of the heart.

If only death were like one last birthday.
We’d have a big party,
Everyone would sing,
Then,
The candles all blown out.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Daredevil


I saw some old newsreel footage,
A limber young woman high atop a skyscraper,
A daredevil,
Hanging on to a steel cable with a single hand,
Dangling playfully a thousand feet above the tiny street.

I shuddered.
Something I’d never do,
Knowing the daredevil in me would be sorely tempted
To let go.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Devolution


He was bored,
So bored with routine,
Every morning,
Brushing his teeth,
Making coffee,
Slogging off to work,
To predictable employments.

Then,
Weekend chores,
Social obligations,
So encumbered by family, friends and finance.

The half-slumbering supplicant,
Longing for escape,
His earnest entreaties
Finally heard,
Heard and granted.

Now,
As the first light warms the earth
He drags himself out from under a stone,
Eager to feel the sun against his scales,
The taste of yesterday’s grasshopper
Still lingering on the tongue.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Secrets Of The House


I keep the secrets of the house
Hidden from my family,
Its flaws,
Its persistent decay.

I preserve the illusion of home
As an inviolable sanctuary,
Impervious to entropy.

I alone know the truth:

The rusted screws broken off in their screw holes.
The corroded plumbing improvised into temporary compliance.
The imperceptible but certain slope of the living room floor.
Sagging timbers in dark places steadily pulling apart
Under the weight of an aging roof
That funnels rain into inaccessible attic corners,
Growing mold.
Clumps of unidentifiable wiring.
Termite dust.
Splintered rotting fence boards
A strong wind away from collapse.
The stealthy hairline cracking of cement.
The blister and peel of paint.
The bacteria count of the carpet.

I dare not continue.

I keep the secrets of the house
Hidden from my family,
Pretending we will all live forever,
One day at a time.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

After She Died


She saved almost everything:
Letters and greeting cards,
Junk mail,
Old photos in forgotten boxes,
Tattered piano music with penciled notations,
Business cards,
Decades of buttons,
Shirt stays from her father’s collars,
Powder puffs,
Spoiled perfumes,
Broken jewelry,
Stopped clocks,
Obligatory souvenirs from trips abroad,
Her husband’s defunct electric shavers,
Rusty tools,
Curious parts for obsolete appliances,
(more).

Sorting through drawers, cupboards and closets,
What seemed to me an irrational hoarding
Was fraught with meaning for her,
Each object imbued with purpose,
Each object a crystallized memory,
Each object a desperate wish:
Remember me,
Remember me.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Too Late


Ah yes,
Just before it all slips away,
The realization comes.
How beautiful!

Too late,
Too late.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Older Men


Older men want to be young again
So they fall in love with beautiful young girls,
Believing they can again be new,
Undetermined,
Free from the consequence of years,
Reborn.

Forgive them.
It is their last adolescence.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Never Far


When love embraces trust,
I slowly surrender my polished persona
And show my scars,
Even those self-inflicted,
Especially those self-inflicted.

Yes,
I too am a human being,
I say.

The wounded child,
Never far from the surface.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Coyotes


And the coyotes sang a juicy-cat song,
Leaving their secret places in the foothills,
Following scent trails scattered by the warm Santa Ana wind,
Softly padding together through the maze of asphalt,
Defying the logic of cul-de-sacs,
Then,
Suddenly glad,
So glad to be together
Beneath the tree-shaded suburban street lights,
So happy to be together in the adventure,
Spiriting the neighborhoods of the hairless ones
Who wear clothing.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Call It Poetry


Go ahead,
Call it poetry,
I suppose you’ve got to call it something,
But I’m just talking,
Talking to you,
Telling you as sincerely as I can
What is in my heart
And in my mind,
Trying to strip these words and thoughts
Of pretense,
As best I can,
Not concerned about literary theory,
Just concerned about this life,
This life we are actually living,
Day by day.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Busy


We are trained by the world
To keep busy,
Never stop for too long
Without feeling guilty,
Guilty of not getting something done,
Always something more to get done.

We get things done to get things done,
But no matter how many things we get done
We are never done.

Something is missing,
Something is missing,
Something is missing.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

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

Gifts Of Christmas


1.

A gift,
For me?
Oh you shouldn’t have!

Is it really a selfless expression of your affection?
A gesture of love?
Or an obligation?

Is it genuine?

Does your gift reflect who you think I am?
Who you think I should be?
Perhaps it’s more about who you are,
Who you want me to think you are.

Is it an object of serious intention?
Designed to awaken?
To arouse?
To cause a reaction?
Or is it just for fun,
A playful reminder of the inner child?

Am I taking this too seriously?
Giving too much thought
To what is impersonal?
Is it merely generic?
A gift that says:
We are not close.

Did you wrap it yourself?
With your best paper?
Or was it the tail end of your least favorite roll,
Reserved for those who do not matter?

Have you actually touched this present,
Or did someone else purchase and wrap it for you?
Did it come by mail from a warehouse?


2.

Will those I love most
Disappoint me with thoughtlessness,
Or will I bask in the warmth of their intentions,
However artfully or clumsily conveyed?

Will my more slow-witted relatives
Prove true to my expectations?
Will the superior intelligence of others
Be clearly demonstrated
And make me feel stupid
For the lack of imagination my gifts reveal?

Will the ego of the gift-giver
Overshadow the generosity of the gift?
Or will the giver’s inferiority complex be manifest,
So sadly displayed by the soullessness of what is given?

Will the gift be of use, of value,
Or merely a cheap trifle soon discarded,
Donated to the local thrift shop?

Perhaps the most important gift of all will be absent,
The gift from the one I love most.

Or perhaps after all the wrapping is cleared away,
When the communal ceremony has ceased
And the gift-givers dispersed,
I will steal away to some private place
And press my lips to the gift I treasure above all,
It’s meaning so fervently constructed,
Without form.



~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Bottomless Pit


Some things never change,
I say,
Such as your stubborn refusal to admit
That change is the one constant of the universe,
Constant change,
That is.

But love is better than hate,
You say,
Will that ever really change?

If you love evil and hate virtue,
I say,
Then someday,
If you are lucky,
You will change and learn to love the good
And hate the bad.

And so the love of goodness,
You say,
Is right and will always be so.
Surely that will never change.

And I say,
Every day,
If we are lucky,
Our understanding of what is good,
Of how to be good,
Will grow,
And growth is change.

But if change is all there is,
You say,
Is not change itself a process
That will never change?

The process of change,
I say,
Is like a fire that consumes
And alters.
Who can say
This fire will never be extinguished?

But if the fire which is constant change
Is someday extinguished,
You say,
Wouldn’t that be the end of change
Once and for all?
And without change what is left?
Constant nothingness?

Or constant somethingness,
I say.
The end of change could be the beginning
Of something quite different indeed,
Something larger,
Beyond our comprehension.

We talk like this
On and on
Into the night,
Trying to reason out the truth of our existence,
Temporarily unaware that we are growing older,
Slipping along toward death,
Moment by moment.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

This House


When this house was new
It practically took care of itself.
I thought newness was a permanent state,
Something easily maintained.

I repaired occasional wear and tear,
Restoring, preserving,
But eventually the patina of age took hold,
Irreversibly.

I reluctantly learned a degree of acceptance,
Trusting the impervious core of this house
To withstand most of the minor disfigurements.

After all,
So many other deteriorating houses still stand,
Still provide shelter,
A place for a life.

Yet the years accumulate
And that which cannot be repaired
Multiplies,
And the once indestructible sheen of youth
Has given way to an aura of infirmity,
Filling my thoughts with apprehension.

Where will I live when this house is gone?


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Who Is Asking?


What is the shape of my mind?
The shape of my spirit?
My soul?

What is my essence?
What does it look like?
Just an image in the mirror?

Who is writing these words?

Am I a collection?
A collection of pain,
Pleasure,
And everything between and beyond?
Am I a receptacle?
Am I both?
Or neither?

And by the way,
Who is asking?


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Old Cat


Asleep in the midday sun
She is curled atop a couch,
Her old chin cushioned on crossed paws.

A truck bangs its frame on a pothole
But the old Siamese does not stir,
Her tail does not twitch.

She is nearly deaf
And her occasional cries are rough and harsh,
Too loud,
Too full of distress for the routine requests they signal.
She is an old, deaf lady
Who can no longer measure the volume of her speech.

She will awaken soon and cry for food
Or cry to be shown to the litter box
In a place she forgets.
In this way she spends her last days,
Sleeping, eating, excreting
And luxuriating
In the gentle touch
Of the warm hand
That startles her from sleep.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Boundaries Of Heaven


We draw the boundaries of heaven
Around the spaces of ourselves,
Marked off by threat
And bluster,
As if heaven were a place
Unwelcome.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Mystery


When the temporal world turns against you
It’s hard to sustain faith in the eternal,
To embrace the mystery.

Some say our bodies create our minds,
That our sense of a soul,
A spirit,
Is but an illusion created by our physical existence.
But do we not struggle in this life
Between physical desire and spiritual aspiration?
Why would our minds invent such torment?

The cruelties of existence so often extinguish hope,
The fuel of imagination and inspiration
That calls us to dream,
And to bring our dreams out of the ether,
Into our everyday lives.

Sophisticates reason away spiritual inclinations,
For they are blessed with fortune and purpose.
But this too shall pass
And each of us shall be reduced,
Left for a moment,
Or an eternity,
To enter the heart of the mystery.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Books


Books on my shelves,
So meticulously bought
And placed according to thought.
The lines of their spines
Reproach me
For ignoring them so.
In false phrases of praises
My bookstore ambitions go.

What would I know
If I’d read them all
And with total recall
Could bring forth their voices?
Who would I be with such choices,
With such knowledge tamed
And insights gained?

Would I really be changed
If rearranged
By the genius of my age
And of ages before?
Would I be an amazing sage
Or just another incredible bore?


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Sole Companion


This little cat,
My sole companion now.
I had nearly a dozen once
When my children were children.
Some inside and tame,
Others too wild,
Strays who came for food,
Fearful,
Never close enough to pet.

Some people are dog people,
But for my family
It was always cats,
Arriving suddenly from mysterious circumstances,
Finding refuge where we lived,
An old rented house on a large lot
Next to an acre or more of vegetables,
A vacant barn.

Yes,
They’ll give you food,
The old cats would advise the passing stranger.

Not nearly as much space at the new house.
More neighbors,
Closer neighbors,
And coyotes,
Great horned owls.

One by one they died,
Some of old age,
Some before their time,
The last old lady sleeping, sleeping, sleeping,
Then still.

This little calico cat,
So sick in the city shelter,
I nursed her back,
Old man that I am with time, time, time.

She is my sole companion now,
Giving each hour of the day a purpose.
A window for the morning,
Watching the excitement of birds
Flapping on and off the feeder,
Then backyard inspection
Under my overprotective supervision,
Then inside for a snack
And a day of favorite places at favorite times
Until at last the evening.
No longer nocturnal she pulls her claws,
Curls into a circle and rests.
She chirps as I stroke her fur,
Fur soft as silk from my frequent reassurances
That no matter what may come,
Right now,
All is well.

This little cat,
My sole companion now,
Content to share the warmth of my bed,
The warmth of my body
Against these cold winter nights,
This little cat who contains all the cats I’ve ever known,
All the cats who’ve come,
All the cats who’ve gone.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Meaning And Pretense


I was an old young man
Singing songs of social protest,
Words I did not understand,
Words I had not lived.

I am a young old man now,
Singing songs of uncertainty,
Words I understand,
Words I have lived.

Now I understand the difference between meaning and pretense.
Now I know you’ve got to be honest,
You’ve got to tell the truth to tell the difference.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Procreation


Yes,
Your parents were in love.
Well,
At least in lust.
Believe it.
No matter how ugly and ill-suited to romance they now seem,
There is a reason you were born.
Well,
Perhaps not so much a reason
As an emotion,
Drawing them together,
Fulfilling their destiny to create a new human being,
The latest version of evolution,
You,
The dream made flesh,
You,
You snot-nosed ungrateful twerp!


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Parallel Lust


There may be an infinite number of alternate realities,
According to some theories.
For each of us,
An infinite number of individual existences,
One for each possible action,
Each possible outcome.

And so my love,
Despite your current disinterest in my affections,
You may be my ardent lover in some other life
Where I am the reluctant one,
Though I suspect my eagerness will persist
With all the beautiful yet reluctant women I know,
Each destined to become my consummated soul mate
In some of my more salacious autobiographies.

Meanwhile,
In this particular lifespan,
The unremarkable aspects of my love life,
Continue.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Blur


Something about getting older
Speeds things up,
Something we do to ourselves,
Something we want,
Something we accept,
Something we don’t realize,
Don’t think about
Until the hours take flight,
Passing by like minutes.

Hurry,
Hurry,
Everything is hurried,
Speeded up,
Combined,
Stripped down
Until whole decades pass by
Without meaning.

Blur.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

It Is The Dream That Creates Us


It is the dream that creates us,
However carnal or profane,
However blessed by human charity,
However vengeful or inane.
It is the dream that creates us
And awakens us each day,
And opens a path before us
And sends us on our way.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Tru Blue Gurus


True blue gurus
Tell me who I should be
With such certainty:
Honest, honorable and wise,
Trusting in providence,
Patient with injustice,
Content with my haphazard existence.

Yes, yes,
It is a blessing to be alive,
But endless, underpaid labor
Leaving little opportunity for imagination
Does not engender exuberance.

True blue gurus
Tell me there are no real obstacles,
That mind is the matter,
But here in the world outside my mind
Things can go terribly wrong.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved