Another Cold Day


The weather report,
Another cold day
In the city where you live,
Without me,
And it breaks my heart
I cannot be there
To hold you,
Keep you warm.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Poet And The Ink


Did you ever stop and smell
The stink of ink
From your fountain pen
And think:
When, oh when
Will I write again?

Or did you dwell
On the smell
And think:
What the hell,
I’ll have a drink.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Cacophony


. . . of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weakness of the flesh.

~ Ecclesiastes, Chapter XII, Verse 12



How fervent,
How intricately detailed our entreaties,
How reason-filled our requests,
How impassioned our pleas.

How many books have we made,
Filled with tiny words,
Preaching,
How many?

All these tiny words
Speaking on our behalf,
Speaking to instruct us,
Explaining,
Imploring.
From the beginning of the printed word,
The beginning of the spoken word,
How many?

Now, imagine you are God,
Imagine the cacophony,
Imagine your delight
In one single, solitary, silent prayer.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Awakened


Some mornings I wake early
And sit awhile with Sally
Who sits awhile with me
Keeping warm on my blanket
Against the chill.

Sally rotates an ear:
An over-excited dog straining a leash,
The rusty squeak of an old truck’s leaf springs,
A sharp word rising from a late-for-work neighbor,
Two starlings touching down in the patio,
Wary birdy bleatings.

Sally meow-chirps in emulation,
Her only impression.

Now lifting her chin,
Sally points her ears toward the back bedroom
Where my wife rises from sleep:
Turning on water,
Clattering the soap dish,
Tapping a toothbrush on the edge of the sink,
Opening a closet door.

Sally leaps from my lap
To greet her mistress,
Leaving me here,
Awakened.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Another


After all these years of earnest self-improvement,
After all the studying,
All the prayers,
The self-examination,
The questions,
The meditation,
The false euphoria,
The despair,
If I awaken one morning
As another,
If I am new,
If my sight has been restored,
If I again see the world
Through the innocent eyes of a happy child,
But the world I have made,
The life I have lived,
All my old obligations
Beckon still,
Then?


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Animal Force


There is an animal force
That moves me toward you
But I resist,
For there is no heart in it.
It is all accident,
An accident of time,
Circumstance,
Genetics.

I admit all manner of impulse
For honesty’s sake,
And for the same reason
Withdraw consent.

Conditioning and confinement,
So much to blame
For our transgressions.
We look to all available drugs
To ease what cannot be so quickly cured.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

She Is Living Still


In an expensive restaurant,
Sitting at the shadowed bar,
The aging beauty sips a glass of wine,
Sways slightly to the prerecorded music,
And old recording of a young Tony Bennett,
“It had to be you . . .”

This is her favorite place,
Surrounded by her wealthy, aging friends,
Bathed in frivolity and alcohol-fueled laughter
About nothing in particular,
Just the pleasure of being momentarily amused.

She sees me watching her
And instinctively angles her bare left shoulder forward,
Her best feature at this delicate age,
The smooth, sun-freckled skin of her shoulders.
She rests her chin on the back of her right hand,
Pulling the wrinkled skin of her neck a little tighter,
Her worst feature, despite the surgery.

It is a practiced pose,
Coming so naturally now,
Reflexively engaged when the old passions stir,
When a younger man catches her attention.

O that sleek young girl who turned every head,
Who won the heart of more than one wealthy man,
Who considered all offers,
Negotiated the best deal available,
O that lost and lonely young girl,
Living still.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Headstones


We are tucked in safely below the turf
For our last long sleep.
From a distance,
No one would know we were there.

But in the old sections
The ancients rise above.
They are from another time,
From a different world,
Believers in the annunciation of mortality.

We lie beneath them.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Anguished Soul


Your anguished soul cries out
Because your dreams of fame and fortune
Are only dreams
And evaporate like dew at sunrise,
Just a little daylight
And the real world takes over.

But you persevere,
You work on those dreams
In all your spare moments
Until one day
You finally get a break
And the Company decides
Your Anguished Soul
Is the next big thing
And it happens:
T-shirts and coffee mugs,
The Anguished Soul Tour,
Television talk shows.

You become the voice for all those anguished souls
Who watch television late into the night
And dream of being you,
Not realizing
They already are.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Child


There is a child in me,
Surprised at what he sees,
This eternal child,
Always surprised,
Especially now,
Seeing the passage of time
Marked upon my face.

O time,
I still don’t understand,
Though I’ve changed from boy to man,
Though I will change from what I am,
The child,
Remains.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Designated Places


You and I were fallen angels when we met,
Fallen from illusions of a certain control over life,
Thrown together by the certain fate of happenstance,
Anonymous in our dark, confessional corners,
Free to be disarmingly honest.

We had little left to lose,
Certainly not vanity,
Not in our drowning gasps,
Not in the freefall of our despair.

Yet we were reprieved by our surrender
And familiarity welcomed us back,
Each to our designated places,
Rejoining the world,
No longer close.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Praying


Praying,
All this praying,
Filling empty time,
Becoming a substitute,
Becoming the center of your life.

When at last the promise appears
You turn away,
Too comfortable now
In the familiar sameness of prayer.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Questions


Why?
Why am I alive
When with every breath I take a child dies?

Am I just another ant in the ant farm?
Or am I a traveler on the road to divinity?

Am I a blade of grass reaching for the sun?
Or am I a ray of sunlight cast indiscriminately upon the world?

Perhaps I am just a man with time on his hands,
Time to think beyond bodily needs,
Time to ask questions,
Time to create questions out of madness,
Madness that comes when living itself is not enough.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Do Not Grieve


Do not grieve for me,
For I am standing at the edge of the sea,
With one foot still in this world,
The other in eternity.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Anatomy


Inside,
There is light and dark,
Without reason,
For reason follows intuition,
And intuition follows
Something I cannot name,
Something light,
Something dark,
A place in the heart
Which is not really the heart,
Which is not really a place.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Animal Again


O the noise,
The fire,
The mad multitudes,
Armed,
Dangerous.

This new society,
So sick of civilization,
Animal again.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

My Love Asks Nothing


My love asks nothing of you,
My love is its own reward,
And punishment.

If you do not love me
My love will leave you alone
And I will continue to feel great pleasure,
Great pain.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

An Apple Or An Orange


I could not decide
Whether to buy an apple
Or an orange,
And the harder I tried
The more I realized
Just how bad I feel
About you
And me.

Just pick up one or the other,
I told myself,
Or both,
What does it matter?

I walked out of the store
With nothing.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Amen


When you begin a prayer
You open a door.

Keep the door open.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Courage Is Required


“Oh I reckon,
I reckon I'm a cowboy,"
I wrote in careful, deliberate script
Upon the first page of what would be
The treasured notebook of the new American Shakespeare.

The muse was speaking
And I was listening
When my older, less literary brother appeared,
Yanking the notebook from my hand,
Reading my first half stanza
And laughing.

It would be weeks before he stopped taunting:
"I reckon I'm a cowboy!"
His deeply intimidating stare
Mocking me,
Humiliating me for daring just a little transcendence.

The years have turned my attention,
More practical pursuits,
Yet the muse still faintly calls.
I take pen in hand and see my brother's face,
His mocking, disapproving eyes.

O yes,
The troubled path of the poet.
Courage is required.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

My House


It was barely sprinkling
After several hours of light rain
Early Sunday morning
When I heard the coughing,
The retching,
And looked out my breakfast nook window
To see a young man with his car door open,
Vomiting on the street in front of my house.

My house.

How lucky I am
That I can say the words:
My house,
While aimless young men
Wander through this city,
Regurgitating at will.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Incarnation


Each morning I awaken as a child,
Staring wide-eyed into the bathroom mirror.
I wash my face,
Then sip a cup of coffee,
Or two,
And I am a young man,
Full of ambition for the new day.

Midday I withdraw from battle
To refuel and recharge,
Determined to vanquish before the sun has set.

By late afternoon I am middle-aged,
Defeated and disappointed by the limitations of the day.

After dinner,
Sitting on the couch watching television,
I am an idle old man,
Too afraid of inner demons for quiet contemplation.

By midnight I drag myself off to bed,
Resigned to the grave,
To insignificant nothingness.

It is a fitful sleep that awakens me at 3 a.m.,
And in the absence of task and purpose,
I am Buddha,
Knowing reincarnation is just a few hours away.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

You


I love what is unfinished,
Unfolding,
Undecided,
Free from certainty,
Curious,
Growing,
Eagerly embracing change,
Surprised by each new day,
Listening for the voices of angels,
Ready for a miracle . . .

You.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Playground


We are the little children of God
Who decided we want to do things on our own.

So God said, “OK,”
And put us here in this playground.

We’re still learning how to play together nicely.

We’re a bit slow.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Almost Enough


O circumstance,
Enemy of dreams,
Unyielding wall
That keeps us apart.

Circumstance like science
Cannot be wished away,
Will not be denied,
Only overcome by those
Who allow desire to overcome reason,
A perilous course,
Full of grave consequence.

You and I weighed such consequences
And turned away from love’s unreasoning madness,
Wounded,
Scarred,
Yet saved from eternal sorrow by the words:
I will always love you.

It's almost enough.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

When I Am With You


There is a part of me that awakens
When I am with you.

Not that I had forgotten.
No,
I remember everything.
The blush on your cheek,
The tiny pink ribbon on your delicate white dress,
The curve of your shoulder,
Your restless sleep.

All my memories are charged with emotion,
But they are reflections of the past.

When I am with you
There is a part of me that awakens,
That memory cannot recreate.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Real Thing


True,
Incomparable love
Comes when your heart finds a home.

It may not last,
But if you’ve ever found it,
You’re one of the lucky ones.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

What Do You Really Think?


What do you really think?

No,
Not what you’ve heard,
Those predigested generalizations
Tailored to specific constituencies,
Foot soldiers amassing in the unity of certainty.

What do you think that’s genuinely yours,
Uniquely yours,
The product of your own ingredients,
Of your own mental exercise,
Unaltered by expectations of approval
Or disapproval,
Stripped of cliché,
Of second-hand observations . . .

Summon the truest voice within and tell me,
What do you really think?


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Life Lessons


We grow old and discouraged,
Worn by repetition and disenchantment,
Wondering what life is for.

We forget the answers are all there,
Waiting to be rediscovered in storybooks,
Where Peter never loses the enchantment of youth,
Where Goldilocks learns respect for the sanctity of family,
Where the diligence of a little pig saves the lives of his brothers,
Where running away teaches Dorothy there’s no place like home.

Cradled by a mother’s love
We are safe and we are forgiven.
The world is once again full of wonder
And life will never end.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Angels Can Only Do So Much


Angels can only do so much,
Depending on their age, experience and motivation,
Intercession not being as easy as one might suppose.

Consider political upheavals.
Consider natural disasters.
Angels can only do so much.

And there is considerable reluctance among the winged
To capriciously alter the course of human events,
Knowing how motivational calamity can be,
What with all the problem-solving it requires,
Knowing how the evolution of the human race
Is enhanced by a few obstacles now and then.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Don't Take This Literally


I’ve been way too coherent lately,
Too literal.
Some of my more artistic friends
Blush
At my naive,
Prosaic,
Poetry.

I actually use the words
“Love,”
And “heart,”
Even “God,” for “Pete’s sake.”

I “dream”
And sometimes I am “sad,”
Sometimes full of “hope” and “joy.”

I apologize to my more sophisticated friends
For my unadorned simple-mindedness
And would deconstruct coherence with obfuscation
But alas,
I am “too far gone.”


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved