In A Coffee Shop


In a coffee shop
I stop
And sip
And watch.

A mother and her young son,
Helping him with homework.

A college girl and her laptop,
Two young men glancing,
Laughing at their imaginary scenarios,
Glancing.

A boy with earbuds inserted
Fingers a portable computer game.

An attractive woman in her forties enters,
Turning the head of a lonely man
Disinterestedly reading a newspaper
To keep from staring.

The attractive woman orders a regular coffee of the day
From the aproned young man behind the counter
With his stylishly close-cropped facial hair.
Because she is mad at her husband
She smiles at the skinny young coffee vendor
And puts a five dollar bill into his tip jar.

The mother opens a wide, brightly illustrated picture book,
“The Magic Flute,”
And tells her son about Mozart.
“Oh yeah. Mozart!” says the nine-year-old boy,
“I love that guy!”
The mother, who looks dark and Italian, smiles.
She is about twenty pounds overweight
And her light-skinned, fair-haired boy
Looks more like his father,
A happy, enthusiastic silly boy,
His arms and legs animated by the hits of the eighties
Playing in the background.

The college girl looks up from her laptop
To see if anyone is watching her,
So I try not to be noticed,
Middle-aged man that I am,
Too old to be admiring such a pretty young girl,
Not beautiful,
But pretty with the gloss of untarnished youth.
She sees the young men glancing at her
And turns her attention back to her laptop screen.
They are too young and silly.
She will know him when she sees him,
The one she is waiting for.

The lonely man, comfortable in his well-worn suit and tie,
Watches the attractive woman with the faded gold hair
Who does not need to lose weight
And imagines her whispering:
“I love you,”
But he will not speak.
He is also in his forties but still waiting,
Waiting for an invitation.

The teenage earbud boy chugs his coffee,
Picks at the acne on his chin,
Swings his backpack over one shoulder
And walks out the door.
He doesn’t want to say anything to anybody.

The dark-skinned mother says:
“This is my son who will love me forever.”

Her young son says:
“Let’s have fun all the time!”

The college girl says:
“Can you hear me O secret love? I am here.”

The lonely man is afraid to speak,
He expects disappointment.

The attractive woman says:
“My husband has fallen asleep and will not wake.
I am not ordinary.”

The two young men say:
“What a joke. People are so stupid!”

The skinny coffee vendor says:
“Why can’t I be like you? Why am I the servant?”

And I say:
“Here in this small coffee shop,
All the constellations of the universe.”

None of us say anything out loud.
One by one we finish our coffee and leave,
Pretending we are separate.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Leaving For Work


Leaving for work I see my little cat
Streaked in morning light,
White, orange and yellow,
Sitting still with paws folded
On back of an easy chair
Watching circling sea gulls
Flown inland from the storm
As what’s left of the rain
Drips curiously from the eaves.
A slight amusement.

The street scrubbed slick and clean
Refracts radiant points of light,
Myriad tiny suns
Spread across thin wet skin on black asphalt bone,
Black as bare tree trunks
Against cloud-white sky.

Most of the workers are gone from these streets,
I am late,
Most are gone
Yet I cannot help but linger
To taste this forbidden time,
Forbidden to me,
This absence of time.

On my way once more
The chilled air snaps
Little leaves falling as branches blow
The song of some little bird
In some neighboring tree
Singing quietly,
Calling me.

The sound of a passing car also calls.
It calls me as I stand
Transfixed by birdsong,
Beckoned by the world,
Called by my ambitions
And by no ambition at all.

There is so much to see here,
So much not to do,
For the mountains in this valley
Are streaked with virgin snow
Among silent solitary clouds
Frayed and twisted by wind.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Self-Serving Altruism


Let us,
The stupid inhabitants of a dying culture,
Dedicate ourselves to a new generation,
Let them stand upon our shoulders
To see what we cannot see,
So they may solve our problems,
Right our wrongs,
And not kill us
When we’re too old to take care of ourselves.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Temporality


Sometimes the body is weak
And the spirit sags
And I contemplate mortality,
Questioning again the specific location of the soul,
And the old fear returns:

What if the body is all?
What if all my spiritual perceptions are imaginary?

I am rudely interrupted.

My young calico cat Sally jumps into my lap,
Crying for something that is not food,
For the temporality of my attention.

I stroke her tongue-washed fur
And she ripples with pleasure,
Chirping with tuna-scented breath.

She pulls at my pajamas with sharp claws
And together we abandon all hypothetical considerations.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Before I Barely Knew Anything


Before I barely knew anything
I awakened each summer morning
To the cawing of crows
And thought,
How very tall these trees
In which they gather to ruffle their feathers
In the morning breeze,
How tall these trees
And how much these crows must see.

I climbed an orange tree,
So frightened by the height,
So amazed at the sight of neighboring houses
And city streets
And thought about what the crows must see
From the tops of the sycamore trees
And from higher still
As they rise into the sky,
Knowing I would never know
What they know,
Before I barely knew anything.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Bedtime


Josh who is growing older says,

“Good night Dad,”

And I say,

“Hittin’ the hay?”

And Josh who is growing older says,

“Guess so,”

And I say,

“Sweet dreams buddy,”

And Josh who is growing older says,

“See you in the morning,”

And I say,

“Not if I see you first!”

And Josh who is already quite the young man indeed says,

“Yeah, right dad.”


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Thumbs


There will never be a shortage of self-anointed critics,
Self-appointed judges of all manner of things,
Of people and events,
Large and small,
Those who educate,
Those who obfuscate,
Those with knowledge,
Those without,
Those who somehow believe it is their mission,
Their responsibility,
Their calling to point a thumb up or down.

We are blanketed with critics whose only qualification is ego,
Whose pronouncements are so soon forgotten
After scholars and historians assemble research and knowledge,
Honest intellectual inquiry,
To illuminate the past.

Do our media-created, ill-informed, knee-jerk commentators
Believe they are changing hearts and minds,
Guiding the course of a nation,
By unveiling the certain, unquestionable truth?

We are cooperative.

These pontificators give voice to our a priori conclusions,
Assuring us that even the most complex issues of our time
Can be measured by the masquerade of mass hysteria,
By the illusion of popular opinion,
That all we really need do is vote,
One way or another,
Thumbs up or thumbs down.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Becoming


Somewhere,
I suppose,
There may be that perfect person,
Or two,
Who has never sinned,
Though through the eyes of the world’s religions
Nearly everything is a sin to someone,
I suppose.

Somewhere,
I suppose,
There may be that perfect person,
Or two,
But for the rest of us,
Our life’s work is laid out before us,
Day by day,
Hour by hour,
Moment by moment,
The work of becoming.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Here, In This Place


When the darkened room is suddenly filled with light,
When the unexpected wave rises and crashes upon you,
When you cannot find the precise metaphor to describe,
To express the overwhelming emotion
Bursting from your heart and spreading to every sinew,
Awakening,
Awakening,
Awakening your body to its purpose,
Awakening your mind to the joy of existence,
To the bliss of knowing,
Knowing you are desired,
Knowing you are loved,
Then,
It’s more than individual passion,
More than momentary infatuation,
It’s a place you have discovered,
A place in the mind,
In the heart,
In the universe,
A place where angels dwell,
Where inspiration is born,
A place permanently imprinted in memory
No matter how circumstances change,
Always and forever a place you’ve inhabited,
A place you know,
A place of joy and pain,
An eternal place,
Always there,
Waiting for your return.

You and I are lucky,
Struck by the lightning flash of love,
Surrendering caution and reason
Just to spend another day,
Here,
In this place.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Beautiful


When we touch,
Illusion enfolds
Our naked bodies,
Erases our imperfections,
And within our bliss
We become
Beautiful.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

They Speak Unceasing


The spirits speak
Too much.

My head is filled with the incessant clatter
Of their most insightful observations.
I am hounded by visions
In the most startling detail.
They crowd my sleep
And spill over into the day,
Beseeching me.

I long for the life of simple stupidity,
Ignorant of the twisted motives
That lie behind the desires of the human heart.
Show me no more
O uninvited spirits who whisper secrets
So casually in my ear.

It does me no good.

This busy world has no interest
In what you reveal.
They think me a deranged fool
In need of medical attention,
And for all I really know,
You may indeed be demons.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Anniversary


What is the secret
Of your long and happy marriage?
They ask.

I stop and reflect for a moment,
Furtively glancing at my watch,
Counting down the minutes
Until I will again meet with her,
My rosy-breasted, eager young mistress.

I am too old for her,
But we both have found a momentary bliss
In the forbidden.

What is your secret?
They ask again.

My mind races to find a suitable reply.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

In The Game


Have you ever suddenly stopped,
A grocery bag half empty on the kitchen counter,
And thought your life was without purpose,
Wondering if you should commit suicide
And be done with the whole inane farce,
When the phone rings,
And you answer,
Called back into the game again.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

I Knew A Young Man


I knew a young man
Who drank warm water
Right from the faucet,
From his cupped hand.

Everything he did,
An act of defiance,
An act of strength,
His way through the world.

They sent him to the war
And he didn’t last a week.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Balzac In Paris


This pretentious, unbridled egotism,
Bridled by academic sycophancy,
Shackled by erudite nonconformity,
Eruditely enforced by the last living literati
Hanging onto the endangered species list
By his and/or her precarious pedicured pedigrees.

This turgid landscape bleeds sour
For want of a coat of arms
Worthy of such shame,
Such intrepid debasement,
Oh yes,
Here in de basement
I goo goo too,
This awful-god game,
La comédie humaine.

Some call it poetry.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Time Keeper


I am the one who turns back time
This chilly gray morning
While wife and children slumber
In the hibernation of Sunday.

I sneak like a tooth fairy
From room to room,
Setting back clocks,
Slipping another hour of sleep
Silently under their pillows,
Hastening the darkening of a season
Already too dark for my timeless soul.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Sublimation


The morning light awakens
But I cannot tell the day,
What day it is.

Then,
The mind clears a bit
And I remember who I am,
What day it is,
What I must do
And how little time I have
To assemble myself and leave for work.

This day is not unlike any other work day,
Not unlike years of repetitive practical habits
That propel me into this persona,
This predictable working life,
So unlike the life of the sleeper
Who travels by thought through time,
Backward and forward,
In and out of time,
The true nature of my soul,
Sublimated by this working world.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Upper Crust


His finely manicured fingernails,
So clean.
He never earned money with those hands,
This denizen of the upper crust,
So certain that poverty is the fault of the impoverished,
A moral judgment upon those unworthy of wealth,
While he takes credit for the accident of his birth.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Mantra


Paralyzed,
He takes one last look over the ledge,
The edge of the precipice,
Imagining the staggering, unknowable falling.
He shudders and backs away.

He retraces his steps,
Returning to a place of safety,
A place of predictability.

I am too old, he assures himself,
Shuddering again at the image of the ledge,
The smothering abyss,
The surrender.

He drives to work with a new appreciation for sameness,
For the certainty of Monday,
For the harness of employment,
While deep inside in some unfocused, dimly lit room
He sits alone on a simple wooden chair,
Reciting the mantra he fears but cannot dismiss:

Nothing lasts forever,
Nothing lasts forever,
Nothing lasts forever.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Balance


Your stricken conscience
Grieves over the suffering in this world.

Convulsed with joy,
A baby laughs.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

That Word


Each of us struggles,
Trying to find that place,
Trying to remember that feeling,
That word.

What was it?

Trying to get it back,
Confused about it,
Tricked by pretense,
Tricked by empty promises,
By such sincere insincerity.

Some of us give up.

The passing of youth’s optimism,
The weight of daily subsistence,
The dream smothered by distractions,
By disasters.

Giving up is easier
If the bliss of a happy childhood was denied,
If you never found that place,
If you never felt those emotions,
If the word escaped you.

Giving up is growing up,
You tell yourself.

But if you were lucky,
If you were a happy child,
If you were loved,
If you loved in return,
If you worked or stumbled your way into the dream,
If the dream was thrust upon you,
The dream made real,
If you watched it fall away,
If the ache of memory persists . . .

Some of us grow old in melancholy,
Remembering,
Forgetting,
Then remembering again,
That place,
That feeling,
That word.

What was it?

Oh yes,
That place,
That feeling,
That word,
Joy.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

At Last You Begin


Reaching your destination at last,
You begin,
Because conclusions do not satisfy
Anyone but everyone,
And everyone is no one at all.

So you finally arrive at the beginning,
Exhausted,
Confused,
Worn out,
Finished with ideas of all sorts and kinds,
Ready at last.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

In Disguise


I recall that old man
Who turned to me in anger,
Impatient with my immaturity.

I did not recognize he was me.

I remember that young woman
Who cradled my hand in her hands,
Grateful for my kindness.

I did not realize she was me.

Now that I think on it,
It was often me,
Returning in disguise,
Trying to provoke.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

As If


O this revolving world,
I am dizzy with all this spinning,
Cumulative now in my later years.
I feel the solar winds
Tugging at my sleeves
As we hurtle through space,
Madly erecting shopping centers
As if there were no tomorrow.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Employee


Summer flowers dance softly in the afternoon breeze,
Far from the unfeeling glare of artificial light
In which I am encased all day long,
Muted.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Inside


Inside,
I forget the meaning of birdsong,
How hard the mockingbird works
To attract a mate,
His virtuosity.

Inside,
I forget how fallen leaves move,
Swept into corners
By gusts of wind.

Inside,
I forget the sun is alive,
Every moment,
Creating and destroying.

Inside,
I forget I live on a planet
Whirling through space,
Somewhere between the beginning
And the end.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

That Destiny


In you I imagine
And hypothesize
That which belongs to destiny.

Yes,
That destiny,
The one you said is inevitable,
Unalterable.

Yes,
That destiny,
The one I said is malleable,
Uncertain.

One must force the hand of destiny,
I said,
Looking into your infinite eyes,
Afraid to declare my love,
Afraid of what destiny might do.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Guardian


She walks among us,
Taking physical form for a moment,
Watching.

But when I am particularly low,
When my light is flickering,
She comes closer,
Smiles into my eyes,
Deep,
And I am renewed.

Only later do I realize,
I have seen her again.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Answer


Alone and grieving
I search the evening sky.
The full moon rises
With a big happy face.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Something To Remember


These small children would rather run than walk,
Rather jump than step,
They would rather wave their arms and scream
Than politely speak in turn.

So newly arrived,
Reborn without pain,
Recharged with euphoria,
They are mostly unencumbered by gravity.

Something to remember
As the distractions of responsibility
Accumulate.
Something to remember
As the weight of years
Multiplies.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Another Day At The Office


The black-winged fungus of death
Would like to have a word with you
And is holding on Line 2.

Take a message,
Say I,
For the splintering semen of rebirth
Is Miss Ledger’s hand on my thigh.

Encountering my limitless nonself
I give her nothing but love,
Baby.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Fathers And Daughters


O sweet child,
Father wants you to be happy
And will buy you many pretty things
And dust your life with confectioners’ sugar
And keep the world away
For at least another day.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Infinity


A gentle pulsing breeze blows
Through the evening,
Through the windbreak of elderly eucalyptus.
For a moment,
I hear only the sound the wind makes,
The way it must have sounded here before
Cars, planes and people.

I follow the breeze back to an ancient time,
Or is it a distant future,
After all the important things people do are done?
I wonder.

It is a place my soul longs to inhabit,
A place where I can stop and listen
To the uninterrupted stirrings of the wind,
To infinity.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Trash Day


I hear the truck lumbering down my street,
Creeping around the cul-de-sac,
Transmission torquing,
Short bursts of brakes screeching.

The side loader clamps and lifts
And shakes empty the black containers,
Metal clanging,
Hydraulics hissing,
The packer compacting trash in the hopper.

The diesel engine groans toward my house
And I run outside.

I invite the garbage man in for coffee and coffee cake
And we talk about his family:
Aging parents from Slovakia
Who still call themselves Czechoslovakians.
“It is from where we were born!”
A tattooed son who will not go to college,
A daughter still young enough to play with dolls
But pretty enough to cause him worry,
A wife who works at the hospital.
“No more night shifts!”

Driving the big truck
“Is a good job now.”
Sitting sky high in the cab.
No more lifting like the old days.

He goes to church each Sunday.
The stained-glass windows are midnight blue and apple red
And fill the air with color.

I offer to warm up his coffee
While my next-door neighbor looks out his window,
Wonders what in the hell is going on.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Another Day


Because my days are almost done
I walk this late afternoon by the hillsides,
The fog-chilled air pushing against my cheeks,
The spit of moisture falling on my forehead,
The first crickets beginning,
Singing the sun down behind the ancient mountains
Newly green with spring.

A beautiful young girl with translucent blue eyes passes by
With a small puppy straining against the leash.
She smiles without hesitation and says hello.

Ah the joy,
The joy of another day.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Lotto Life


I could already be
A millionaire.

Somebody’s gotta win.

Had a funny feelin’
My ticket was a winner
When the Pakistani clerk
Said “Good luck!” and with a jerk
Slapped the change into my palm,
The change
Into my palm,
Where I have yet to find
My luck line,
Where lines are so faint and fractured
Even gypsies cannot tell.

What the hell,
Somebody’s gotta win.

I could already be
A millionaire.

Feel it in my bones.

Gonna check my lucky numbers,
Check ‘em real careful.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

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

This Politician


The solemn occasion,
The honored dead,
The grief of a nation assembled in memoriam.

The earnest words,
The inspired speech delivered by this politician,
A showcase of compassion
Cleverly constructed by his speechwriters
To magnify his public image.

O the tortured expressions of sorrow.
Yes, he feels our pain,
Yes, he casts his humanity out upon our weary nation,
A nation so desperately in need of a leader.

This politician presents himself,
Offers himself,
This humble servant of the people,
This shepherd,
Eager to employ the suffering of a nation
To his own ends.

Those skeptics among us,
Aware of his grandiose disingenuousness,
Can not,
Will not forget how many lies he has spoken,
Winning so many earnest hearts and minds
With such sanctimonious deceit.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Life


They're coming,
We're going.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Maria Something


She doesn’t know why her car stopped.
I don’t know why it ran,
A thing many times discarded,
Salvaged only by her desperate situation.

From Mexico she comes,
This young, sculptured woman,
To work the rag trade
In secret sweaty buildings
Where all generations labor
Behind rows of blunt, brutish machines.

I cannot help her,
Knowing little about cars,
Less about miracles.
I lend her my phone.

“Gracias,” she says, smiling so sincerely.
Her eyes are black stars in a white-hot sky.

A breeze riffles her pleated white skirt
With hot and dusty Sunday afternoon air,
Revealing her long, leather-brown legs.

She is calling her cousin,
Waiting for him to answer,
Leaning against the warm metal skin of my car,
Pressing her carved, callused fingers
Against her feverish forehead,
Pulling her burnished brown hair away from her moist neck.

She waits for him to answer.
I wait for him not to answer.

I want to be with her
In some flickering candlelit room,
Her lips brushing against my ear as she whispers.

I want to touch the source
Of this inviolable beauty.
I want to know how she can smile
So killingly sweet,
Knowing what America would do
With such a life.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Politician


He's said so much
To so many,
He's almost convinced himself.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Sliding


I’ve let whole days slip through my fingers,
Whole years,
Decades squandered making money,
Buying stuff,
Carefully packing it all into boxes,
Unpacking it again,
Fixing things up,
Throwing things away,
Going to different places
And coming back again.

I’m sliding down hard ice,
Faster,
No meaning,
Faster,
No feeling,
Faster,
No bottom in sight.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Something Sleeps


Ordinary life,
A blessing really,
For those of us who have it.

Food,
Shelter,
Family,
Friends.

Yet,
Something sleeps in ordinariness.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

I Am Called


Your smile calls across the room,
Across time and incarnation,
Calls from the past,
From the future.

You smile and I am called,
Into the eternal now.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Cold Water


It’s been nearly forty years
Since my grandfather died,
A father to my troubled heart,
Though I have yet to learn all his lessons.

We would walk and talk
And he filled me full of ideas,
Ideas I was nowhere near ready to use,
Knowing, when I was ready,
He’d be gone.

One morning he taught me how to wake up,
To wash my face with cold water
The very first thing,
To wash away sleep and clear the mind.
I was young and woke up hard,
Too hard for the shock,
Especially when the weather was cold,
Too fragile.

Now, the cold water wakes and refreshes me,
Washes away sleep and clears my mind.
Now, with every drop of water upon my face,
My grandfather, with me, still.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Seeing


Take everything you know,
Write it down on a blank sheet of paper,
Then fold the paper and put it in an envelope.

Say out loud:
Here is all I know, all I have learned,
As you light the envelope on fire,
Watching it burn to ashes.

Now walk freely into the world and see everything,
No longer masked by certainty.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Car Wash


It’s a slow morning at the car wash
And the Mexicans are relaxed,
Making each other laugh,
Whistling,
Free from the manic afternoon rush to come.

One of them walks by,
Spinning a towel on a single finger,
Smiling at me with missing teeth,
Looking like a man who feels lucky,
Lucky to have this job in sunny Southern California.

Now he is drying my car with a towel in each hand,
Bending and stretching,
Familiar with all the secret places where water hides.
He jams his body upside down
Into an impossible back-seat angle
To wash the inside rear window.

A car horn honks and a woman sitting near me startles,
Finishes whatever she was doing with her cell phone
And walks to her car,
Walks around her car,
Inspecting,
Pointing at small spots only she can see
While the obliging car wash worker looks on,
Generously wiping his cloth where her finger points,
Smiling patiently.
She gives him her receipt and a dollar,
Not quite satisfied,
Not expecting to be quite satisfied.

The man working on my car finishes
And twirls a towel high above his head,
Like a pizza chef.
He is a virtuoso towel twirler,
A talented man who asks very little from life,
Who expects less.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Chosen One


Dear little princess,
So young,
We will fill your head with words,
With desires,
With expectations,
Until your wide-eyed wonder
Becomes the confident stare of certainty,
Until your playful innocence
Becomes an ambitious longing
For all your highness is entitled.

Yes, you are the chosen one,
Born of privilege,
The platinum spoon,
The glass slipper,
The iron gate that keeps them out,
Keeps you in.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Afterlife


The afterlife will not be unfamiliar.
It will look very much like today,
A place with mornings and evenings,
Just a few small changes,
Change continuing at its usual pace
With all the occasional upheavals,
Depending on where we are,
Who we are.

For those of us who believe in heaven,
Heaven will slowly appear.
For those who refuse contrition,
Hell will remain.

The possibility of change and growth will remain,
For all of us,
Change and growth,
Confusion and revelation.

We will share where we live with others,
With friends,
Strangers,
With those who are kind
And those who are not.
We will help or hurt them,
Or ignore them,
And they will help or hurt,
Or ignore us in turn.

We will witness the working of change upon our lives
Without certainty about the future,
For the future will be malleable.
There will be times when the old fear returns,
When we contemplate that our existences, however new,
May be extinguished.
Yet joy and hope will temper the anxiety of unknowing,
Reassurance that we need not fear eternity.

The afterlife will not be unfamiliar.
It will start tomorrow morning,
As usual.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Song


This light breeze sings
A music only plants can hear,
Moving leaves and shadows in rhythms,
Then still,
Pianissimo,
Allowing the warm counterpoint of the sun
To swell,
Then rising again,
Stronger now,
Reinterpreting a theme.

While we are oh so busy worrying,
The song of the Earth plays on.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

My Word


Last night an angel came.
I will give you one word
And you must take this word into your heart
And live this word,
Eat and drink,
Inhale and exhale this word.
Absorb this word into your blood,
Into every particle of your being.
The angel bent low and whispered into my ear:
Is!
Then dissolved into air.

O preachers with all your discourse,
Your obedience,
Your years of theological parsing,
Construction and reconstruction,
Your lessons,
Now I must put them all aside.

I have my word to work on.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Nothing Special


No special time,
No special place.

Any time,
Any place.

When I was young
I believed in preparation,
Years of preparations.
But now,
After years of preparations,
I can,
At last,
Let preparations go.

Now,
With imagination exhausted,
I blunder my way into enlightenment,
Not walking into heaven,
But leaving heaven,
And hell.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Hugs


It was a friendly hug,
A hello hug,
A nice-to-see-you hug,
For her.

For me,
It was love,
It was touch,
It was lust.

O this vast desert,
O this oasis,
These few drops of water,
Keeping me alive.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

All The Way


She climbed a mountain,
Struggled and suffered her way to the summit.
Looking out over the vast landscape,
Looking up into the dome of the sky,
She said:
I am closer to God,
Not realizing God was with her,
All the way up,
Not realizing God would be with her,
All the way down.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Reincarnate


How many things we do
Without thought,
Things we’ve done so long,
For so many years,
Becoming habitually unconscious.

Actions and reactions
Assembled into support systems of self-identity,
Reinforcing who we think we are,
Who we think we aren’t.

Strip them all away and who is left?
A newborn?
Or just a very old human being,
Finally ready to begin again,
Somehow.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Welcome To New York


Easy to feel sorry for someone with no home,
Imagine shelterless days and nights
Picking through trash discarded food,
Penetrating heart-shivering cold,
Angry voices.

I have felt sorry,
Given money,
Prayed,
Expressed righteous outrage
At indifferent tolerance.

I entertain such thoughts and feelings,
Yet in a corner of a New York City subway station
The feet of a homeless man
Were mud-stained,
Calloused, cracked, bleeding, swollen yellow-purple,
Each toenail turning black.

He was curled up like a kitten,
Lost in shivering sleep,
The winter chill coming on.

Easy to feel sorry,
To give money,
To relieve conscience with care and concern.
But who will wash this man’s feet?
Who will put salve on this man’s wounds?
Who will reassemble his life?
Who can?

I left him there.
We all walked by and left him there,
His wounded feet exposed to everyone,
Looking like Christ’s feet must have looked,
Nailed to the cross.
Actual, physical evidence,
The painful journey of an abandoned soul.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

There Are Words


There are words that lead into words,
That pull you in like the sudden spike
Of a strong drug,
Words whose meanings unfold,
Revealing layer upon layer,
Myriad thoughts,
The petals of old roses,
Shark teeth.

But each revelation is incomplete,
Relies on the understanding
Of an additional equation
Always a few pages ahead.
It is gravity in reverse,
Where conclusion precedes supposition,
A house of mirrors for the mind.

There are words that lead away from words,
That do not command,
Less than certain,
They paint a cerulean sea
And tell how the pelican folds his wings in flight
Like a collapsed umbrella
And dives into a shoal of sardines,
Shimmering,
Silver,
To satisfy his hunger.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Peace And Quiet


I had almost reached some eternal state of bliss
When my reverie was rudely interrupted
By my birth.

I need not tell you of the emotional quagmire
That is life.

I have suffered less than many.

Yet just when things began to settle down
My reverie was rudely interrupted
By my death.

Perhaps now I can finally get some peace and quiet.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Special Delivery


When I want love too much,
I remind myself not to be so selfish,
That love should be delivered
By winged messenger
With balloons.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The World


The trouble,
The consternation comes
When I try to make sense of the world.

Now which world is it I struggle to behold?

All human,
All animal,
All biological,
All cultural,
All political,
All geographical,
All cosmological,
All these worlds and millions more,
All somehow coagulated in mind and imagination,
All one world?

From my first waking hours
To my restless, fitful sleep,
I travel through myriad worlds of self,
Past, present and future worlds,
Full of memory, supposition and hypothesis,
Full of knowledge and ignorance,
Full of fear and hope,
And always,
Always,
The ever-present now,
Calling me to awaken,
Commanding immediacy,
Constantly defining and redefining this mercurial existence.

How can I ever make sense of it all,
Ever slip under a microscope
Such a fanciful idea as a world?


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Old Cat Sighed


The old cat sighed.
Suddenly realizing
Just how limited a cat’s life really is,
The old cat died.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Haunting


Some call it haunting,
These visits I make
To the places I lived,
Where my life was made,
To my childhood home:
The sidewalks still here
Where I rode my bike.
I hear the voice of my grandmother
Calling me in from play
For a sandwich and a glass of milk.
That long summer day
Walking with my grandfather
And all the things he said
About the life that was coming,
Things I scarcely understood,
Things that have guided me,
Lifted me when I fell
So I could begin again
To be like him,
A decent man.

I will not reawaken childhood sorrows.
I have buried them here
After years of torment,
And questions,
And finally,
Resolution.
Yet,
There is a light breeze of melancholy
Blowing through this place,
Blowing through all the places of my life
Where joy and sorrow,
Anger and ecstasy once lived.

Some call it haunting,
These visits I make
To the places where my life took shape,
On my own in tiny rooms,
In anonymous cities:
The rooming house and it’s red-haired landlady,
Mothering the young and single men there
With morality, discipline and compassion,
Teaching us how to respect
What was once a grand hotel
Where dignified gentlemen and ladies
Gracefully ascended
The carpeted stairs of the seaside resort.
And how many lonely nights
Did I sit on the sand at ocean’s edge
Learning how to listen?

Without chronology I travel,
My haunting is outside of time,
Drawn to the passions,
The silly exclamations,
So silly and profound this human animal,
This creature that can love:
Love that girl who gave me her life.
We exchanged lives,
Awakening,
Awakening,
In passion and in play,
Keeping the outside world away.

There are sad and angry rooms
Where I will not return,
For my haunting is to be free of regret,
Except for a kind of regret that sends me back,
Back in time to where happiness began,
Where happiness had the power to overwhelm,
To overwhelm life’s myriad frustrations.
O my soul has traveled in dark haunts enough,
Finally worn out its punishments,
Deserved and undeserved,
My penance,
Paid.

Now my soul travels in light,
In melancholy radiance:
I see my young family,
Laughter in their voices,
Youth and electricity in every movement,
And the future is infinite,
Full of imagination,
Full of hope,
And the growing of my life
Becomes the growing of my family
And I am no longer a single being,
I am larger.

Some call it haunting,
These visits I make
To where my beginnings began,
But this too will end
When I begin again.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

When?


When you start praying
When do you say:
Now I can put
All my praying away.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Father's Day


My father was too busy
Pulling weeds from his manicured lawn,
Each root carefully extracted intact,
To notice his house burning down.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Scholar


The learned, white-haired scholar
Sits atop a wooden library stepping stool,
Head bowed in deep concentration,
Reading from a book pulled from overstuffed shelves,
A backdrop of accumulated wisdom and folly
Surrounded by an island of ancient volumes strewn about the floor.

He is a serious man,
Dressed in formal attire,
Shoulders permanently stooped from decades of study,
Burnished in gold and mounted on black stone,
A bookend that keeps my unread volumes straight.

Although tempted by worlds both real and unreal,
By fictional dreams and nonfictional revelations,
By theologies and philosophies,
By research and supposition,
By fact and fancy,
By pretty pictures and childhood reveries,
I leave this dusty room,
For the day is new and the sun is warm
And everywhere little birds are singing in leaf-filled trees,
Beckoning,
Beckoning me to the more tangible world outside my door.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Hungry


Nature has made us hungry,
The necessary motivation for procreation,
Assuring perpetuity,
Even when reason resists.

By design or accident,
Or design of accident,
Over and over again,
We are born.

Modesty shames our unchecked explosions of lust,
So we attach the appropriate fig leaves
And walk out of the garden,
Into the world,
Imbued with socially appropriate decorum
Disguising our baser animal instincts.

Yet secretly,
Or not so secretly,
We cast the wandering eye,
Hungry.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

What It Is


This is,
What it is.

Now I know.

I said it was something else,
Way back then,
When I was ignorant
And thought I knew.

This is,
What it is.

Now I know.

And I've decided
It’s up to me
To tell you so.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

A Home In My Heart


There is a home in my heart
For each person I love,
Whether they love me,
Or not.

They’re all I’ve got.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Testing


Testing,
Testing.
Testing one, two, three,
Testing.
Onetwo, Onetwo,
Check onetwo.
Can you hear me back there in the cheap seats?
Am I coming through?
Testing,
Testing.
One, two, three,
Testing.
Should I turn it up?
Can you hear me?
Should I turn it up?
Give me a little more juice here.
Testing testing onetwo onetwo.
Refuse to comply.
Testing onetwo,
Onetwo.
Louder?
You want it louder?
REFUSE TO COMPLY!
Testing onetwothreefour,
Testing.
Tear down the system.
TEAR DOWN THE SYSTEM!
Testing.
Checkin’ one two,
Check, check,
Onetwothreefour.
A little louder please.
Revolution.
Revolution now!
REVOLUTION NOW!
Testing,
Onetwo,
Threefour,
Testing,
Testing.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

In The Wind


Love is in the wind,
A rootless passion,
A bird in flight,
An annunciation.

Love comes,
Love goes,
That is our illusion,
For we are the wind
And our passions are birds in flight,
Touching down here and there,
While love,
Like air,
Is everywhere.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Stuff


Hunting,
Gathering,
Acquiring,
Perfectly natural instincts,
Especially considering the vagaries
Of our primordial environments.

But now,
Knee-deep in storage containers,
The mechanism runs wild.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Critique


I think I am,
Therefore,
I have to get up in the morning
And drive to work.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Winding Down


I am a wind-up clock,
A multitude of wind-up clocks,
All winding down.

In younger years
I sprang into life each new day,
Wound tight by youth and enthusiasm.

Now, I cannot wind my clocks as tightly as before,
And some have stopped and will not be restarted,
Worn out beyond repair.

Now, the momentum of time increases.
Hours and days and years are speeding up
As my clocks run slow, slow, slower.
It is an odd equation.

I am a wind-up clock,
A multitude of wind-up clocks,
All winding down
As I fall fast, fast, faster
Toward that place,
That inevitable, timeless place.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Embrace


Here,
In this embrace,
I remember hating you.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Love Is Not Philosophy


1. Love Is Easy

Unlike philosophy,
Love is easy,
Actual.
You wake up each morning
And joy fills your heart
Because someone you love will say,
“I love you,”
Before the day is through,
And you will hold each other close
In a moment of eternity.


2. Love Is Hard

Unlike philosophy,
Love is hard,
Actual.
You wake up each morning
And pain fills your heart
Because someone you love has said,
“I don’t love you,”
And all day long
You will feel wounded and empty,
Hoping it won’t last forever.


3. Love Is Mysterious

Unlike philosophy,
Love is mysterious,
Ethereal.
You wake up each morning
And both joy and pain fill your heart
Because you ache to say,
“I love you,”
If only you could find someone
Before the end of another lonely day
And see the dream awaken.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Filled With Light


When I was younger
It was just me alone,
Staring into the abyss,
Waiting,
Without knowing what I was waiting for,
Falling into the deepest part of night,
So dark.

I am kinder now
And wait until sunny birdsong morning
To enter the place of no place.
Old fears still come and go
But now I face them with a warm cup of coffee
In a pleasant room,
Filled with light.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

There Are Reasons


My young cat bit through the skin on my hand,
Playfully,
And now the weather’s turned cold.

Rain is on the way
And there are two circular puncture wounds
Where little bitty kitty bit me.

I’d better get up on the roof before the rain starts.

I have my reasons.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Very Busy


God sent an angel to speak to you
But you’ve been very busy lately,
Even on Sundays,
Hurrying off to church,
Reading and reciting,
Praising the Lord
And all that.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Clearing


Do I live too long?
I sometimes wonder
During these long, childless days,
Now that my work is done.

Bored with idle pleasures
I fill my hours with trivial chores,
Unnecessary obligations,
Trying to shift my attention
From this slow but steady disintegration.

O poor old self,
How I mourn for your loss,
How I long for your renewal,
Yet, it is a kind of relief to see you go,
All the rantings,
The mad pursuits,
Worn out at last.

The clearing.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

All This Absence


If she were angry with me,
That would be quite another thing,
But this friendly indifference,
Her cold, controlled smile,
Her appropriate words
Kept at the appropriate distance,
Her brief eye contact
Signifying nothing.

No anger,
No joy,
Not even a little curiosity.

If she were angry with me,
Then,
Something to hope for,
But all this absence . . .


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Morning


When I first woke up I thought it was going to rain,
Upside down,
Each raindrop a single, singing voice,
Assembling into a drenching choir,
A requiem of weather,
But then, I woke up a little more.

I thought I was a spy who must deliver documents,
Secret documents,
To my communist overlords
In order to maintain the lifestyle
To which I’d grown accustomed,
But then, I woke up a little more.

I thought my cats were whispering to each other,
Speaking English,
Complaining about their accommodations,
Casting furtive glances about the room
While pretending they couldn’t really speak,
But then, I woke up a little more.

I reprimanded my furniture,
Intimidated my toilet,
Put my walls on notice that containment was not an option,
But then, I woke up a little more.

All that I’ve ever done wrong spontaneously flew about my head
Like buzzing houseflies,
Each, in turn, flying close to my left ear,
Accusing me of human frailty,
Reminding me of missed opportunities,
But then, I drank a half cup of warm coffee.

One by one my demons evaporated
Like mist into steam into air on a hot summer morning,
And for another day,
Absolution,
Reprieved by the will to live
And a little caffeine.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Can We Rise?


Is it a kind of betrayal
If we rise
While others fall?

Are we entitled to happiness
While others suffer so?

Must happiness be tempered
And sorrow obeyed?

Can you compare one life
To another?
Balance one life
With another
When circumstances diverge
And intentions splinter?

If those around us are falling,
Is it a kind of betrayal
If we rise?


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Marrow


The stillness,
Spreading,
Slowing me down.

Anchored,
Observing,
Vicarious.

A passion to be young again
Stirs.
I pull myself loose.

But the process is irreversible.

The roots will grow,
Sink deeper,
Hold fast,
Until someday,
I am absorbed into the marrow.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Sharing The Light


Every time I shared my light with him,
His insincere heart extinguished the flame.
He could not keep the candle lit,
And I finally learned
I could not give him
What was not already his.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Ready To Fly


They say,
Never give up on your dreams,
They say,
You only fail if you quit trying,
They say,
Failures are the stepping stones to success,
They say,
Believe in yourself and all things are possible.

Everywhere I turn I am encouraged
By celebrities and self-help gurus,
Inspiring me to believe in my dreams,
To visualize my dreams,
To act on my dreams
And be bold in my actions,
Persistent in the face of failure,
To endure,
And most important of all,
Never, ever give up.

So once again I am here,
Standing on the edge of the roof,
Wearing the wings I have constructed
From rice paper and cotton balls,
Ready to fly.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Freedom From Want


Freedom from want means
Freedom from thinking about what you want
Cause,
After all,
You’ve already got what you wanted,
So now,
You can spend your time being so incredibly bored,
Trying to think of something else you want.

Soon,
You will go shopping.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

This Mother's Prayer


God,
Oh yes that troublesome word,
She has trouble with that word,
Visions of blind obeisance,
A fairy tale euphoria,
Ignorance,
Superstition,
A certain lack of precise intellectual focus,
Oh yes she has trouble with that word.

Yet in her most private, personal moments
Something like a prayer emerges,
If only as the last obligation
Of a mother whose children have left home,
Her children,
Out there somewhere.

And so she prays,
Trying as we all try
To bend the course of destiny
To our will.

Atheist that she is,
She will not abandon her children
To a godless world.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Shedding


They say a leopard
Cannot change its spots,
But a snake can shed its skin,
And so if you begin
To bring your old life to an end
You may have to shed a friend,
Or two.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

A Certain Freedom


I am no one in particular,
Nobody special,
Never promoted,
Lucky to have a job actually,
To earn a living.

My wife is tired of me.
My children are preoccupied.
Life does not expect too much from me,
Which allows a certain freedom.

I get up early each morning,
Alone in the dark,
Make a cup of coffee
And sit in my favorite chair
Watching the world get light.

I hear soft voices
And I am filled with joy.
How very good it is to be alive.
How very, very good it is,
Indeed.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

My Children Come To My Deathbed


My children come to my deathbed,
Thirsty,
Drinking from the pool of my mortality,
Filling up with momentous thoughts
And feelings,
Eager for resolution
And change.

My father is dying,
The silent mantra,
My father is dying,
My father is dying.

I want to tell them something,
Something I see so clearly now,
Something that explains so much,
Without explaining,
Just a word,
But I cannot move my lips,
No longer in control of this machine.

They each kiss my cheek
And leave the room,
Finished.

At last the word I struggle to produce
Comes forth,
Like a newborn I cry out
But my children are gone,
And the lady who is paid to sit alone
In the corner of the room
Turns the pages of her magazine
And does not hear.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved