Knowing Changes Everything

Falling in love is easy,
It happens
And happens.
But at some point,
You’ve got to make your own way,
Make your own way in this world.
At some point,
You’ve got to demand a little respect,
Demand a little respect from this world.
At some point,
You don’t give in,
Don’t give in.

At some point,
You are the boss,
The boss of yourself,
And the very idea of falling head over heels
In love,
Becomes ludicrous.
The very idea of surrendering your soul
To love,
Becomes ridiculous.

You know better now,
And knowing changes everything.

~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved


How they laugh,
How they swagger,
How they talk as tough as death.

How they stare you down,
Until they are in custody,
Then how their lawyers expound
The tragedies of their rudderless lives,
What honest and honorable souls
They could have been
And with just one more chance,
Still could be.

I read the newspaper accounts,
Their unhappy childhoods,
And laugh.

They were always the rough ones
Who made childhood unhappy,
Who stained innocence with threat,
With violence,
These practitioners of unchecked power.

Were this another age,
They would conquer nations.

~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Still Too Young

I remember the shock,
Seeing the lifeless brown bird
So still on the ground,
The blank, clouded eye
That could not see,
The unmoving feathers,
The crooked wings
Never again to lift this silent sparrow
Up, up and up into the air.

So this is death,
I thought.
Falling, falling and falling
From the top of the tallest tree,
Still too young to realize
Death would someday come for me.

~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

A Cricket In Paris

It is a sultry summer night
And the chirp of a cricket in my garage
Reminds me of Paris,
Where I’ve never been,
And despite my sedentary life,
How lucky I am
I was not born a cricket,
Although I suppose being a cricket in Paris
Is quite a different thing altogether.

~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Her Best Lesson

My fifth grade teacher was angry.
She thought I was hopeless,
Making the class erupt in laughter with some odd remark
Only a twelve-year-old boy could concoct
While she attempted to pass on some measure of insight
About the War of 1812.

It was but one of a long line of transgressions
I’d committed that school year,
Dedicated as I was to the disruption of order,
So militantly enforced at my small, private school.

Perhaps because she was newly transplanted from England
Where boarding school boys were more compliant,
Her distress at my behavior was so inflamed,
Inspired, even.
After the classroom laughter subsided,
After a measured silence,
With grave solemnity she declared:
Pearls before swine. Pearls before swine!

She was not the first teacher I’d driven to extremes,
But one of the most memorable,
Thanks to her vivid condemnation.

I can still see her, flinging strings of exquisite pearls into the mud
Where corpulent pigs, grunting and snorting,
Trample them beneath their hooves.

It was her best lesson,
Her only lesson I remember,
Something about saying what you really mean,
Something about honesty.

~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved


Things slip away,
Things I meant to do.

In an old shoebox.
In a dusty, cobweb-covered corner of the garage.
In a cupboard too high to reach without a stepping stool,
All the things I meant to do,
Layers of things,
Saved, for some purpose.

It’s not a single thing anymore
Or even a handful of things I’ve neglected.
It’s a metastasizing percentage of my life,
Overshadowing my days.

Now it’s the fight to stay awake,
Regardless of what I can or cannot do,
To stay awake and remember.
The anticipation of joy.
The adrenaline of hope.
The comforting reassurance that the future is long
And without end.

Summer has passed
And I did not hear the coyotes singing down the sun,
Calling to one another with cries full of energy and expectation,
Raw with excitement for the hunt,
Echoing along the hillside trail where I once walked each evening,
Now among my neglected habits.

I must reclaim,
Reassemble some of the forgotten pieces,
Retrace my steps.
So I return to the trail
But the distance is longer now,
The incline, steeper,
The steps, multiplied.

I turn back.

It’s almost dark as I finally make my way home.
A bat whisks by my face,
Its blurry, angular shape visible for only a moment,
But the image imprints like the flash of lightning in a black sky.
The sharp chill of night air stings my cheeks
As I return to the safety of neighborhood sidewalks.
A cottontail bunny scurries across a manicured yard,
From bush to bush.
A man in the yellow light of his garage searches through a toolbox,
And in the distance,
The whirring, droning sound of freeway traffic,
Thousands upon thousands,
Rushing toward some kind of future I can no longer imagine.

~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved


Just another species
We are
The manipulators,
The malcontents
We are
The controllers of an uncontrollable world,
A world that will rise up against us someday
And end all this tinkering,
Making room for the next

~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved


Although you swear God has intervened,
Protected you,
(Or was it angels?)
Stop your self-righteous certainty
For a moment.

Consider all the children
Who die each day,
Each year,
Since the beginning.

~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved


It is a half-filled aquarium
With three basketballs floating inside,
On a pedestal,
Next to a young man in uniform,
A museum guard
Staring with scarcely disguised disdain
At the museumgoers
Who stare with scarcely disguised bemusement
At the exhibit.

Some laugh and shake their heads,
Cast a lingering glance at the guard as if to ask:
Is this a joke?

But most give indifferent deference
To the buoyant rubber orbs,
Assuming the exhibit must be fraught with meaning,
Seeing as how it’s on a pedestal,
In an art museum.

The young museum guard who never went to college
Directs his dispassionate gaze
From observers to the observed,
Certain he could make something,

~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

This Great Gift

When the end of things finally came
We rejoiced.
The end of sadness,
Of hate,
Of despair.
But then rejoicing also came to an end,
For it was the end of all things,
The end of joy,
Of love,
Of hope.

When the end of all things was finally finished,
We were struck blind and deaf,
Without the discriminating power,
Without time or temporality,
Then we ceased to exist,
For it was the end of everything.

Now we are back,
Complaining again,
Believing in the possibility of utopia,
Working to put an end to all that is unjust,
This great gift of contention once again begun,
Still unfinished,
This great gift of life.

~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Enchanted Princess

She is glowing
And her light penetrates me,
Fills me with unexplainable joy.

She dances playfully around my soul
And I am awakened,
All is love beyond love.

She has placed a diamond in my heart.

I do not understand the blind
Who cannot see her,
Who see only another pretty girl,
An object to possess,
To label and put into some convenient category.

It weighs on her fragile heart
That anyone should expect her to live
An ordinary life,
This enchanted princess,
Surrounded by so much that is ordinary,
This enchanted princess,
So ready for the magic to begin.

~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Sally Sleeps

Sally sleeps soundly upon my lap,
Dreaming the dreams of a kitty-cat,
Of stalking small birds with a stealthy creep
While I recall scenes from my fitful sleep.

Climbing a mountain so terribly tall,
Losing my footing in a plunging fall,
Falling through guilt, through confusion and strife,
Waking in a sweat, reclaiming my life.

Such is the nature of my human mind,
That I must engage in distress of this kind,
While Sally sleeps here upon my lap,
Dreaming the dreams of a kitty-cat.

~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

This Word

The dizziness came on so bad
I figured I’d better write something down
Before I fell down dead,
Something important,
The most important thing.

I took out my pen
And wrote this word:


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

One Last Winding

One last winding
Before the clock runs down.
Not the end of time,
Just the end of this single, solitary clock,
No one left to wind it again.

One last winding,
Another day or two or three
Before the winder ceases to be,
Not the end of time,
Just the end of me.

~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

First Things

This caveman
Had a brain
Capable of rocket science,
But he could not make the leap
Without millenniums of prerequisites,
So this caveman spent his days
Perfecting a way to strike stones together
To make a cutting tool.

If he gets it right,
His descendants will walk on the moon.

~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Wounds Of The Heart

Yes, the wounds of the heart
Will heal,
In time,
But they leave scars,
Some so sensitive
That the slightest touch
Awakens memory.

The pain returns.

~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved


Cars are lined up in back of the Goodwill store.
Can’t give it away fast enough.

We commemorate our lives with trinkets,
Making memory concrete,
Memory placed on a shelf,
Eventually ignored,
Finally discarded.

“I wonder,” ponders Mr. Emeritus,
“If my sons would find meaning in these things?”
Looking at a row of commemorative coffee mugs,
Each representing an achievement,
A significant moment
Anchored in time.

His thoughts return to when his mother died,
So many years alone in that big house
Filled with the ephemera of a long life,
A life rooted in poverty,
Making everything valuable,
Every thing potentially useful.

He remembers the agony of sorting through it all,
Deciding which memories to save,
Which memories to give away.

“An entire life is too much to preserve,” he reasons,
Surveying his possessions,
Calculating his lifespan.

“It’s enough to have lived,” Mr. Emeritus concludes,
Saving what he must,
Letting go of the rest.

~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved


Another gala celebration,
The glitterati presenting each other with awards,
Making grand speeches with feigned humility,
Basking in mutually assured admiration.

Where is your award
For facing an uncertain future
So bravely?
For rising each morning to endure another working day?
For living with the fear of expendability?

No celebration will be held for you today,
No award,
No acknowledgment
That you are one of the everyday workers of the world
Who make everyday life possible.

Let you and I set the celebrities aside and celebrate one another.
Let us bask in the light of fervent friendship
And award each other with loyalty and love,
For we are the everyday workers of the world
Who make everyday life possible.

Uncut diamonds
Are so easily overlooked
In a world too blinded by brilliance.

~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved


The reason
Why your busy ambitions
Is connected to
The reason
Why I sit outside this evening
In an old lawn chair,
Fanning away insects
And the gentle breeze of thought.

~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved


All the knowledge
I have so carefully gathered
For so many years,
All my opinions,
My experiences,
All that I am
Means so very little
Compared to the touch of your hand,
The sound of your voice,
Confessing love.

~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved


Praying for divine guidance,
As long as the holy message
With certain theological predilections
And does not require
Too much humility.

~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Coming Home

Early one evening
After another long day,
I could not turn down the street where I live,
Where my life deposits itself,
Where I always do what must be done,
Work or play,
Every day.

I drove right past without hesitation,
Past the street,
Past the gray blanket of familiarity.

I took the long way around,
Pondering the pathways of my life,
Watching the sky turn dark,
The porch lights blinking on.

Having nowhere else to go,
I came home.

~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Still Human

Sometimes I can go nearly a week
Inflating my illusion of self-importance,
Transcendent benefactor to mankind that I am.

My uninterrupted enlightenment,
Liberated at last from the squalor of human ignorance.

Then one afternoon,
Walking down a busy city sidewalk,
My nose begins to tickle.

I am seized by a sneeze
And I’ve forgotten my handkerchief.

I quickly cover my nose with my hand
Which becomes coated with mucous
Dripping from my nostrils.

Wondering what to do next,
I feel another sneeze coming on.

Ah yes, still human.

~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Suburban Twilight

Suburban twilight,
Punctuated by porch lights
Welcoming weary workers home.

“Hello darling,”
She says,
“I missed you,”
Her bare shoulders
Framed by the thin straps,
Too loose,
Of her tiny, translucent dress.

This never happened to me.

A bunch of soccer ball boys,
Too young to go on a date,
Stand together in a jagged circle
On a grass-dirt field
While their parents lie to each other
About nothing in particular,
Waiting for the game to begin.

Back on the boulevard
Commuters swim upstream,
Fighting their way back
To the suburban spawning grounds
For a few hours of fun
Before it all shuts down in sleep,
And regret.

~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Finger Speaks

for William Michaelian

I don’t ask the question,
Are you happy?
It seems too intrusive,
Too personal for most of my friends.
It’s a question reserved for my lover,
Used sparingly.

But of course I can tell,
Even in the e-mails of distant friends.
Joy infuses their words,
Oozes out from even the briefest missives,
Such as this morning’s message from my old friend,
An entranced grandfather,
Too encumbered to reply with more than a short explanation,
No doubt typed with a single finger:
“Baby on lap!”

~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Clearing

I know,
These words are not enough
To describe the longings of the heart,
To diminish the entanglements of our lives
That too often strangle our finer emotions.

These words are not enough.

We need to find our way
To a clearing in the forest,
To walk into the light with arms outstretched,
To remember.

~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved


The feast of a new day
Is laid out before me,
Yet all I can think about
Is my insatiable hunger
For more.

~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Clock Strikes Three

The sound of an old clock,
The rhythm of the pendulum,
The striking of a tiny hammer
Against a metal coil.
The lonely hours after midnight.

The memory of your touch,
Gentle, yet firm,
You penetrate my soul.

The clock strikes three.
I am wide awake with longing
For your fingers on my skin.

~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved


She comes when her heart is wounded,
When the balance between joy and sorrow is lost.
She is bereft,
Overwhelmed by tragedy,
An empty vessel I will fill with inspired words.

I throw her a lifeline,
Pulling her from the tempest,
Back to the land of the living
Where sadness can be borne.

I give her a candle,
Lit with the flickering flame of hope.

She is like so many who bring me their pain,
Seeking something they cannot name.

The fortunate find healing,
Recover a tenuous equilibrium,
Less vulnerable,
More guarded and reserved in expression,
Closing the window against the chill wind of doubt.

~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved


I am wary of posh restaurants,
The thin atmosphere of haute cuisine,
The nagging suspicion that behind
Those tiny plated portions
Are some very clever accountants.

I stand in front of the urinal
And notice the thin yellow puddle,
Left because of intoxication,
Poor eyesight or bad breeding.

Yes, I am standing on a layer
Of some epicurean’s urine,
Repulsed but unsure what I can do.
The soles of my shoes are wet
As I return to the dining room.

It is an evening full of romance
In the eyes of my stylish lover,
Entranced by the sophistication
Of this exquisite façade.

~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

This Muse

When it happens,
Whatever you call it,
Temporary insanity,
This muse pushes all others aside.
She is possessive,
Demanding my full attention,
Even when I’m exhausted and trying to sleep.
She is the muse of desire and will not rest.

~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Chosen

God has been good to you,
You say,
Helped you succeed,
Helped you prosper.

I wonder why
God pays so much attention
To you
And leaves the prayers of so many millions

~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

A Chance

O yeah you can laugh
At what you think is my naiveté,
All this wishing desiring hoping,
These few shreds of faith,
Faith in something vaguely reassuring.

O yeah I wanna be reassured all right
Cause death comes no matter what you think,
No matter what you plan or decide,
No matter what kind of deal you think you’ve made,
Death comes and rips you loose from this life
Without any consideration at all.

O yeah I’ve gotta believe there’s a chance
That I can rise above all the despair,
All this darkness always pushing,
Pushing against something so simple,
So simple as a sunny disposition.

O yeah I’ve seen ‘em,
People who take life’s knocks
And still smile as an unconscious reflex,
Something maybe about the way they were raised,
Something genetic,
Something maybe about luck.

Whatever it is I want a piece of that
And I don’t care how unsophisticated I look
Or how naïve you think I am.
I just don’t care
Because death comes no matter what you think
And I just gotta get rid of this fear
While I still have a chance.

~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved


There once was a man who built his own house,
Grew his own food,
Bred his own animals,
Then one day he happened upon a Sears catalog
And he was confronted by choice.

Thus, it all began.

Today I stand paralyzed in this everything store,
Staring at a wall of toothbrushes,
Barely knowing how to choose,
Frightened by the length of my shopping list.

~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved


Sure, modern life has its problems
And I can line up as many complaints as the next guy,
But on the other hand,
There is my indoor plumbing to consider.

I can’t help but appreciate the fact that every time I flush,
Somebody else takes care of the rest.

~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Child Abuse

O the constant recitation of sonnets,
The endless Mozart sonatas,
The cavernous museums,
Art, art, art.
Art of all shapes and forms to consume,

The long lessons,
The querulous questions,
The awful answers,
The proud and ponderous books
Piled high before me,
An Everest of learning,
Of knowing,
Of transcending.

All the advantages
Were mine,
When all I really wanted to do
Was pull the tail of the old tabby
And make him screech.

~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved


Sunday, oh yes it’s Sunday

Cool, a cool breeze

Fall, it feels like Fall

Riding on the edge

Of the wind

Of the light

Through my open window.

~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved


When my great-grandfather was young,
Growing up in a small farming town,
He was needed.
His labor was needed.
Every able-bodied citizen was needed,
And by their labors, the towns grew into cities,
And the cities became a country.

Each morning they were called,
Called to a hundred,
A thousand different employments.

Each morning I am not called.
My labor is not needed.

I imagine my great-grandfather
Choosing an occupation,
Answering the call,
Fulfilling a need,
Building a life,
A city,
A country.

He would not understand this aimless life I lead.
He would not know me.

~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

I Remember You

This is for the old men,
The old women too,
Who die so old,
Nobody left who remembers
When they were young and strong.

Nobody left
To come to the chapel,
To bear witness
And say: This was my friend.

Nobody left
Except one or two
Who read the notice in the newspaper,
Who whisper to themselves,
I remember you.

~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved


The heat has passed.

An old dream.


An afternoon breeze
Rattles the precarious leaves,
Shuffles the fallen,
Winter is coming,
Winter is coming.

Two sun-colored sulfur butterflies soar and dive,
Their movements mirrored in amorous acrobatics.
Or is it combat?

I’d like to think it’s passion,
Passion made urgent by the fading light.
These rice-paper-winged creatures,
In terpsichorean surrender to the fleeting moment,
One last ecstasy before everything changes.

~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Still, I Seek You

O my love you are a constant presence,
Yet incorporeal.
You have inhabited those I’ve loved,
Awakened me when love is new.

Alas, the petty practicalities of this world
Overwhelm and smother
And your instrument is muted.

I am human and often distracted,
But I have never expelled you from my heart.
Still, I seek you.

~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

This Fragile Light

This fragile light
Breathes into me,
Awakens this child,
So long asleep.

Can I stay in this fragile light?
Can I stay?

~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved


If he only knew
How hard she worked to be pretty for him,
Eagerly awaiting his arrival each morning,
Watching the parking lot through the office window,
Then walking down the hall for nothing in particular
So he would see her when he walked in,
See her long, ebony hair
Falling in graceful curls and waves over her shoulders
Across her finely sculpted collarbones,
See her all the way down
To her exquisitely proportioned pale pink toes.

It was meant to be.

She’d been on his busy, distracted mind
More and more lately,
When this morning she walked down the hall
Blurring past busy cubicles,
Fast enough to ripple her diaphanous plum and apricot dress
Just as he entered the office,
Struck by this sudden vision,
This annunciation.

Awakened by her focused, concentrated beauty
Washing over him like a wave,
He speaks,
And it all begins.

~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

This Morning

Why only this morning
I saw a robin
Poking the grassy earth
Around the wide trunk
Of an ancient oak.

She soon had a fat grub
Wriggling in her beak
And rose into the air
Far above the trees
Faster than my breath.

Why only this morning
I saw a young boy
Walking with his mother
Down a sunlit street
Singing without words.

~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Casual Observer

for Cheryl

“There is no joy,”
The older man says,
Revealing his casual observation
To his young younger female companion,
Sitting a little too close
In a restaurant booth,
Thinking I will not hear
My condemnation
As I sit nearby,
After a difficult day,
Having a little sustenance
With my wife.

Married thirty years
We have endured many joyless days,
Endured suffering,
And despair.

The young younger female companion,
Pulled even closer,
Looks into the depths of his wrinkles,
Measures the sag of his neck
And ponders the arrangement.
He smells like her father.

His haphazardly shaved face is rough
And scratches her cheek.
Her body stiffens.
She has visions of long hospital hallways,
A tube in his nose,
A stainless steel tray filled with medicine bottles.

“You can see it in the eyes,”
He says with wine-induced indiscretion,
“No joy,”
Sure that he has everything,
At last.

We leave the restaurant
And walk our nightly walk
Past houses filled with television.

We are predictable,
Becoming set in our ways,
So much quieter now.

We hold hands as we walk
Down dimly lit sidewalks among ancient trees
Who also have a certain understated passion for life,
Often unnoticed by the casual observer.

~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Life Went On

It was Sunday,
And many millions
Living in the most powerful nation on Earth
Spent most of the day
Watching the big football game on television,
Screaming at the electronic moving pictures of football players
Running back and forth and sideways,
Trying desperately,
Valiantly to get hold of the football
And take it to one end,
Or another,
Of the green plastic space
Some still call a field.

The next day,
Life went on,
Much as it had before.

~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

I Honor You

I honor you,
Your years of suffering,
Your endurance,
Your victory over injustice.

I honor you,
And with such honoring
I borrow,
I appropriate a modest share of your luminescence.

Moving out of the shadows
Into the circumference of your light,
From the safety of my comfortable life,
I honor you.

~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Living Still

In those fire-lit caves
We painted
The fearsome power of the mammoth,
The intrepid speed of horses,
The courage of our hunters.

In the chilly, flickering firelight
The images came alive.
We watched them with immeasurable joy
That we were the ones,
Living still.

~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved


The most common coin is certainty
Spoken with authoritarian tone.
It has no use for ambiguity,
It cuts like ice to the bone.

~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved


I don’t like early mornings
When I’m still asleep.
I don’t like early bedtimes,
Alone and counting sheep.

Why should I pay attention
To all those clocks I see?
I listen to them ticking.
They listen not to me.

~ Russ Allison Loar
~ Writing The
© All Rights Reserved

Five Bees

Five bees drowning in a swimming pool,
Caught by a reflection,
A sparkling promise of pollen,

Once they touch down the mirage disappears
And they are caught,
Their sodden wings can no longer fly.

Seeing tiny ripples in the water from their struggles
I take my net and lift them out
Onto concrete warmed by the morning sun.

Two are not moving,
But the other three have begun grooming,
Abdomen and thorax,
With every available leg,
Diligently scraping off water.

One is still so exhausted
He cannot keep his balance and tumbles over
From the disproportionate weight of water
Still clinging to one side of his body.

With a leaf stem I help restore his balance
So his meticulous grooming can continue,
So the sun can dry his cellophane wings.

The strongest of the three revs up his wings in a blur
Moving in short bursts across the cement,
His legs still giving support,
Then he lifts into the air,

Perhaps the other two were in the water longer,
For it takes more grooming and warming
Until they too are free from the terrible gravity of the ground.

It’s hard to fathom the personality of a garden bee,
Why the last two lingered a while.
Perhaps they are older,
More shaken by the sight of their two dead comrades
Lying on their backs,
Legs angled toward heaven,
Without purpose.

They might wonder,
If they were anything at all like you and me.
Why did God spare only three?

Or do they know what we know,
That when it comes to saving lives,
Some will stay,
Some will go.

~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

I Go With Them

In the early light he asks me
For protection from the world.
He prays for his family,
For his innocence,
For his tortured soul.
He moves closer to me.

He calls me father
But holds no clear image of what I am.
He wants to be a saint,
An artist,
A wealthy man.

His little boy shouts
Daddy, it’s today!
And they are gone,
Plunging into a freshly painted world of play.
I go with them.

~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved


Go ahead,
Throw caution to the wind,
But keep it on a string,
Fly it like a kite,

When winds turn fierce,
Pull in the string,
Bring caution home again
So it will survive
To fly another day.

~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Inner Child

We were talking about the inner child,
How it never goes away,
How it’s always there,
Waiting for a chance to surface,
Looking for an opening.

O yes, we were definitely bonding,
Reaching back in time,
Shedding inhibitions.

So I spit my gum out at her
And she slapped me across the face.

~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Children Still

So many wars of religion,
Large and small,
Between countries,
Between people,
Fought over words,

Our words,
Our ideas,
Our symbols,
All of it representative,
Pointing to that which has no form,
No individual vocabulary,
No contrived ideology,
No exclusive theology.

May we all find comfort and healing
In our decorated places of worship,
Our places of heaven
Where we all must cleanse our hearts,
Where we all are children, still.

~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Heaven Is A Difficult Place

It’s not at all what I expected.

Heaven is a difficult place,
So full of strife and tragedy,
At times I forget where I am,
Here in this place of extremes,
Of contrast,
Where kindness is born of cruelty,
Where love is born of fear,
Where enlightenment is born of ignorance,
Where all possibilities exist,
Darkness and light being what they are.

~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved


I see them gathering together,
Laughing together,
And I see myself,
A visitor,
So comfortable with rejection,
Too foreign to change,
No longer trying.

~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved


Why am I not a god to these cats?
They sit, long-pawed on my driveway
As I approach in the fearsome monster of steel,
Growling and hissing.
But they watch my advance with disinterest,
Half-closed eyes revealing scant concern.
They are used to my comings and goings
And will not move until the last possible moment,
When a tire threatens to brush a whisker,
When I race the engine to give them a start.
They are becoming accustomed to these things as well.

I step from the roughly idling four-door sedan
And pull open the great wall of aluminum garage door,
Letting it fly upward and crash against the frame.
A few furry heads turn in slumberous response,
Then mechanically turn away.
O what will roust them from this languor?

It is the clack and pop of punctured metal,
The grinding drone of the kitchen can opener
That does the trick.
In an instant they have gathered,
A felonious mob at the back-door stoop,
Meowing in feigned, pitiful supplication,
And God will walk among them once more.

~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Fear

How difficult it must be
For the impoverished to understand
Our disappointment with material wealth,
Our disaffected boredom with affluence,
Our disillusioned fear
That despite having assembled the contents,
This particular heaven we’ve made contains no joy.

How difficult it must be
For the impoverished to understand
That because this particular heaven we’ve made is without joy,
We must therefore conclude that joy is impossible.

How difficult it must be
For the impoverished to understand
That despite all we own,
For some inaccessible reason,
In this time,
In this place,
In this life,
Joy is denied.

~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

City Poet

He has no forest to wander through,
No birches,
No woodpile,
No wistful solitary evening
Watching the woods fill up with snow,
No submersion into all that is nature,
All it inspires.

Just the steady roar of traffic,
The sudden screech of tires
Punctuated by exclamations of angry horn honking.

The selfish squalor of urban decay
Does not inspire.
All his inspiration comes from within,
Pricked by conscience
And the occasional sin.

~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

When The Change Comes

When the change comes,
I watch the rise and fall of your chest
And feel your breath within me.

When it comes,
You run your fingers through your hair
And my fingers tremble,
Your hand becomes my hand.
You reach under the neck of your blouse
To scratch your shoulder
And I feel the bone
Beneath your skin.

When it comes,
You move restlessly in your chair,
Propping elbows on knees,
Stretching the contours of your back
And I embrace you.
I feel the tension of your ribs
Pressing against mine,
Though I sit across the room
And do not know your name.

When it comes,
I cannot stop you from leaving this room
Where I am required to stay
And listen to the words of unimportant people
Who are old and ugly
And starved for love,
Like me.

~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Know Now

(With hillbilly banjo accompaniment)

If I didn’t know what I know now
I wouldn’t know what I know now.

If I didn’t know what I know now
I wouldn’t know what I know now.

If I didn’t know what,
I know now,

I wouldn’t know what,
I know now but,

I know now what,
I didn’t know when,
I didn’t know what I know now.

~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Ready At Last

O the young years of literature,
Reading “David Copperfield” all the way through
While home from school with the flu,
Wrestling with e.e. cummings
In a musty room at the Avalon Hotel,
A creaky cockroach rooming house for men only,
Converted from a once fashionable seaside establishment.

O the timeless hours
Consuming every extant word, phrase, sentence, paragraph,
Chapter, story, novel,
Letter and biography of renowned literary luminaries,
In-between and in place of university studies,
Earnestly seeking the intellectual armor of being “well read.”

O the stolen moments
Cannibalizing the contents of the canon
During long lunches,
Dimly lit late evenings in a frayed recliner,
Finally free of neighborhood noise
In dusty, paint-peeled rented houses.

O the lost years
Seeking out the esoteric, the hidden and the unsung,
Dutifully sampling the momentarily celebrated
While the demands of job and family
Multiplied like rabbits.

O the accumulation of time,
No longer able to keep up.
The gifts and recommendations,
The purchases,
Filling my bookshelves unread,
Overflowing my bookshelves,
Wedged on top sideways until at last
Placed into boxes,
Into storage.

O this uneventful spring morning.
The weight of all I will never read
Threatens to crush me
As I sit in my most comfortable chair
Listening to the chattering of busy sparrows,
Sipping my second cup of coffee,
Ready at last
To give up.

~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved


He was so skilled,
So disciplined in word and deed,
Not a single action betrayed him.
No one ever suspected.

And when he died,
All the things he secretly wanted to do,
All the people he secretly wanted to be,
Died with him.

~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Something Still Here

Have you ever watched an old movie
And suddenly realized,
All those people
Are dead?

Yet something inside says:
How can this be?

There they are,
Right in front of you,
Yet perished.

And here we are,
As if there is anything in this world
We can anchor ourselves to,
As if we could stop the rising tide of time
That will envelop us all.

Yet something still seems permanent,
Despite all the loved ones come and gone,
Something still here.

~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

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,

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


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


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,

~ 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,
The candles all blown out.

~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved


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


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

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.

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,

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,
Free from the consequence of years,

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.

I too am a human being,
I say.

The wounded child,
Never far from the surface.

~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved


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,
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


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