Five Bees


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

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,
Testing.
Then he lifts into the air,
Restored.

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.

Why?
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

Caution


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

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,
Ideas,
Symbols.

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

Alone


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


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Cats


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

Epitaph


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,
Living,
Breathing,
Immortal,
Yet perished.
All.

And here we are,
Striving,
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,
Perfect.

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

How long will you keep this up?

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

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

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


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Wounds


Some wounds never heal.

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

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

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

Some wounds never heal.

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

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

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

Some wounds never heal.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

But Then


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

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

But then,
There are these words.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Sing!


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

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


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Candles All Blown Out


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

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

But logic cannot reason away
The wounds of the heart.

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


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Daredevil


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

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


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Devolution


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

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

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

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


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Secrets Of The House


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

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

I alone know the truth:

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

I dare not continue.

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


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

After She Died


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

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


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Too Late


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

Too late,
Too late.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Older Men


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

Forgive them.
It is their last adolescence.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Never Far


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

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

The wounded child,
Never far from the surface.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Coyotes


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


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Call It Poetry


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


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Busy


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

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

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


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved