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