Remembering


How old you want to be
May depend
On how much you want to remember.

Some enjoy the bliss of erasing unhappy memories
As the years
Go
By.

Not me.

Events and circumstances
Pester me,
Suddenly appearing from the fog of the past,
In the middle of the day
While sitting in a café eating a deviled egg sandwich
On rye.

Suddenly,
There it is,
The afternoon I slapped my elderly father across the face,
His glasses skidding across the kitchen floor.

Now,
Old failures and sins line up to be revisited,
Reminding me of how much more I could have achieved,
How much kinder I should have been.

Oh yes, too many unpleasant memories,
Too vivid,
Too detailed,
Telling me I’ve lived long enough,
Long enough to appreciate death and its cleansing power,
Ready now to be reborn,
Ready for the slate wiped clean.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Remember Me


Years from now,
When I can no longer find your address,
When your hair is gray,
Remember me.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Love Songs


You’re way too sophisticated for love songs
And roll your eyes at all the familiar phrases,
The clichéd expressions of romantic euphoria,
The saccharin melodies of longing and desolation.

It’s been a long time since you fell in love,
If ever,
The kind of falling that has no end,
No reason,
No control.

You think yourself too mature for such adolescence,
Such fairy tales.

But if you’ve loved a princess
And lost a princess,
Only the inarticulate language of a love song
Can speak to your broken heart,
And every word rings true.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Ants


Ants,
These busy, busy ants,
Called upon this hot summer day
To march from there to here to somewhere else,
Called upon by Mother Earth to live,
To be busy,
So busy this hot summer day.

They do not ask why.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Dear Children


Dear children,
We encourage you to try
What we never tried,
But we must caution you
About what we have done.

That is,
We would warn you about trying
What we tried in vain.

You see,
Dear children,
We want you to succeed where we failed,
But we also want you to avoid our mistakes
And be safe,
Though as the years wander by
We must confess some regret
About being a little too safe.

We want you to be successful,
But do remember what seems like success
May turn out to be failure in disguise.

So,
Go boldly ahead,
We advise,
But do be careful.
You will regret never having taken a chance,
But if you risk everything
You may be throwing your lives away.

In other words,
This is the real world
And there is absolutely nothing
Your parents can do
About it.



~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Killer Angels


I can see it now,
Heaven on Earth,
Finally,
Humankind evolved,
Enlightened beings,
Killer angels
Executing sinners,
Just like we do now.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Haunted


Something moves
Within these walls,
Something,
Here,
Now,
With me,
In this room.

I fear this sorrow,
This dark, thick melancholy,
Singing ragged and out of tune,
Stuck,
Obsessed,
Familiar.

Something moves
Within,
Something,
Here,
Now,
A face in the mirror
That knows me,
That is not mine.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Dead


How often has it been said
Of the dead,
They would not have the dearly undeparted
Suffer undue grief.

They would have us renewed with joy,
After an appropriate mourning,
Reaffirming the gift of our daily existence
With fond reminiscences.

Will the dead never let us go?


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Dark Age


Can I do anything with a word when the world is sparking through wires and cables and atmosphere crackling on screens drawing current from electrochemical Homo sapiens?

Can I do anything with a word when the chemicals come so easy and hit so hard and run so fast and shoot so high and last so long?

Can I do anything with a word when art is for intellectuals and commoners are jettisoned to their easy pulp?

Can I find a word that will cut through meanness and shame power lust and inspire the meek and disable the unjust and pull the disguise off everyday life?

What can I do when I am tortured by the mind and bleeding from the heart and enslaved by the logical and brainwashed by the desirable and distracted by discourse and people are dying in droves and killing is a political option and this is the real world and Jesus has already come and gone and the kind-hearted are cheated and the vicious are prosperous and I am honest by accident and duplicitous by nature and into the night I lie awake searching for a word.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Cure


I am used to distress
I will not take the cure
Of the even-tempered life
Lobotomized and pure.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Knowing Changes Everything


Sure,
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

Criminals


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

Slipping


Things slip away,
Things I meant to do.

There,
In an old shoebox.
There,
In a dusty, cobweb-covered corner of the garage.
There,
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.
Remember,
The anticipation of joy.
Remember,
The adrenaline of hope.
Remember,
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,
Something,
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

Contestants


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
Contestants.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Consider


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

Art


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,
Anything,
Better.


~ 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,
Mute,
Without the discriminating power,
Without time or temporality,
Blank.
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,
Enchanted.
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:

Infinity.


~ 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

Things


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

Diamonds


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

Connected


The reason
Why your busy ambitions
Amuse,
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

Confession


All the knowledge
I have so carefully gathered
For so many years,
All my opinions,
My experiences,
Achievements,
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

Conditional


Waiting,
Listening,
Praying for divine guidance,
As long as the holy message
Conforms
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