The Safe Road


The safe road is a circular road,
‘Round and ‘round it goes,
Past testaments and monuments,
Repeating what everyone knows.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Unspoken


After all these years,
I’ve finally got it all worked out,
All the words I should have said
During all my most awkward moments,
When I was treated unfairly,
When I was misunderstood,
When I was intimidated,
When I did not know what to say.

Too late,
Alas,
Too late.

I replay my most troublesome memories,
Replacing my old self
With my new and improved self,
My more competent self
Who speaks wisely and forcefully,
Disarming my foes with precisely measured eloquence.

Too late,
Alas,
Too late.

I cannot rewrite history,
My history.

All my compromises,
All the unspoken words I should have said,
Haunting my most troublesome memories,
Remain.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

I Will Sing!


I could write about a flower,
How it embodies my soul,
The blooming,
The withering away,
Or perhaps a thermometer,
The inconstant mercury,
Any metaphorical device would do,
But not today.

Today I am flesh, blood,
A thousand thousand things.
Today
For some unnameable reason
I am happy.
No more speaking.
Today
I will sing!


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

I See Them


There was a rabbit
Loose in the grove.
She taught me how to enter
The silence of its fear
So it would know
My innocence.

There was an old clock
Whose tic and toc
Was heard by those
Who could only imagine me.
She taught me how to travel
Through the sound
Into their hearts.

In spring her orchard was full
Of birds and butterflies.
She pressed her warm fingers
Over my eyes and said:
See from where
All pretty things come.

Her old Siamese
Loved his pie-pan milk
Steaming on the back porch.
One winter he was gone.
I remembered how still he sat
With folded paws
And cloud-blue eyes.

Looking into heaven
He finally found his way,
She whispered,
Close your eyes
And see him.

I see them.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Journey


Behind this countenance
My will seems a thing apart from my soul,
Made of more stubborn stuff,
Ready to jeopardize all
To assuage the senses,
To satisfy reasonless emotion
While feigning ignorance of the soul’s wisdom,
Willfully blind.

Would I be stripped of this intransigence
And guided by that wiser part of me,
That eternal part of me,
Patient yet ready to correct the haphazard course
Of my impenetrable ego,
Ready and waiting to be called
When defeat and despair at last force surrender
Of resistance and rationalization.

O the wayward journey that is my life.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

My Fallen Friend


He came from a good family,
A loving family,
And when I knew him he was kind,
A kind and thoughtful young man.
He wanted to be an artist.

He died in prison,
Locked in a cage,
Too troubled for the outside world,
Too sensitive to survive imprisonment.

I imagine the joy of his mother,
Looking into the awakening eyes of her firstborn:
“A son, God has blessed me with a son!”

His parents had him cremated,
But months have gone by
And they cannot bring themselves to scatter his ashes.
They have not yet found the quiet place inside
Where they will learn how to say goodbye.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Morning Calculation


The difference between six
And nine
Equals the difference between rise
And shine.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

I Never Knew


I found my high school yearbook,
The one from my senior year,
Filled with photos of friends,
Some I would see again at periodic reunions,
Some I would never see again
Due to circumstance,
Due to death.

I looked through the pages,
Looking for girlfriends,
Looking for the popular girls,
The pretty girls,
The bold and the shy.

I read the inscriptions,
Silly and sincere,
And in a corner of the back, inside cover,
A simple French phrase,
A simple greeting, I assumed at the time,
Not bothering to translate.

I found the photo of the girl who wrote it,
A pretty young girl I barely knew,
A shy young girl
Who summoned her courage that last day of school
And wrote in flowing, immaculate script:
“Je t'aime.”


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Something Like Love


Young women in love
Tease, taunt and tempt.

Young men in lust
Pledge, promise and plead.

But after the prize is won,
After the prize is won,
Familiarity dulls and tarnishes
As the spring of youth passes,
As the winter of aging advances.

Then one day,
That silly young girl is gone.
That amorous young boy is gone.
And the middle-aged couple they’ve become
Silently mourn.

No more spark,
No more passion,
Just the valiant quest,
To keep something like love alive.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Music Everywhere!


I once imagined heaven was full of music,
Every part of it,
But here on Earth
Everywhere I go there is music playing,
All of our public places
Saturated with this saccharine sound
That feels more like hell
Than heaven.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Godspeed


In Jamestown,
The father of my father’s fathers,
Excised from country,
Bereft and starving.

(What an asshole!)


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Given Up


This portly, stubble-faced, middle-aged man
With uncombed random remnants of hair,
Hastily dressed in laundry hamper attire,
Wrinkled and stained,
In semiconscious disarray,
Blunders his way through supermarket aisles,
Searching,
Searching,
Finally finding the dessert section,
The gallon of strawberry shortcake ice cream
Which he cradles in hand
While making a mad dash for the quick-check lane,
Stumbling past summer’s bronzed young woman,
All curls and curves,
Home from college and ready for fun.
She is a stunning vision of youth and vitality,
But he does not notice,
Having given up the idea of romance so long ago.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Money Train


Every mornin’
Climb on board,
You climb on board
That money train.

You be rich
Or you be poor
But you climb on board
That money train.

Hear that whistle,
Hear it blow,
The train’s a' comin’,
You gotta go.

You be rich
Or you be poor
But you climb on board
And they shut the door.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

How To Write Poetry


O figure and reckon
Seeing they do write,
And how,
That is,
Out selected words
Ordering re-arrange in re:
Deforming tensed suffix
Ending original sin tax entendre?

uncap enjambers lifting geese as when simile even
meta-4 flying flight skyward soaring ethereal epiphany
yet safe nodding knowing wistful wink . . .

L'émotion artistique cesse où l'analyse et la pensée interviennent

get me to the

occasional

on timeward’s back contradicting the deliberately

unintentional.


Be clever by omission to hide what is not there
with literary frosting and pungent classical allusion such as
Perpetually Popular Persephone
(despite not even being an ex-planet).

By the way, a certain offhand familiarity with foreign locale,
making sophisticated world citizen manifesteringly manifest,
i.e. the halting walk of chilly winter pigeons just before dawn
along the Piazza Unità d'Italia in Trieste . . .

Now add an immigrant ancestor,
(A cobbler eating moldy cheese in steerage?)
(A cheesemaker eating moldy cobbler in steerage?)
Or two,
And always,
Always,
The scarcely hidden “Hell with you.”


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Momentary


When the light of your life grows dim,
When the love of your life is gone,
When the music stops
And you are back again to ordinary,
How exquisite the memory,
How painful the realization
That however lucky you may be,
All of this is momentary.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Men Are Hungry


O young women be careful
How you smile at men.
You may think it common courtesy,
Or a simple act of friendliness
To be openhearted and cheerful,
But you must be careful
Because men are hungry,
Though they will try and disguise it
In a thousand different ways,
Men are hungry.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Another Temporary Visitor


I knew when he walked into the coffee shop,
When this tall black man hesitated before sitting down,
Casting a wide, smiling inspection of the dozen or so diners,
So pleased to be in our company,
So joyful to be among the living,
I knew he was back from the grave,
Now seeing the everyday world through the eyes of a child,
Entranced by the sound of talking and laughing.

What was once so ordinary was now extraordinary.
He’d crossed the line between life and death,
Then crossed back again.

I wouldn’t be surprised if he were some kind of angel,
Taking physical form for a day to see and be seen,
To marvel at the magic of human existence.

How long did he have before returning?
And to where?
I wonder.
How long do I have?

He smiled at me as I walked by on my way out,
Recognizing, acknowledging another temporary visitor.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

This Place


If I am humble,
I can take all insults,
All personal affronts,
In stride.

But when I believe in the illusion of myself
As an all-knowing, superior being,
Every imagined disrespect ignites my rage,
A rage which will not be calmed
Until revenge has cleansed my troubled soul.

The angels of tolerance,
The demons of anger,
Always close,
Contending,
Here on this ancient planet,
This place of good and evil
Where we struggle still.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Heroes and Heroines


Cares and concerns are thrust unmercifully upon us
By life’s daily demands.
How many have a chance to supersede the drudgery
And rise above the unremarkable tasks of sustenance
To larger purpose?

Are those larger lives among us preordained,
Or merely products of chance?
Does God send heroes and heroines to dwell among us,
Or do we create them to suit our own particular prejudices?

We fill stadiums to pay homage,
Sharing moments of superhuman accomplishment and fame,
And then we are dismissed,
Exiled to the everyday world where we spend most of our lives,
Where dreams are smaller,
More easily attainable,
Closer to the heart.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Wandering Time


This time of loss,
This wandering in the desert,
This desolation.

My father never told me,
Never warned me,
Never prepared me.

Perhaps he thought this time of loss
Was a private, personal weakness.

I saw him,
Bent by the weight of it,
Barely knowing
Yet suffering,
Keeping busy,
Distracted,
Not realizing,
Not acknowledging this other rite of passage,
Coming so late in life,
This time of loss,
This wandering in the desert,
This desolation.

My father’s ghost is with me now
In this, my wandering time.
I cannot tell if he knows the way.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

You Are Not Hidden


I write these words to you who are cruel,
Who know you are cruel,
Who deny your cruelty.

These words are not for those who succumb to weakness,
Who struggle with weakness,
Who sincerely strive to overcome weakness and be kind.

We all have sinned.

These words are for you who are deliberate,
Who forged your cruelty through years of abuse,
No matter how you rationalize,
No matter how you repress,
No matter how conscious or unconscious you may be.

You are not hidden.
No matter how much control you have over us,
You are not hidden.
No matter how compliant we are forced to be,
You are not hidden.

You are condemned in our eyes,
And when you lose your power over us,
When you look in the mirror
And see the monster you have become,
When your punishment comes,
When you realize you have been punished all along,
When you realize each act of cruelty
Has destroyed a part of your soul,
When you have no soul left,
We will rejoice.

We who are kind will take no pleasure in your suffering,
We will not let the anger you placed in our hearts make us cruel,
But we will rejoice when we are free from your cruelty,
When your cruelty is stripped of all power,
When you must answer for each cruel act.
We will rejoice when justice is restored.

You are not hidden.
You pay for each act of cruelty
Whether you realize it or not,
For we know you have no real joy
Because you are not loved.
You are lower than the lowest of us
Who suffer and yet are loved.
You are lower than the lowest of us
Who have died because of your cruelty,
Because we are loved,
And this love is eternal.

You are not hidden.
The eyes of the world are upon you,
The eyes of history are upon you,
The eyes of God are upon you.

The spirit of change is upon the land,
It cannot be stopped.
Lies are temporary,
Injustice is temporary.
Truth is eternal,
Justice is eternal.

You are not hidden.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Men


Someday soon I will turn to you in anger
For no particular reason,
Because I am damaged
And often lose my tenuous hold
On the better side of my nature.

This is how I reward your loyalty,
Your perseverance,
Your love,
With the dispassionate whine
Of the stronger sex,
Still managing to keep the upper hand,
To rule my vainglorious kingdom
While my subjects weep.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Memory


I have to stop and think
To remember the date of my father’s birth,
And is this still Tuesday?
My head always in the clouds,
As they say.
So many of life’s little details
Are lost,
Lost to me.

Yet somehow I remember
The sick sarcastic look on the thin old man’s face
Thirty-two years ago
When I drove out of a parking lot
Across the sidewalk where he shuffled toward me.

I remember his tight-lipped scowl,
The scrape of his petulant, brittle voice
When forced to stop
To allow my car to pass,
When he so sharply said:
Thank you very much!


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Meek


The meek may indeed inherit the Earth,
But they will not explore it.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Max


Max is back.
Saw him early this foggy morning
Limping down thirty-second street.

Did you forget where I live
Old skin bone street fighter?
You were fat when you left last April.
This is some kind of free you’re fixed on.

I took him home,
Woke up the wife and kids.

Max is back!


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

A Man From Another Country


A man from another country says,
“I don’t understand you!”
When I try to explain
How we do things here,
How we behave.

Everywhere we go
People stare.
He walks too slow,
He talks too loud,
He laughs at my earnest everyday endeavors
As if he were watching
Some riotous vaudeville show.
He is constantly amused.

I will teach him how to fit in,
How to talk to people
In ways they expect
And understand.
“You must learn how we act here,”
I explain.

“You are afraid of life!”
He yells at me,
Waving his arms wildly
As we stumble down a crowded sidewalk.
I move away
And pretend we are strangers.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Long March


You can march to the left,
You can march to the right,
You can march down the middle
And dream of your perfect world
Where everyone knows the truth.

You can march to the left,
You can march to the right,
You can march down the middle
But as long as you believe
You are right
And all the rest are wrong
You’ll be marching long,
You’ll be marching long.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Magnificent Illusion


Your hand touches mine,
An accident,
And your electricity surges into me.

You say something ordinary
And look into my eyes,
Explaining,
And I am entranced,
Barely listening.

You laugh and smile
And do a hundred different things
You do every day,
All day long,
Without thinking.

But when I am with you,
Everything you do is illuminated,
Inspiring,
Divine.

O the magnificent illusion of love.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

A Madness


A madness some have described it,
Yes, it feels like madness.
I’ve never wanted anything in my life
The way I want her.

Yes, it feels like madness,
Not the absence of reason,
But the defiance of reason,
For reason is here before me,
A constant voice,
Warning me:
This is impossible.

It is reason that twists the knife,
Madness that pushes the blade in deeper.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Lucky


When I was young
I thought,
Someday I will be somebody.

But now I am nobody,
Nobody in particular.

I am one of the lucky ones.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved