Winding Down


I am a wind-up clock,
A multitude of wind-up clocks,
All winding down.

In younger years
I sprang into life each new day,
Wound tight by youth and enthusiasm.

Now, I cannot wind my clocks as tightly as before,
And some have stopped and will not be restarted,
Worn out beyond repair.

Now, the momentum of time increases.
Hours and days and years are speeding up
As my clocks run slow, slow, slower.
It is an odd equation.

I am a wind-up clock,
A multitude of wind-up clocks,
All winding down
As I fall fast, fast, faster
Toward that place,
That inevitable, timeless place.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

A Second Cup?


If I awoke some morning and you were dead . . .

Pardon my indelicacy my darling,
I will begin again.

If I awakened early one morning,
Tiptoeing out of the bedroom
So as not to disturb,
Knowing how you like to sleep late,
Being retired and elderly,
Like me,
Having no need for early morning hours . . .

If I put on my slippers,
Padding quietly down the hall,
Into the kitchen to make a cup of coffee . . .

If I did these things and settled into my favorite chair,
Sipping the sugary sweet yet bitter hot coffee,
Easing into an awakening that only fully comes
After a second cup . . .

If I had finished my first cup
And still heard no stirring from bed or bath . . .

If I returned to our bedroom and found you undisturbed,
If I placed my hand on your shoulder and called your name,
If you did not respond to my vigorous shaking,
If you were without breath,
If you had slipped silently away sometime during the night . . .

If I contemplated all that now lay before me,
The myriad heartsick obligations . . .

Before it all began,
Before it was all set in motion,
Before engaging with the somber day’s duties,
Would I make a second cup of coffee?
Would you?


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Embrace


Here,
In this embrace,
I remember hating you.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Love Is Not Philosophy


1. Love Is Easy

Unlike philosophy,
Love is easy,
Actual.
You wake up each morning
And joy fills your heart
Because someone you love will say,
“I love you,”
Before the day is through,
And you will hold each other close
In a moment of eternity.


2. Love Is Hard

Unlike philosophy,
Love is hard,
Actual.
You wake up each morning
And pain fills your heart
Because someone you love has said,
“I don’t love you,”
And all day long
You will feel wounded and empty,
Hoping it won’t last forever.


3. Love Is Mysterious

Unlike philosophy,
Love is mysterious,
Ethereal.
You wake up each morning
And both joy and pain fill your heart
Because you ache to say,
“I love you,”
If only you could find someone
Before the end of another lonely day
And see the dream awaken.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Filled With Light


When I was younger
It was just me alone,
Staring into the abyss,
Waiting,
Without knowing what I was waiting for,
Falling into the deepest part of night,
So dark.

I am kinder now
And wait until sunny birdsong morning
To enter the place of no place.
Old fears still come and go
But now I face them with a warm cup of coffee
In a pleasant room,
Filled with light.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Gifts Of Christmas


1.

A gift,
For me?
Oh you shouldn’t have!

Is it really a selfless expression of your affection?
A gesture of love?
Or an obligation?

Is it genuine?

Does your gift reflect who you think I am?
Who you think I should be?
Perhaps it’s more about who you are,
Who you want me to think you are.

Is it an object of serious intention?
Designed to awaken?
To arouse?
To cause a reaction?
Or is it just for fun,
A playful reminder of the inner child?

Am I taking this too seriously?
Giving too much thought
To what is impersonal?
Is it merely generic?
A gift that says:
We are not close.

Did you wrap it yourself?
With your best paper?
Or was it the tail end of your least favorite roll,
Reserved for those who do not matter?

Have you actually touched this present,
Or did someone else purchase and wrap it for you?
Did it come by mail from a warehouse?


2.

Will those I love most
Disappoint me with thoughtlessness,
Or will I bask in the warmth of their intentions,
However artfully or clumsily conveyed?

Will my more slow-witted relatives
Prove true to my expectations?
Will the superior intelligence of others
Be clearly demonstrated
And make me feel stupid
For the lack of imagination my gifts reveal?

Will the ego of the gift-giver
Overshadow the generosity of the gift?
Or will the giver’s inferiority complex be manifest,
So sadly displayed by the soullessness of what is given?

Will the gift be of use, of value,
Or merely a cheap trifle soon discarded,
Donated to the local thrift shop?

Perhaps the most important gift of all will be absent,
The gift from the one I love most.

Or perhaps after all the wrapping is cleared away,
When the communal ceremony has ceased
And the gift-givers dispersed,
I will steal away to some private place
And press my lips to the gift I treasure above all,
Its meaning so fervently constructed,
Without form.



~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

There Are Reasons


My young cat bit through the skin on my hand,
Playfully,
And now the weather’s turned cold.

Rain is on the way
And there are two circular puncture wounds
Where little bitty kitty bit me.

I’d better get up on the roof before the rain starts.

I have my reasons.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Very Busy


God sent an angel to speak to you
But you’ve been very busy lately,
Even on Sundays,
Hurrying off to church,
Reading and reciting,
Praising the Lord
And all that.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Clearing


Do I live too long?
I sometimes wonder
During these long, childless days,
Now that my work is done.

Bored with idle pleasures
I fill my hours with trivial chores,
Unnecessary obligations,
Trying to shift my attention
From this slow but steady disintegration.

O poor old self,
How I mourn for your loss,
How I long for your renewal,
Yet, it is a kind of relief to see you go,
All the rantings,
The mad pursuits,
Worn out at last.

The clearing.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

All This Absence


If she were angry with me,
That would be quite another thing,
But this friendly indifference,
Her cold, controlled smile,
Her appropriate words
Kept at the appropriate distance,
Her brief eye contact
Signifying nothing.

No anger,
No joy,
Not even a little curiosity.

If she were angry with me,
Then,
Something to hope for,
But all this absence . . .


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Morning


When I first woke up I thought it was going to rain,
Upside down,
Each raindrop a single, singing voice,
Assembling into a drenching choir,
A requiem of weather,
But then, I woke up a little more.

I thought I was a spy who must deliver documents,
Secret documents,
To my communist overlords
In order to maintain the lifestyle
To which I’d grown accustomed,
But then, I woke up a little more.

I thought my cats were whispering to each other,
Speaking English,
Complaining about their accommodations,
Casting furtive glances about the room
While pretending they couldn’t really speak,
But then, I woke up a little more.

I reprimanded my furniture,
Intimidated my toilet,
Put my walls on notice that containment was not an option,
But then, I woke up a little more.

All that I’ve ever done wrong spontaneously flew about my head
Like buzzing houseflies,
Each, in turn, flying close to my left ear,
Accusing me of human frailty,
Reminding me of missed opportunities,
But then, I drank a half cup of warm coffee.

One by one my demons evaporated
Like mist into steam into air on a hot summer morning,
And for another day,
Absolution,
Reprieved by the will to live
And a little caffeine.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Can We Rise?


Is it a kind of betrayal
If we rise
While others fall?

Are we entitled to happiness
While others suffer so?

Must happiness be tempered
And sorrow obeyed?

Can you compare one life
To another?
Balance one life
With another
When circumstances diverge
And intentions splinter?

If those around us are falling,
Is it a kind of betrayal
If we rise?


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Marrow


The stillness,
Spreading,
Slowing me down.

Anchored,
Observing,
Vicarious.

A passion to be young again
Stirs.
I pull myself loose.

But the process is irreversible.

The roots will grow,
Sink deeper,
Hold fast,
Until someday,
I am absorbed into the marrow.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Sharing The Light


Every time I shared my light with him,
His insincere heart extinguished the flame.
He could not keep the candle lit,
And I finally learned
I could not give him
What was not already his.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Ready To Fly


They say,
Never give up on your dreams,
They say,
You only fail if you quit trying,
They say,
Failures are the stepping stones to success,
They say,
Believe in yourself and all things are possible.

Everywhere I turn I am encouraged
By celebrities and self-help gurus,
Inspiring me to believe in my dreams,
To visualize my dreams,
To act on my dreams
And be bold in my actions,
Persistent in the face of failure,
To endure,
And most important of all,
Never, ever give up.

So once again I am here,
Standing on the edge of the roof,
Wearing the wings I have constructed
From rice paper and cotton balls,
Ready to fly.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Freedom From Want


Freedom from want means
Freedom from thinking about what you want
Cause,
After all,
You’ve already got what you wanted,
So now,
You can spend your time being so incredibly bored,
Trying to think of something else you want.

Soon,
You will go shopping.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Birthday Cards


In the supermarket,
Looking through the greeting cards
While I wait for my wife to finish shopping,
I am touched by the sincerity
Of the birthday card messages,
Filled with words of encouragement,
Words of compassion,
Words of love.

I rarely receive one of these heartfelt cards,
Perhaps because the people in my life are too intelligent
To rely on birthday card verse and sentiment,
Too wary of birthday card clichés.

Or perhaps my advanced age has at last
Stripped away all illusions,
All my once larger-than-life personas,
Leaving me an ordinary man after all,
An ordinary old man who no longer warrants
Such extravagant birthday card praise,
If I ever did.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Tribunal


What are the first words I’ll say
After I die,
When I have awakened into the afterlife,
Still possessing this eternal self that I am?

All the details of my most recent incarnation
Sharpened somehow by my passing,
Stripped of repression.

What will I say
When all things undone,
All obligations unfulfilled,
All unrealized ambitions and dreams,
All my weaknesses,
All my sins,
Present themselves for explanation why,
Why they were willfully ignored,
Buried,
Considering the generous amount of years granted.

I see myself confronted,
Standing before some kind of tribunal,
All my memories fully restored.
I gasp for breath and say,
And say . . .


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Your First Major Sin


So, there it is,
Your first sin,
Your first major sin,
A profound distinction,
For to be born is to be full of sin,
Not biblical sin,
Just everyday garden-variety sin
Born of infantile ignorance,
A kind of sin we all are born with,
Sin that is easily corrected and forgiven,
Innocent sin without intentional malice,
Part of the transition from childhood
We all are called upon to make.

So there it is,
Your first major sin,
The kind that breeds shameful regret,
That sparks a sudden sadness,
Born of the realization
That this is the end of your stainless self,
Once so defiantly pure.

Now, you can no longer be so sanctimonious.
Now, you pray earnestly for your troubled soul.
Now, you join the human race.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

This Mother's Prayer


God,
Oh yes that troublesome word,
She has trouble with that word,
Visions of blind obeisance,
A fairy tale euphoria,
Ignorance,
Superstition,
A certain lack of precise intellectual focus,
Oh yes she has trouble with that word.

Yet in her most private, personal moments
Something like a prayer emerges,
If only as the last obligation
Of a mother whose children have left home,
Her children,
Out there somewhere.

And so she prays,
Trying as we all try
To bend the course of destiny
To our will.

Atheist that she is,
She will not abandon her children
To a godless world.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Shedding


They say a leopard
Cannot change its spots,
But a snake can shed its skin,
And so if you begin
To bring your old life to an end
You may have to shed a friend,
Or two.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

A Certain Freedom


I am no one in particular,
Nobody special,
Never promoted,
Lucky to have a job actually,
To earn a living.

My wife is tired of me.
My children are preoccupied.
Life does not expect too much from me,
Which allows a certain freedom.

I get up early each morning,
Alone in the dark,
Make a cup of coffee
And sit in my favorite chair
Watching the world get light.

I hear soft voices
And I am filled with joy.
How very good it is to be alive.
How very, very good it is,
Indeed.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

My Children Come To My Deathbed


My children come to my deathbed,
Thirsty,
Drinking from the pool of my mortality,
Filling up with momentous thoughts
And feelings,
Eager for resolution
And change.

My father is dying,
The silent mantra,
My father is dying,
My father is dying.

I want to tell them something,
Something I see so clearly now,
Something that explains so much,
Without explaining,
Just a word,
But I cannot move my lips,
No longer in control of this machine.

They each kiss my cheek
And leave the room,
Finished.

At last the word I struggle to produce
Comes forth,
Like a newborn I cry out
But my children are gone,
And the lady who is paid to sit alone
In the corner of the room
Turns the pages of her magazine
And does not hear.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Cracked


Thought I’d finally found myself
When the self I thought I was
Cracked,
Shattered into a thousand jagged pieces.

Now I know why Humpty had to fall.
He had to free himself
From his own illusion.

There was no Humpty left
To be put back together again,
His pieces now scattered
Among the pieces of the world.

He was larger.
Multitudes contained him.

Shattered as I am,
I cannot put my pieces back together again.
It was only an illusion
That made them seem whole.

More than the sum of my parts
I am the sum of all parts
And the space between.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Back At Work


Did you stop by his desk and say:
It’s good to see you back at work,
Carefully avoiding any mention of his daughter
Who died.

He had to drive four and a half hours
To reach the small apartment where she lived alone,
Touching everything,
Deciding what to keep.
He gave all her furniture away.


He wanted to tell someone where he’d been,
What he’d done and how it made him feel,
But we were too busy trying to cheer him up,
Assuring him that time heals all wounds,
As if the death of his only child,
Nothing more than a temporary ailment,
This little girl he once cradled,
This young woman he sent out into the world,
Fearing what all good parents fear
But scarcely dare to think.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

He's Got The Dying Right


He never figured out how to live,
But he’s got the dying right,
Perfected over the course of years,
Slowly,
Slowly,
Making all the right wrong moves,
Winning sympathy from friends and family,
The poor victim of a cruel world,
What he could have been.

They’ve taken him in,
Given him religion
And he’s become a professional object of charity.
Poor me, he thinks.

Sleeping late,
Eating well,
Slowly,
O so slowly,
From the inside out,
He’s got the dying right.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Holding On


What can we hold onto?
When everything changes,
When everything passes,
When the years recreate who we are,
Sometimes lifting us,
Sometimes tearing us apart.

O love,
The clichéd word so easily pronounced,
The greeting card verse
Spoken without feeling,
O love,
If kept alive and breathing . . .

There is so much to love in this world.
Even when you are old and confined
You can love a memory.
Even when memories fall away
You can love an idea.
Even when cognition falters,
When fear invades,
When the dark idea of godless death threatens,
Believe!

Hold onto love,
However untranslatable it may seem.
Love will persist.
You will be saved.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Death And Love


O majestic death,
Rattling around in my bedsprings
Like an old man’s cough,
You are too easy and obvious
For poetry.

O mercurial love,
Rising in my chest
Like opening night stage fright,
You are too easy and obvious
For poetry.

Yet somehow,
After all this writing,
Death is,
Still profound,
Love is,
Still precious.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Goodbye Little House


Goodbye little house,
Wretched little place
I thought I'd never escape,
Place of rotting wood, peeling paint,
Dirt as permanent as plaster,
Where everything old gets older,
Everything in disrepair
Remains.
We never owned this little house,
We peopled it,
And our children grew
From toy-hungry babes
To disdainful young adults,
Too big for their rooms now so small.
Goodbye little house,
We leave your careless, untidy neighborhood
For a place where old habits can be refined
And old sins forgiven.
Goodbye little house,
Where all the sloppy work of becoming a family
Was done,
Where the anguish of being and becoming
Was borne.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Into The Wild


The coyotes were singing
And the wilderness in their voices
Called my spirit
Into the wild and dangerous world
Where who you are and what you want
Will not save you.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Are You Ready To Believe?


Are you ready to believe?
Have you finally fallen,
Fallen so low,
Humbled and humiliated,
Defeated at last by your once insatiable ego,
Fallen so low
That now you are ready,
Ready to believe?

Do not despair,
For this world is chock full of gurus,
Wise ones who will set you straight
For a nominal fee,
If you are truly ready,
Ready to believe.

Surrender your small insignificant self
And join us here in this cavernous auditorium,
Our hands in the air,
Hallelujah!
It’s kindergarten all over again.
Ashes, ashes,
We all fall down.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Greatest Ever


Before the greatest ever,
There was the greatest ever.

Now, what was previously the greatest ever
Does not seem so great,
Compared to the most recent greatest ever.

Oh yes, it was great for its time,
And still so much better than most,
But the new greatest ever has opened our eyes
To a whole new world.

Yet if the most recent greatest ever
Had never been,
If it had died in the womb,
We would still have the greatest ever
And not know the difference.

So now we celebrate the greatest ever,
Unaware of what could have been,
How far short we’ve fallen.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Waiting For The Call


Moment by moment we check for messages,
As if we were all heart transplant surgeons
Waiting for the call.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Inevitable


We’re all just hanging on,
Propped up by possessions and pastimes,
A little luck here and there,
Or just plain old happenstance.

We do our best
To make it all appear so solid,
So permanent,
So impervious,
While the real world
Makes a thousand tiny tears
In the fabric of our lives
Each day.

Inevitable.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Her Last Day


I keep thinking about the last day I saw her alive,
Wanting to go back and change it,
Change myself,
Be more patient,
Less inclined to bolt and run from that nursing home,
Its cold linoleum floors and distracted nurses
Too busy to pay much attention to a dying old lady.
They were all dying there.

Oh yes, I knew she was dying,
But she’d been dying for years,
Dying slow.
I didn’t realize death was so near,
A day away,
When she said:
“I’ve lived about as long as anyone has a right to live.”

A single clear sentence
Rising above an hour of erratic thoughts.

Her room was too hot and stuffy that summer afternoon,
Magnifying the sickening concoction of antiseptics,
Damp bedding,
Decaying flesh,
Every room infused.

A ceiling-high television with painfully exaggerated colors
Was worrying her about the news,
Danger right there inside her room,
Inside her mind,
The world in flames.

I ached for escape.

I listened for the end of another incoherent sentence,
Locked eyes with my wife sitting across the tiny room,
Then signaled by rolling my eyes toward heaven.

“I’ve got to get going,” I announced,
Seeing no end to her disjointed talk,
Needing refuge.

I did not return the next day,
A small vacation from the dreadful daily routine
So many months in the making.
The phone rang late,
Those unspeakable words,
Asking if I wanted to see her
Before her body was taken away.

In that dark and noiseless night
I wondered:
Had she seen me roll my eyes?
Taken it as a cue somehow?
Had I weakened her with my impatience?
Pushed her toward the inevitable?

The final few days are not the life,
I keep telling myself,
Not even the final few years.
The whole is what must be measured.
But oh dear God,
If I could just go back,
Change that one single day.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

A Honeybee


A honeybee
Searching for a flower
Saw his reflection in a pool
And flew
Into the sparkling water
Where so many others die,
Their wings too wet to fly.

This honeybee swam hard
Hoping to reach dry land,
But soon would weaken and drown
Had I not been at hand.

I took my net and lifted free
This tiny, desperate honeybee
Who then dried his wings
And flew
Away.

What did he think,
If he thinks at all?
That the hand of God
Caught his fall?
Or perhaps an angel
Restored his flight?
If there are angels for things so slight.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

A Man, A Name


On this day,
Here on planet Earth,
Another man has taken on the name Pope,
A man,
A name.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

All The Way


We fight against the breakdown,
Trying to hold on to all we believe,
Fighting,
Fighting,
And most of us fight right up to the end,
Defending,
Defending,
And the ones who do,
Break down,
Fall so low,
So low,
It takes a long time to reassemble
The ideas,
The beliefs,
The dreams.

Some of us fall so low,
So low,
We break through the last idea,
No bottom,
Falling,
Falling,
Past falling,
All the way,
And thus are saved.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

She Loved The Night


She loved the black, delicious night,
Sunk into it like a warm bath,
Soaked it in through every pore,
Into the dark marrow
Of her solitary soul.

She loved the cool, vacant feel
Of its cavernous space,
The anonymity of its place,
As she followed it down to dawn,
The daylight coming on.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Parallel Lives


I’ve always been here,
Skipping through parallel lives,
Endless variations where every alternative plays out,
Even though the “I”
As in,
“Here I am,”
Perceives a singular path.

I’ve always been here,
On the edge of memory,
For no matter how many times I have died,
Here I am,
Living still.

My parallel lives are like television programs.
I change the channel
And sometimes find myself in a life too unfamiliar.
I change the channel again
To find a more familiar episode,
Then continue.

Some of my problems are resolved,
Left behind on another channel.
Some new problems appear,
Although they are not new
To this particular history I've adopted,
Just new to this traveler.

No existence is without consequence,
I have learned.

And so I pick and choose,
Exchanging parallel lives,
Sometimes choosing badly,
So badly that in some lives I forget I can choose.
It took me a long time to remember,
In this particular life,
Where so many of us have forgotten how these things work,
Sleepwalking our way through the day.

Then something leaks through
And I remember,
I awaken.

I've always been here,
Skipping through parallel lives,
Endless variations where every alternative plays out,
But the watcher remains the same,
Accumulating experience.
Nothing is lost.

Perhaps someday I will gather all these lives together
And go home.
Perhaps I am already home.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Untarnished


When you finally get what you want,
After all the struggling years,
But it does not satisfy,
Then you begin to understand
The untarnished magic of a dream.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Bird's Egg


I’d never seen inside a bird’s nest,
Young as I was.
The miniature, sky-blue speckled eggs.
Gemstones.

I took one,
Cradled in hand
As I climbed carefully down,
Leaving three.

Beautiful as it was,
Illuminated in the sun of an early spring morning,
I could not contain my curiosity
And opened the egg,
Cracking and peeling away sticky flakes of shell
Until the gelatinous mass inside was revealed.

A featherless baby bird,
Curled in embryonic sleep,
Never to awaken,
For I had thwarted the will of nature,
I had become a careless and clumsy god,
Aborting so innocent a thing as a baby bird,
And I recoiled at what I’d done.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Someday


Someday, they’ll look back at us and laugh:

Those glasses!
The hairstyles!
That clothing!

But most of all,
They will be amazed at what we believed.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Revered Old Man Of Letters


More than a celebrity,
He was like a father,
Teaching me things my father never conceived,
Illuminating the past,
Foretelling and forewarning,
Opening my eyes to the moment that is a human life.

He became a celebrity,
Interviewed frequently,
Newspapers, magazines, television,
Events and awards,
Honorary degrees.

He lost the freedom of anonymity
And no longer spent entire days in random thought,
Not much time for self-reflection,
Not much inclination for self-criticism
Now that so many were so admiring.
He had arrived,
And no one near him would dare criticize.

He spent his days repeating,
Reflecting on what he’d already written,
Preparing speeches and presentations,
Anticipating interview questions.

Writing became an afterthought,
Squeezed into shrinking moments of time,
Resting on tried and true templates,
Formulaic.

He was still a brilliant man
But now a singer who sang his hit songs
Over and over again,
Compliant with popular demand,
And so his brilliance was etched in stone
And his new writing was old,
Repetitive,
Tired and imitative
Of who he had been
When he was not yet bound by the chains of adulation.

Years passed and he became an icon,
Reduced to a pop culture concept,
A reliable source for reporters on deadline
Who needed a celebrity quote,
For talk-show bookers
Desperate for a last-minute guest.

In his emeritus years he proclaimed the future had soured,
The younger generations such a disappointment,
Hypnotized by technology.

“All I need is a pad of paper and a pencil,”
He declared,
Drawing the boundaries of meaning around his generation,
His past,
His youth,
A time when he had embraced the emerging unknown
And put his rapture into words,
When he was still young enough to imagine
Without fear of literary obligations,
Before he became the revered old man of letters.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Now, Begin


Now,
Begin.

Now,
After long day,
Long week,
Long year,
Long life . . .
Now,
Begin.

Now,
In this interstice,
In this collision of inspiration
And exhaustion,
Out of your cage now
Tiny soul.

Emerge,
Unfold,
Stretch
And sing O tarnished voice,
Sing with all candor
And longing,
An unconscious song
Sung half-asleep while dreaming.

Now, begin.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Zero


Zero,
Ever been there?
I hear the weather’s nice
This time of year.

I was there last fall,
Just in time to see no leaves changing no colors on no trees.
So beautiful,
Like nothing I’d ever seen before.

The trip was a little rough,
And long.
Just when it seemed like Zero was in sight,
Along came something else
And my curiosity would get the better of me,
Stopping to explore one thing after another.

But finally,
After a very long day full of starts and stops,
After I was completely worn out,
After I had just about enough of everything,
There it was:
Zero.

So beautiful,
Like nothing I’d ever seen before.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

This World Is Neither


This world is neither full of joy
Nor filled with hate.

It is full of us
And who we are.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

All Day Long


A little brown bird
Sang this song:

I’ve been a little bird
All day long.



~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

After We Die


After we die
We should all have a day
To come back and say,
Now I know why,
Now I know why.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Advice To A New Saint


The hardest thing you will ever do
Is give wisdom to the unwilling,
For as their eyes open
The false flowers of their imaginary gardens
Will wither, crack and crumble,
And they will abandon you for what you have done,
For the certainty you have destroyed,
For they will be as strangers in a new world
And afraid,
Yet unable to return.

The hardest thing you will ever do
Is give love to the unloved,
For as their hearts open
The impenetrable armor that kept them safe
Will come loose and fall to the ground,
And they will abandon you for what you have done,
For the desires you have exposed,
For they will be as strangers in a new world
And afraid,
Yet unable to return.

The best thing you will ever do
Will be without acknowledgement or praise,
Done for its own sake,
And for those who understand,
And for those whose understanding has yet to come,
Though they may never know your true name.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

This Tree


What are your opinions about this tree?
I ask myself,
Standing before this ancient oak
Hidden deep in the forest,
Limbs so wonderfully woven for climbing,
Were I of a climbing age.

How would I rank this tree
Among others of its kind?
How can I judge it?

I cannot,
For I’m not an arborist,
Not a conservationist,
I do not inspect trees,
I simply see them and behold them,
As I would do with the rest of life,
Were I that wise.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Despite My Best Efforts


This moon,
How anxiously it shines,
How hurriedly it rises in the dusk,
How brightly if reflects the sun
Even before the sky’s purple-blue bleeds into black.

O intemperate moon,
I am in no particular hurry,
But you hasten the seasons,
Feverishly pushing and pulling the tides,
Faster, so much faster now.

It is evening again,
Despite my best efforts to forestall the day,
To postpone the end.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Absence


A broken heart is hard enough,
To discover you are unloved after all,
That all those words of love were false,
At best a mistake of the emotions,
At worst a manipulative lie.

A broken heart is hard enough,
But there is healing in seeing things clearly,
In forgiveness,
In forgetting.

A broken heart is hard enough,
The price love can demand,
But the absence is harder still
And does not end.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Called


Fair youth’s enthusiasms
Echo distant in this quiet garden
Where I try to envision
Such thoughts as now drive my son
Out into the world,
Away from home.

I would spare him error and injury,
But cannot
Without hiding him away.
I would see through his eyes
That I could better understand,
But who can live another’s life?

That which I know is of my own universe,
And while there is much that is universal to all,
My young man now walks upon his own feet,
Called forth by his own soul,
And by the fatherless world.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Artist


O what reward
For lifelong labor
To make a beautiful sound,
To see the man in the front row
Fall asleep
While you so delicately evoke
Bach’s most ethereal passages
From your cello,
The instrument of your breathing,
The whisper of your bow
Across the strings.

Respiration from the front row
Works against the composition,
Keeping time in some asynchronous meter,
Growing steadily louder,
Until,
You have lost the reverie Bach intended
And your playing becomes rote,
Labored,
While the man in the front row
Snores,
While the stone-faced woman four rows back
Unwraps a peppermint candy,
Filling the hallowed air
With the crackle of cellophane.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Bob


Bob has five days left
To vacate the building,
The shabby rented house
In which he hides.

So many things to do.
Spent seven hours yesterday
Looking for his watch.
Will look again today.
Can’t find his keys
Though he made three sets,
Put in three different places,
All disappeared, somehow.

Bob sits in a folding chair
Rubbing his bald head in his hands
Trying to remember what to do now.
A framed photograph of him in uniform
Looks handsomely down on his paper-strewn living room
From the corner of the mantelpiece.
Shoeboxes full of unopened mail
Sit on a card table.
He is afraid of bad news.
Half the pages of a yellow legal pad
Are folded over,
Filled with his complaints.
Tiny black letters.

Bob leaves his phone off the hook
And swears it’s the phone company’s fault
That no one calls.

They let him out of the hospital a week ago.
He still wears the plastic bracelet.
His skin is rubbed raw,
Stigmata from where he fought to break free
From his constraints.
He is fighting still.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Acceptable


We know that some will die
In so many different ways
Every day.

Some in war,
Some in peace,
Young and old
And in-between.

Heroes and villains
And ordinary folk,
Every day,
Some will die.

It’s not acceptable,
Never acceptable,
It’s what happens,
Without our permission.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Ad Infinitum


If only you could sort through
All the ideas in your head,
You tell yourself,
You would figure it all out
And arrive at the grand conclusion,
The answer,
The answer to all those relentless questions.

Yet every idea you explore
Gives birth to a myriad more.

Dandelion seeds in the wind.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Adoptee


All these photographs,
All these people
Suddenly of some relation to me,
The lost bastard child who found his way back.

Back to half sisters and brothers,
Living and dead,
Half nieces and nephews,
Living and dead,
A parent or two
And all assorted associations,
All these lives lived without my knowing,
Died without my knowing,
All these lives,
Without knowing.

I was the lost bastard child,
Born by accident,
Anonymous,
Hidden,
Yet despite the best efforts
Of those who thought they knew best,
Welcome or not,
I found my way back.

Knowing,
That was always the necessary thing,
Just knowing.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Absolution


Who is the fortunate soul
Who has not fallen
At one time or another
During this life?

How many of us have sinned
Without detection,
Yet repented without admonition?

How many suffer the consequences of sin
Beneath the guise of anonymity?

Who can say how long such punishment should last?

One might suppose death and its dominions
Washes away Earthly sin,
Yet even death does not erase memory.

The echoes of our imperfect lives reverberate
In histories large and small,
Yet all unruly children are in the heart of God still,
Where only honest and sustained contrition will bring absolution,
The only kind of absolution that really matters.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Words And Meanings


I could say,
What a beautiful day,
And mean it,
And yet be imprisoned
Within the idea of it,
That beautiful day,
Out there,
Outside,
Somewhere.

I could say,
I love you,
And mean it,
Like a weapon
Or a shield,
This love,
Superior,
Disarming,
Untouchable.

Without the heart,
Words and meanings
Fall apart.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Your Most Recent Revelation


When the moment comes,
Light fills the sky
And birds are everywhere in voice,
And you say:

At last,
I have found it.

It passes.

On another day,
You carefully reconstruct
The circumstances
Of your most recent revelation,
And wait.

The sky is brown,
Everywhere dogs are in voice,
A garbage truck fills the air with noise,
Laboring house by house,
Street by street.

It’s gone.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Separation


To the very young
Toys are not toys,
Not representations.
They are real.

It takes years for us to separate
The idea
From the actual.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

A Koan


Those who believe in God,
Abandon God.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

You Think You’re The Only One


Do you feel so crazy inside sometimes
You’ve gotta keep it a secret
Because your friends and family are counting on you,
Expecting you to be a normal person,
To be this person they think you are,
This person you decided to be
Who is not so crazy sometimes?

So you keep it a secret
And never let it out,
But it’s right there behind your eyes,
Buzzing in your ears,
On the tip of your tongue.

You think you’re the only one.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

You Have The Gift


You have the gift
And the challenge,
The challenge to know you have the gift,
The challenge to accept the gift,
To live it.

While we are so busy complaining,
Blessings fall upon us like rain.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Best Seller


He was the anointed one,
And the literati decided,
Agreed,
Conformed and confirmed the book
Was his finest work yet,
Prognosticated as:
“The best book you will read this year,”
Though it was only January,
Though it was generally agreed “the best” was an anachronism.

After all,
Did they really believe the future could be so blanketed,
So predictable,
So immutable?

The book vendors ordered dutifully,
Feverishly,
Inspired by so many reverential author interviews,
So certain this was indeed the next big thing.

Who am I,
Who are we to turn away from such pronouncements?
Such hysteria?

So I,
So we dutifully purchased the book in droves,
Eager to possess the sacred knowledge,
The newly christened insight,
The talisman,
Ready to verify the conclusions of the cognoscenti,
Ready to approach the godhead and be blessed,
Though by page 83 most of us stopped reading,
Already full of enough dispirited angst
To last a lifetime,
Our purchases already having confirmed the acclaim,
The acclaim of the marketplace
Bestowed on all such highly strung best sellers,
So infrequently read to conclusion,
So soon forgotten.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

You Are With Me In The Dark


You are with me in the dark,
Though we’re many miles apart
I can see you with my heart,
You are with me in the dark.


~ 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

A World Gone Mad


If you woke up one morning
And found the entire world gone mad,
How amazed and alarmed you would be.
But what if the world goes mad slowly,
One day at a time,
One small step after another,
Year after year,
Decade after decade,
Would you notice?
Or would it be like trying to watch a tree grow,
Too slow to consciously observe,
But one morning you awaken and realize,
The tree is tall,
Immense,
And its roots are deep.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Erosion


Our amorous embrace of technology,
So insatiable and promiscuous,
So quick to abandon the newly outdated,
Quicker than a snake sheds its skin.
Like an addict injected with a new drug
We are hooked on the rush.

Why, then, this obstinance of belief,
This reverence for ancient prescriptions,
This persistent resistance
To the evolution of the soul?

We shield our carefully crafted personas from scrutiny,
From introspection.
We create entire lives from timeworn templates,
Assembling friends and families
Who believe in these concoctions of fact and fiction,
These cultural clichés we inhabit,
These large immovable stones we become,
Stuck in the river,
Eroding.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Blackjack


Poor old Blackjack,
Battered with one eye swollen shut,
He comes to my back door and cries for food
But he hurts too much to eat.

He cries to bring me out,
To hear the sympathetic sound of my voice,
To feel the rush of warm air from the open door
Against the stiff chill of early morning.

He comes close to the open door
But will not go in.
Some distant memory of being a kitten,
A house cat,
Pulls him to this place of food,
This place of sanctuary from the larger world,
The more dangerous world
He is now too wild to escape.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Yet Living Still


I have awakened with joy,
Delivered from care and concern
By some undeserved grace.
It fades.

I have been torn from sleep by dread,
Weighed down with fearful expectation
By some unrelenting pessimism.
It fades.

Today,
A soft choir embraces me.

This joy arose slowly,
Crept softly,
Disguised as contentment,
Permeating my daily obligations with pangs of pleasure
Yet giving no bold announcement of the spontaneous euphoria
Now made flesh as I walk along this hillside path,
My chores accomplished and forgotten.

Though tomorrow is uncertain,
Today and tomorrow fall away,
For the blue-washed sky is brushed with colored clouds
And the leafy soil is strong-scented from this morning’s rain.

O this painted circumference,
O these careful colors and textures of thawed winter,
And here, this ancient tree,
Lightning-burned, split and scarred,
Yet living still.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Are You?


Are you singing my love?
For I hear your voice in soft melody.
Are you laughing my love?
For I see your glistening smile.
Are you quiet my love?
For a stillness has shaded my thoughts.
Are you crying my love?
For a sorrow is growing within.
Are you praying my love?
For my prayers envision a heaven
Where never would two halves of a single soul
Be kept apart.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Yes


Yes,
You can fall in love,
Even though it is inappropriate,
Inconvenient,
Impossible to do anything about it.

Yes,
You can fall in love,
Carry it around all day long,
Day after day,
Year after year.

Yes,
You can fall in love,
Though you may despair
Nothing will come of it,
Something already has.

Yes.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Few Things As Hard


When my little boy turned cold
And hard,
I knew the world had him
By the throat,
That it would take a long
Long time
For him to shake it loose,
If he ever could,
If he ever can.

There are few things as hard
As becoming a man.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Working World


A little bird flew down
From her nest
Into the old car.

Joseph terribly sad sleeping
In the midday sun,
While the work of the world
Went on all around.

Even the little bird,
Pecking sandwich crumbs
From the dashboard of the open convertible,
Doing little bird work.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Work Of No Work


How this busy world conspires
Against the simple act
Of sitting quietly in a chair
With pen and paper in hand,
Writing down a thought or two,
Or not writing at all,
Doing the work of no work
All poets must do.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Words Will Get Through


By the time my son
Is ready to talk,
Eager to talk,
Full of understanding,
Eyes wide open,
Stripped of all adolescence,
Measured and wise,
Experienced in the ways of the heart,
A seasoned husband and parent,
I’ll be dead,
And his son will be giving him hell,
And at the bottom of some low moment
He will at last speak to me
And he will know what I knew.

He will try to tell his son,
Try to explain the bond between all fathers and sons,
The great chain of being that binds men to one another,
And somehow,
The words will get through.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Wooden Angel


In my low moments
Her quiescent gaze from atop my bookshelf
Keeps me from falling
Too low.
Her golden wings
Pointed toward heaven,
The palms of her tiny hands
Pressed flat together in perfect alignment of fingers,
In supplication,
Her faint illumination
In the shadowed light of a flickering candle
Helps me find some measure of grace.

Just a painted wooden angel,
Frozen in her flowing robes,
Her back straight and head barely bowed,
Balanced on tireless knees
In her cloud-born symmetry of hope
And mercy.
Her eyes are open,
Open to this man-made world
Which offers so little hope for the innocent
Yet squanders so much mercy on scoundrels.

O angel, how can I ask my selfish blessings
In this world where children suffer and die,
Hour upon hour?
Where are their angels?
What have they done to forsake thee
That they should die so young?
O angels, are you all made of wood?
Is it really up to us after all?

Behold!
The work of angels,
So frequently misunderstood.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Wolf, Wolf


Wolf, wolf,
Burning bright,
First wolf I see tonight,
Wish I may,
Wish I might,
Old black joe.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Easier To Love A Memory


Easier to love a memory
Than a man,
So when I’m gone
Forgive my human failings
And love what you can.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Without


Without thinking,
I write these words.

A lie.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Without Words


I am afraid to tell you,
Afraid to say it out loud,
Afraid to write it down,
For you may not feel the same way
And my words may place a barrier between us.

Right now,
We are friends,
And whether our friendship is a beginning,
An ending,
Or something else,
I am afraid I would lose your friendship
By telling you,
By saying it out loud,
By writing it down.

When I see you today
I will smile,
I will look deep into your eyes,
I will do my best to let you know,
Without words.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Wish


It was a cheaply made fountain,
A plastic babbling brook,
An affordable garden accessory,
A motor-driven rivulet
Spilling small streams
From one lily pad to another
To the small pond at the bottom
Where the water swirled.

A little girl following her mother,
Her busy, busy mother,
Into the garden section of the large discount store,
Stopped at the fountain,
Surrounded by this sudden jungle
Of flowers and plants and flowers,
So unlike all the everyday places
Of her unadorned life.

This little lost princess breathed deep,
Inhaling the fragrant floral air,
Then opened her miniature handbag,
Found a tarnished penny
And tossed it earnestly into the fountain.

Always the same, secret wish.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Wind


So windy,
The smog blown away from the mountains,
The dead leaves and dry twigs,
All torn away from the trees.

Such a good idea
To have a fierce wind
Now and then,
Strip away all that is not essential.

Or perhaps
A really big flood.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Visitors


A faint twinkle in the black sky,
A spacecraft,
Posing as Venus,
Then,
Closer,
Scanning my house,
Late,
Late one night,
Early,
Early one morning,
Hours after midnight,
Hours before dawn,
Awakening me,
The gentle throbbing of breeze-blown electromagnetism,
Rumbling subwoofers of elemental particles in my pillow.

We are here.
We are here.
The sudden realization.
Then,
Gone.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Breakdown


I was a fish,
Suddenly aware of water,
Frightened of being wet.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Why One And Not The Other?


Easier to understand when we were animals,
Savages,
Without the grace of modern civilization,
Without protection,
Easier to understand the random hand of fate,
Pulling one down,
Pushing another up.
But now,
When so many millions are safe,
When so many millions are not,
I have yet to discover,
Why one and not the other?


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Old Friend


I saw a young man smiling yesterday.
He looked like you,
When you were young,
When you were happy,
When most of life’s deadlines were so far away,
When time itself was a mirage.

This young man ,
Filled with some kind of impermeable confidence
About the future,
His future,
A confidence you lost somewhere along the way,
So many doors closed,
Closed and locked.

I saw a young man smiling yesterday,
Reminding me of how long it’s been
Since I’ve seen you smile,
Now that the inevitable consequences of your life,
Multiply.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

If I Knew


If I knew
This free-flowing bubble of time
In which I live
Was eternal,
A time machine that only advances
While all around me gently falls away . . .

If I knew
I was this ethereal being
Who would survive the ages,
Bear witness
To the unfolding destiny of the universe . . .

If I knew all this and more,
I would still want pancakes for breakfast.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Some Small Happy Thought


We must find joy
In this world of sorrows
Where the wounds grow deeper,
More permanent,
Every day.

We must find some small happy thought,
Each day,
Some small happy thought,
And smile.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Why Men Lie


Because she wore a spring dress
With a long open back,
Revealing the graceful arch of her spine,
The soft cut of her shoulder blades
Beneath the supple silken blanket
Of her burnished bronze skin,
Because she wanted to be admired
And so she smiled,
Because youth has not left her,
Because youth has left him
And the pleasures of aging
Have yet to reveal themselves,
Because at every turn old age is advancing
And he is not ready,
Because he does not want to die:

This is why men lie.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Whole


When you touch me,
Although we are not yet lovers,
When you touch me,
Though we have not known each other long,
When you touch me,
Although you have not said “love,”
When you touch me,
When you take my hand,
Something fits.

Something that was alone,
Wandering,
Is home,
Whole.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Whither


Cheese from a rat is like soap for a hog,
You can’t write your mother by using a log.
A nose is indifferent to all that is art,
The opera’s a good place to rip loose a fart.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Old Men, Old Women


Old men,
Old women,
Need to be touched,
Caressed,
Lovingly embraced.

Returning from where we came,
We are as uncertain,
Frightened,
As we were in the beginning.

No loving mother guides us
Into the place of letting go.
We are left alone to contemplate
Our journey,
And contemplation fails.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Where Is Your Quiet Place?


Where is your quiet place?
Where you get away from the busy world,
Where no one interrupts your train of thought,
Where you get off the train.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

When You're In Love


When you’re in love,
Surrounded and infused by love,
When it’s all so new and electrifying,
Commanding your thoughts,
Changing your habits,
Making you forget to do all those things
You were doing just to keep busy,
Inspiring you to buy little gifts,
Write confessional messages,
Work so much harder on your appearance,
Memorize romantic quotations,
Speak personally to angels,
Forget to breathe,
Fall asleep dreaming,
And each morning the first thing you think of
Is your loved one’s name.

When you’re in love,
No one can explain it away.
No one can tell you it’s only infatuation,
For whatever name anyone may call it,
It’s a reason to live.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

When You Think About It


When you think about it,
Most of our lives consist of moving our bodies
From one place to another,
Performing tasks.

All the real adventure
Takes place in the mind.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

When The Lights Go Out


Every evening
When the lights go out,
When the streets are dark,
When everything you own is drained of color,
When you are ready for sleep
In the black invisibility of your room,
Now you know
How far you’ve come,
How far you have to go.

Now you know
The only thing you truly own.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

When The Light Shines Down


When the light shines down
I’m gonna feel so lucky,
Gonna feel so nice,
I’m gonna be a big tipper
When the light shines down.

When the light shines down
And I got money in my pocket,
Friends callin’ on the phone,
I’m gonna get down on my knees
And say: Thank You Lord!
Thought this day would never come,
The day the light shined down.

I almost gave up the dream,
Gettin’ so darn mean,
But then the light shined down
And showed me the way,
Hallelujah!
That’s what I’m gonna say.

Say it quiet,
Say it loud,
Say it humble,
Say it proud,
Or I may not make a sound,
Just jump around,
When the light shines down.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Stepping On A Rat


It was a day full of lizards,
Then,
Early that evening,
I stepped on a rat.

The day’s warmth foreshadowed summer,
Bringing out multitudes of sunbathing lizards,
One doing push-ups as I walked by,
Signaling his claim to a particular brick atop the garden wall.

I stepped cautiously around the basking reptiles,
Intentionally scaring some from the center of the sidewalk
To warn them of the peril from passing pedestrians.

As evening came on I forgot about the lizards,
Now surely in retreat as temperatures fell.
I walked more confidently,
Free from concern for lounging lizards underfoot
When I saw a sudden shadow,
A brief glimpse of a furry young rat,
Startled by my footsteps,
Dashing errantly toward me as I put my foot down,
Ever so gently,
Feeling it underfoot.

My reaction time was acute as I quickly withdrew my step,
A day of stepping lightly around lizards
Having trained and prepared me.
The rat scurried off with no apparent harm,
Knowing now what so many lizards had learned
Just a few hours before.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Sun Will Return


The sliver of this crescent moon
In this darkening evening sky
Promises the sun will return,
But will I?


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Birdsong


Even the finest words
Fall away
In early morning birdsong.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

When The Dream Dies


When the dream dies,
Extinguished by reality,
Then,
Cherish the dream.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

When The Demons Take Over


What do you do
When the demons take over?
Do you rant and rave,
Do you become a slave?

How clearly wrong
It all seems the next day
With your appetite sated,
Your lust abated.

What new resolutions
Do you promise to keep
As you pull yourself out
From the dark and the deep?


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

When She Says, I Love You


When she says,
I love you,
I awaken to the world.

I see the exquisite tracery of trees against the hills at sunset,
The rich hues of hills against the mountains,
The full measure of mountains against the sky,
The amber soaring sky against heaven.

I hear voices speak inside myself,
The voices of all who pass by,
All so kindhearted and friendly now.
I understand the language of dogs and birds,
Of babbling babies pushed along in strollers.
They smile and greet me,
Saying: Yes, yes!
It is wonderful to be loved!

I feel the edge of evening coming on now,
So cold against my cheeks.
Oh God,
The rapture!


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Quiet Moments


These quiet moments
When alone I become my truer self,
My unguarded self,
Finger in nose,
Unrestrained flatulence,
Indelicate scratching,
Cursing trivial inconveniences
With profane language I would never use
In the presence of family or friends.

These quiet moments,
Beset by erratic, uncaged thoughts,
Past-life recriminations,
Indulgent, forbidden impulses.

This hidden core,
This embryo untouched by civility,
Unbound,
Disdainful of all my life’s accumulated lessons,
Disconnected from the cloak of identity I have made.
This dark beast will not die.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

When My Children Are In Bed


When my children are in bed
And story time is through,
Sitting in my easy chair
A certain sadness comes.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

When I Pray


When I pray,
First,
I turn off all my electronic devices,
And,
Put my list of things to do aside,
Then,
Close my eyes and ask.

After a while,
I stop asking
And listen.

It takes time.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Something Eternal


I can easily see the second hand move
But no matter how long I stare
The minute hand seems stationary,
The hour hand frozen.

In the mirror
I am the same as yesterday,
Yet the photograph is surprising.
I have aged.

Yes, I see wind-blown clouds changing shapes,
Time-lapsed flowers unfolding,
Water that comes to a boil,
Still,
There is something eternal inside,
Surprised at the passing of time.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

When?


Where did you go?
What did you do?
How many voices are talking to you?

When do you stop?
When do you say:
Now I must put all these voices away.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

What Place Is This?


A troubled sleep,
Two hours till dawn I stumble
Down dark hallway fumble
With dead bolt,
Finger keyhole like braille,
Unlock and open
The back door.

Out in moonlit yard
Away from torment of tangled dreams
I breathe in the sharp chill of night.
In,
Out.

The solace I seek is broken
By the waterfall roar
Of cars and trucks and cars
On not distant freeway,
This small place where I live encircled,
Entwined
With people in pursuit.

What place is this
Place of no rest,
No stopping,
What place is this?


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

What Might Have Been


What might have been,
What might have been,
Such a silly game,
As if you could take the impossible
And give it a possible name.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

What Love Is Like


I am lying in a yellow field,
An endless summer day
With nothing to do,
Cradled by the gentle tugging of this earth.

I am alone,
Home is near,
A hawk soars and falls,
Someone I love
Calls.

I am running through golden stalks of wheat
As fast as I can,
My feet leave the ground,
I rise and catch the wind,
I am flying.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

You Did Not Return My Shovel


You did not return my shovel.
I really need it bad.
You left and took my shovel.
It’s made my life so sad.

It was my only shovel.
I had it all these years.
I own no other shovel.
My tool shed sheds such tears.

I can see it now,
Shining in the sun.
Glowing in the rain.
O my lost shovel,
Causes me such pain.

I am cold in the night
Cause my shovel’s not in sight.
How can I carry on
When my shovel’s lost and gone?

Someday when you’re in hell,
You’ll know the reason why.
You horked my beauty shovel,
And digging made you die.



~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Counting Down Of Hours


I could write about the season,
The allusions of Spring,
And extinguish every trace
Of the human race.
But who would I be writing to?
Only a precious few
Have the time
To ponder
The metaphysics of the view.
The rest are possessed,
Scant time to smell flowers,
So much left to do,
The counting down of hours.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

My Angels


My life so lucky,
My angels working overtime,
Looking out for me,
Nudging happenstance in my favor,
Protecting me,
Especially from my own rash inclinations.

My angels scratching their heavenly heads,
Weighing the proper balance
Between consequence and mercy,
Leaving me with a few scars
For instruction,
As a warning,
Yet too heavily invested to let me die,
Yet.

They are patient,
So patient with me,
Still somewhat confident
I may yet make something worthwhile
Of this particular incarnation.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved