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

Incarnations


Each morning I awaken as a child,
Staring wide-eyed into the bathroom mirror.
I wash my face,
Then sip a cup of coffee,
Or two,
And I am a young man,
Full of ambition for the new day.

Midday I withdraw from battle
To refuel and recharge,
Determined to vanquish before the sun has set.

By late afternoon I am middle-aged,
Defeated and disappointed by the limitations of the day.

After dinner,
Sitting on the couch watching television,
I am an idle old man,
Too afraid of inner demons for quiet contemplation.

By midnight I drag myself off to bed,
Resigned to the grave,
To insignificant nothingness.

It is a fitful sleep that awakens me at 3 a.m.,
And in the absence of task and purpose,
I am Buddha,
Knowing reincarnation is just a few hours away.


~ 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 dreams of this kind,
While Sally sleeps here upon my lap,
Dreaming the dreams of a kitty-cat.



~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Life Went On




It was Sunday,
And many millions
Living in the most powerful nation on Earth
Spent most of the day
Watching the big football game on television,
Cheering,
Moaning,
Screaming at the electronic moving pictures of football players
Running back and forth and sideways,
Trying desperately,
Valiantly to get hold of the football
And take it to one end,
Or another,
Of the flat grassy space.

The next day,
Life went on,
Much as it had before.


~ 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

The Gift

 

The aged Chinese woman walks past our house

Every afternoon,
When the weather is warm.

Her turquoise capri pants and garishly flowered blouse,
Her floppy lime-green hat,
A collision of color,
Thrift shop couture,
Worn,
But serviceable.

I always say hello and smile
And she smiles in return
But never speaks.

Once I called out “Lovely day.”
She smiled.
I suspect she does not speak English.
No matter.
A heartfelt smile
With a slight tip of the head exchanged.
We embrace the gift.



~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Two Resolutions


When this life has worn you weary
And each day is a struggle
To find meaning,
Resolve to be honest,
About everything,
All day long.

Resolve to be kind,
With everyone,
All day long.

Then,
Meaning will return.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved