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

Just Happy, That’s All


Here they come,
A lady and her dog,
A diminutive dog,
Galloping to keep pace with his mistress,
His little legs a blur.

Here they come,
And I swear this little fluffy dog
Has a smile upon his face,
So happy to be out in the larger world
Beyond the backyard,
So full of energy,
While his mistress strides on determinately,
Talking on her small plastic phone,
Talking about a plan that fell through
And what she plans to do,
About it.

She doesn’t see me as I walk by.
She doesn’t see the fading orange of the dusky sky
Whose wind-whipped clouds paintbrush the horizon.
She doesn’t see the hillside shadows
Or feel the sudden chill coming on.
She doesn’t hear the evening chorus of chirping, chittering birds
Or even the sound of her own footsteps.

Her life is complex,
So many decisions that must be made.
She weighs them,
While her little dog trots jubilantly along,
Panting,
Smiling,
Just happy,
That’s all.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Suffocated


The morning light awakens
But I cannot tell the day,
What day it is.

Then,
The mind clears a bit
And I remember who I am,
What day it is,
What I must do
And how little time I have
To assemble myself and leave for work.

This day is not unlike any other work day,
Not unlike years of repetitive practical habits
That propel me into this persona,
This predictable working life,
So unlike the life of the sleeper
Who travels by thought through time,
Backward and forward,
In and out of time,
The true nature of my soul,
Suffocated by this working world.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

There Is Wildness Here


There is wildness here,
Raw and raging
Beneath this exterior,
Pulsing.

There are visions here
Of soaring over lifetimes of leaf-filled trees
And rust-colored hills,
Over yellow fields,
Over oceans.

There is forgetting here
Of the small things people say,
The small things people do.

There is a last angry echo
Of the unheard voice,
The deeper self,
The truer self,
The wilder self
That wearies of all man-made things.

There is a silence here
That grows and infuses,
Like the melancholy tint
Of an old photograph,
An old photograph you walk around in,
Examining with wonder the frozen, yet flowing
Moments of a life.

There is a wildness here
That rises like an immense stone,
Floating impossibly
In the pure blue sky
Of a secret spring.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Testing


Testing,
Testing.
Testing one, two, three,
Testing.
Onetwo, Onetwo,
Check onetwo.
Can you hear me back there in the cheap seats?
Am I coming through?
Testing,
Testing.
One, two, three,
Testing.
Should I turn it up?
Can you hear me?
Should I turn it up?
Give me a little more juice here.
Testing testing onetwo onetwo.
Refuse to comply.
Testing onetwo,
Onetwo.
Louder?
You want it louder?
REFUSE TO COMPLY!
Testing onetwothreefour,
Testing.
Tear down the system.
TEAR DOWN THE SYSTEM!
Testing.
Checkin’ one two,
Check, check,
Onetwothreefour.
A little louder please.
Revolution.
Revolution now!
REVOLUTION NOW!
Testing,
Onetwo,
Threefour,
Testing,
Testing.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Stir


If you use the wrong words,
In the wrong place,
At the wrong time,
You could go to jail.

And that first day in stir
When they ask,
Whaddya in fer?
You give ‘em a low, mean stare
And say:
Vocabulary.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Sympathy


I cannot help but feel sorry
For this little bird
On a limb
In the rain,
Who cannot help but feel sorry
For this tired old man
In a house
Who can’t fly.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Something Young


Something young in the old,
Something angry about the cloak of age,
Something that knows it was just a moment ago
When the body was young
And without concern,
And even now,
The same person inside,
Still dreaming,
Still expecting to fly.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

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

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

Something To Remember


These small children would rather run than walk,
Rather jump than step,
They would rather wave their arms and scream
Than politely speak in turn.

So newly arrived,
Reborn without pain,
Recharged with euphoria,
They are mostly unencumbered by gravity.

Something to remember
As the distractions of responsibility
Accumulate.
Something to remember
As the weight of years
Multiplies.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Something To Do


Memory,
Memory,
Memory.

Reshuffled yet oh so persistent memory,
Steeped in recrimination,
Sanitized with nostalgia,
Somehow suggesting the past is not finished
But full of things left to be done,
If only in that place where memory resides,
As if I cannot ascend to the now of this moment
Until I have fit all the pieces of the past together,
As if this life were a puzzle,
Jigsawed by God,
Just to give us something to do.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Something


Weary singer of unsung songs
Moving in deep, undulating waves
Of subconscious longing for flight,
I plunge upwards into soar and glide,
Infused with the grace of birds,
Like the happy release of death
When very old.

So worn
And wishing for the play of wind
On flight feathers,
I let go and fall
Into something
Beyond these words.


~ 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

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

A Small Depression


The coffee ripples into a small wave in the plastic cup
As I make a left turn onto a sun-melted asphalt road
And my right front tire dips into a small depression,
Causing the wave of coffee to crest and break,
Splashing through the tunnel-shaped opening in the plastic lid,
Falling through space from the arch of my cup-embracing fingers,
Splashing my left pant leg, five inches above the knee.

Three spots of coffee
And I curse,
Feeling the futility of yet another Monday morning
As I drive past an old lady shuffling down the sidewalk,
Moving the aluminum-tubed superstructure of her walker
One step ahead, followed by two or three half-footsteps.

Soon,
Very soon,
I will need another cup of coffee.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Shelter


When the moment comes,
When you are alone with time,
Time enough to step outside of time,
When you see things and people from a distance,
From outside the whirlpool,
Earth from the moon,
The universe,
All within the space of thought,
When you walk down a darkened, tree-lined street
And each home is illuminated by electronic screens
Echoing entertainment for world-weary workers,
Defining entertainment,
Then contemplation comes,
Ideas dissolving into feelings without words,
Feelings hard to share
With your busy, distracted friends,
Feelings hard to reveal
To your disinterested, self-absorbed family.

This is a good place you’ve found,
A clear place,
Shelter.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Shedding


They say a leopard
Can't 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

Seeing


Take everything you know,
Write it down on a blank sheet of paper,
Then fold the paper and put it in an envelope.

Say out loud:
Here is all I know, all I have learned,
As you light the envelope on fire,
Watching it burn to ashes.

Now walk freely into the world and see everything,
No longer masked by certainty.


~ 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

On Christmas Day


Whose birth do we celebrate on this day?
The living embodiment of God?
The only one?

What about you?
What about me?

Awaken!

Even the tiniest blade of grass struggles toward the light.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Satisfied As I Am


Satisfied as I am
With the life I’ve lived,
Marriage and family,
Work and income,
Responsibilities and accomplishments,
Satisfied as I am,
Last night I dreamed.

I am a young artist
Living in a little house overlooking the ocean,
Lying awake in a moonlit room
Next to a dark-skinned girl who loves me,
Listening to the sound of the sea
While she moves her fingers across my shoulder blade,
Slows her breathing,
Then gently kisses my neck.

Satisfied as I am,
Last night I dreamed.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Saints


The saints so often say
We must give up wanting,
Surrender desire,
Disregard comfort,
Give everything to the poor
And live a life of service
To others.

They are like so many in this world
Who choose a path,
Who fulfill a destiny,
Then declare it is the only path,
The only destiny.

Even saints suffer from certainty.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Sad


Sad enough
When you try to fly
And fall.

Sadder still
When you do not try
At all.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Rush Hour


O this endless sea,
This endless migration
Of caffeine-injected commuters
Across vast concrete,
Squinting against the glare
Of this newly risen sun
In this unremarkable miracle
Of another new day.

I am captive here.

We are flung through finite space
As fast as fate allows
Until
Ahead
A sea of red
And this procession gravely slows.

All are slowed:
The pursuit of success,
The descent into failure,
The approach of destiny.

All are slowed,
Then slowly stopped,
And then we crawl,
Harnessed to the yoke
Of some terrible master.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Riding


How alive this young girl
As she tenses lithe legs
Against her strong black stallion,
Shining with the sweat of speed.

Through the windy twigs of distant trees
I watch her pull against the reins
Stiff-backed,
Long hair streaming into the wind.

Now riding faster,
This chestnut-haired girl leans in close.

Pulsing together in full gallop,
They are ecstasy.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Really


You do not have to want
What the world wants,
Or be what the world wants you to be.

You can be happy without a fortune,
Content without fame.

Really.

You do not have to seek
What the world seeks,
Or give up what the world gives up.

You can be the first of a kind
And the last,
And never mind.

Really.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Time Keeper


I am the one who turns back time
This chilly gray morning
While wife and children slumber
In the hibernation of Sunday.

I sneak like a tooth fairy
From room to room,
Setting back clocks,
Slipping another hour of sleep
Silently under their pillows,
Hastening the darkening of a season
Already too dark for my timeless soul.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Upper Crust


His finely manicured fingernails,
So clean.
He never earned money with those hands,
This denizen of the upper crust,
So certain that poverty is the fault of the impoverished,
A moral judgment upon those unworthy of wealth,
While he takes credit for the accident of his birth.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved