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

Prosperity


If you ever get
Everything you want
You will be a slave
To prosperity.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

A Ponderous Chain


She walks with some difficulty,
A slight limp,
A bit of a hobble,
Sagging and stooping,
Suffering the burden of her enormity,
Yet still able to push the shopping cart
Packed full of unnecessary food.

Link by link
She has forged a ponderous chain.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

People Are


People are
The most dangerous things I know.
Just wind them up
And watch them go.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Paul


Early afternoon Paul
Walked out into the middle
Of a busy street.

Standing straight and tall Paul
Removed all of his clothing,
Flinging it about.

Sitting squarely down Paul
Announced to all who’d listen:
“I have seen the light!”

Free and clear Paul
Was reborn on that day,
In the middle of the street
In downtown L.A.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The New Version


Not long after you’d pretty much figured it out,
Pretty much,
Sort of,
You were prompted to download the new version,
No doubt enhanced for improved functionality and security,
Better,
No doubt,
Better than what you already had,
Now referred to as the old version,
Practically obsolete,
So you comply,
And each time you do,
Each new version takes another little slice of user autonomy,
Another little nugget of user control,
Away.

Enriched personal data collection,
Upgraded monetization cloud,
The steady trespass of technology
Past all those surrendered boundaries,
Now removed,
Disabled,
Discontinued,
Deleted,
In return for improved functionality
And security.

The new version.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Out In The World


Out in the world,
At last.
How does it fit?
How does it taste?
You fully-fledged member of the race.

What will you do?
And why?
Will it matter?
Will you die?
Will you live?
What will you give?
What have you lost?
How much will all of this cost?
And how will you pay
Without giving too much away?

Out in the world,
At last.
So many questions.
Must you answer them all?
Perhaps one at a time?
Before you walk
Must you crawl?

Oh never mind,
Just plunge ahead.
Take a chance.
Do the dance.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Only Money


Money matters
So little,
You have discovered
At last,
Now that you are older
And have enough to get by,
Forgetting how many die
From want of a few things
Only money can buy.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

This Politician


The solemn occasion,
The honored dead,
The grief of a nation assembled in memoriam.

The earnest words,
The inspired speech delivered by this politician,
A showcase of compassion
Cleverly constructed by his speechwriters
To magnify his public image.

O the tortured expressions of sorrow.
Yes, he feels our pain,
Yes, he casts his humanity out upon our weary nation,
A nation so desperately in need of a leader.

This politician presents himself,
Offers himself,
This humble servant of the people,
This shepherd,
Eager to employ the suffering of a nation
To his own ends.

Those skeptics among us,
Aware of his grandiose disingenuousness,
Can not,
Will not forget how many lies he has spoken,
Winning so many earnest hearts and minds
With such sanctimonious deceit.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

On Moonlit Freeway


On moonlit freeway
I see the weariness in your eyes,
A few stray strands of hair
Around your face
Illuminated against the black
Inside your car.

It is late.

We who work overtime are driving home
In silent, anonymous autonomy.
Though I’ve seen you a thousand times before
In full fluorescent sun,
Numbed by office decor and decorum,
Tonight in my rearview mirror
I see the phosphorescence of your truer self,
Your innocence.

It is the innocence of the oppressed
Who, after overtime is through,
Have nothing disingenuous left.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Something Sleeps


Ordinary life,
A blessing really,
For those of us who have it.

Food,
Shelter,
Family,
Friends.

Yet,
Something sleeps in ordinariness.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Legions


At 12:18 in the smoggy afternoon air
Eating lunch in my car parked
In an abandoned parking lot
I suddenly realize:

This is the rest of my life.

Maybe in a different parking lot
On another day
With another dirty windshield sky
I will again forget
I am no one in particular,
Again dream of great honors
Awarded me for great things
I could never really do,
Not even in a hundred years.

I am out of the running.

My children are growing up poor
Without me
While I give little that matters to the world,
Working into the night,
Earning money
Which is not and never will be mine.

I am legions.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Nothing Special


No special time,
No special place.

Any time,
Any place.

When I was young
I believed in preparation,
Years of preparations.
But now,
After years of preparations,
I can,
At last,
Let preparations go.

Now,
With imagination exhausted,
I blunder my way into enlightenment,
Not walking into heaven,
But leaving heaven,
And hell.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Reincarnate


How many things we do
Without thought,
Things we’ve done so long,
For so many years,
Becoming habitually unconscious.

Actions and reactions
Assembled into support systems of self-identity,
Reinforcing who we think we are,
Who we think we aren’t.

Strip them all away and who is left?
A newborn?
Or just a very old human being,
Finally ready to begin again,
Somehow.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Nowhere At Last


Now that I’ve arrived at my destination,
Now I realize where I’ve been headed
All these years.
Now I see where this seemingly unintelligible road was leading.
Now I know where the journey ends.

All these years,
I was on my way to nowhere.

Now the only question left,
Now that I’m here,
Now what?


~ 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

My Table And Chairs


If I had no table and chairs,
No house full of possessions,
Then perhaps I would go to an impoverished land
And give what help I could.

But I am bound by prosperity
And frightened by change,
Blessed and confined by the things I own,
That own me.

Whole generations of my family
Have stayed together,
Remained loyal, long-suffering and patient,
Held together by the glue of family heirlooms,
The ancient oak table and chairs,
Houses full of possessions.

Life is short and my time is running out
And I am called.
Yes, I hear the voice calling me
Out into a new world,
But my table and chairs won’t let me go.


~ 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,
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

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