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

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

Measure And Weigh


We are a people
Who measure and weigh,
Measure and weigh,
While the moment itself
Slips away.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Work And Freedom


Someone once said
The only real freedom
Is freedom from work.

I suppose that’s true for many,
Working only for money,
Interchangeable cogs
In the brutishly indifferent wheel of commerce.

Yet many do take some measure of pride
In a job well done,
Despite being relatively unrewarded
For years of obedience to the task at hand,
Then,
One day,
Anonymously dismissed,
Discarded,
Finally free from work,
Yet not feeling very free at all.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Max


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

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

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

Max is back!


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

A Matter Of Time


To you who suffer,
Please know I think of you
And pray for you
Every day
And I don’t understand
What it is in this world
That chooses you
And spares me
And it may only be a matter of time
Until I am chosen
And you are spared.

Yes,
I suppose that’s what it’s all about,
A matter of time.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Lucky


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

But now I am nobody,
Nobody in particular.

I am one of the lucky ones.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Looking Forward


“When hell freezes over!”
My dearly beloved intoned,
Responding to my request for a hot buttered cinnamon roll.

Not an unpleasant thought,
Not at all,
Free of matrimonial bonds
In the realm of human weakness,
Bundled up against the sudden change in climate,
Sipping hot chocolate
While the scent of warm cinnamon
Drifts lazily into my nostrils
From the buffet of frosted pastries.

O yes, when hell freezes over,
Now there’s something to look forward to.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Annunciation


More than a job,
More than mere employment,
It was a career,
A calling,
A framework of talents and skills
Honed by discipline,
Heightened by dedication,
Then,
Gone.

All your years of earnest labor,
Come to this,
Rejection.
Your life’s work,
Discarded.
Your self-worth,
Shattered.

Yet,
In your lowest moments,
In your despair,
The growing realization:
You are the master of your fate,
The captain of your ship.

Then,
Navigating your way through perilous seas,
Tossed and buffeted by the storm,
Suddenly,
The annunciation:
You are free.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Living Still


In those fire-lit caves
We painted
The fearsome power of the mammoth,
The intrepid speed of horses,
The courage of our hunters.

In the chilly, flickering firelight
The images came alive.
We watched them with immeasurable joy
That we were the ones,
The ones living still.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Little Sheep


I am a little sheep
With headlights and a beep,
A horn and a job,
I am corn on the cob.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Light


I have grown tired of profound revelations,
Startling insights,
Content now with my first cup of coffee
As this planet tips daintily toward the sun,
Filling the room with light.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Ark


I hear faint whispers,
Far from this devouring sea.

I am lost,
Waiting for pestilence to pass.

That all things must pass
Is small comfort to the despair of this place.

I press one hand against the other,
Not knowing what to ask,
Knowing only that some things must stop
Before other things begin.

I hear faint whispers.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

It Is The Dream That Creates Us


It is the dream that creates us,
However carnal or profane,
However blessed by human charity,
However vengeful or inane.
It is the dream that creates us
And awakens us each day,
And opens a path before us
And sends us on our way.


~ 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

It Grows


The silent majesty of a tree
Is at every moment a miracle
Unveiled before the world.
Without proclamation,
Without advertisement,
Without faith or despair,
It grows.


~ 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

In The Eyes Of A Beautiful Stranger


In the eyes of a beautiful stranger
There is a kind of paradise,
A release
From a life full of things
Too familiar,
Worn out from overuse,
Exhausted by constancy.

In the eyes of a beautiful stranger
There is another life,
Different,
Fresh,
Unknown.

Ah, to awaken one morning
And not know
What the new day will bring.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Imaginary


If your paradise is an illusion,
Yet you believe you are in paradise,
Feel like you are in paradise,
Who is to say this is not real?

If your love is imaginary,
Yet it keeps you alive and dreaming,
Writing long love letters late at night,
Hoping, always hoping,
Until the oxygen finally runs out,
Who is to say this is not real?

Even if your heaven is a dream,
You can still live there.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Day's End


Something stirs as the day recedes,
As the hillsides turn black,
The tracery of trees so delicate against the fading orange sky,
The prisms of purple-blue unfolding toward the evening star
Now bright as a streetlight.

Something reassuring about little chirping birds
Fluttering to their secret places in the woods,
Called to shelter by the darkening horizon,
By the sudden chill on the edge of the air,
By the hoot, hoot, hoot of a twilight owl.

Neighborhood dogs bark at hungry raccoons
Leaving their storm drain tunnels
For an evening of leftover pet food and trash can tidbits.

The distant discord of a passing freight train calls
Like a factory whistle signaling an end to the working day.

Something heartening in the exodus home,
Labor’s machinery turned off awhile.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Exiles


Leaving the office late last night
I passed by harshly lit co-worker cubicles,
All the carefully framed photos of smiling children,
Of loved ones,
Precisely placed,
Reassurance during the long working day,
A bond of love in our lives.

We are exiles,
Returning home for a few exhausted hours
To again be husbands and wives,
Parents and children,
Families.

Together again
For those precious few hours
That work allows.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Fanatic


We are the true believers.
We will do anything,
Anything,
For the cause.

How dedicated we are,
That we can so easily dismiss
The sanctity of a human life
To accomplish our quest.

We will show God our righteousness,
Our fearlessness,
No matter how many we have to kill.

No compromise.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

I Will Sing


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

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


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

I Was Flying


I was flying,
Swift and sure
With the lift of a hand,
A miracle on demand.

But more than the addictive bliss
Of flight,
Or the intoxication
Of height,
I was most proud
Of my position above the crowd,
Most proud
And most alone.
I was the only one.

Out of loneliness I descended
And flew closely by,
Urging all to try.

But not one would leave the ground,
So sadly I ascended
And flew once more above them,
Unnoticed,
Without sound.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Heaven Is A Difficult Place


It’s not at all what I expected.

Heaven is a difficult place,
So full of strife and tragedy,
At times I forget where I am,
Here in this place of extremes,
Of contrast,
Where kindness is born of cruelty,
Where love is born of fear,
Where enlightenment is born of ignorance,
Where all possibilities exist,
Darkness and light being what they are.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Free Fall


You and I are not content,
We want what we do not have.

We are acquisitive by nature,
A long line of hunter-gatherers.

We want what we want.

You and I will never be happy
Until we get what we cannot have,
For desire is a free fall.


~ 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

Failure And Success


What seems so clearly to be failure
Will turn out to be only part of what happened.
What seems so clearly to be success
Will turn out to be only part of what happened.
The story of your life is so much more complex
Than the simple words:
Failure,
Success.

Leave this shorthand to the obituary writers
Who are compelled to sum up a life
In cold, calculating column inches.

Do not dwell on failure.
Do not dwell on success.
Live in the heart of each moment
And behold the terrible majesty of it all.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

We Call It Civilization


How curious,
Every little bird awakening each morning,
Imbued with an unquestionable sense of purpose,
With no confusion as to the required tasks of the day,
Proceeding with evolutionary confidence
And caution,
Innate senses and skills propelling action and reaction.

In this tumultuous human world
Where millions are stripped of their homes,
Their countries,
Of the most unremarkable aspects of everyday life,
Of survival,
Little birds make their orderly way
Through their tiny lives,
While we make refugees of our mothers and fathers,
Sisters and brothers,
Daughters and sons,
And we call it,
Civilization.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Exceptional


Whatever your ambitions,
The Guardians will say,
You Must!

Their years of experience,
Their successes,
Their failures,
All coalesce into certainty
About what Must be done.

Our libraries are full of certainty,
Centuries of prescriptive certainty,
Countless pages full of advice and warnings
You Must accept,

As if there were only a single path to each destination,
As if anyone could confine free will,
As if life were not,
At its very core,
Exceptional.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Evolution


Feeling the hot breath of the baboon
On the back of the neck,
We overindulged in the refuge of civilization,
Denied being animal at all,
As if inseminated, incubated and initiated
In a place somehow apart from this Earth.

Now we live in a disillusioned age,
Tired of manners, morals and inhibitions,
Tired of orderly existence
In ghettos of steel, cement, glass and plastic.

The restless stirrings of things within us
That have no mind
Scare us no longer.
They lead us,
And our children hunger for raw meat,
Animal again.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Epitaph


He was so obedient,
So disciplined in word and deed,
Not a single action betrayed him.
No one ever suspected.

And when he died,
All the things he secretly wanted to do,
All the people he secretly wanted to be,
Died with him.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Eternity


I can hear eternity
In the happy cries of playing children,
Hours left before the sun goes down.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved