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

Coyotes


And the coyotes sang a juicy-cat song,
Leaving their secret places in the foothills,
Following scent trails scattered by the warm Santa Ana wind,
Softly padding together through the maze of asphalt,
Defying the logic of cul-de-sacs,
Then,
Suddenly glad,
So glad to be together
Beneath the tree-shaded suburban street lights,
So happy to be together in the adventure,
Spiriting the neighborhoods of the hairless ones who wear clothing.


~ 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

Coming Home


Early one evening
After another long day,
I could not turn down the street where I live,
Where my life deposits itself,
Where I always do what must be done,
Work or play,
Every day.

I drove right past without hesitation,
Past the street,
Past the gray blanket of familiarity.

I took the long way around,
Pondering the pathways of my life,
Watching the sky turn dark,
The porch lights blinking on.

Having nowhere else to go,
I came home.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Clearing


Yes,
I know,
These words are not enough
To describe the longings of the heart,
To diminish the entanglements of our lives
That too often strangle our finer emotions.

These words are not enough.

We need to find our way
To a clearing in the forest,
To walk into the light with arms outstretched,
To remember.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

I Knew A Young Man


I knew a young man
Who drank warm water
Right from the faucet,
From his cupped hand.

Everything he did,
An act of defiance,
An act of strength,
His way through the world.

They sent him to the war
And he didn’t last a week.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Child Abuse


O the constant recitation of sonnets,
The endless Mozart sonatas,
The cavernous museums,
Art, art, art.
Art of all shapes and forms to consume,
Digest,
Regurgitate.

The long lessons,
The querulous questions,
The awful answers,
The proud and ponderous books
Piled high before me,
An Everest of learning,
Of knowing,
Of transcending.

All the advantages
Were mine,
When all I really wanted to do
Was pull the tail of the old tabby
And make him screech.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Child


There is a child in me,
Surprised at what he sees,
This eternal child,
Always surprised,
Especially now,
Seeing the passage of time
Marked upon my face.

O time,
I still don’t understand,
Though I’ve changed from boy to man,
Though I will change from what I am,
The child,
Remains.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Rehab


Honesty,
Pure honesty,
Every waking moment.

See the past,
Change the future,
No matter what you’ve done,
No matter how long it takes,
No matter how many times you fail
And fall,
Start again,
This day,
This moment.

Honesty is the first step,
Pure honesty,
Every waking moment.

From this all blessings come.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

This Crow


This crow,
Walking daintily yet determinately
Across the street.
In no hurry.
Time on his—wings?

No need to fly such a short distance.
No sounds of approaching vehicles.
A quiet neighborhood.
No traffic to worry about.

Should a delivery van suddenly appear,
Hurtling around the corner,
Speeding straight toward him,
Just a few wing flaps would propel him from harm.

I do wonder what it must be
To take flying so for granted,
As if a sudden leap,
High into the sky,
Coming to rest on a slim treetop branch,
Were nothing at all.


~ 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

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

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

Before I Barely Knew Anything


Before I barely knew anything
I awakened each summer morning
To the cawing of crows
And thought,
How very tall these trees
In which they gather to ruffle their feathers
In the morning breeze,
How tall these trees
And how much these crows must see.

I climbed an orange tree,
So frightened by the height,
So amazed at the sight of neighboring houses
And city streets
And thought about what the crows must see
From the tops of the sycamore trees
And from higher still
As they rise into the sky,
Knowing I would never know
What they know,
Before I barely knew anything.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

At Last You Begin


Reaching your destination at last,
You begin,
Because conclusions do not satisfy
Anyone but everyone,
And everyone is no one at all.

So you finally arrive at the beginning,
Exhausted,
Confused,
Worn out,
Finished with ideas of all sorts and kinds,
Ready at last.


~ 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 are saved.


~ 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

The Afterlife


The afterlife will not be unfamiliar.
It will look very much like today,
A place with mornings and evenings,
Just a few small changes,
Change continuing at its usual pace
With all the occasional upheavals,
Depending on where we are,
Who we are.

For those of us who believe in heaven,
Heaven will slowly appear.
For those who refuse contrition,
Hell will remain.

The possibility of change and growth will remain,
For all of us,
Change and growth,
Confusion and revelation.

We will share where we live with others,
With friends,
Strangers,
With those who are kind
And those who are not.
We will help or hurt them,
Or ignore them,
And they will help or hurt,
Or ignore us in turn.

We will witness the working of change upon our lives
Without certainty about the future,
For the future will be malleable.
There will be times when the old fear returns,
When we contemplate that our existences, however new,
May be extinguished.
Yet joy and hope will temper the anxiety of unknowing,
Reassurance that we need not fear eternity.

The afterlife will not be unfamiliar.
It will start tomorrow morning,
As usual.


~ 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 will 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

Reverence


We are taught to revere the old ways
Of our beloved ancestors,
Their ancient wisdom,
Honed over generations
Into this perfect jewel,
Hard,
Prismatic,
Eternal,
An ornament
Worn so proudly by those who know,
Our teachers,
The guardians of all knowledge,
The caretakers of the past.

Impediments.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Fly


Here,
In this beautiful world,
A fly is trapped in my house.

Trapped.

It's buzzing madly against the window glass,
Certain there must be an opening,
Beckoned by the light of the outside world,
The outside world,
Just a fraction of an inch away,
An impenetrable fraction of an inch.

Here,
In this beautiful world,
Where all things are possible,
This Garden of Eden where life explodes,
Where love and hate contend,
Where joy, real joy is actually possible,
A fly is trapped in my window.

I get a clear plastic cup
Reserved for such rescues
And capture the exhausted creature,
Gently sliding a square of cardboard beneath
To prevent escape.

Here,
In this dangerous world,
Where evil survives and babies die,
A fly was trapped in my house
And I opened the door,
And I let it go.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Long March


You can march to the left,
You can march to the right,
You can march down the middle
And dream of your perfect world
Where everyone knows the truth.

You can march to the left,
You can march to the right,
You can march down the middle
But as long as you believe
You are right
And all the rest are wrong
You’ll be marching long,
You’ll be marching long.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

In This Place


This is all we know,
These caffeinated mornings
And crowded freeway commutes,
These peopled places,
Marked,
Altered.

Scheduled repose,
Manufactured entertainments,
The occasional exodus to nature
With the proper reservations,
Row 32,
Space 6.

But doesn’t it all seem a little strange sometimes,
This concoction of paradise and purgatory?
And how blurred their boundaries,
How blurred within our limitless eternal selves,
Living out this highly contrived finite physical existence.

Do you long to resolve contradictions
And in so doing,
Increase their numbers?

We believe what we want to believe
Until belief itself is finally exhausted,
A small, hard thing,
So difficult to discard.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Did You Try To Sing?


Did you try to sing?

Did you try to sing but the words caught
In the bottom of your throat
And someone sitting in the dark
Said “Next!”
Before you could summon
The clear, sweet song within.
Did you try to sing?

How old were you?

How old were you when the song was frightened
Back inside
Where no one would hear or criticize,
How old were you?

Do you still sing?

Do you still sing to yourself alone,
Bold and strong
When no one’s home,
Or is your singing gone?


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

A Door Opens, A Door Closes


A door that was open,
Closes,
It fades into the wall,
Becomes the wall,
And you realize
You will never be
On the other side
Of that wall,
The other side
Where everything is different,
In the land of What Could Have Been.

Or maybe you walked through that door,
And then it closed,
Faded into the wall,
Became the wall,
And now you realize
You can never get back
To the other side
Of that wall,
The other side
Where everything was really okay after all,
Back in the land of Leave Well Enough Alone.

A door opens,
A door closes.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Animal Force


There is an animal force
That moves me toward you
But I resist,
For there is no heart in it.
It is all accident,
An accident of time,
Circumstance,
Genetics.

I admit all manner of impulse
For honesty’s sake,
And for the same reason
Withdraw consent.

Conditioning and confinement,
So much to blame
For our transgressions.
We look to all available drugs
To ease what cannot be so quickly cured.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Rabbit


To look for the rabbit was why I came,
To find him again was my secret game.
I’d slowly edge near him, near as I could,
Near as he’d let me, as near as he should.

I had some strange dream of taming the wild.
It was my best dream, the dream of a child.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

We Americans


We Americans
Speak of our founding fathers,
Our proud heritage,
As if it were all etched in stone,
Authored by God,
This young country,
This work in progress,
Fresh from ignorance and sin,
Sinning still.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

At Play


You call it freedom,
Those afternoons on your dappled horse,
Kicking up dust sparkling in wet ocean air,
Cantering round and round solitary paths
Worn around your father’s estate
Where an old Mexican woman with scars on her knees
Scrubs heel marks off the Spanish tile.

Your orange and white tomcat snags a butterfly,
Yanks off a fluorescent wing
With his needle-nose teeth.


~ 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

Not Yet


Nature created us,
We human beings
Who seek exclusion from nature’s consequences,
From the balance of success and failure
Required by nature,
From which we cannot escape,
Yet.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Boundaries Of Heaven


We draw the boundaries of heaven
Around the spaces of ourselves,
Marked off by threat
And bluster,
As if heaven were a place
Unwelcome.


~ 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 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

The Truth


The truth has always been here, long before it was written about, long before theology, long before philosophy.

The wisest among us are interpreters, but the truth is eternal and cannot be changed by the interpretations of human beings.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Real Horror


Another atrocity
And writers all around the world
Take pen to paper,
Knowing the real horror
Resides in the mind
And must be addressed.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Here I Sit


Here I sit at this keyboard,
Poised to type my moral condemnations
Into this computer,
A computer assembled by slave labor in China,
But first I need a bit more inspiration
And so I drink another cup of coffee,
Grown by generations of impoverished Colombians.

I pause and ponder the fate of all the world’s weary workers
Whose assembled sufferings make my life so comfortable,
As if a few empathetic thoughts and words
Could release me from responsibility.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Old Things


Civilization is a stubborn child,
Learning by accident
What was not inherited,
What was forgotten as generations passed.

Culture rises and falls
And that which is new,
No matter how low,
Inevitably supersedes the old,
No matter how noble.

Now we are technological
And our children barely know what to do
With paper and pen,
With a book,
These old things,
Falling, falling away.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Homecoming


When it all falls apart
And you have nowhere left to go,
Where do you go?

You go home,
To that little house on the corner,
In that little town,
That little room with that little bed,
Still there,
As if your parents knew
You would not make it on your own,
Out there.

They kept your room ready
For your homecoming,
Coming home to where it’s all too small
For this forsaken soul you are,
A child once more.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

This New Age


This new age,
Not as much what you should be,
But more what you are.

The older ones will gladly tell you
What to do,
Or not,
What to think,
But it’s all history
And should be consigned as such.

As always,
What is different is wrong to so many
Who forget what is right is an opinion,
Based on the past,
Based on familiarity,
Conformity.

This new age,
Where imperfection fights for recognition,
Where success and failure fall into obsolescence.

This new age,
Where enlightenment and ruin will certainly come
In subjective proportions so assuredly predicted,
Yet presently unclear.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Way Of This World


It was a tall tree,
Not majestic,
But many years old,
Having managed somehow to be planted,
To grow in a clear space,
Clear enough for sunlight,
Far enough from other, taller trees,
A space where humans found it desirable
And so left it alone to grow
All these years.
Singed by the occasional fire,
Parched by the occasional drought,
It grew.

After ferocious winds that would not let me sleep
I walked along this familiar path,
Strewn with leaves, branches and limbs,
And there in the clearing was the tree,
Lying on its side,
Uprooted,
Most of its branches torn away
Except for a line of long, leafless branches still attached,
Now pointing toward the clear, quiet, cloudless sky,
A last gesture.

This had nothing to do with sin,
With punishment
Or even destiny.
Every big wind blows a few trees down.
It is the way of this world.


~ 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

Hero


I do not want my son to be a hero,
Whose name will be read among the honored dead,
Who will be forever young in the picture that is hung
On his empty bedroom wall,
O dear God don’t let him fall
In battle and attack,
Please bring him safely back.

I do not want my son to be a hero.



~ 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