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

Enough


I saw a boy riding his bicycle
Deep in some imagination
Without any bills or job or wife
Or children or war to worry about.

He did not know he was in heaven.
He did not need to know.
Being there was enough.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Employee


Summer flowers dance softly in the afternoon breeze,
Far from the unfeeling glare of artificial light
In which I am encased all day long,
Muted.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Devolution


He was bored,
So bored with routine,
Every morning,
Brushing his teeth,
Making coffee,
Slogging off to work,
To predictable employments.

Then,
Weekend chores,
Social obligations,
So encumbered by family, friends and finance.

The half-slumbering supplicant,
Longing for escape,
His earnest entreaties
Finally heard,
Heard and granted.

Now,
As the first light warms the earth
He drags himself out from under a stone,
Eager to feel the sun against his scales,
The taste of yesterday’s grasshopper still lingering on the tongue.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Safe Road


The safe road is a circular road,
‘Round and ‘round it goes,
Past testaments and monuments,
Repeating what everyone knows.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Defiance


I did not volunteer for this duty,
Sentinel of pain,
And in my lowest moments I protest,
Knowing such protestations do no good,
Yet anger feels appropriate,
If only to maintain some kind of balance,
Some kind of defiance.


~ 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

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

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

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 should 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