Past, Present, Future


Lust is easy to explain.
Biological,
Sociological,
Innate urges powered by repression,
By obsession.
Animal.

Yes, you awaken the stalking beast within,
But something transcends,
Filling me with your past, present, future.

I look into your eyes and see all the ages of your life,
All the ages of our lives together.

You look into my eyes and smile,
And though we’ve just met,
The past, present and future of our lives, assemble.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Wherever You Are, Wherever You Are Going


The night my grandfather died
A great gray owl
Called, called, called,
From atop an ancient tree
Across a sunburned field
Outside my open window,
Called, called, called,
As I lay awake in the warm breeze
Of that solitary summer evening.

Is that you grandfather?
One last lesson?

Wherever you are,
Wherever you are going,
Your lessons continue,
For the world about me resonates
With the kind and noble qualities
Of your being.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Last Day Of Summer


The last long summer day,
The last long summer afternoon,
The orange auburn light of the setting sun,
Hastening my play,
Delay, delay.

The air still and cool,
I am alone,
My friends called home,
Alone and still playing,
Delaying, delaying.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Still There?


When you were a baby,
When you cried and no one came,
When you cried and no one held you,
Or when someone finally came
But there was no comforting . . .

Now that you’re older
Do you hunger for affection?
Is the baby still there?
Still crying?
Can you ever let that baby go?


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

When My Children Are In Bed


When my children are in bed
And story time is through,
Sitting in my easy chair
A certain sadness comes.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Wandering Time


This time of loss,
This wandering in the desert,
This desolation.

My father never told me,
Never warned me,
Never prepared me.

Perhaps he thought this time of loss
Was a private, personal weakness.

I saw him,
Bent by the weight of it,
Barely knowing
Yet suffering,
Keeping busy,
Distracted,
Not realizing,
Not acknowledging this other rite of passage,
Coming so late in life,
This time of loss,
This wandering in the desert,
This desolation.

My father’s ghost is with me now
In this, my wandering time.
I cannot tell if he knows the way.


~ 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

Waking Up In The Dark


I could never get used to waking up in the dark,
To the cold, pitch-filled sky
Pressed flat against my windows,
To the wetness of water
Shot in hard, straight lines from the shower head,
To the distress of the world,
Just outside my door.

It was no easier for my two boys
Sagging under the weight of sleep,
Unable to speak,
Or my wife
Who would smile
And speak in gentle tones
Despite years of servitude to us all.

Together,
The chaotic particles of ourselves joined,
Forming a radiant wholeness of being.
Together,
We summoned the will
To face the new day
With something like hope.

After all these years I still wake up in the dark,
Remembering the sounds,
The stirrings,
Listening for the click of a light switch.
But now the other half of my bed is empty
And my boys are gone,
Changed into men,
Swallowed up by the world,
Just outside my door.

I have nowhere to go and could sleep until noon,
But each morning I wake up in the dark
And listen for them, still.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

To My Wife


So pretty when she turns sad,
Her eyes glisten like small, black stones
Washed and worn by the sea.

Her lean, fine-boned features,
Softening slowly,
Losing their distinction
Under the strain of marriage,
The demands of little children.

Hello,
She says,
Looking for the person I used to be,
Looking just long enough to see
A similar sadness in my eyes.

We go no further,
But smile in silent, solemn agreement.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Compromised


The people I am
Contend.

The adult disciplines the child,
The child disdains the adult,
One too wild and unrestrained,
The other too boring and slow.

The lover resents the married man
So predictably encased in rote and routine behaviors.
The married man rejects the lover
So impulsively surrendering reason to emotion.

So many people I’ve been,
All contesting for dominance,
Not one even slightly satisfied with the mandatory compromise
That is this single human being.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

To My Son, Each One


Do not get stuck on death,
My son.
Though we are flowing fatefully toward it,
We are also blessed
With a thousand rebirths along the way.

Even when our bodies are only images
In forgotten photo albums,
And our lives are reduced to a few inaccurate anecdotes
Told by some kind of relative somewhere,
Trying to forge a link in the chain of being,
Even when the last of our once treasured possessions
Is reduced to dust and vapor,
You and I will persist,
Still connected,
Somehow.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Time As Yet


When you were three
I could tell you about this world,
What things were called,
What to do with a day.

I could read you a happy story
With pretty painted pictures
And watch you fall softly asleep,
Still innocent,
Still safe,
Time as yet but a gentle breeze.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Gifts Of Christmas


1.

A gift,
For me?
Oh you shouldn’t have!

Is it really a selfless expression of your affection?
A gesture of love?
Or an obligation?

Is it genuine?

Does your gift reflect who you think I am?
Who you think I should be?
Perhaps it’s more about who you are,
Who you want me to think you are.

Is it an object of serious intention?
Designed to awaken?
To arouse?
To cause a reaction?
Or is it just for fun,
A playful reminder of the inner child?

Am I taking this too seriously?
Giving too much thought
To what is impersonal?
Is it merely generic?
A gift that says:
We are not close.

Did you wrap it yourself?
With your best paper?
Or was it the tail end of your least favorite roll,
Reserved for those who do not matter?

Have you actually touched this present,
Or did someone else purchase and wrap it for you?
Did it come by mail from a warehouse?


2.

Will those I love most
Disappoint me with thoughtlessness,
Or will I bask in the warmth of their intentions,
However artfully or clumsily conveyed?

Will my more slow-witted relatives
Prove true to my expectations?
Will the superior intelligence of others
Be clearly demonstrated
And make me feel stupid
For the lack of imagination my gifts reveal?

Will the ego of the gift-giver
Overshadow the generosity of the gift?
Or will the giver’s inferiority complex be manifest,
So sadly displayed by the soullessness of what is given?

Will the gift be of use, of value,
Or merely a cheap trifle soon discarded,
Donated to the local thrift shop?

Perhaps the most important gift of all will be absent,
The gift from the one I love most.

Or perhaps after all the wrapping is cleared away,
When the communal ceremony has ceased
And the gift-givers dispersed,
I will steal away to some private place
And press my lips to the gift I treasure above all,
Its meaning so fervently constructed,
Without form.



~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Think Of Me


Years from now
When your hair begins to gray,
Think of me.

Remember the sound of our laughter,
The color of my eyes,
The warmth of my hand.

Years from now
When your cheeks are wrinkled,
Think of me.

Remember my awkward mistakes,
My overzealous pronouncements,
My prayers.

Years from now
When time has washed all the hurt away,
When you no longer understand old age,
Be young and unblemished again
And think of me.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

They Are Golden Now


I see them,
Two little boys waking for school
In toy-stuffed bedrooms,
Staring blankly through sleep
At the half-conscious morning,
Rubbing their eyes with tight little fists.

So sleepy.

They expect to see me still,
Straightening a tie,
Gulping coffee,
Complaining about the time.

So sleepy.

They have not yet remembered
I am gone.

Mother is in the shower
And the sound of her
Triggers something.
Now they recognize the wrenching feeling,
Recognize and identify their wounds.
Like hospital patients
Who dreamed themselves home,
Who could stay in the dream
No longer,
Now they are awake.

I see them,
Hear them call for me
Watch them speak in hushed voices
About where I could be
And when I’ll come back.

I rub my eyes
And struggle to emerge
Into the blank morning
From a night of difficult dreams
In this cardboard motel room.

I love them,
Always loved them,
Loved them all,
Loved too much to ever say no,
Never, ever say no.

Enslaved by meaningless demeaning work,
Smothered by demanding reprimanding family,
Bound in the chains of my own making,
They are now the chains of my own breaking.

I see them,
Shattered and broken.
They are golden, now,
As they move through the diaphanous light
Of my feverish thoughts,
As I move darkly into the day
Toward this unrelenting madness
I can no longer disobey.

They are golden, now.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Survivors


After the hardhearted words,
After they are all spoken,
The impassioned phrases
So proudly pronounced
During love’s disillusioned duel
Reverberate,
Angry echoes
In the deep, dark dungeon of despair
That never quite die out,
That seem always on the lips,
In the cold stare
Of the one you still somehow love,
Who still somehow loves you.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Snake


Snake on a parking lot curb,
Looking for water in the fourth drought year,
Stares blank-eyed at rows of stove-hot steel automobiles,
Shoots his rubber tongue out and in a few quivers
Then inch-glides his black and tan, rug-patterned self
Over the curb,
His tongue sniffing like a dog nose.

He slides into the gutter and angles toward me.

I’m safe in my car
But I can hear my dead grandmother scream
As he slips underneath my front bumper.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Stone Age


How long has it been?
Not long since the days of the cave.
Seems like only yesterday
We were bringing down bison,
That old gang of mine.

All this was savanna,
And,
Over there,
Near that big boulder,
The barbecue pit.

Ah, the feasting,
The fermented berries,
The grunting.

I took a girl
And our bodies worked well together
Making many children.
We lived a while.

On my last day
My oldest son told me
He would bring me back,
And that I would bring him back,
In turn,
For we are all fathers and mothers,
Sisters and brothers,
Since the beginning of everything,
When every stone could sing.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Now, Lost


She had worked assiduously on her shopping list,
Trying to anticipate every need for the week ahead,
But as she entered the store and selected a shopping cart
She could not find her list,
Not in her pockets,
Not in her purse.

She tried to forge ahead without it
But she could not recall a single item.
Instinctively, she looked to her husband for help,
But her husband was not there.
Why had he not come with her?
Then she remembered,
He had died.
How long ago?

Wandering haplessly through the supermarket maze
She finally gave up and abandoned her shopping cart,
Returning to the parking lot which looked so different in the dark,
Now that the sun had set.
She would search her car for the shopping list,
Her car,
Parked somewhere among this vast landscape,
But the glare of headlights blinded her,
Erasing whatever fleeting sense of direction she had left.
Now,
Absolutely,
Lost.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

A Small Ring Of Different Colors


A small ring of different colors
On two tiny toy flashlights
Is turned,
Red, yellow, green, blue,
Two tiny beams of light
On the bedroom ceiling
After story time is through.

My dead grandfather’s bed
Is big enough for four,
Through we are only three,
My little boys and me.

A father,
I guess,
Is what I am,
But at bedtime I am more like a lamb,
Skipping through painted storybooks
At the edge of sleep
With my little sheep.

Then I switch off the light,
Turn on the dark
And the magic flashlights appear.
Red, yellow, green, blue,
The colored beams dance and duel.

Two luminescent bodies of light
In the enchanted garden of night.


~ 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

Clocks


I don’t like early mornings
When I’m still asleep.
I don’t like early bedtimes,
Alone and counting sheep.

Why should I pay attention
To all those clocks I see?
I listen to them ticking.
They listen not to me.


~ Russ Allison Loar
~ Writing The Child.com
© All Rights Reserved

Secrets Of The House


I keep the secrets of the house
Hidden from my family,
Its flaws,
Its persistent decay.

I preserve the illusion of home
As an inviolable sanctuary,
Impervious to entropy.

I alone know the truth:

The rusted screws broken off in their screw holes.
The corroded plumbing improvised into temporary compliance.
The imperceptible but certain slope of the living room floor.
Sagging timbers in dark places steadily pulling apart
Under the weight of an aging roof
That funnels rain into inaccessible attic corners,
Growing mold.
Clumps of unidentifiable wiring.
Termite dust.
Splintered rotting fence boards
A strong wind away from collapse.
The stealthy hairline cracking of cement.
The blister and peel of paint.
The bacteria count of the carpet.

I dare not continue.

I keep the secrets of the house
Hidden from my family,
Pretending we will all live forever,
One day at a time.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Searching


It’s not nostalgia that brings me back,
Back to this place where I once lived,
This place where my life was young,
Where my sons were little boys,
Where my wife was a lovely young woman,
Where so much of our lives,
Unlived,
Imagined in dreams,
Residing in hope.

It’s not the ache of memory that brings me back,
But the search for something lost,
A part of me that slipped silently away,
Unnoticed amid the clash and clutter of growing old,
A part of me I cannot precisely name,
Something incompletely perfect,
Whole,
Happy,
Distilled now in my restless heart.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Procreation


Yes,
Your parents were in love.
Well,
At least in lust.
Believe it.
No matter how ugly and ill-suited to romance they now seem,
There is a reason you were born.
Well,
Perhaps not so much a reason
As an emotion,
Drawing them together,
Fulfilling their destiny to create a new human being,
The latest version of evolution,
You,
The dream made flesh,
You,
You snot-nosed ungrateful twerp!


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Pick A Flower


Pick a flower
Hold it in your hand
Study it closely
Do not expect anything.

Put the flower in a vase
Wait
Wait
Take it out of the vase
Look at how the petals fall.

Pick up all the petals
Put them in a small envelope
Place it in the back of a drawer.

Eighty years later
Some idle young girl
Will find the envelope
And pour the pieces,
Cracked and broken,
Into her hand.

She rubs both hands together
And turns the petals into dust.
She opens her hands
And blows the remnants over her garden,
A believer in certain unspoken things.

Her favorite rose bush has a bud,
Soon a pale pink flower.
She watches it unfold
Then cuts it from the plant
And puts it in a vase.

After the flower dies,
She takes it from the vase
And drops it into a wastebasket.

Then she remembers.
She retrieves her discarded flower,
The petals slip from her hand
Into a small envelope.

She writes “For You” in her finest hand
And puts it back into the same drawer
And wonders what color
The eyes of her first child will be.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Parting


And where is home?
You wonder,
When home and family fall apart
And you’re starting over again,
Driving down darkened streets
That lead to this new place
You hesitate to call home,
Unpacking boxes,
Wondering what kind of logic
Will help you decide
Where old possessions should go.

You cradle a music box,
The first gift.
Too expensive,
Your mother said.
On its lid a portrait
Of two rosy-cheeked children
Sharing a single umbrella,
And you remember all the rainy days
You both walked and walked,
Just to be in motion together.

How young your hearts
In a world so dull and indifferent,
Changed for a while.
The world spreads out before you now
Like a desert,
This new world that seemed so right
In the fever of your white-hot rage,
That seems so blank,
Alone.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Old Places


I go back to our old places,
Searching for you,
So young and silly,
Before the weight of the world dampened your laughter,
Before entanglements,
When consequences held little power over spontaneity.

So much of our lives were about beginnings,
About an imaginary future.

Well, here we are in that future,
So abstract then,
So fixed in place now,
This accumulation of time
Where remembrance overwhelms imagination.

Here we are,
You and I,
Still together,
Yet I go back to our old places,
Searching for you,
Searching for me.


~ 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

My Fallen Friend


He came from a good family,
A loving family,
And when I knew him he was kind,
A kind and thoughtful young man.
He wanted to be an artist.

He died in prison,
Locked in a cage,
Too troubled for the outside world,
Too sensitive to survive imprisonment.

I imagine the joy of his mother,
Looking into the awakening eyes of her firstborn:
“A son, God has blessed me with a son!”

His parents had him cremated,
But months have gone by
And they cannot bring themselves to scatter his ashes.
They have not yet found the quiet place inside
Where they will learn how to say goodbye.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

My Children Come To My Deathbed


My children come to my deathbed,
Filled with momentous thoughts
And feelings,
Eager for resolution
And change.

My father is dying,
The silent mantra,
My father is dying,
My father is dying.

I want to tell them something,
Something I see so clearly now,
Something that explains so much,
Without explaining,
Just a word,
But I cannot move my lips,
No longer in control of this machine.

They each kiss my cheek
And leave the room,
Finished.

At last the word I struggle to produce
Comes forth,
Like a newborn I cry out
But my children are gone,
And the lady who is paid to sit alone
In the corner of the room
Turns the pages of her magazine
And does not hear.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved