Stir


If you use the wrong words,
In the wrong place,
At the wrong time,
You could go to jail.

And that first day in stir
When they ask,
Whaddya in fer?
You give ‘em a low, mean stare
And say:
Vocabulary.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Agony Of Ecstasy


The older I get the more I wonder
Why I’ve been spared from so much,
So much of the suffering of this world.
Why, why, why?

O the agony of this incessant good fortune,
This ecstasy,
Will it never cease?


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

What Comes Next


Sometimes
It seems like
Everything’s going wrong,
Then,
Everything gets worse
And you realize
Just how good you had it
Before everything got worse,
Then,
You get sick
And you realize
Just how lucky you were
When you were not sick,
Even though
Things were not going that well,
Then,
You die
And you think,
Oh great,
Here I am,
Dead.
You never made it to retirement,
Everything you ever worked for,
Gone,
And you’re stuck
In some kind of undefinable limbo,
Then,
You hear a voice that says:
You’re not stuck at all,
Come with me.
The next thing you know
You’re in some kind of eternal infinite agony
That must be hell
And you realize
Just how lucky you were
Before everything got worse,
And you don’t even want to think about
What comes next.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

A Game


It takes a lot of luck,
And money,
To discover
That life is just a game.

It seems much more serious
When you’re unlucky
And broke.


~ 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

Best Seller


He was the anointed one,
And the literati decided,
Agreed,
Conformed and confirmed the book
Was his finest work yet,
Prognosticated as:
“The best book you will read this year,”
Though it was only January,
Though it was generally agreed “the best” was an anachronism.

After all,
Did they really believe the future could be so blanketed,
So predictable,
So immutable?

The book vendors ordered dutifully,
Feverishly,
Inspired by so many reverential author interviews,
So certain this was indeed the next big thing.

Who am I,
Who are we to turn away from such pronouncements?
Such hysteria?

So I,
So we dutifully purchased the book in droves,
Eager to possess the sacred knowledge,
The newly christened insight,
The talisman,
Ready to verify the conclusions of the cognoscenti,
Ready to approach the godhead and be blessed,
Though by page 83 most of us stopped reading,
Already full of enough dispirited angst
To last a lifetime,
Our purchases already having confirmed the acclaim,
The acclaim of the marketplace
Bestowed on all such highly strung best sellers,
So infrequently read to conclusion,
So soon forgotten.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Erosion


Our amorous embrace of technology,
So insatiable and promiscuous,
So quick to abandon the newly outdated,
Quicker than a snake sheds its skin.
Like an addict injected with a new drug
We are hooked on the rush.

Why, then, this obstinance of belief,
This reverence for ancient prescriptions,
This persistent resistance
To the evolution of the soul?

We shield our carefully crafted personas from scrutiny,
From introspection.
We create entire lives from timeworn templates,
Assembling friends and families
Who believe in these concoctions of fact and fiction,
These cultural clichés we inhabit,
These large immovable stones we become,
Stuck in the river,
Eroding.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Definitions


We believe in definitions
Of definitions
Ad nauseum,
Alas.

We must have words,
But we layer our meanings
Like a hero sandwich,
Too big to get into the brain.

We forget the essential fact,
While labeling the labels
With the contrived clichés
Of the moment.

We have all become
So incredibly clever
We no longer know
How to tie our shoes.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Tiny


Just when they thought they had it nailed,
The smallest, irreducible thing,
The building block of all that matters,
They discovered it has parts.

Then they discovered the parts have parts,
Have parts,
And so on,
And so forth.

So I guess we’ve still got infinity,
Inside and out,
Micro and macro,
Beyond and within.

We are bound in a nutshell
Of infinite space.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Choice


There once was a man who built his own house,
Grew his own food,
Bred his own animals,
Then one day he happened upon a Sears catalog
And he was confronted by choice.

Thus, it all began.

Today I stand paralyzed in this everything store,
Staring at a wall of toothbrushes,
Barely knowing how to choose,
Frightened by the length of my shopping list.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Exercise Day


There he goes,
This pasty glob of goo,
Jogging a little,
Now walking,
His shorts too tight,
His T-shirt too small,
His head bowed and dripping with sweat.

It’s early Saturday morning,
Exercise day,
And he trudges down the street
In this quiet, upper-middle-class burb
Listening to music
Through tiny earphones,
The same exact music
He listened to thirty years ago.

It’s exercise day
And by God he’s going to make it
All the way around the misshapen loop
That belts his neighborhood.
He restarts a slow jog,
His floppy white hat is damp
From his sweaty, hair-challenged head.

It’s exercise day
And he is determined to run
The rest of the way home
Where he will reward his valor
With a piece of cake
In a bowl of milk.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Life Went On


It was Sunday,
And many millions
Living in the most powerful nation on Earth
Spent most of the day
Watching the big football game on television,
Cheering,
Moaning,
Screaming
At the electronic moving pictures of football players
Running back and forth and sideways,
Trying desperately,
Valiantly to get hold of the football
And take it to one end,
Or another,
Of the green plastic space
Some still call a field.

The next day,
Life went on,
Much as it had before.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Without


Without thinking,
I write these words.

A lie.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

A Cricket In Paris


It is a sultry summer night
And the chirp of a cricket in my garage
Reminds me of Paris,
Where I’ve never been,
And despite my sedentary life,
How lucky I am
I was not born a cricket,
Although I suppose being a cricket in Paris
Is quite a different thing altogether.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

If I Knew


If I knew
This free-flowing bubble of time
In which I live
Was eternal,
A time machine that only advances
While all around me gently falls away . . .

If I knew
I was this ethereal being
Who would survive the ages,
Bear witness
To the unfolding destiny of the universe . . .

If I knew all this and more,
I would still want pancakes for breakfast.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Someday


Someday, they’ll look back at us and laugh:

Those glasses!
The hairstyles!
That clothing!

But most of all,
They will be amazed at what we believed.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Morning Calculation


The difference between six
And nine
Equals the difference between rise
And shine.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Just Wonderin'


I was sittin’ up late last night
Wonderin’ if I was Jesus
When a black cat walked slowly through the door.
I looked at him and asked,
Am I?

If you was, he said,
You ain’t no more.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Dark Age


Can I do anything with a word when the world is sparking through wires and cables and atmosphere crackling on screens drawing current from electrochemical Homo sapiens?

Can I do anything with a word when the chemicals come so easy and hit so hard and run so fast and shoot so high and last so long?

Can I do anything with a word when art is for intellectuals and commoners are jettisoned to their easy pulp?

Can I find a word that will cut through meanness and shame power lust and inspire the meek and disable the unjust and pull the disguise off everyday life?

What can I do when I am tortured by the mind and bleeding from the heart and enslaved by the logical and brainwashed by the desirable and distracted by discourse and people are dying in droves and killing is a political option and this is the real world and Jesus has already come and gone and the kind-hearted are cheated and the vicious are prosperous and I am honest by accident and duplicitous by nature and into the night I lie awake searching for a word.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Zero


Zero,
Ever been there?
I hear the weather’s nice
This time of year.

I was there last fall,
Just in time to see no leaves changing no colors on no trees.
So beautiful,
Like nothing I’d ever seen before.

The trip was a little rough,
And long.
Just when it seemed like Zero was in sight,
Along came something else
And my curiosity would get the better of me,
Stopping to explore one thing after another.

But finally,
After a very long day full of starts and stops,
After I was completely worn out,
After I had just about enough of everything,
There it was:
Zero.

So beautiful,
Like nothing I’d ever seen before.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Inner Child


We were talking about the inner child,
How it never goes away,
How it’s always there,
Waiting for a chance to surface,
Looking for an opening.

O yes, we were definitely bonding,
Reaching back in time,
Shedding inhibitions.

So I spit my gum out at her
And she slapped me across the face.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Self-Serving Altruism


Let us,
The stupid inhabitants of a dying culture,
Dedicate ourselves to a new generation,
Let them stand upon our shoulders
To see what we cannot see,
So they may solve our problems,
Right our wrongs,
And not kill us
When we’re too old to take care of ourselves.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Visitors


A faint twinkle in the black sky,
A spacecraft,
Posing as Venus,
Then,
Closer,
Scanning my house,
Late,
Late one night,
Early,
Early one morning,
Hours after midnight,
Hours before dawn,
Awakening me,
The gentle throbbing of breeze-blown electromagnetism,
Rumbling subwoofers of elemental particles in my pillow.

We are here.
We are here.
The sudden realization.
Then,
Gone.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

I Am Older Now


It used to be fun
To see how long I could hold my breath.

My sister and I had contests
And we’d try to make each other laugh
To break our concentration,
Our determination.

Now,
It just feels like death.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Heaven And Hell


Sometimes this peaceful suburban landscape
Seems like heaven.

I am momentarily reprieved
And the people in my tiny town glow,
Translucent arcs of light
Moving about their daily tasks.

We stop and talk a while.

Hell returns.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Politics


O simple-minded hardworking soul,
Crushed by need
And greed,
I mourn for you
And I celebrate you
As I assemble these thoughts
From the refuge of my comfortable chair
In my comfortable house,
Comfortable neighborhood,
Comfortable life.

Just when you thought your hardscrabble life
Could be exploited no further,
I am here to mourn you,
To celebrate you,
To employ you as an illustration
Of my humanity,
Of my selfless dedication to your well-being,
For which I expect ample praise and admiration.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Anniversary


What is the secret
Of your long and happy marriage?
They ask.

I stop and reflect for a moment,
Furtively glancing at my watch,
Counting down the minutes
Until I will again meet with her,
My rosy-breasted, eager young mistress.

I am too old for her,
But we both have found a momentary bliss
In the forbidden.

What is your secret?
They ask again.

My mind races to find a suitable reply.

~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

#Alone


No sound,
No voice,
No laughter,
No eye contact,
No tears,
No facial expressions,
No body language,
No appearance,
No touch,
No skin on skin,
No embrace,
No kiss.

It’s the new friendship,
Texting and posting,
Liking and sharing,
Friending,
Friending,
All day long,
#Alone.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Contestants


Just another species
We are
The manipulators,
The malcontents
We are
The controllers of an uncontrollable world,
A world that will rise up against us someday
And end all this tinkering,
Making room for the next
Contestants.


~ 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

All I Ask


All I ask is a tall ship
And a star to steer her by,
Food and drink enough to last
My wayward wandering eye.

A mate or two to hoist the sails,
To swab the deck and sing
A rousing song of seven seas.
What quahogs we will bring!

O we will be a happy ship,
Connected to the net.
When whales are few and seas be calm
Our email we’ll beget.

We’ll chart our journey on a blog
For smartphones all to see,
And keep up with our favored shows
On satellite TV.

We’ll gather in the hot tub steam
When starry nights turn cool,
And when we take on lobster hue
We’ll dive into the pool.

O the call of the open sea,
The smell of briny foam,
O the lure of uncharted lands
That draw us far from home.

All I ask is a tall ship
And a star to steer her by,
Some island girls for pleasure,
And a global positioning system in case we get lost.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved