Pedestrian


Being new to the big city
I sometimes stop and stare,
Uncertain of my direction,
Stop and stare,
Standing still in inconvenient places,
Inconvenient to the sardines swimming swiftly uptown.
Or is it downtown?

The red light turned off and the green light turned on
But the crowd had already pushed forward in anticipation
While I alone paused,
Creating an obstacle due to my confused consternation,
Blocking the preselected path of the old man,
The old man impatiently pushing an older man in a wheelchair.

“Watch where you’re going!” he shouted,
Having no horn to honk,
Selflessly guiding the disabled old man
Safely through congested city sidewalks,
So angry at a world so uncooperative,
A world that would allow someone like me to stand in his way.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Don't Take This Literally


I’ve been way too coherent lately,
Too literal.
Some of my more artistic friends
Blush
At my naive,
Prosaic,
Poetry.

I actually use the words
“Love,”
And “heart,”
Even “God,” for “Pete’s sake.”

I “dream”
And sometimes I am “sad,”
Sometimes full of “hope” and “joy.”

I apologize to my more sophisticated friends
For my unadorned simple-mindedness
And would deconstruct coherence with obfuscation
But alas,
I am “too far gone.”


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Books


Books on my shelves,
So meticulously bought
And placed according to thought.
The lines of their spines
Reproach me
For ignoring them so.
In false phrases of praises
My bookstore ambitions go.

What would I know
If I’d read them all
And with total recall
Could bring forth their voices?
Who would I be with such choices,
With such knowledge tamed
And insights gained?

Would I really be changed
If rearranged
By the genius of my age
And of ages before?
Would I be an amazing sage
Or just another incredible bore?


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Sacred


What do you hold sacred?

Not in your places of worship,
Your churches,
Your temples,
Your mosques.

Not in your ceremonies,
Your practices,
Your prayers.

It is no real test
When you are harnessed with the obligations
Of pious behavior.

Show me what you hold sacred
In a crowded parking lot,
When the hunger is upon you
For a really good parking space.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Timenesia


If you could travel back in time,
You would forget how you got there.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Cats


Why am I not a god to these cats?
They sit, long-pawed on my driveway
As I approach in the fearsome monster of steel,
Growling and hissing.
But they watch my advance with disinterest,
Half-closed eyes revealing scant concern.
They are used to my comings and goings
And will not move until the last possible moment,
When a tire threatens to brush a whisker,
When I race the engine to give them a start.
They are becoming accustomed to these things as well.

I step from the roughly idling four-door sedan
And pull open the great wall of aluminum garage door,
Letting it fly upward and crash against the frame.
A few furry heads turn in slumberous response,
Then mechanically turn away.
O what will roust them from this languor?

It is the clack and pop of punctured metal,
The grinding drone of the kitchen can opener
That does the trick.
In an instant they have gathered,
A felonious mob at the back-door stoop,
Meowing in feigned, pitiful supplication,
And God will walk among them once more.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Indifference


O the unclipped nose hair,
The unchecked gluttony,
The wrinkled plaid Bermuda shorts,
The black socks and penny loafers.

O the pasty white skin,
The mounting corpulence,
The open-mouthed unconscious stare,
The arrogant indifference.

O what have you surrendered?
And why?


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Cure


I am used to distress
I will not take the cure
Of the even-tempered life
Lobotomized and pure.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Deus Ex Machina


They’ve read all the big fat important books
And they want you to know,
You ain’t nobody
Until you know what they know.

Here on planet Earth
They think there are rules about these things,
And they want you to know,
You ain’t nobody
Until you follow the rules.

I say to hell with the whole damn bunch of ‘em.
Let ‘em stew in their own pot.
After all,
We ain’t talkin’ about somethin’
That you could fit inside a test tube
Anyhow.

And just who was it exactly who appointed them
To tell me what to think?

You can give ‘em all Pulitzer prizes
‘Til you’re blue in the face
But that don’t mean nothin’ to me.

I don’t have to spend my entire life in the library
To know they just made it all up.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Peace And Quiet


I had almost reached some eternal state of bliss
When my reverie was rudely interrupted
By my birth.

I need not tell you of the emotional quagmire
That is life.

I have suffered less than many.

Yet just when things began to settle down
My reverie was rudely interrupted
By my death.

Perhaps now I can finally get some peace and quiet.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

You Did Not Return My Shovel


You did not return my shovel.
I really need it bad.
You left and took my shovel.
It’s made my life so sad.

It was my only shovel.
I had it all these years.
I own no other shovel.
My tool shed sheds such tears.

I can see it now,
Shining in the sun.
Glowing in the rain.
O my lost shovel,
Causes me such pain.

I am cold in the night
Cause my shovel’s not in sight.
How can I carry on
When my shovel’s lost and gone?

Someday when you’re in hell,
You’ll know the reason why.
You horked my beauty shovel,
And digging made you die.



~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

I Took A Little Pill


I took a little pill and it made me happy.

I remember happy, I thought,
That old feeling,
Still there, somehow,
Just waiting for some kind of spark
To jolt a little joy into my life.

But it’s a false sense of happiness,
I argued.
It’s a chemically induced happiness.
It’s not real.

What about my chemically unbalanced depression,
I rebutted.
Is that a preferable reality?

Just because you are temporarily tranquil
Does not mean you’ve healed all your ailments,
I scolded,
Only that you’ve repressed them,
But not all of them.

Oh yeah?
I retorted.
What ailment of mine in particular persists?

How about the most obvious one,
I shot back,
That you are having this conversation with yourself,
Split in two.

You’d better watch yourself,
I threatened.
A couple more pills and you may cease to exist.

Oh yeah?
I threatened back.
A couple more pills and we both may cease to exist.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

A Small Dog In France


There is a time for every whatever,
For even ignorance shall have revenge
And the stupid shall be lucky,
Confirming their faith in false gods
While criminals go unpunished
Yet still repent and so be saved.

Much of what we know shall be wrong
Though we will prosper from our illusions
And die happy,
Blissfully free from insight and revelation.

We shall be overcharged for groceries
Again and again
And our overcharges will go undetected
While lazy, good-for-nothing brothers-in-law
Live to their nineties,
Free from disability and disease,
Complaining.

Foolish teenagers shall be hypnotized
With dull employments,
Falling in love with the eternal charm of mediocrity,
Getting married and procreating astronauts.

A small dog in France will speak by accident.
Drinking from a backyard swimming pool
On a sultry summer night,
He will turn quickly to see a skinny orange cat
Slink across the fence top.
His mouth full of unswallowed water,
He will bark: “Bonjour!”
But no one will hear him except the cat,
Who,
Knowing the small fuzzy canine cannot reach him,
Will not care.



~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

If


If life were a metaphor
Then the incandescent epiphany
Could rise,
Bloom,
An evening cactus flower,
Jesus alone in the desert
Wrestling with demons.

I awaken,
Late for work.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Question and Answer


Are the rigorous fish screaming?
No, I’m dreaming.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

What It Is


This is,
What it is.

Now I know.

I said it was something else,
Way back then,
When I was ignorant
And thought I knew.

This is,
What it is.

Now I know.

And I've decided
It’s up to me
To tell you so.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Put A Pat


When this world feels too rough
For my lamb and honey soul,
I put a pat of butter
On my lovely cinnamon roll.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

There Are Reasons


My young cat bit through the skin on my hand,
Playfully,
And now the weather’s turned cold.

Rain is on the way
And there are two circular puncture wounds
Where little bitty kitty bit me.

I’d better get up on the roof before the rain starts.

I have my reasons.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Plotless


Someone is telling my story,
Moving my life from chapter to chapter,
But my storyteller is raw and unskilled.
He labors on and on,
Weaving the most complex and intricate details
Through the most uneventful scenes.

You will wake up early this morning
And drive to work in heavy traffic.
Yes, you will drive to work every day,
Except for the weekends.

Many of us are displeased with our storytellers.
Will our plots ever take some meaningful shape?
I wonder.
These lives are poor fiction.

He wakes up early and takes a cold shower,
Trying to shake off the fatigue
From working late every day this week
In his colorless fluorescent cubicle.
He reties his tie for the third time,
Finds his car keys,
Grabs his half-empty cup of coffee
And begins the long, difficult drive to work.
He listens to the news
And thinks about the many phone calls he must make
When he gets to the office.

It’s a puzzle to me
Why we put up with this at all.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Music Everywhere


I once imagined heaven was full of music,
Every part of it,
But here on Earth
Everywhere I go there is music playing,
All of our public places
Saturated with this saccharine sound
That feels more like hell
Than heaven.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Got No


I ain’t got no
Ain’t got no.
I ain’t got no
Ain’t got no.

No no no.
No no no.

Got no
Got no
No no no.

No no no,
Ain’t got no,
No got no,
Grammar.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Critique


I think I am,
Therefore,
I have to get up in the morning
And drive to work.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Killer Asteroid


When we knew the asteroid was coming,
The killer asteroid,
We knew it would be the end of us,
All of us,
Even the inhabitants of the space station,
Although they would be the last to go.

What a vision they would behold,
The exploding Earth,
The smothering black clouds
Enveloping all.
The fragmented debris
Hurtling through space,
Sounding like hailstones inside the space station,
Sporadic,
Intensifying,
Exploding,
Then,
Nothing.
The last humans,
Gone.

I’ve always felt sorry for the dinosaurs,
Their terrible majesty vanquished,
Extinguished,
Survived by cockroaches.

Now,
As the killer asteroid accelerates,
Now,
As the end of the human experience draws near,
I wonder,
What manner of life will survive?
What will replace us?
It is said the meek shall inherit the Earth,
But cockroaches?
Still?


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Stuff


Hunting,
Gathering,
Acquiring,
Perfectly natural instincts,
Especially considering the vagaries
Of our primordial environments.

But now,
Knee-deep in storage containers,
The mechanism runs wild.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Testing


Testing,
Testing.
Testing one, two, three,
Testing.
Onetwo, Onetwo,
Check onetwo.
Can you hear me back there in the cheap seats?
Am I coming through?
Testing,
Testing.
One, two, three,
Testing.
Should I turn it up?
Can you hear me?
Should I turn it up?
Give me a little more juice here.
Testing testing onetwo onetwo.
Refuse to comply.
Testing onetwo,
Onetwo.
Louder?
You want it louder?
REFUSE TO COMPLY!
Testing onetwothreefour,
Testing.
Tear down the system.
TEAR DOWN THE SYSTEM!
Testing.
Checkin’ one two,
Check, check,
Onetwothreefour.
A little louder please.
Revolution.
Revolution now!
REVOLUTION NOW!
Testing,
Onetwo,
Threefour,
Testing,
Testing.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Very Busy


God sent an angel to speak to you
But you’ve been very busy lately,
Even on Sundays,
Hurrying off to church,
Reading and reciting,
Praising the Lord
And all that.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Death And Love


O majestic death,
Rattling around in my bedsprings
Like an old man’s cough,
You are too easy and obvious
For poetry.

O mercurial love,
Rising in my chest
Like opening night stage fright,
You are too easy and obvious
For poetry.

Yet somehow,
After all this writing,
Death is,
Still profound,
Love is,
Still precious.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Heidi Ho


There is a little dog I know
Her name is Heidi Ho.
She lives where the red grapes grow,
Where the gypsy boys moan low
With their squishy gypsy missies.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Dear Children


Dear children,
We encourage you to try
What we never tried,
But we must caution you
About what we have done.

That is,
We would warn you about trying
What we tried in vain.

You see,
Dear children,
We want you to succeed where we failed,
But we also want you to avoid our mistakes
And be safe,
Though as the years wander by
We must confess some regret
About being a little too safe.

We want you to be successful,
But do remember what seems like success
May turn out to be failure in disguise.

So,
Go boldly ahead,
We advise,
But do be careful.
You will regret never having taken a chance,
But if you risk everything
You may be throwing your lives away.

In other words,
This is the real world
And there is absolutely nothing
Your parents can do
About it.



~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Hangin' Onto The Ozone


My feet don’t seem to stick
No more to the floor,
They don’t.

Oh sure,
I can walk down the street,
But I’m hangin’ on for dear life.

Any minute now
That street come slippin’ out from under,
Me hangin’ onto the ozone
So I don’t fall
All the way
To the moon.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Is This Pain?


High expectations from uninspired egomaniacs
Encourage my apathy,
My appetite.

I will eat my way to heaven
Until at last
I am bloated in paradise.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Killer Angels


I can see it now,
Heaven on Earth,
Finally,
Humankind evolved,
Enlightened beings,
Killer angels
Executing sinners,
Just like we do now.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Art


It is a half-filled aquarium
With three basketballs floating inside,
On a pedestal,
Next to a young man in uniform,
A museum guard
Staring with scarcely disguised disdain
At the museumgoers
Who stare with scarcely disguised bemusement
At the exhibit.

Some laugh and shake their heads,
Cast a lingering glance at the guard as if to ask:
Is this a joke?

But most give indifferent deference
To the buoyant rubber orbs,
Assuming the exhibit must be fraught with meaning,
Seeing as how it’s on a pedestal,
In an art museum.

The young museum guard who never went to college
Directs his dispassionate gaze
From observers to the observed,
Certain he could make something,
Anything,
Better.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Storytelling


When I tell someone the story of my life,
Even if only a chapter or two,
It has a certain logical symmetry,
A wise, knowing narrative,
A purposeful ordering of events,
So unlike the real life I have lived
Where in spite of my best intentions,
Things happen.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Her Best Lesson


My fifth grade teacher was angry.
She thought I was hopeless,
Making the class erupt in laughter with some odd remark
Only a twelve-year-old boy could concoct
While she attempted to pass on some measure of insight
About the War of 1812.

It was but one of a long line of transgressions
I’d committed that school year,
Dedicated as I was to the disruption of order,
So militantly enforced at my small, private school.

Perhaps because she was newly transplanted from England
Where boarding school boys were more compliant,
Her distress at my behavior was so inflamed,
Inspired, even.
After the classroom laughter subsided,
After a measured silence,
With grave solemnity she declared:
Pearls before swine. Pearls before swine!

She was not the first teacher I’d driven to extremes,
But one of the most memorable,
Thanks to her vivid condemnation.

I can still see her, flinging strings of exquisite pearls into the mud
Where corpulent pigs, grunting and snorting,
Trample them beneath their hooves.

It was her best lesson,
Her only lesson I remember,
Something about saying what you really mean,
Something about honesty.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Façade


I am wary of posh restaurants,
The thin atmosphere of haute cuisine,
The nagging suspicion that behind
Those tiny plated portions
Are some very clever accountants.

I stand in front of the urinal
And notice the thin yellow puddle,
Left because of intoxication,
Poor eyesight or bad breeding.

Yes, I am standing on a layer
Of some epicurean’s urine,
Repulsed but unsure what I can do.
The soles of my shoes are wet
As I return to the dining room.

It is an evening full of romance
In the eyes of my stylish lover,
Entranced by the sophistication
Of this exquisite façade.



~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Allergic


If I could choose how death will come
I’d like it to come as a sneeze,
One really big, sudden sneeze.

It would begin with an itching sensation,
Something advancing,
Growing,
Multiplying,
A tsunami,
Then,
One massive, uncontrollable sneeze
Seizing my entire body and soul.

The lights go out.

“What happened?”
Some would ask my wife,
My witness.

“He had an allergic reaction,”
She would explain,
“To life.”


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Third Banana


This morning I had two bananas,
Brought home from the market,
Placed in an empty bowl,
The same bowl where I always put my bananas.

Two bananas.

Then,
Just for a moment,
A vision from a parallel universe
Slipped through that cosmic boundary
That separates multiverses.

Then,
Just for a moment,
I saw another, older banana in the bowl,
Next to those two new bananas.

Three bananas.

So vivid was this inconsequential vision
That I examined the bowl more closely,
Expecting to see the third banana,
Perhaps lying sideways along the inside curve of the bowl,
Initially obscured from view,
But there were only two.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Shedding


They say a leopard
Can't change its spots,
But a snake can shed its skin,
And so if you begin
To bring your old life to an end
You may have to shed a friend,
Or two.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Still Human


Sometimes I can go nearly a week
Inflating my illusion of self-importance,
Transcendent benefactor to mankind that I am.

My uninterrupted enlightenment,
Liberated at last from the squalor of human ignorance.

Then one afternoon,
Walking down a busy city sidewalk,
My nose begins to tickle.

I am seized by a sneeze
And I’ve forgotten my handkerchief.

I quickly cover my nose with my hand
Which becomes coated with mucous
Dripping from my nostrils.

Wondering what to do next,
I feel another sneeze coming on.

Ah yes, still human.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Waiting For The Call


Moment by moment we check for messages,
As if we were all heart transplant surgeons
Waiting for the call.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Greatest Ever


Before the greatest ever,
There was the greatest ever.

Now, what was previously the greatest ever
Does not seem so great,
Compared to the most recent greatest ever.

Oh yes, it was great for its time,
And still so much better than most,
But the new greatest ever has opened our eyes
To a whole new world.

Yet if the most recent greatest ever
Had never been,
If it had died in the womb,
We would still have the greatest ever
And not know the difference.

So now we celebrate the greatest ever,
Unaware of what could have been,
How far short we’ve fallen.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Animal Again


O the noise,
The fire,
The mad multitudes,
Armed,
Dangerous.

This new society,
So sick of civilization,
Animal again.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Appreciation


Sure, modern life has its problems
And I can line up as many complaints as the next guy,
But on the other hand,
There is my indoor plumbing to consider.

I can’t help but appreciate the fact that every time I flush,
Somebody else takes care of the rest.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Speak To Me Now!


I will not pretend to admire
The esteemed poets of my day.
I do not understand
What they are trying not to say.

My life is too short for such pretense,
I’m growing older every day.
Poets speak to me now!
Or I will cast your words away.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved