Playground


We are the little children of God
Who decided we want to do things on our own.

So God said, “OK,”
And put us here in this playground.

We’re still learning how to play together nicely.

We’re a bit slow.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Morning


When I first woke up I thought it was going to rain,
Upside down,
Each raindrop a single, singing voice,
Assembling into a drenching choir,
A requiem of weather,
But then, I woke up a little more.

I thought I was a spy who must deliver documents,
Secret documents,
To my communist overlords
In order to maintain the lifestyle
To which I’d grown accustomed,
But then, I woke up a little more.

I thought my cats were whispering to each other,
Speaking English,
Complaining about their accommodations,
Casting furtive glances about the room
While pretending they couldn’t really speak,
But then, I woke up a little more.

I reprimanded my furniture,
Intimidated my toilet,
Put my walls on notice that containment was not an option,
But then, I woke up a little more.

All that I’ve ever done wrong spontaneously flew about my head
Like buzzing houseflies,
Each, in turn, flying close to my left ear,
Accusing me of human frailty,
Reminding me of missed opportunities,
But then, I drank a half cup of warm coffee.

One by one my demons evaporated
Like mist into steam into air on a hot summer morning,
And for another day,
Absolution,
Reprieved by the will to live
And a little caffeine.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Anguished Soul


Your anguished soul cries out
Because your dreams of fame and fortune
Are only dreams
And evaporate like dew at sunrise,
Just a little daylight
And the real world takes over.

But you persevere,
You work on those dreams
In all your spare moments
Until one day
You finally get a break
And the Company decides
Your Anguished Soul
Is the next big thing
And it happens:
T-shirts and coffee mugs,
The Anguished Soul Tour,
Television talk shows.

You become the voice for all those anguished souls
Who watch television late into the night
And dream of being you,
Not realizing
They already are.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Wolf, Wolf


Wolf, wolf,
Burning bright,
First wolf I see tonight,
Wish I may,
Wish I might,
Old black joe.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Sometimes When I Sleep


Sometimes when I sleep
I go so far away,
When I wake up
I have to remind myself
I cannot fly
And 11 is a number.



~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

If I Were A Little Badger


If I were a little badger
I tell you what I'd do
I'd help all the other badgers
Escape from the L.A. Zoo.

We'd go downtown for coffee
And chat the night away
Around the sidewalk tables
At the badger espresso cafe.

We'd have existential rages
And geopolitical despair
Then we'd sneak back to our cages
And pull out all our hair.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

For Schopenhauer


Show me your sun-drenched sprigs of winter,
The juniper bug as he howls,
The rise and fall of oatmeal
In the misty dawn of a burgeoning wahoo!

Show me these things,
My sweet, bare-faced darling,
And I shall inherit your property
With the gay abandon
Of love’s lost moth at eventide.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Mysterious Ways


Thinking about the mysterious ways of the Lord
And all,
I came upon a squashed bug,
Some kind of beetle,
Swarmed by ants,
And realized
I was standing on the line of ants
That led from the dirt
To the hot cement sidewalk
Where I stood,
Doing the Lord’s bidding,
Somehow.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

As If


O this revolving world,
I am dizzy with all this spinning,
Cumulative now in my later years.
I feel the solar winds
Tugging at my sleeves
As we hurtle through space,
Madly erecting shopping centers
As if there were no tomorrow.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Like Emily


She has decided to be an artist,
A sculptress of words,
A poetess.

Her tribute "To the Hungry Children of Planet Earth,”
Read in somber tones to her reluctant friends,
Such a moving expression of television-inspired grief.

But what do they know of art?
They are lost in contemplation
Of the rise and fall of her breasts,
So invitingly ripe,
While they feign appreciation of her nobler qualities.

She knows they only half listen to her words
And her thoughts are drawn back to Emily Dickinson.
She prepares herself
For the many years of indifference
That will most certainly come.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Over My Dead Body


If you happen to stumble over my dead body
Someday,
Do not grieve,
Unless it’s mayhem,
And yet you may then
Envy
The way I have taken
My leave.

For if you happen to stumble over my dead body
Someday,
Know I preferred death that way,
Like the swatting of a fly
In the blink of an eye.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

How Lovely Is Thy Mexican


How lovely is thy Mexican
Who keeps your garden green,
Who plants the flowers in the spring
Yet who is seldom seen.

Your friends and neighbors never fail
To praise your bounteous bower,
With butterfly and robin’s wing,
You pay five bucks an hour.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Without


Without thinking,
I write these words.

A lie.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Nothing At All


Just when I thought my little calico cat
And I
Had reached a meeting of minds,
An unspoken understanding
As she sat on my lap,
Joining me in early morning contemplation
Of life’s distractions and essences,
Winnowing away illusion,
Hearing without sound,
Seeing without sight,
Knowing without thought,
Then,
Finally,
That eternal absence that embraces all,
Then,
Kitty leaps from my lap,
Pads daintily across the room,
Sits on her haunches
And stares at the corner of a wall,
Staring,
Staring,
Staring,
At nothing at all.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Lost And Found


I was upset,
I was angry,
I was afraid,
The sound of children playing was threatening,
The sunlight tired me,
The darkness worried me.

A man rang my doorbell,
A Jesus salesman,
Sent to my house by God
With the answers to my torments.

He read some Bible verses,
We got down on our knees and prayed,
I purchased a ninety-day, no obligation, trial subscription.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Stepping On A Rat


It was a day full of lizards,
Then,
Early that evening,
I stepped on a rat.

The day’s warmth foreshadowed summer,
Bringing out multitudes of sunbathing lizards,
One doing push-ups as I walked by,
Signaling his claim to a particular brick atop the garden wall.

I stepped cautiously around the basking reptiles,
Intentionally scaring some from the center of the sidewalk
To warn them of the peril from passing pedestrians.

As evening came on I forgot about the lizards,
Now surely in retreat as temperatures fell.
I walked more confidently,
Free from concern for lounging lizards underfoot
When I saw a sudden shadow,
A brief glimpse of a furry young rat,
Startled by my footsteps,
Dashing errantly toward me as I put my foot down,
Ever so gently,
Feeling it underfoot.

My reaction time was acute as I quickly withdrew my step,
A day of stepping lightly around lizards
Having trained and prepared me.
The rat scurried off with no apparent harm,
Knowing now what so many lizards had learned
Just a few hours before.


~ 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

Like A Rhino


How like a rhinoceros,
My dissatisfaction,
My petulance.
A rhino in a sushi bar,
All thumbs.
A meadowlark in a turbine,
All feathers.
A guy writing this stuff down,
On paper,
Trying to fabricate meaning,
Watching the tip of his pen
Carefully outline letters, words,
Incomplete phrases whole,
Hoping some great dark muse
Will speak.

~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Wearing Thin


Some folks say
They want to live
Forever,
But as for me,
This particular person
I am
Is wearing thin.
I can think of few things
Worse
Than an eternity
Chained to this one particular person
I am,
This soul attached,
Forever beset
By this particular concoction
Of insecurities and doubts,
Addictions, duplicities
And genetic happenstance.
Gotta wipe the slate clean,
Someday.

Be somebody else for a while.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

We, The Creative


We of the large-brained variety
Are the creative animals.
Survival is not enough,
We must have reasons to survive,
Philosophies,
Theologies.

And just to prove
How creative we really are,
We pretend our imaginings
Are the work of God.


~ 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

The Arrow Of Time


Scientists are scratching their heads
Over the arrow of time,
Why things persistently move forward,
This journey from the womb,
Where along the way
We learn what the word “forward” means,
A word we made up
To describe this perception of progression.

“Why always forward?”
The aged scientist asks,
As the repression of his regression
Slowly reverses everything.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Trash Day


I hear the truck lumbering down my street,
Creeping around the cul-de-sac,
Transmission torquing,
Short bursts of brakes screeching.

The side loader clamps and lifts
And shakes empty the black containers,
Metal clanging,
Hydraulics hissing,
The packer compacting trash in the hopper.

The diesel engine groans toward my house
And I run outside.

I invite the garbage man in for coffee and coffee cake
And we talk about his family:
Aging parents from Slovakia
Who still call themselves Czechoslovakians.
“It is from where we were born!”
A tattooed son who will not go to college,
A daughter still young enough to play with dolls
But pretty enough to cause him worry,
A wife who works at the hospital.
“No more night shifts!”

Driving the big truck
“Is a good job now.”
Sitting sky high in the cab.
No more lifting like the old days.

He goes to church each Sunday.
The stained-glass windows are midnight blue and apple red
And fill the air with color.

I offer to warm up his coffee
While my next-door neighbor looks out his window,
Wonders what in the hell is going on.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Metamorphic


A rock
Is a rock
Is an idea.

Hold on just a minute!
You say,
A rock is a real tangible thing.

But right now,
I say,
You do not hold a rock in your hand,
You hold it in your mind,
The idea of a rock, that is.

And even when you hold it in your hand,
I say,
It’s the idea of a rock that gives it a name,
That suggests a use.

Yes,
You say,
Such as hurling it at me
So I will stop talking
And go away.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Not Hats


The teacups of time are filling,
Spilling,
While we mad hatters make haste,
Not hats.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Yippy


It is the time of baby birds and lizards,
Of pollination and persistent sun,
Of rebirth and renewal.

I can hear the tug of Spring
In the spirited barking of Yippy,
The dingy, bedraggled cocker spaniel next door,
Aroused now by every passing dog,
Every wandering cat,
Each exploring squirrel,
Each backyard human.

I remember last year
When Yippy was so full of Spring,
Barking throughout the night at every rustling leaf,
It seemed to Al,
Big Al, we called my neighbor,
A large man bedeviled by barking
As he revisited the ritual of the backyard barbecue.

“God damn that dog!”
I heard him flare across the fence,
Stopping short of formal complaint,
Not one to be outwardly unneighborly.

Perhaps it was all that barbecued red meat that felled Big Al,
Dropping dead at work one chilly day last winter.

Spring has returned
And though old Yippy is clearly a canine in decline,
His barking still carries loud and clear,
And somehow I sense Big Al is near,
Cursing this aged dog who still survives
While human beings drop like flies.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Artist


O what reward
For lifelong labor
To make a beautiful sound,
To see the man in the front row
Fall asleep
While you so delicately evoke
Bach’s most ethereal passages
From your cello,
The instrument of your breathing,
The whisper of your bow
Across the strings.

Respiration from the front row
Works against the composition,
Keeping time in some asynchronous meter,
Growing steadily louder,
Until,
You have lost the reverie Bach intended
And your playing becomes rote,
Labored,
While the man in the front row
Snores,
While the stone-faced woman four rows back
Unwraps a peppermint candy,
Filling the hallowed air
With the crackle of cellophane.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

People Are


People are
The most dangerous things I know.
Just wind them up
And watch them go.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Politician


He's said so much
To so many,
He's almost convinced himself.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved