Prison On Sunday


She helped me find God,
Bring God so much closer
By breaking my heart,
For no one else can help me now.

Have you ever been there?
Way down deep where the light is gone?
Where the weight of sorrow
Presses hard against the chest,
Makes it hard to breathe?

Food is so unappetizing,
Sleep is so impossible.
Have you ever been there?
Who do you talk to?

God is the one you talk to,
Confess to,
Ask for peace,
Just a little peace from pain,
A small patch of sunshine.

It feels like prison tonight,
This absence,
Knowing the sweetness of her soul,
Knowing all the mistakes I cannot take back.

Perhaps I’ll wake up some morning and once again see,
See!
That even in my deepest sorrow,
I am blessed,
After a few extended conversations
With the only one I can talk to now,
The only one.


~ 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,
It’s meaning so fervently constructed,
Without form.



~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Old Men


What a trick nature plays
When our bodies age
And we are older,
Uglier old men,
And the lust is still strong,
The desire to procreate,
To possess
Something beautiful,
To consume and be consumed.

This is no longer a proper emotion
For old men,
So we pretend not to hunger so,
We feign indifference.

But when Spring’s young woman walks by,
All sinew and curve and bounce,
All smile,
All laughter,
Our old heads turn.
Something inside,
Still young.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Eight Days Until Christmas


This cloud-crossed moon is nearly full,
But the streets in my village are suspiciously dark.
Apparently there are forgotten corners of this world
Even a full moon cannot illuminate.

Urgent blasts of warning from a speeding freight train
Slam into the sides of ancient stone buildings,
Making sharp retort like the firing of guns at an execution.

Eight days until Christmas and people here are uneasy,
Hair-trigger tempers,
Honking car horns,
Making odd gestures and grimaces,
Racing to complete the tasks of the season.
Possessed.
A frenzied motorist makes a desperate O-turn in the town square,
Nearly hitting a distracted pedestrian staring at her smartphone.

An elderly man carrying no packages smiles as he shuffles past me,
A fixed smile like a grimace
Showing signs of pain and disenchantment,
Trying to put a little paint on a weathered fence.
I smile in return,
Also trying to reconnect with something,
Something.

I stop near an empty intersection in a quiet part of town,
Looking up at the blur of yellow light from a second-floor office
Where someone is working late.
I would climb the steps and walk to the end of a narrow hallway,
Knock on the wood-paneled office door with the brass nameplate,
Take her into my arms and kiss her lips,
Her neck,
And feel an explosion of pure, pointless joy.

Yes, I would do all this were it a year ago.

I don’t know where she lives now,
Now that her life has changed,
Having thought it best to end all communication,
Now that she’s married to such a sensitive young man.

Eight days until Christmas
And I am alone,
Wandering shadowed streets,
Assaulted by the persistence of the ordinary,
In need of a soup kitchen for the soul.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

That Destiny


In you I imagine
And hypothesize
That which belongs to destiny.

Yes,
That destiny,
The one you said is inevitable,
Unalterable.

Yes,
That destiny,
The one I said is malleable,
Uncertain.

One must force the hand of destiny,
I said,
Looking into your infinite eyes,
Afraid to declare my love,
Afraid of what destiny might do.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Sanity


Denied and defeated in love,
Sanity slowly returns
And I am again a practical person,
Again able to agitate
Over other pressing matters of the day,
Wiser, but no longer weightless.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Special Delivery


When I want love too much,
I remind myself not to be so selfish,
That love should be delivered
By winged messenger
With balloons.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

A Home In My Heart


There is a home in my heart
For each person I love,
Whether they love me,
Or not.

They’re all I’ve got.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Embrace


Here,
In this embrace,
I remember hating you.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

One Small Candle


When we decide to love,
To fall in love,
We luxuriate in our love,
Our precise, exquisite love,
Denied to so many.

We light one small candle
In a dark room,
Believing the whole wide world
Is ablaze.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Love Is Not Philosophy


1. Love Is Easy

Unlike philosophy,
Love is easy,
Actual.
You wake up each morning
And joy fills your heart
Because someone you love will say,
“I love you,”
Before the day is through,
And you will hold each other close
In a moment of eternity.


2. Love Is Hard

Unlike philosophy,
Love is hard,
Actual.
You wake up each morning
And pain fills your heart
Because someone you love has said,
“I don’t love you,”
And all day long
You will feel wounded and empty,
Hoping it won’t last forever.


3. Love Is Mysterious

Unlike philosophy,
Love is mysterious,
Ethereal.
You wake up each morning
And both joy and pain fill your heart
Because you ache to say,
“I love you,”
If only you could find someone
Before the end of another lonely day
And see the dream awaken.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Still, I Seek You


O my love you are a constant presence,
Yet incorporeal.
You have inhabited those I’ve loved,
Awakened me when love is new.

Alas, the petty practicalities of this world
Overwhelm and smother
And your instrument is muted.

I am human and often distracted,
But I have never expelled you from my heart.
Still, I seek you.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Overwhelmed


Overwhelmed by love,
I have nothing left to say,
For when our bodies join,
Pretensions slip away.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Passion Passes


It hurts to see hot lust
Behind steamy backseat windows
And feel the tug of pure, witless feeling.

Years of intellectual discipline
Have left me addicted to rational things,
Starved for the unspoken language of the young.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Phantasy


O these love poems that men have wrought,
What woman is so foolish to believe?
Such extravagant, embellished images of thought
Constructed to entice and deceive.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Kiss


After the kiss goodnight the world was glowing.
How wonderful to wake each day,
He thought,
Knowing there is someone in the world who loves me,
Someone I can kiss.

He fell asleep on a cloud of bliss.

After the kiss goodnight the world was threatening.
I will never let that happen again,
She thought.
In the morning she would send him a message,
Something about friendship.

She fell asleep on a cloud of regret.

O the power of a single kiss,
What it starts,
What it stops.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Holding On


What can we hold onto?
When everything changes,
When everything passes,
When the years recreate who we are,
Sometimes lifting us,
Sometimes tearing us apart.

O love,
The clich├ęd word so easily pronounced,
The greeting card verse
Spoken without feeling,
O love,
If kept alive and breathing . . .

There is so much to love in this world.
Even when you are old and confined
You can love a memory.
Even when memories fall away
You can love an idea.
Even when cognition falters,
When fear invades,
When the dark idea of godless death threatens,
Believe!

Hold onto love,
However untranslatable it may seem.
Love will persist.
You will be saved.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

In The Wind


Love is in the wind,
A rootless passion,
A bird in flight,
An annunciation.

Love comes,
Love goes,
That is our illusion,
For we are the wind
And our passions are birds in flight,
Touching down here and there,
While love,
Like air,
Is everywhere.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

What Men Want


When I see her
I hold myself a little tighter,
A little straighter,
Appearing more attractive,
Flexing all appropriate muscles,
Contracting all inappropriate flab,
Making myself desirable,
For she is my sweetheart heartthrob
Honeybunch sex machine
And I want her,
This girlish saint whore
Athletic fashion model intellectual.

I want her.
Now.

I am enraptured by her thin boyish
Sharp-shoulder-bladed frame,
Her overexposed unashamed voluptuous fantastic flesh,
Her long short medium-length hair,
So glossy black chestnut brown honey blonde pumpkin red
Curling straight.

I am lost in her mysterious bold naive uninhibited forbidden
Eyes of swimming pool blue chocolate bar brown
Charcoal briquette black London fog gray
Emerald chameleon green banana tree hazel.

She walks toward me away not moving,
This short long-legged average height tall small woman girl,
So delicate and strong.
She sees me and smiles
And I am hers,
All over town.


~ 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 Casual Observer


“There is no joy,”
The older man says,
Revealing his casual observation
To his young younger female companion,
Sitting a little too close
In a restaurant booth,
Thinking I will not hear
My condemnation
As I sit nearby,
After a difficult day,
Having a little sustenance
With my wife.

Married thirty years
We have endured many joyless days,
Endured suffering,
Anger
And despair.

The young younger female companion,
Pulled even closer,
Looks into the depths of his wrinkles,
Measures the sag of his neck
And ponders the arrangement.
He smells like her father.

His haphazardly shaved face is rough
And scratches her cheek.
Her body stiffens.
She has visions of long hospital hallways,
A tube in his nose,
A stainless steel tray filled with medicine bottles.

“You can see it in the eyes,”
He says with wine-induced indiscretion,
“No joy,”
Sure that he has everything,
At last.

We leave the restaurant
And walk our nightly walk
Past houses filled with television.

We are predictable,
Becoming set in our ways,
So much quieter now.

We hold hands as we walk
Down dimly lit sidewalks among ancient trees
Who also have a certain understated passion for life,
Often unnoticed by the casual observer.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Here, In This Place


When the darkened room is suddenly filled with light,
When the unexpected wave rises and crashes upon you,
When you cannot find the precise metaphor to describe,
To express the overwhelming emotion
Bursting from your heart and spreading to every sinew,
Awakening,
Awakening,
Awakening your body to its purpose,
Awakening your mind to the joy of existence,
To the bliss of knowing,
Knowing you are desired,
Knowing you are loved,
Then,
It’s more than individual passion,
More than momentary infatuation,
It’s a place you have discovered,
A place in the mind,
In the heart,
In the universe,
A place where angels dwell,
Where inspiration is born,
A place permanently imprinted in memory
No matter how circumstances change,
Always and forever a place you’ve inhabited,
A place you know,
A place of joy and pain,
An eternal place,
Always there,
Waiting for your return.

You and I are lucky,
Struck by the lightning flash of love,
Surrendering caution and reason
Just to spend another day,
Here,
In this place.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Propriety


At last I understand
Why I am not supposed to love you.

The passage of time,
Distance,
Acceptance,
Have brought me to my senses,
Whatever that means.

Now everything can be explained,
Understood from a psychological perspective.

Reason and logic reassert their power
To expose and embarrass my foolish heart,
My childish dream,
The passion that rages still,
Now confined within this dark prison of propriety.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

All This Absence


If she were angry with me,
That would be quite another thing,
But this friendly indifference,
Her cold, controlled smile,
Her appropriate words
Kept at the appropriate distance,
Her brief eye contact
Signifying nothing.

No anger,
No joy,
Not even a little curiosity.

If she were angry with me,
Then,
Something to hope for,
But all this absence . . .


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Why Men Lie


Because she wore a spring dress
With a long open back,
Revealing the graceful arch of her spine,
The soft cut of her shoulder blades
Beneath the supple silken blanket
Of her burnished bronze skin,
Because she wanted to be admired
And so she smiled,
Because youth has not left her,
Because youth has left him
And the pleasures of aging
Have yet to reveal themselves,
Because at every turn old age is advancing
And he is not ready,
Because he does not want to die:

This is why men lie.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The First Time


Here,
This is the spot,
Beneath this ancient oak,
A perfect climbing tree
With low, outstretched limbs,
Welcoming.

Here,
Beneath this ancient oak
Is where you spread out your blanket
On the cool shaded grass.

A swaying patch of filtered sunlight illuminated us,
Lying so close together on the blanket’s gentle cushion,
Your name sewn in fancy script across the top
By some Chinese factory worker
Who will never know how lovely you lay
Beneath your beautiful name,
A name so beautiful to me
In the fading light of that passing summer afternoon,
When you first wanted me.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Attention


You say:
Nobody loves me,
And you wonder why
Life has not given
The attention you deny.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

This Fire


However much I love you,
You do not
Hang upon the cheek of night
Like a rich jewel in an Ethiop’s ear.

You do,
However,
Glow in the illumination of the street light
Where you wait for me,
Not yet noticing my approach,
Eager to burn
In this fire we have ignited.


~ 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

A Small Price


My sweetheart is angry with me.

I was relentless,
Her debating skills weaker than mine,
Mine,
Driven by a kind of egocentric obsessiveness.
I surrounded her with a great wall of logic,
Stone by stone,
Until at last she could take no more.

“Enough,” she said,
Unwilling to surrender.
“Enough,” she said,
Closing the door of her heart against me,
Withdrawing that sweet vulnerability
Which she had so delicately, tentatively, entrusted,
For which I shall soon recant all my assertions,
Agreeing that planet Earth is indeed flat,
If need be.

A small price to pay for love.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved