The Revered Old Man Of Letters


More than a celebrity,
He was like a father,
Teaching me things my father never conceived,
Illuminating the past,
Foretelling and forewarning,
Opening my eyes to the moment that is a human life.

He became a celebrity,
Interviewed frequently,
Newspapers, magazines, television,
Events and awards,
Honorary degrees.

He lost the freedom of anonymity
And no longer spent entire days in random thought,
Not much time for self-reflection,
Not much inclination for self-criticism
Now that so many were so admiring.
He had arrived,
And no one near him would dare criticize.

He spent his days repeating,
Reflecting on what he’d already written,
Preparing speeches and presentations,
Anticipating interview questions.

Writing became an afterthought,
Squeezed into shrinking moments of time,
Resting on tried and true templates,
Formulaic.

He was still a brilliant man
But now a singer who sang his hit songs
Over and over again,
Compliant with popular demand,
And so his brilliance was etched in stone
And his new writing was old,
Repetitive,
Tired and imitative
Of who he had been
When he was not yet bound by the chains of adulation.

Years passed and he became an icon,
Reduced to a pop culture concept,
A reliable source for reporters on deadline
Who needed a celebrity quote,
For talk-show bookers
Desperate for a last-minute guest.

In his emeritus years he proclaimed the future had soured,
The younger generations such a disappointment,
Hypnotized by technology.

“All I need is a pad of paper and a pencil,”
He declared,
Drawing the boundaries of meaning around his generation,
His past,
His youth,
A time when he had embraced the emerging unknown
And put his rapture into words,
When he was still young enough to imagine
Without fear of literary obligations,
Before he became the revered old man of letters.


~ 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

Money Train


Every mornin’
Climb on board,
You climb on board
That money train.

You be rich
Or you be poor
But you climb on board
That money train.

Hear that whistle,
Hear it blow,
Train’s a’ comin’,
You gotta go.

You be rich
Or you be poor
But you climb on board
And they shut the door.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Twenty Dollars















I wanted to ask her to marry me, but I needed twenty dollars, bad. So I asked her for the twenty, figuring I’d see how that went, then maybe I’d ask her to marry me, later, after I’d paid her back.

“You don’t have twenty dollars?” she opined inquisitively.
“Well, not on me,” I rejoined affirmatively.
I began to think this exchange did not bode well for my chances of matrimony. At least not with her, the exotic gothic office receptionist with an Iron Cross tattooed on her left shoulder.
I needed the Andy Jackson because I had to eat some barbecued ribs for lunch, and the twenty would cover it. Normally, I bring my lunch to the office in a brown paper bag, and, actually, I had brought my lunch. But every once in a while the hunger for meat on a bone overwhelms my senses.
Were this an earlier age and were I your run-of-the-mill Cro-Magnon, then I would have taken my Magnon minions on a hunt and laid low a big beefy bison or perhaps a wily warthog or two. It’s a guy thing.
“What do you need twenty dollars for?” she Spanish inquisitioned.
“Meat.”
“Ha! Right!” she obtused, laughing mockingly as she pretended to answer the phone suddenly.
“Well, if you can’t spare the twenty, how about marrying me?” I said to her mentally.
Perhaps it was all for the best. Perhaps she would not make the ideal mate. Perhaps I was moving a little too fast, considering this was her first day on the job. But it’s like my great-great grandfather used to tell my great-grandfather, who passed this ancient wisdom on to my grandfather, who, in turn, passed it on to me, over and over again: “Take your aim and stake your claim.”
Then I remembered the killer asteroid. In a movie I’d watched the night before, this killer asteroid came careening into Earth and made a terrible mess, dooming nearly everyone except those who were unusually photogenic.
There is no killer asteroid, I appreciated spontaneously. Not yet. No killer asteroid. No end of the world. Just day after day of waking up and slicing hair off my face with sharpened steel and scraping away dead skin cells with a lathered loofah. Yes, everything is OK, even when it’s boring.
I looked down upon my small self and laughed. My petty concerns. Ha! Ha! Ha! How petty. How very petty. This momentary illumination subsided and I refocused on the immediate task at hand: trying to satisfy my most animalistic, procreational desires, i.e., meat and sex.
Near the end of the working day I returned to the desk of the new receptionist and asked her if she’d like to go out to dinner.
“You’re kidding,” she ridiculed.
“Not at all. I think I love you,” I extravaganzized. “At least I am interested enough in you to eat food in your company.”
“I thought you needed twenty dollars,” she rationalized perplexingly. “I thought you were broke.”
“I just remembered,” I announced in an orgasmic burst of self-realization. “I have a credit card.”
Later, after dinner, we went to her apartment and made love for two hours while she insulted me. It was great.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Measure And Weigh


We are a people
Who measure and weigh,
Measure and weigh,
While the moment itself
Slips away.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Lucky


When I was young
I thought,
Someday I will be somebody.

But now I am nobody,
Nobody in particular.

I am one of the lucky ones.


~ 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

Unspoken


After all these years,
I’ve finally got it all worked out,
All the words I should have said
During all my most awkward moments,
When I was treated unfairly,
When I was misunderstood,
When I was intimidated,
When I did not know what to say.

Too late,
Alas,
Too late.

I replay my most troublesome memories,
Replacing my old self
With my new and improved self,
My more competent self
Who speaks wisely and forcefully,
Disarming my foes with precisely measured eloquence.

Too late,
Alas,
Too late.

I cannot rewrite history,
My history.

All my compromises,
All the unspoken words I should have said,
Haunting my most troublesome memories,
Remain.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Long Meeting


Rehearsed expressions of passion
Go on
And on
While whispers scatter about
Like dead leaves blowing
Across a fallow field.

A man stands up and leaves the room,
Another stands and stays.

A woman too old for her curled wig
Follows her purse out of the room.

But most of us stay
And cough
And listen to the sound
Of a small airplane
Lifting someone high into night
Above the twinkling light
That looks so charming from afar.

Here we are.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Little Sheep


I am a little sheep
With headlights and a beep,
A horn and a job,
I am corn on the cob.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

It Is The Dream That Creates Us


It is the dream that creates us,
However carnal or profane,
However blessed by human charity,
However vengeful or inane.
It is the dream that creates us
And awakens us each day,
And opens a path before us
And sends us on our way.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

In The Early Morning Dark


In the early morning dark
After the last of my automatic lawn sprinklers
Sinks back beneath the lush lawn turf,
The last valve closing with a pipe-rattling thunk,
Still a few small slugs remain
Nestled in the recess of the sprinkler heads,
Plump with moisture,
While the slap of a newspaper falling on a driveway,
Again, slap, again, slap, again, slap,
Comes closer.

He drives on the wrong side of the street,
Emergency lights flashing,
And delivers the blueprints for Thursday,
This day of Thurs in which we all believe,
Which must always follow Wednesday,
Which must always presage Friday,
Always, slap, always, slap, always, slap.

He drives swiftly, almost recklessly
Beneath the burnt umber street lights,
Confident no children will be outside playing.
We are a predictable people
And need our sleep.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

A Door Opens, A Door Closes


A door that was open,
Closes,
It fades into the wall,
Becomes the wall,
And you realize
You will never be
On the other side
Of that wall,
The other side
Where everything is different,
In the land of What Could Have Been.

Or maybe you walked through that door,
And then it closed,
Faded into the wall,
Became the wall,
And now you realize
You can never get back
To the other side
Of that wall,
The other side
Where everything was really okay after all,
Back in the land of Leave Well Enough Alone.

A door opens,
A door closes.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Epitaph


He was so obedient,
So disciplined in word and deed,
Not a single action betrayed him.
No one ever suspected.

And when he died,
All the things he secretly wanted to do,
All the people he secretly wanted to be,
Died with him.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Diamonds


Another gala celebration,
The glitterati presenting each other with awards,
Making grand speeches with feigned humility,
Basking in mutually assured admiration.

Where is your award
For facing an uncertain future
So bravely?
For rising each morning to endure another working day?
For living with the fear of expendability?

No celebration will be held for you today,
No award,
No acknowledgment
That you are one of the everyday workers of the world
Who make everyday life possible.

Let you and I set the celebrities aside and celebrate one another.
Let us bask in the light of fervent friendship
And award each other with loyalty and love,
For we are the everyday workers of the world
Who make everyday life possible.

Uncut diamonds
Are so easily overlooked
In a world too blinded by brilliance.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Devolution


He was bored,
So bored with routine,
Every morning,
Brushing his teeth,
Making coffee,
Slogging off to work,
To predictable employments.

Then,
Weekend chores,
Social obligations,
So encumbered by family, friends and finance.

The half-slumbering supplicant,
Longing for escape,
His earnest entreaties
Finally heard,
Heard and granted.

Now,
As the first light warms the earth
He drags himself out from under a stone,
Eager to feel the sun against his scales,
The taste of yesterday’s grasshopper
Still lingering on the tongue.


~ 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

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

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

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

True Blue Gurus


True blue gurus
Tell me who I should be
With such certainty:
Honest, honorable and wise,
Trusting in providence,
Patient with injustice,
Content with my haphazard existence.

Yes, yes,
It is a blessing to be alive,
But endless, underpaid labor
Leaving little opportunity for imagination
Does not engender exuberance.

True blue gurus
Tell me there are no real obstacles,
That mind is the matter,
But here in the world outside my mind
Things can go terribly wrong.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

A Small Depression


The coffee ripples into a small wave in the plastic cup
As I make a left turn onto a sun-melted asphalt road
And my right front tire dips into a small depression,
Causing the wave of coffee to crest and break,
Splashing through the tunnel-shaped opening in the plastic lid,
Falling through space from the arch of my cup-embracing fingers,
Splashing my left pant leg, five inches above the knee.

Three spots of coffee
And I curse,
Feeling the futility of yet another Monday morning
As I drive past an old lady shuffling down the sidewalk,
Moving the aluminum-tubed superstructure of her walker
One step ahead, followed by two or three half-footsteps.

Soon,
Very soon,
I will need another cup of coffee.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Connected


The reason
Why your busy ambitions
Amuse,
Is connected to
The reason
Why I sit outside this evening
In an old lawn chair,
Fanning away insects
And the gentle breeze of thought.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Another


After all these years of earnest self-improvement,
After all the studying,
All the prayers,
The self-examination,
The questions,
The meditation,
The false euphoria,
The despair,
If I awaken one morning
As another,
If I am new,
If my sight has been restored,
If I again see the world
Through the innocent eyes of a happy child,
But the world I have made,
The life I have lived,
All my old obligations
Beckon still,
Then?


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Now Begin


Now,
Begin.

Now,
After long day,
Long week,
Long year,
Long life . . .
Now,
Begin.

Now,
In this interstice,
In this collision of inspiration
And exhaustion,
Out of your cage now
Tiny soul.

Emerge,
Unfold,
Stretch
And sing O tarnished voice,
Sing with all candor
And longing,
An unconscious song
Sung half-asleep while dreaming.

Now, begin.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Dream-Killer


Take this dream,
Go ahead,
Take it and break it.
That’s what you’re good at
Mister Real World.
You take little dreams
Before they have a chance to grow
And scare them back into dark places
With your swagger and bluster.
You flail them with reason
And bludgeon them with precedent.

Scorn,
Derision,
Intimidation,
Unleashed!
Until at last the little dream,
Stilled and silent,
Dies.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Work And Freedom


Someone once said
The only real freedom
Is freedom from work.

I suppose that’s true for many,
Working only for money,
Interchangeable cogs
In the brutishly indifferent wheel of commerce.

Yet many do take some measure of pride
In a job well done,
Despite being relatively unrewarded
For years of obedience to the task at hand,
Then,
One day,
Anonymously dismissed,
Discarded,
Finally free from work,
Yet not feeling very free at all.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Day's End


Something stirs as the day recedes,
As the hillsides turn black,
The tracery of trees so delicate against the fading orange sky,
The prisms of purple-blue unfolding toward the evening star
Now bright as a streetlight.

Something reassuring about little chirping birds
Fluttering to their secret places in the woods,
Called to shelter by the darkening horizon,
By the sudden chill on the edge of the air,
By the hoot, hoot, hoot of a twilight owl.

Neighborhood dogs bark at hungry raccoons
Leaving their storm drain tunnels
For an evening of leftover pet food and trash can tidbits.

The distant discord of a passing freight train calls
Like a factory whistle signaling an end to the working day.

Something heartening in the exodus home,
Labor’s machinery turned off awhile.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Counting Down Of Hours


I could write about the season,
The allusions of Spring,
And extinguish every trace
Of the human race.
But who would I be writing to?
Only a precious few
Have the time
To ponder
The metaphysics of the view.
The rest are possessed,
Scant time to smell flowers,
So much left to do,
The counting down of hours.


~ 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

Legions


At 12:18 in the smoggy afternoon air
Eating lunch in my car parked
In an abandoned parking lot
I suddenly realize:

This is the rest of my life.

Maybe in a different parking lot
On another day
With another dirty windshield sky
I will again forget
I am no one in particular,
Again dream of great honors
Awarded me for great things
I could never really do,
Not even in a hundred years.

I am out of the running.

My children are growing up poor
Without me
While I give little that matters to the world,
Working into the night,
Earning money
Which is not and never will be mine.

I am legions.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved