A Man, A Name


On this day,
Here on planet Earth,
Another man has taken on the name Pope,
A man,
A name.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Wooden Angel


In my low moments
Her quiescent gaze from atop my bookshelf
Keeps me from falling
Too low.
Her golden wings
Pointed toward heaven,
The palms of her tiny hands
Pressed flat together in perfect alignment of fingers,
In supplication,
Her faint illumination
In the shadowed light of a flickering candle
Helps me find some measure of grace.

Just a painted wooden angel,
Frozen in her flowing robes,
Her back straight and head barely bowed,
Balanced on tireless knees
In her cloud-born symmetry of hope
And mercy.
Her eyes are open,
Open to this man-made world
Which offers so little hope for the innocent
Yet squanders so much mercy on scoundrels.

O angel, how can I ask my selfish blessings
In this world where children suffer and die,
Hour upon hour?
Where are their angels?
What have they done to forsake thee
That they should die so young?
O angels, are you all made of wood?
Is it really up to us after all?

Behold!
The work of angels,
So frequently misunderstood.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

This World Is Neither


This world is neither full of joy
Nor filled with hate.

It is full of us
And who we are.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Do Not Grieve


Do not grieve for me,
For I am standing at the edge of the sea,
With one foot still in this world,
The other in eternity.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Parallel Lives


I’ve always been here,
Skipping through parallel lives,
Endless variations where every alternative plays out,
Even though the “I”
As in,
“Here I am,”
Perceives a singular path.

I’ve always been here,
On the edge of memory,
For no matter how many times I have died,
Here I am,
Living still.

My parallel lives are like television programs.
I change the channel
And sometimes find myself in a life too unfamiliar.
I change the channel again
To find a more familiar episode,
Then continue.

Some of my problems are resolved,
Left behind on another channel.
Some new problems appear,
Although they are not new
To this particular history I've adopted,
Just new to this traveler.

No existence is without consequence,
I have learned.

And so I pick and choose,
Exchanging parallel lives,
Sometimes choosing badly,
So badly that in some lives I forget I can choose.
It took me a long time to remember,
In this particular life,
Where so many of us have forgotten how these things work,
Sleepwalking our way through the day.

Then something leaks through
And I remember,
I awaken.

I've always been here,
Skipping through parallel lives,
Endless variations where every alternative plays out,
But the watcher remains the same,
Accumulating experience.
Nothing is lost.

Perhaps someday I will gather all these lives together
And go home.
Perhaps I am already home.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Child


There is a child in me,
Surprised at what he sees,
This eternal child,
Always surprised,
Especially now,
Seeing the passage of time
Marked upon my face.

O time,
I still don’t understand,
Though I’ve changed from boy to man,
Though I will change from what I am,
The child,
Remains.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Questions


Why?
Why am I alive
When with every breath I take a child dies?

Am I just another ant in the ant farm?
Or am I a traveler on the road to divinity?

Am I a blade of grass reaching for the sun?
Or am I a ray of sunlight cast indiscriminately upon the world?

Perhaps I am just a man with time on his hands,
Time to think beyond bodily needs,
Time to ask questions,
Time to create questions out of madness,
A kind of madness that comes when living itself is not enough.


~ 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

Listen



If you want to hear the angels speak,
You must listen.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

This World


For every little bird that dies,
There’s another little bird that flies.

~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

A Little Space


A little space
Is all I need
To sit and rest
And plant a seed,
To someday root,
To someday grow,
So when I’m old
I’ll someday know.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Your Most Recent Revelation


When the moment comes,
Light fills the sky
And birds are everywhere in voice,
And you say:

At last,
I have found it.

It passes.

On another day,
You carefully reconstruct
The circumstances
Of your most recent revelation,
And wait.

The sky is brown,
Everywhere dogs are in voice,
A garbage truck fills the air with noise,
Laboring house by house,
Street by street.

It’s gone.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

To Rise


I stood up fast and rushed to the window
To see a small blue and rust colored bird
When the dizziness came and clouded my sight
And a soft voice inside said:
Old man you are not too long for this world,
And I thought,
What a pleasant way to die,
To rise swiftly,
Then rise again.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

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

Will


How long is a moment?
To a baby?
To a star?

Our lives are a collection of moments,
Falling through time,
Falling even through death,
All the way into eternity.

This place is a moment,
Even the universe is a moment,
For all that is not permanent will pass,
And all that passes is momentary.

So tell me,
What is permanent?

Everywhere I look,
Everything I learn,
All that I know tells me
The most permanent thing of all,
Will.

Even after our expanding universe is pulled apart,
Stretched into a soupy, cosmic protoplasm,
Some sort of microbe will struggle to exist,
To persist,
Either in this dilapidated universe
Or in some other, younger place.

It’s what pushes a single blade of grass
Out of the ground
Toward the light of our dying star.
It’s what awakens us each morning
And sends us out into this particular world.
It’s the most eternal thing I know,
Will.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Not One


In this large world,
Everything,
All at once,
All possible eventualities,
Over and over again,
Yet,
None of us can walk on water,
Not one.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Seeing


Take everything you know,
Write it down on a blank sheet of paper,
Then fold the paper and put it in an envelope.

Say out loud:
Here is all I know, all I have learned,
As you light the envelope on fire,
Watching it burn to ashes.

Now walk freely into the world and see everything,
No longer masked by certainty.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Afterlife


The afterlife will not be unfamiliar.
It will look very much like today,
A place with mornings and evenings,
Just a few small changes,
Change continuing at its usual pace
With all the occasional upheavals,
Depending on where we are,
Who we are.

For those of us who believe in heaven,
Heaven will slowly appear.
For those who refuse contrition,
Hell will remain.

The possibility of change and growth will remain,
For all of us,
Change and growth,
Confusion and revelation.

We will share where we live with others,
With friends,
Strangers,
With those who are kind
And those who are not.
We will help or hurt them,
Or ignore them,
And they will help or hurt,
Or ignore us in turn.

We will witness the working of change upon our lives
Without certainty about the future,
For the future will be malleable.
There will be times when the old fear returns,
When we contemplate that our existences, however new,
May be extinguished.
Yet joy and hope will temper the anxiety of unknowing,
Reassurance that we need not fear eternity.

The afterlife will not be unfamiliar.
It will start tomorrow morning,
As usual.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Inevitability


How deep your search for the profound,
How detailed your analysis,
How proud you are of the synthesis of theories
Rolling off the tip of your tongue.
At last you have mastered the subject matter
And everywhere you look there is clarity and form.

But big black death is still an inevitability
And you will need more than clever ideas
To sustain your soul during those last indeterminate years.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Human Beings


Oh such comfort we draw
From the old religions,
The old words,
So divinely inspired.
We forget they were written down
By human beings,
So divinely inspired,
Doing their best to reveal
The mind of God,
The will of God,
The judgments of God,
Written down by human beings
Who are not and never will be,
Perfect.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Go Gently


Go gently into that good night
For it is no darkened sleep
That comes in the passing there,
No closing of the day,
No dying of the light.

Go gently into that good night
For you have received the gift
And have no need to complain.

Life goes on
In ways we cannot imagine.
Life goes on
In ways we cannot explain.


~ 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

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

Each Day


Each day I add to the prayer
That began with my life.

I will not say amen.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

What It Is


This is,
What it is.

Now we know.

We thought it was something else,
Way back then,
When we were ignorant
And thought we knew.

This is,
What it is.

Now we know.

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


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Filled With Light


When I was younger
It was just me alone,
Staring into the abyss,
Waiting,
Without knowing what I was waiting for,
Falling into the deepest part of night,
So dark.

I am kinder now
And wait until sunny birdsong morning
To enter the place of no place.
Old fears still come and go
But now I face them with a warm cup of coffee
In a pleasant room,
Filled with light.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Cracked


Thought I’d finally found myself
When the self I thought I was
Cracked,
Shattered into a thousand jagged pieces.

Now I know why Humpty had to fall.
He had to free himself
From his own illusion.

There was no Humpty left
To be put back together again,
His pieces now scattered
Among the pieces of the world.

He was larger.
Multitudes contained him.

Shattered as I am,
I cannot put my pieces back together again.
It was only an illusion
That made them seem whole.

More than the sum of my parts
I am the sum of all parts
And the space between.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Final Question


Such a relief,
To get past that final question.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Failure And Success


What seems so clearly to be failure
Will turn out to be only part of what happened.
What seems so clearly to be success
Will turn out to be only part of what happened.
The story of your life is so much more complex
Than the simple words:
Failure,
Success.

Leave this shorthand to the obituary writers
Who are compelled to sum up a life
In cold, calculating column inches.

Do not dwell on failure.
Do not dwell on success.
Live in the heart of each moment
And behold the terrible majesty of it all.


~ 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

The Marrow


The stillness,
Spreading,
Slowing me down.

Anchored,
Observing,
Vicarious.

A passion to be young again
Stirs.
I pull myself loose.

But the process is irreversible.

The roots will grow,
Sink deeper,
Hold fast,
Until someday,
I am absorbed into the marrow.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved