Each And Every One


Life wears on us all,
Wears us down,
Wears us out,
Makes it hard to sleep,
Hard to get up in the morning
And do it all over again.

Long after it has worn out its welcome
The familiar calls us back,
Demands our attention
To the same old things,
All those things we thought we wanted,
An immortal monotony of routine,
The daily routine we've made.

Bored and burdened we are,
Full of complaints
In this garden of prosperity,
Just beginning to understand
That prosperity is never enough,
That each and every one of us,
No matter how high
Or low,
Each and every one of us
Must struggle against the slumber of the soul.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Confessional


She comes when her heart is wounded,
When the balance between joy and sorrow is lost.
She is bereft,
Overwhelmed by tragedy,
An empty vessel I will fill with inspired words.

I throw her a lifeline,
Pulling her from the tempest,
Back to the land of the living
Where sadness can be borne.

I give her a candle,
Lit with the flickering flame of hope.

She is like so many who bring me their pain,
Seeking something they cannot name.

The fortunate find healing,
Recover a tenuous equilibrium,
Less vulnerable,
More guarded and reserved in expression,
Closing the window against the chill wind of doubt.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Temporality


Sometimes the body is weak
And the spirit sags
And I contemplate mortality,
Questioning again the specific location of the soul,
And the old fear returns:

What if the body is all?
What if all my spiritual perceptions are imaginary?

I am rudely interrupted.

My young calico cat Sally jumps into my lap,
Crying for something that is not food,
For the temporality of my attention.

I stroke her tongue-washed fur
And she ripples with pleasure,
Chirping with tuna-scented breath.

She pulls at my pajamas with sharp claws
And together we abandon all hypothetical considerations.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Consider


Although you swear God has intervened,
Protected you,
(Or was it angels?)
Stop your self-righteous certainty
For a moment.

Consider all the children
Who die each day,
Each year,
Since the beginning.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Five Bees


Five bees drowning in a swimming pool,
Caught by a reflection,
A sparkling promise of pollen,
Waterlogged.

Once they touch down the mirage disappears
And they are caught,
Their sodden wings can no longer fly.

Seeing tiny ripples in the water from their struggles
I take my net and lift them out
Onto concrete warmed by the morning sun.

Two are not moving,
But the other three have begun grooming,
Abdomen and thorax,
With every available leg,
Diligently scraping off water.

One is still so exhausted
He cannot keep his balance and tumbles over
From the disproportionate weight of water
Still clinging to one side of his body.

With a leaf stem I help restore his balance
So his meticulous grooming can continue,
So the sun can dry his cellophane wings.

The strongest of the three revs up his wings in a blur
Moving in short bursts across the cement,
His legs still giving support,
Testing.
Then he lifts into the air,
Restored.

Perhaps the other two were in the water longer,
For it takes more grooming and warming
Until they too are free from the terrible gravity of the ground.

It’s hard to fathom the personality of a garden bee,
Why the last two lingered a while.
Perhaps they are older,
More shaken by the sight of their two dead comrades
Lying on their backs,
Legs angled toward heaven,
Without purpose.

Why?
They might wonder,
If they were anything at all like you and me.
Why did God spare only three?

Or do they know what we know,
That when it comes to saving lives,
Some will stay,
Some will go.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

This Nothing


At any moment
Something will occur
And call me away from this nothing.

This nothing,
So hard to find
Among all this something.


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

Enough


I saw a boy riding his bicycle
Deep in some imagination
Without any bills or job or wife
Or children or war to worry about.

He did not know he was in heaven.
He did not need to know.
Being there was enough.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Accumulations


So many possessions,
A blur as I pass from room to room,
Accumulations,
Decades of forgotten memories,
Tombstones.

Some are gifts,
Dutifully displayed for recognition by the givers,
Some inherited,
Retained by generations,
Heavy with age.

Most are the random ephemera
Of this temporary life,
Temporarily under my custodial care,
Faded by familiarity.

Someday,
Disentangled from ownership,
I will be an old man living an unadorned life,
Having long since digested frivolity,
Ready to make that final disengagement,
Leaving all that is temporal
Behind.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Too Late


Ah yes,
Just before it all slips away,
The realization comes.
How beautiful!

Too late,
Too late.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

This House


When this house was new
It practically took care of itself.
I thought newness was a permanent state,
Something easily maintained.

I repaired occasional wear and tear,
Restoring, preserving,
But eventually the patina of age took hold,
Irreversibly.

I reluctantly learned a degree of acceptance,
Trusting the impervious core of this house
To withstand most of the minor disfigurements.

After all,
So many other deteriorating houses still stand,
Still provide shelter,
A place for a life.

Yet the years accumulate
And that which cannot be repaired
Multiplies,
And the once indestructible sheen of youth
Has given way to an aura of infirmity,
Filling my thoughts with apprehension.

Where will I live when this house is gone?


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

First Impressions


Each person I meet starts out as God,
Then they almost talk me out of it,
But I know God is in there somewhere.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved



The Truth













The truth has always been here, long before it was written about, long before religion.

The wisest among us are interpreters, but the truth is eternal and cannot be changed by the interpretations of people.






~ Words and artwork by Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

God Dog


Once there was a small brown dog who loved God.
He loved God so much
He decided to change his name
To God,
God Dog,
The 1st.

Then,
He began to pee on the furniture
Without restraint.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Skipping


My dead relatives see a future they never imagined.

And here I thought the future was so far ahead
I could scarcely imagine it,
Beyond the usual flying cars,
Electricity from air,
Freedom from disease.

My dead relatives say I’m living in the future.

I don’t have to look too far back to see how right they are,
Or too far forward to see how wrong they are.
But right now, right here,
What is this exactly?

It moves so quickly I don’t have time to focus,
My thoughts are blurred,
My explanations obsolete.

I am skipping across the surface of time,
Watching my hair turn white.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

God's Little Figures


And it was said,
Let us make God in our image,
After our likeness,
And He shall have dominion over all the Earth,
And God we created he Him,
In our image,
From our spirit,
And we so exalted God
We came to believe He created we us,
In His image,
Individual and separate,
God’s little figures,
Made out of clay.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Sight For Sore Eyes


How insignificant we are
Among the minions of space
And time.
Yes, yes,
It’s the profound realization of our age
Among those not generally given
To profound realizations.
I hear it all the time,
Spoken with reverential awe
By some initiate
For whom a certain curtain
Has only recently
Lifted.

But what if we are the only things on two legs
That cerebrate so
In the neighborhood of this particular infinity?
The only coffee shop in sight
On that long and lonely interstellar highway?
Well, that would be something,
Wouldn’t it?
We just might be a real sight for sore eyes
After all,
The whole damn bunch of us.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Heaven And Hell


Sometimes this peaceful suburban landscape
Seems like heaven.

I am momentarily reprieved
And the people in my tiny town glow,
Translucent arcs of light
Moving about their daily tasks.

We stop and talk a while.

Hell returns.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Saints In Waiting


If we were saints
Living the lives of abandoned insects
Under parked cars
With our antennae finely tuned
Into God’s frequency,
We would praise the glories
Of our tiny lives,
The stray fast-food crumbs,
A patch of dew-laden crabgrass.

Behold this mighty river of asphalt,
My children,
And fear not the larger beasts.
We are the chosen,
And through our selfless purity
We shall inherit this earth.

Not long now,
Our time to come.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Saying The Word


It’s easy not to believe,
To scoff at the personification of God,
The majestic bearded man
Who decides everything,
The prayer specific saints,
The miraculous interceding angels,
The signs and symbols.

But alone in the dark,
Surrounded by the suffering of this world
I find myself praying,
Saying the word.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Guardian


She walks among us,
Taking physical form for a moment,
Watching.

But when I am particularly low,
When my light is flickering,
She comes closer,
Smiles into my eyes,
Deep,
And I am renewed.

Only later do I realize,
I have seen her again.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

I See Them


There was a rabbit
Loose in the grove.
She taught me how to enter
The silence of its fear
So it would know
My innocence.

There was an old clock
Whose tic and toc
Was heard by those
Who could only imagine me.
She taught me how to travel
Through the sound
Into their hearts.

In spring her orchard was full
Of birds and butterflies.
She pressed her warm fingers
Over my eyes and said:
See from where
All pretty things come.

Her old Siamese
Loved his pie-pan milk
Steaming on the back porch.
One winter he was gone.
I remembered how still he sat
With folded paws
And cloud-blue eyes.

Looking into heaven
He finally found his way,
She whispered,
Close your eyes
And see him.

I see them.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Reverence


We are taught to revere the old ways
Of our beloved ancestors,
Their ancient wisdom,
Honed over generations
Into this perfect jewel,
Hard,
Prismatic,
Eternal,
An ornament
Worn so proudly by those who know,
Our teachers,
The guardians of all knowledge,
The caretakers of the past.

Impediments.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Saints


The saints so often say
We must give up wanting,
Surrender desire,
Disregard comfort,
Give everything to the poor
And live a life of service
To others.

They are like so many in this world
Who choose a path,
Who fulfill a destiny,
Then declare it is the only path,
The only destiny.

Even saints suffer from certainty.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

A Language


The mind says,
Listen to me, I will explain everything.

The heart says,
I understand, but my feelings are unchanged.

The mind says,
This is God and this is life,
All is explained.

The heart says,
I speak a language you do not understand,
A language without words.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Long March


You can march to the left,
You can march to the right,
You can march down the middle
And dream of your perfect world
Where everyone knows the truth.

You can march to the left,
You can march to the right,
You can march down the middle
But as long as you believe
You are right
And all the rest are wrong
You’ll be marching long,
You’ll be marching long.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Another Temporary Visitor


I knew when he walked into the coffee shop,
When this tall black man hesitated before sitting down,
Casting a wide, smiling inspection of the dozen or so diners,
So pleased to be in our company,
So joyful to be among the living,
I knew he was back from the grave,
Now seeing the everyday world through the eyes of a child,
Entranced by the sound of talking and laughing.

What was once so ordinary was now extraordinary.
He’d crossed the line between life and death,
Then crossed back again.

I wouldn’t be surprised if he were some kind of angel,
Taking physical form for a day to see and be seen,
To marvel at the magic of human existence.

How long did he have before returning?
And to where?
I wonder.
How long do I have?

He smiled at me as I walked by on my way out,
Recognizing, acknowledging another temporary visitor.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

This Place


If I am humble,
I can take all insults,
All personal affronts,
In stride.

But when I believe in the illusion of myself
As an all-knowing, superior being,
Every imagined disrespect ignites my rage,
A rage which will not be calmed
Until revenge has cleansed my troubled soul.

The angels of tolerance,
The demons of anger,
Always close,
Contending,
Here on this ancient planet,
This place of good and evil
Where we struggle still.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

The Question


I know there are some
Who ask if there is a soul.

Yet is it not a surprising question?
As if someone turned to you,
Stopped you on a crowded city sidewalk
And asked: Do you believe in the body?

Belief comes after the fact.

Yes, I know,
We cannot photograph the soul
Or slip a fragment of it under a microscope.

Yet the very idea of spiritless being
Causes something in me to recoil,
Something that cannot deny its own existence,
Something I call,
If I must,
The soul.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Cacophony


. . . of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weakness of the flesh.

~ Ecclesiastes, Chapter XII, Verse 12



How fervent,
How intricately detailed our entreaties,
How reason-filled our requests,
How impassioned our pleas.

How many books have we made,
Filled with tiny words,
Preaching,
How many?

All these tiny words
Speaking on our behalf,
Speaking to instruct us,
Explaining,
Imploring.
From the beginning of the printed word,
The beginning of the spoken word,
How many?

Now, imagine you are God,
Imagine the cacophony,
Imagine your delight
In one single, solitary, silent prayer.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Life After Death


You want to believe
But faith is not enough
For your rational, scholarly mind,
And so you spend your evenings
Searching through ancient texts
For the meaning of life,
Surrounded and infused
With the souls of the dead.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

He Did Not Fall


As my earthly span decreases,
My past increases,
Filling my thoughts,
Haunting my days,
Replacing the illusion of eternity
With the certitude of temporality.

My life,
Fixed in time,
An immutable chronology,
Yet not without hope,
Some spectacular finale:

At age 103
He stepped out of the boat
And stood upon the water.
He did not fall.



~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

I Remove The Stone


In these later years I sometimes despair
When thought returns to unburdened times,
When moist-eyed remembrance,
Sorted from care,
Makes longing for such pleasant fiction
A stone in the heart.

Shamed by my childish discontent,
My sophisticated selfishness,
I hear my breathing,
I see this world,
I remove the stone.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Praying


Praying,
All this praying,
Filling empty time,
Becoming a substitute,
Becoming the center of your life.

When at last the promise appears
You turn away,
Too comfortable now
In the familiar sameness of prayer.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

Life Is Too Beautiful


Life is too beautiful
To be written down on paper,
Printed in books,
Read in small darkened rooms
By merciless scholars
Too eager to impose their will
On those who still believe
There is an answer.


~ Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved

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,
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 bird that dies,
There’s another 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 street by street,
House by house.

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