Time Travel

















If we could ever figure out how to travel backward in time,
we’d have to get rid of the word “after.”



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





My Father Among The Chinese



The Chinese children watched the funny fat American in the ridiculous sport coat try to blow up the balloons.


H e was a tourist in his late 60s, wearing a gray floppy hat. His face was a fleshy sagging caricature of itself, accented by an unkempt bushy salt-and-pepper mustache intended to disguise the steady loss of masculinity from his features.

Someone back home had told him that Chinese children love balloons. But what really caught the attention of the children was the exuberant vaudeville of this short-winded man in the funny clothing who was having a terribly difficult time inflating the balloons which were too small and thin for such an amateur. Each balloon he attempted to inflate flew from his lips into the air with the sound of a small fart, prompting laughter and applause from the children gathered around him.

My father, a man who once made deals with some of the most influential businessmen in America, had successfully transformed himself into an amusing street monkey.

Later that day he would show a group of Chinese university students how to peel an orange.




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





After I Died I Saw My Dog



The first thing I saw after I died was my dog Nova, wagging her tail madly and wriggling like a salamander with delight.

She was the only dog I ever had, a border collie and Australian shepherd mix given to my family when I was twelve years old. There were two puppies, Nova and Scotia.

We got Nova.

Nova was a gift from friends of my parents. The dog donors were people of wealth and standing in the community and so my parents felt they could not refuse, accepting the gift with feigned appreciation.

About a year earlier my parents' English bulldog died. He was a snorting bowlegged drooler named Charlie. He did not enjoy going for walks or companionship of any kind. Charlie was an ornamental dog. Eating, scratching, snoring and rubbing his genitals on the back of an old black cat too feeble to escape his advances—that was Charlie’s life.

I essentially grew up a dogless boy until Nova came into my life. She was my dog by default due to a lack of enthusiasm on the part of my late middle-age parents whose hobbies were dining out, ice cream and television. My older sister was too busy with the demands of high school society to spend time with a dog. But I was in dire need of canine companionship. I was an indifferent student on the low end of the popularity totem pole in a snooty private school that was a freeway away from my neighborhood. My only friends were our three family cats, and they could take me or leave me.

Nova and I were boy-dog, dog-boy soul mates. We were constant companions; the Lewis and Clark of our neighborhood. By summer Nova had grown and loved to run. We were creatures of the summer, awakened early by the excitement of eternal youth. We would never grow old and the day would never end. I see us still, taking the long hike to the foothills, running through unsubdivided fields, collapsing under a shady tree, finding secret places. We will be there forever.

Nova was smart. I taught her dozens of tricks. I'd place a cracker on her nose and she would hold perfectly still until I said, “OK!”, then she’d toss the morsel into the air, catch it and eat it. Each trick she learned reinforced the fact that we could communicate directly with each other. We knew how to say all the things that dogs and boys need to say to one another. We were sincere, and our sincerity was a river of love that flowed between us, through us.

The years went by and I moved away from home, no longer a boy. Nova was always overjoyed to see me when I returned for a visit and she never forgot any of her tricks, always so proud to perform them. One day, I returned home to take her on a last car ride, to the veterinarian. She was dying and my parents decided they could no longer take care of her. When I led her into the verterinarian’s office she was nervous and shaking as I had never seen her shake before. She knew, somehow. I never forgave myself for not being with her when the assistant led her away for that fatal injection.

~ ~ ~

"Welcome to heaven,” Nova said, extraordinarily delighted to see me, yet still remembering her manners and restraining the impulse to jump on me. I’d been in the hospital, sixty-seven years old, with a bleeding ulcer, my skin turned too, too white. After days of weakness and decline I awoke in a place between life and death. I heard a dog barking. I saw her. I crossed over.




~ Text and photograph by Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved




Meeting Slated
















The Inland Valley chapter of the Society For Clear Thinking will hold an all-day workshop on “How To Make Life Simple” from 10:20 a.m. to 5:47 p.m. Saturday, March 2, at an undisclosed location.

New members are required to attend an orientation session at 7:48 a.m., in the Thoreau Room of the Simple Gifts Meeting Hall at the Southern California College of Agronomy and Moral Certainty.

After the orientation, exit on Walden Avenue South, past Civil Disobedience Drive, then turn west on Emerson Road and make a U-turn at the third intersection past the green/black student dormitories (If you see the black/green student dormitories you’ve gone too far!), bearing to the right onto Harpers Ferry Way to Parking Lot 81, Section 26 (southeastern quadrant), next to the campus greenhouse.

Walk northeast on Campus Loop toward the Transcendental Arts Building, past the Hell No We Won’t Go food court, turning right at the Gandhi memorial bird bath. Walk straight ahead until you see the second unmarked bus stop and wait for bus No. 331, or 28-A if after 9:15 a.m., or any bus between H-9Q and 12 if after 9:33 a.m.

Exit the bus at Tolstoy Street and walk north on Tolstoy, past the King Cotton Laundromat (on the left) to the Thrifty Chick fried chicken restaurant (on the fourth, north-south corner of the traffic hexagon). Enter Thrifty Chick and say: “Sir Larry has come to collect the poll tax,” if the man at the counter is wearing a hat or an eye patch, or “The goslings weep for their mother” if there is another man without a hat and/or an eye patch, or a woman (mature, no eye patch), behind the counter.

You will be led to the rear of the shop and put into the cargo area of the Thrifty Chick delivery van whose driver will blindfold you and take you to my house where I will then drive you to the meeting. The workshop fee is $20 (stamps).





~ by Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved





Before I Barely Knew Anything













Before I barely knew anything
I awakened each summer morning
To the cawing of crows
And thought,
How very tall these trees
In which they gather to ruffle their feathers
In the morning breeze,
How tall these trees
And how much these crows must see.

I climbed an orange tree,
So frightened by the height,
So amazed at the sight of neighboring houses
And city streets
And thought about what the crows must see
From the tops of the sycamore trees
And from higher still
As they rise into the sky,
Knowing I would never know
What they know,
Before I barely knew anything.




~ Poem and photograph by Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved




The Fly
















H ere,
In this beautiful world,
A fly is trapped in my house.

Trapped.

It's buzzing madly against the window glass,
Certain there must be an opening,
Beckoned by the light of the outside world,
The outside world,
Just a fraction of an inch away,
An impenetrable fraction of an inch.

Here,
In this beautiful world,
Where all things are possible,
This Garden of Eden where life explodes,
Where love and hate contend,
Where joy, real joy is actually possible,
A fly is trapped in my window.

I get a clear plastic cup
Reserved for such rescues
And capture the exhausted creature,
Gently sliding a square of cardboard beneath
To prevent escape.

Here,
In this dangerous world,
Where evil survives and babies die,
A fly was trapped in my house,
And I opened the door
And I let it go.





~ by Russ Allison Loar
~ Artwork by Chris Ezelle aka Boogey Man
© All Rights Reserved




Peter Pantheism
















I am a Peter Pantheist.

I have a childlike belief that everything is a component of God.



~ by Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved




Afterlife


The first tribunal was with the chickens.

“According to our records,” the chief justice rooster announced in a loud, screeching voice, assuring he would be heard all the way back to the very last row of the cavernous courtroom, packed with clucking hens and muttering roosters of all kinds and colors.

“According to our records, during your lifetime, you have eaten," he paused with grave solemnity, "the equivalent of 5,693 chickens,” he declared, pointing his beak menacingly at me, his wattles inflated with indignation.

I shivered at the totality of it all.

“The accused will stand before this court.”

I stood.

“Do you wish to make a statement before sentence is passed?”

“Yes,” I barely answered in tremulous voice.

“Proceed.”

Summoning up my courage, knowing there was little I could say that would alter my fate, I cleared my throat, took a deep breath, and at the top of my voice cried out:

“Cock-A-Doodle-Doo!”



~ by Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved





I've Been Busy!


Brian Williams and I were recently embedded in Afghanistan but we got separated from our military escort and were lost for a week at the Kandahar International Airport, living on vending machine candy and coffee.

Then, in the middle of the night, the ghost of Robert Frost suddenly appeared on a luggage carousel, enshrouded in a glowing blue-white mist. He spoke to us:

"Whose woods these are I think I know, his house is in the village though," pointing toward the northeast quadrant of the airport. At first I had no idea what this meant, but he kept repeating the phrase in a louder and louder voice: "His house is in the village though," until at last, almost shouting he said:


"HIS HOUSE IS IN THE VILLAGE YOU DUMMY!"

This final outburst awakened Brian and between the two of us we realized Frost was directing us to a part of the airport that would facilitate our escape.

By early morning we'd made our way northeast where we finally encountered the ticket counter. We were a bit embarrassed that we hadn't thought of this before, but wrote it off to battle fatigue. Brian tried to charge our tickets on his NBC Visa card, but for some reason his account had been closed, and so I sprung for the airfare. At least they gave me an Auto Club discount.



~ by Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved




Blackjack




Poor old Blackjack,
Battered with one eye swollen shut,
He comes to my back door and cries for food
But he hurts too much to eat.

He cries to bring me out,
To hear the sympathetic sound of my voice,
To feel the rush of warm air from the open door
Against the stiff chill of early morning.

He comes close to the open door
But will not go in.
Some distant memory of being a kitten,
A house cat,
Pulls him to this place of food,
This place of sanctuary from the larger world,
The more dangerous world
He is now too wild to escape.



~ by Russ Allison Loar
~ Photo by Russ Allison Loar




A Lie






I was playing with a baseball I’d found in my front yard when two older boys walked up to me.

One of them said, “That’s my baseball. I hit it over here all the way from the park.”

The park was about three miles away, but I was seven years old and I believed him. I gave him the baseball. The two boys walked away down the sidewalk laughing.

Lying in bed that night, thinking over the events of the day, I realized those boys were laughing because they had told me a lie and I believed them. They were laughing at me.

I decided I wouldn't be so stupid next time. Despite my decision, so many years later, I’m still surprised how skillfully people can lie.








~ By Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved





Alternate Endings





On center stage is a large, green chalkboard mounted on a wooden swivel frame. Standing stage right is geeky Lab Coat Man wearing a white lab coat with many pens in his pocket protector. He’s wearing oversized black oval glasses and holding a long wooden pointer. On stage left, next to the chalkboard, is a six-foot Toucan wearing a large striped tie. He has a giant yellow beak he uses rhythmically when he dances. A door is visible in the background.

The Italian song, "Zooma, Zooma"

{Play song by using: ctrl-alt-click for Chrome or ctrl-shift-click for Firefox}

starts up with a vamp, waiting for Lab Coat Man to begin his song. He begins to sing, pointing to the lyrics on the blackboard as he sings them in an Italian accent while Toucan dances gaily in place.

LAB COAT MAN: ♫ Take a toucan to a tie shop, buy a tie for toucan too. (Music vamps – Toucan dances) Take a toucan to a tie shop and he wear a tie like you. ♫

More vamping and Toucan dancing while the sound of loud knocking becomes apparent, as if from an adjacent wall or ceiling. It’s Angry Neighbor shouting muffled complaints that cannot be heard clearly.

LAB COAT MAN: ♫ Take a toucan to a pie shop, buy some pie for toucan too. (Music vamps, Toucan dances) Take a toucan to a pie shop and he eat some pie like you. ♫

More vamping and Toucan dancing while the sound of knocking grows louder and Angry Neighbor’s voice becomes more furious.

Lab Coat Man flips the blackboard over where the words of the chorus are written in large letters for the audience to sing along.

LAB COAT MAN: Everybody sing! ♫ Ay, yi, yi, toucan like a pizza pie. Ay, yi, yi, toucan like a pizza pie. Ay, yi, yi, toucan like a pizza pie. Ay, yi, yi — ♫

Suddenly, Angry Neighbor bursts through the door and points a gun at Toucan while the music abruptly slows down and stops with the sound of a needle scratching across the surface of a record.

ANGRY NEIGHBOR: I told you! No pets!

Angry Neighbor shoots Toucan with a gun that ejects a red flag upon which the word “Bang!” is written. Toucan grabs his chest, swoons and attempts to hold on to the blackboard, then collapses on the floor.

Lab Coat Man pulls out a gun from his pants pocket and shoots Angry Neighbor. His gun also ejects a red flag with the word “Bang!” written on it. Angry Neighbor grabs his chest as Toucan did and collapses behind Toucan.

The song, “You’ll Never Walk Alone” begins to play while Lab Coat Man bends over the dying Toucan.

LAB COAT MAN: (After mournful consideration of Toucan, holding his wing, looking into his eyes) You’re the last toucan Angry Neighbor will ever shoot—on this planet anyway!

TOUCAN: (Looking lovingly at Lab Coat man with raised head, then as he lowers his head, with his dying breath) Ahhhhhhhhhhhh!

LAB COAT MAN: (Standing up and turning toward the audience) Now, the alternate ending!

Lab Coat Man and Toucan resume their places while Angry Neighbor leaves the stage. The scene repeats. "Zooma, Zooma" begins to play.

LAB COAT MAN: ♫ Take a toucan to a tie shop, buy a tie for toucan too. (Music vamps, Toucan dances) Take a toucan to a tie shop and he wear a tie like you. ♫

More vamping and Toucan dancing while the sound of loud knocking becomes apparent, as if from an adjacent wall or ceiling. It’s Angry Neighbor shouting muffled complaints that cannot be heard clearly.

LAB COAT MAN: ♫ Take a toucan to a pie shop, buy some pie for toucan too. (Music vamps, Toucan dances) Take a toucan to a pie shop and he eat some pie like you. ♫

More vamping and Toucan dancing while the sound of knocking grows louder and Angry Neighbor’s voice becomes more furious.

Lab Coat Man flips the blackboard over where the words of the chorus are written in large letters for the audience to sing along.

LAB COAT MAN: Everybody sing! ♫ Ay, yi, yi, toucan like a pizza pie. Ay, yi, yi, toucan like a pizza pie. Ay, yi, yi, toucan like a pizza pie. Ay, yi, yi — ♫

Suddenly, Angry Neighbor bursts through the door and the music abruptly slows down and stops with the sound of a needle scratching across the surface of a record.

ANGRY NEIGHBOR: You’re having a party and I wasn’t invited?

LAB COAT MAN: Why of course you’re invited. The party hasn’t started yet. We were just rehearsing!

There’s a loud knocking at the door. Lab Coat Man opens the door and Pizza Delivery Boy enters.

PIZZA DELIVERY BOY: One extra-large banana pizza to go!

Lab Coat Man, Toucan and Angry Neighbor all look at one another for a moment, then burst out laughing while the “Zooma, Zooma” vamp begins again. They all sing the chorus together.

LAB COAT MAN: Come on everybody! Sing along!

All begin to sing, while singing offstage actors costumed as slices of pizza wearing ties dance onto the stage, tossing slices of pizza to the audience.

EVERYONE SINGS AND CLAPS: ♫ Ay, yi, yi, I like a pizza pie. Ay, yi, yi, Toucan like a pizza pie. Ay, yi, yi, I like a pizza pie. Ay, yi, yi, Toucan like a pizza pie. Ay, yi, yi, I like a pizza pie. Ay, yi, yi, Toucan like a pizza pie. Ay, yi, yi, I like a pizza pie. Ay, yi, yi, Toucan like a pizza pie. ♫

Singing continues until audience enthusiasm begins to wane as actors leave the stage. Then the music is abruptly slowed and stopped as before with the sound of a needle scratching across the surface of a record. Angry Neighbor pulls out a machine gun.

ANGRY NEIGHBOR: Wait a minute! I told you no pets!

Angry Neighbor shoots Lab Coat Man and Toucan in a barrage of fire. Their bodies shake as they are riddled with bullets, then crumple to the ground. Angry Neighbor surveys the carnage, then blows smoke from the barrel of his machine gun, grabs a piece of pizza and exits through the door.




Curtain






~ by Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved




Lights




















Without love,
Some kind,
Any kind of crazy love,
The lights are out
All over town.





~ by Russ Allison Loar
~ Photograph by Julie A. King
© All Rights Reserved




Poetry Class


“Nothing beats an 18-year-old pair of hips.”

It’s from a poem. Her poem. That blond-haired girl in my college creative writing class, reading her poem out loud, a poem about her love of sex, of having sex, preferably with lean 18-year-old boys at the zenith of their sexual energies.


Within a few days of her recitation I noticed she began coming to class with the professor, a man not quite twice her age who evidently was quite willing to submit his hips to her critical assessment. 

Yes, they had definitely paired off, but unfortunately, the adademic quarter came to an end before she had a chance to construct a poem about this new sexual experience.

But why should I let that fact limit my own imagination?

You Are Not My Daddy

Yes, you are not my daddy.
Yes, you are not my boyfriend.
Yes,
Yes,
Yes.

Oh my God,
Yes!

~ © Blond-haired College Girl

There’s nothing like a college education to expand one’s imagination.


© All Rights Reserved




Poetry























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.

~~~

I n poetry, the writing is the thing that comes last.




~ by Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved




My Revelation




















For me, this existence, "This," is eternity.

The kingdom of heaven, and hell, and everything else in-between is at hand. Right here. Right now.
Whatever is past and whatever may come, This moment is all about how far along I am as an eternal soul, an eternal being, an eternal something or another, names and labels being limited as they are.
This is my revelation.
So many of us believe heaven is somewhere else, a reward for a life well-spent, our ethereal home where there will be no more strife and struggle.
But what if we died and awoke in heaven and it was a place just like Earth, where we inhabited physical bodies and had to put our spirituality to the test in a physical world of human interaction and social evolution? We might very well doubt we had entered the kingdom of God.
For me, entering the kingdom of God is about awakening, seeing what has always been here. And for me, hell is also here. Wherever there is the possibility of heaven, there is the possibility of hell. It has something to do with free will.
This is my revelation.
I do not know where I will be after my body dies. Perhaps “I” and “where” will no longer apply. Nevertheless, today, I am in heaven. I cannot imagine a more heavenly miracle than the persistence of life, hope and love on this planet, here among the uninhabitable planets of our solar system. I cannot imagine a more heavenly miracle than the birth of a child.
Here in heaven, you put a small seed into the ground and it comes back flowers.




~ By Russ Allison Loar
~ Photograph by Maxine (aka: maxxximpact)
© All Rights Reserved




On Moonlit Freeway













On moonlit freeway
I see the weariness in your eyes,
A few stray strands of hair
Around your face
Illuminated against the black
Inside your car.

It is late.

We who work overtime are driving home
In silent, anonymous autonomy.
Though I’ve seen you a thousand times before
In full fluorescent sun,
Numbed by office decor and decorum,
Tonight in my rearview mirror
I see the phosphorescence of your truer self,
Your innocence.

It is the innocence of the oppressed
Who, after overtime is through,
Have nothing disingenuous left.





~ by Russ Allison Loar
© All Rights Reserved