Fiscal Cliff

They have always written poetry

Even without 401K’s

They have always made music

Even without health insurance

They have always painted landscapes

Even without tax credits

We have always loved each other

Without government approval

Take us over

We will meet you on the other side

Gene G. McLaughlin 2012

Winter 1989

Listening to the Replacements

Rain is coming down

Yellow Walkman in hand

Mud and dirty ice crunches

Under each tired stride

There is no pleasure in this today

Only the comfort of routine

Yet it gives little respite today

Searching for something

In between the rain

Looking for the cold

To bring true words

To my frozen lips

In youth we struggle to find

The simple paths

We run down cold roads

Hoping to lessen the burden

Of our uncertain futures

Where little is clear to us

And we have little guidance to

What we are or what the blurred

Images of our future selves

Off in the distance represent

In later years our burdens

Will be concrete and have numbers

Solidly affixed and attributed to them

The finding of the paths

Are no longer romantic runs of longing

In the cold winter rain

But carpools and commutes

Cubicles and colonoscopies

Where we know where our path takes us

And do not have a longing to find the way

But to leave it

Gene G. McLaughlin 2012

The Swirl

The words get twisted and repeated

They bounce and imprint

Over and over

Their meaning was clear

In the sick heat of the fever

Sometimes sounds echo

Will not leave

Until they decide to fade

Is this how it starts

I guess if

It were starting

I wouldn’t know

The key is

Ignoring that

Which is not real to others

Because it’s all real

To you

Gene G. McLaughlin 2012

Christmas 2012

To know the heart of the holiday

Is to know snow

And cold

As where it is dark

The worst is yet to come

Around fires

The bold sit

Drinking beer made in summer

The taste of wheat and citrus

Upon their tongues

Warming them

They gather

As they always have

Little was known of

The man behind the rock

In the cave

In the early times


No matter who the day

Was named for

People always gathered

When the shadows grew long

The cold is the thing

The dark is the thing

The reminder that summer

Is a blessing or aberration

And even winter

A warm exception to the rule

In late December

We acknowledge

How precarious

This all is

Gene G. McLaughlin 2012

Something Decides To Be

The garden was the garden

When all was stone and still

The dead spinning rock

Is sitting in the sky

And something decides to be

In the cold dead

Cosmos of black

Something chooses to move

The grey black silent stone

Slowly grows blue and alit with color

Trudging forward stone to water to bone

And then it is

And then it moves

And then it thinks

Ever in motion

Always afire

Can anything which has chosen to move so

Ever be still again

In the effort to pull back

There are rewards

The gift of the stillness

Was the definitive self knowledge

Not obscured by motion

And to constant hum of knowing

Gene G. McLaughlin 2012

Christmas 2005


Behind the house

Across the dirt road

It is a husk of its

Past self

Seeds scattered on

The ground before it

It is cold

It will grow colder

The sunflower will sway

In the wind

Be bitten by frost

Its death not the end

Of its decay

In the dust

Snow and frost

The seeds shall take shelter

For many

Things are born

On the cusp of deep winter

We know the seeds make a promise

Yet we cannot hear the promise

Drowned out by the winters howl

We wonder if winter and the sunflower

Have a covenant

Where its decay

Is only the beginning

Of the story

Gene G. McLaughlin 2005

Other Times

Sometimes I listen to the radio

As the day slowly drifts away

Sometimes I talk to the cats

As they stare at me with perplexed eyes

Sometimes I make love at noon

As the sun shines bright above

Other times

The moments

Just get away from me

Sometimes I drink coffee

As I sit on a shaded park bench

Sometimes I look at graffiti

As they wash it from the brick city walls

Sometimes I drive to the drug store

As the cars grind all about me

Other times

I just wonder

Where it all went

Life is not a narrative

Life is not a song

Life is the inanimate choosing motion

The formless fog grown quiet and long

Gene G. McLaughlin 2012

We Are Any Army

We are an army of some

We are an army of none

We are the troops of self doubt

We are those with and without

We are the agents of change

We are the with-standers of pain

We are the bringers of wealth

We are the seekers of health

We are the ninety and nine

Awaiting the moment and sign

We are an army of some

We are an army of none

Gene G. McLaughlin 2012

Short Zen Love Poem

Love I was gone before I met you

Checked out, shoulders slumped, resigned and blue

Now I am all in since I met you

Awake now, head raised, aligned, and true

Simple graces to you love

May the air be sweet and clean

May you life consist of

Things true to what your core means

Quiet and ignite

Dampen and alight

Fight and quell

In the middle

All is well

In the end I have nothing to give you

But everything you’ve always had



Gene G. McLaughlin 2012

I Got Nothing To Say

Sometimes the words come easy

The thoughts run free

But the rain is falling cold

The sky is mean and dark

There are sad times to the north

And I got nothing to say

Sometimes the glass is shattered

The precious is no more

But the air will grow dry with comfort

The sky will be clear and bright

The healing will be slow

And I’ll have something to say

Gene G. McLaughlin 2012