Mortar and Marble

There are things you have to do

Shovels full of dirt at a time

Step by step

Word by word

You can do them with company

But you do them alone

They are not bloodless tasks

They are not painless

They don’t come naturally

They don’t come from divine inspiration

They are the thick it

The rest of the story

The time in between

When we are heroes

or villains

You have done these tasks

Some of you

Are doing them right now

And yet

I don’t know it

I never will

But I understand

Because all our lives

Are held together with


As well as


Gene G. McLaughlin 2013


We as machines process the data

As allowed by divergent models and makes

Filtering out that which does not matter

Configure, compile what info survival takes

Are we users of the technology

Or maybe just accessories

Connected to the world via USB

Or some other methodology?

Trying to redefine our natures

Making choices based on fact

Maybe simply as moving fixtures

Only functioning as they react

There is no mind to free

If there is not cord to cut

There is no truth to see

If the numbers define us

Gene G. McLaughlin 2006

Long In The Tooth

There is no approval left to seek

No desires left to sate

No stone left unturned

Or fiery fetish left unburned

You are alone

With yourself

To your bone

Your no-one else

The hungers dissipated

To find your place

In the mirror situated

Is your true face

Oh please mama

Should I mourn?

Oh please mama

Where is my scorn?

Son you are older

And still alive

Son you are older

And still you breathe

Don’t be guilty

There’s no turning back

Don’t be guilty

There’s no turning back

You are whole

As a man becomes

You are lucid

As the lucky become

You will lose things

You will still fear

You will miss things

Things you hold dear

It is the grey

In you beard

It is the wrinkle

Under the eye

Its neither blessing

Or curse

It is never better

Or never worse

Only years passing

Only years gone by

Times never lasting

Son don’t you cry

Mama I see your beauty

Mama I see your youth

As we both growing weary

And long in tooth

Gene G. McLaughlin 2006

It Doesn’t Matter As Much

It doesn’t matter as much

As my beard grows grey

If I fail, succeed

Or win the day

I’ve failed at things

Had a little success

Surrendered without trying

Or gave it my best

It’s still all so beautiful

It’s still all so sad

If I’m dutiful

If my efforts are bad

I’ll live in the middle

In the dawn or dusk

I’ll engage a little

If I must

I’ll be the bass line

Of the song

You’ll only hear me

If you listen long

Lennon said

Watch the wheels go round and round

Watch the colors

Hear the sound

Feel the beat

Of your space

Stepping back

Is no disgrace

Gene G. McLaughlin 2013

That Is The Wolves In The Hills

I don’t think I have seen you since I left

I don’t think I remember your name

I don’t think between us there is anything left

I rather not talk if it’s all just the same

My memories are cloudy, but certainly don’t fret

I definitely recall who is to blame

Reconciliation is out of the question

Those who are guilty must live with themselves

Recognition of the situation

Truth is only there for them that delves

Fact segregation and new truth creation

Our strongest ambition

And goal for ourselves

Oh do you hear the howling . . .

That is the wolves in the hills

Oh do you taste the bitters . . .

That is war’s bloody pill

Mother this is your sorrow to swallow

Mother he was his country’s to kill

Mother you know nothing

Of liberty and sacrifice

Let me tell you something

Of the price of your way of life

I will not acknowledge that which I have done

I will hide behind reasons of the winnings of war

I will support the soldier’s still among the living

I will not recognize those who are among us no more

I don’t think I have seen you since I left

I don’t think I remember your name

I don’t think between us there is anything left

I rather not talk if it’s all just the same

Oh do you hear the howling . . .

That is the wolves in the hills

Oh do you taste the bitters . . .

That is war’s bloody pill

Gene G. McLaughlin 2005

Every Wart, Every Scar

Grew up feeling

The need to be redeemed

Spent years trying

Or so it seemed

To make it something

Of worth I deemed

For others judging

To hold me esteemed

After years of failing

The attempts I tried

Took to fleeing

To the shadows on the side

One day

The haze just broke

The illusion

Went up in smoke

We are redeemed

From the start

We let constructs

Tear us apart

You were born

Healthy and whole

So you stay

From young to old

Do not exist

To only achieve

Always resist

If they deceive

With tales of why

This is not enough

Or that you need

Garages full of stuff

All that you need

You already are

Every wart

Every scar

Gene G. McLaughlin 2013

Engage and Exist

Some know what it is like

To let go and fade away

Sometimes for months

Sometimes for years

It is quiet in the dark

Beyond all expectations

Beyond any criticisms

Where hope is absent

And has been surrendered

On occasion

There is an emergence

An awakening

A shudder

A thought

Where did that time go?

Is it too late?

It doesn’t matter at that moment

Where you find yourself

The clock has started again

The sky is clear above

All you can do is move

With purpose without expectation

There was no shattering

No pieces to put together

It was just a slow fade


Engage and exist

It will sometimes be hard

It will sometimes not be worthwhile

It will hurt

It will be better

Than alone in the dark

The world was not made greater

By your absence

It might be

By your return

Gene G. McLaughlin 2013

The Vulture

The vulture picks away at the bones

In the heat of the sun

Carrion before him

A feast of rare

Portion and quality

Looking about at the plain

Feeling the wind

Gentle and warm from the sky

He thinks of the sky

The warm spots he finds

Floating for hours

Surveying all that is below

Beauty and bounty

Plunging his head into the

Wet decay of carcass he

Hears their sound in the distance

His brother and accomplices

Come to clean the landscape with him

Full, his time is done here and he arises

Taking flight and elevating toward a perch

And grasping a large branch

Sun baking the skin of his head

Drying the juice of the carcass

Surveying what is around him

Heat dust life sun water plants

And bones

He is the creator of bones

Dry white and dusty

Defiler defender devourer

And disinfectant

Watching a small rodent

Thinking of life and death

Not two sides of a coin

Not an equation

But separate

His domain the edge

Death not beauty

Death never beauty

But sustenance

The issue not desire

The issue not direction

The issue acceptance

That no desire

Changes the beauty of life

No direction away from the

Bones that all become

His brothers squawk below feasting

The breeze and sun whispers to them


I will not be bitter when it’s time to go

When my eyes close upon the sky

I will not mourn for what I did not know

When my last moments arrive

What I had

Was enough

Gene G. McLaughlin 2013


Lonely, but not sorrowful

Sitting in the cold wet grass

Resigned to season change

Summer burns away

Short, sometimes glorious

Sometimes fleeting

In times of leisure passing unaware

Disappearing without notice

Noting that fact

Arising walking toward the water

It is cold and salty

In the depths it is winter already

World of krakens and such

Beach holds no revelations

Only noise, absence of human sound

Birds shitting and squawking

Fish there, but unapparent to the eye

Avoiding the water, too brisk a day

For water logged shoes

Some moments cannot be stamped

By signatures of time or date

Only moments framed by themselves

Loneliness starts to needled at me

Urban instinct desires activity

Moment and sound of the hive

Walk up through the overgrown

Green brown-splotched grass

Toward the house

Strolling passed the peeling paint

Toward the narrow two lane road

Ten-minute walk to town

Where the date and time

Are always clearly stamped

Gene G. McLaughlin 2004

When I Met Her

When I met her

I was five foot ten

The next day I felt taller

Yet lighter on my feet

The tape measure said I was still the same

The scale showed no difference

I told my doctor of this

He looked through his horn rimmed glasses

And said

This is a condition that happens

It is unpredictable

It is called a woman son

Gene G. McLaughlin 2012