Two Thousand Thirteen

Two thousand thirteen

Passed like a fever dream

This year containing

Love loss joy and rage

View time as a guideline

Not a cage

Gene G. Mclaughlin 2013

Christmas Games with Grandpa

One Christmas I tried to teach my grandfather Dungeons and Dragons, I think I was probably 11.

‘What type of deck you use for it?’ he asked.


‘Like 52 or 48 cards?’ he said.

‘Oh there are no cards,’ I said.  ‘Just dice.’

‘Wowser, I like dice,’ he said.  ‘I have had some great runs at craps over the years.  Show me how to play.’

I got out my manual and showed him the dice.

‘What kind of dice are those,’ he said.

‘They have 20 sides,’ I replied.

He laughed heartily.  ‘I never heard of such a thing as that!’

‘We have to buy supplies before we play the game and go on the adventure,’ I said.

‘Ohh what kind of supplies?’ he asked.

I listed some of the things from the manual that adventures could buy to supply themselves with like swords and shields and jerky.

‘Oh I don’t need most of that stuff and jerky, well I don’t have teeth so I can’t have that,’ he said.

‘There are more options,’ I replied and gave him more options. ‘You gotta pick something to bring with you on the adventure.’ I got to rice pudding.

‘Rice pudding!’ he said.  ‘That is a great idea!’

‘Mary Lou,’ he yelled at my mother.  ‘Gene says to bring out the rice pudding for the adventure.’

‘I don’t have any rice pudding,’ she said.

‘Gene says there is rice pudding,’ he said.

‘It is 1 gold to buy the rice pudding,’ I said.  ‘It is imaginary rice pudding.’

‘This is a terrible game. Why tell a man there is rice pudding when there is no rice pudding.  That is just cruel.  Is this the type of cruel games that people play now a days?  I don’t want to play this game at all.’

‘Why don’t you show him how to play poker dad,’ my mother said.

‘I don’t know about this rice pudding situation.  Are you sure there is not rice pudding?’ he said.

‘Sorry dad, there is none,’ she replied.

‘I am sorry grandpa.  I thought you knew it was imaginary.’

‘Well don’t do cruel things like that anymore Gene.  Telling a man there is rice pudding when there is none is awful.

‘Show him poker dad, take your mind off rice pudding,’ my mother said.

‘Well ok I guess,’ he replied.

He got out his cards and showed me the rules of poker.  We played a couple hands and at one point I peaked at his cards.

‘If there were a real game, you would get shot in the face, you don’t cheat at poker,’ he said.

‘I am sorry Grandpa,’ I said.

‘Oh dear dad,’ my mother said.

‘If you cheat at poker there is a good chance that you will get shot in the face, that is not imaginary like rice pudding,’ he said.

‘In truth he is right Gene, when cheating at poker there is a good chance you might get shot in the face,’ my mother said seriously.

‘I am done with games today,’ my grandfather said. ‘Mary Lou can you take me downtown so I can play my numbers.’

‘Ok,’ my mother replied.  ‘Give me a minute.’

‘Maybe find some rice pudding too.’

My mother sighed.

I don’t know if Grandpa ever found that rice pudding, but I have never cheated at poker.

As The Flames Dance Proud And Free

As The Flames Dance Proud and Free


Once there was a dark blue sky

That a fire burned beneath

The flames were born of

Magma bubbling underneath

The crust and stone of the rock

The cosmos did bequeath


The forming was slow and steady

Selections were rapidly made

Until once a man and woman

Sat one day alone in a glade

They made the choice to name themselves

To call their chosen pairing love

Upon a tree near to them

Perched a pure white dove

They called the dove a thing of peace

Then decorated the tree

With things strewn throughout the glade

As clouds approached from the sea

The cloud became snow in the sky

The tree covered in the coldest white

They light fires to warm them from the cold

Sitting up through the night

They were joined by others soon

To sit before the tree and flames

Soon the others before the fire

Choose to also take names


Still in the winter we sit before the fire

With our decorated tree

We ask for help to make it through the dark

As the flames dance proud and free

Gene G. McLaughlin 2013

Inspirational Internet Videos

Sometimes I hope for validation

A small token to keep me afloat

Sometimes validation doesn’t come

It then matters less than it did a moment before

Because it has to


There is an urgency to life

So little time in all

There are always the inspirational videos

That tell me to live fully all time

That fill me with guilt

For not being a star in the sky

Shining brightly

I’ll be grateful for the moments

I have strength to live life fully

Avoiding people and things

That tell me that the quiet slow moments

Have no worth

I need no one on a wall poster or internet video

To tell me life is short

I am cognizant and know this fact already


In kindergarten

They do not teach you

How to live in quiet desperate moments

That are plentiful

Where you are alone

Dealing with yourself

Your failures and inactions

You learn how to negotiate

All of it for a while


When you are not distracted

The reality of it all sinks in

Some good and bad

In one package

The fact that we are resilient

Is not clear to us

Until we are

So much of life is waiting rooms

Sitting in the car alone on the highway

The glare of cubicle lights for eight hours

Folding laundry and ironing

Filling the dishwasher

Raking leaves

That is alright

I give you my token of appreciation

For the mundane things


For the things they don’t make internet videos about

The quiet filler

Of which your life is built

Where you can find truth, balance, and health

As easy as anywhere else

I absolve you of the guilt

That your existence is not elevated all the time

By the spectacular

Carry on

Gene G. McLaughlin 2013

Find Empathy

Your prosperity

Should not come

At all other’s expense

If confronted with inequity

Find empathy

Before taking immediate offense

Gene G. McLaughlin 2013