Once I Wanted For Nothing

At birth I wanted for nothing

As a child I yearned for naught

Then I succumbed to comparison

For years and decades I was caught

In between accumulation

Of possessions

And the desire to be free

From the black flowers of depression

My hoarding

Gave bloom to in me

So I took a fearless assessment

Of what caused decay in my core

And gathered a hard cold resentment

Of what made me less, but want more

Now when faced with desires

Or guided toward sadness and wants

I look at what burns in my fires

Deciding what nourishes and what haunts

Gene G. McLaughlin 2015

Love Is What We Say It Is

Money is what we say it is

Paper or power or both

Life’s meaning is what we say it is

Winter’s stagnation or spring’s green growth

God is what we say it is

The center or nature or the all

The season is what we say it is

The heat of summer or cool colors of fall

Love is what we say it is

Passion or desire or hope that binds

Struggle is what we way it is

Something to overcome or accept in our minds

Rebirth is what we say it is

A continuation or the world born anew

The new year is what we say it is

May it ruminate quietly or speak in volumes through you

Gene G. McLaughlin 2013

He Had Never Seen the Storm

The Eyes of the Buddha

When emaciation had taken its toll

His eyes were sunken in, closed, and hollow

The life slipping from them slowly

Understanding was no closer

All that was left for him was the end

The final stages of the suffering that haunted him

The hunger that held tight to him in these final moments

The desire and want and need

All would be gone soon

Nothing was left to take

Nothing was left to give

The last step was the loss of what he saw before him

The blood slowly coursed through him

He opened his eyes

The tree and air and grass and sun all were in front of him

This was the moment

Maybe this had always been the moment

Maybe this would always be the moment

There was color in the world

There was a color in all things

There was the dark red of his blood

There was the brown bark of the tree

There was the green of the grass

There was the golden yellow of the sun

There was the white swirling wind of the storm of existence

Lingering and circling in the air around all of it

There were his eyes

Through which his slowly diminishing life force met the storm

He faced the end

He saw the storm was not actually white

The storm was all colors

The storm was everything at once

The storm was always there

He had never seen the storm

Gene G. McLaughlin 2013

I Threw All I Could Find In It

I had a hole I stood next to

I threw all I could find in it

I threw all the songs I could find in it

I threw all the words I could find in it

I threw all the images I could find in it

It was still empty still longing

Still a whisper I couldn’t hear

I threw all the whiskey I could find in it

I threw all the cocaine I could find in it

I threw all the food I could find in it

It was still thirsty still hungry

Just a whisper far away

I threw all the lust I could find in it

I threw all the fear I could find in it

I threw all the anxiety I could find in it

It found no peace still never resting

The whisper left me alone

I ran out of things to throw in it

I stood alone and broken

Next to the hole

Then the whisper said to me directly

It is standing right with you

The suffering and the desire

Grab it take it with you

Put it in the hole

In the hole you’ll know its name

I walked slowly forward

My nerves steeled

Knowing the whisper spoke truth

I wrapped my arms around it

I leapt with it into the whole

I saw it from within it

Then I knew I should embrace it

Then I got to giving up all of it

I knew the name of my desire

I knew the hole was me

Gene G. McLaughlin 2013

From Hunger, From Shame

From hunger
From shame
Buckling under
The blame
Of the things
That speak to you

In subterfuge
In rage
Trapped in
The cage
Of the things
That make up you

True to the facts
To which the body reacts
Are desires
Fully intact
Of the things
That make up the core of you

Free yourself
Of their burdens and expectations
Seek for yourself
Love’s feelings and sensations

Genes G. McLaughlin 2013

The Humming Center

Life is want and hunger

Seeking shelter from the rain

The rage to tear asunder

That which causes pain

In the humming center

Is the still humble fact

The life we enter

Is harder when we react

Our decisions

Unquiet the soul

Self derision

Takes it’s toll

You cannot win

That which is not contested

Freedom begins

When you are divested

The sound

Of the water

The taste of the wind

The embrace of your beloved

Tomorrow begins

Gene G. McLaughlin 2013

The Quiet Life

I am greedy for the quiet life

For the longing to forever end

Accumulation and achievement leading to

An empty series of dusty rooms

I have already visited

Finding them wanting

Let’s waltz my love

On the porch

While the sun goes down

As the azaleas bloom

And spring comes again

The most important things earned

Are learned by the failures of success

And the victory of the speckled dusty air

Dancing at twilight

Gene G. McLaughlin 2013


I need a hat

For the sun in my eyes

I need a woman

With shapely smooth thighs

I need a job

With a paying high wage

I need a day

Of a world without rage

I need a suit

Of fine Italian silk

I need to find

Some friends of my ilk

I need a sun

Of bright warm orange light

I need to find

The will to carry on and fight

I need a morning

With no direction

I need a taste

Of a fine chocolate confection

I need a tomorrow

Different than today

I need a map

With a clearly marked way

I need a song

Of sweetest melody

I need for you to long

For something in me

I need a salad

With clean fresh greens

I need the ways

To equal the means

I need a world

Without boundaries or borders

I want these things

In no particular orders

Gene G. McLaughlin 2004