The Scale

Let us look at how we value violence

As a path to behavioral societal corrections

As part of necessary sacrifices

Let us assess our own silence

By measuring the connections

Between our comfort and its ever-raising prices

The costs stem from the choice

To view violence as a problem’s viable solution

Without acknowledging to the maimed and the buried

There is never restitution

We make the pivot to violence causally

We put it into games and entertainments

We view it as a path to power and strength

Instead of as one the souls most damaging contaminants

Sometimes judgement is the mirror

The sentence a song you hear in your head

Now the singer’s voice is growing clearer

Lilting the names of the dead

Maybe you know one among them

From Fallujah or Ferguson

From Aleppo to Attica

Maybe your fist is clenched

As you look upon the protests

Maybe your heart is wrenched

Seeing the agony and the tears of the oppressed

Maybe we start today

Acknowledging a scale that weighs our choices

And that the price we might pay

Is our loved one’s silenced voices?

Gene G. McLaughlin 2020

If There Is No Middle Ground

If there is no middle ground

Then the way is lost

It is hard to see when beaten down

Through the smoke

Know middle ground is there

In the haze

Right behind you

Just obscured

We can speak in absolutes

Hold volatile ideas near and dear

Speak of revolution

Ignoring the tears

We don’t know ourselves

Through the swirl

We cannot see ourselves

With it engulfing us

Sometimes it is better

To move slowly

Through the fog

Feeling that which is around us

Which we cannot see

Waiting until the fog dissipates

Instead of burning it off

Because that which we burn

We sometimes value most

Gene G. McLaughlin 2013


The towers fell

The gauntlet dropped

The desert hell

Full of cold steel props

It beings now

What is needed

This is how

Introspection is seeded

The broken souls

The bloody fist

The dark foxholes

The casualty list

What of the desert

Its blood soaked grains

What of the fires

Of our shames and pains

What do we recall

Of that day?

What did we desire

Or hide away?

Grief not faced

Is a wound left open

For what’s been razed

And for words unspoken

My heart is bled

Of its hatred

In my head

Glimpsing the sacred

The truth clear

The war never won

The ending near

The heat of the sun

In the towers

As they died

And looked out

Into the sky

They thought not of


Or noble deeds


Or government acts

They were scared

Yet not alone

They thought of you

Your face, your tears

Your love, your loss

Reach out now

It is not too late

To touch their hand

Before they go

The pulsing heart

The slowing beat

We must part

The end is complete

Gene G. McLaughlin 2006

The Black Heart Does Not Need Expedient Means

If you seek violence

The gun will seek you

If you seek strife

The knife will seek you

Things sought after

Are found

When I am wrong

I am wrong in spades

Mistrust and malevolence


Like bullets

But my wrongness

Is slow and worded

Defeated by reason

And forceful thought

And I recover

With an absence of blood

The black heart

Does not need expedient means

It needs time and reason

Gene G. McLaughlin 2013