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

From The Great War and Modern Memory – Paul Fussell

Today the Somme is a peaceful but sullen place, unforgetting and unforgiving. … To wander now over the fields destined to extrude their rusty metal fragments for centuries is to appreciate in the most intimate way the permanent reverberations of July, 1916. When the air is damp you can smell rusted iron everywhere, even though you see only wheat and barley.

Exegesis

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

Justice

Or noble deeds

Democracy

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

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

White Flag – Jasper Johns

you are tired

the blood has run through you

the blood has run out of you

the blood has dried on you

red is no longer your visage instead

it is the white of fade and loss

not promise which you once represented

not hope which you once inspired

not purity of symbolic idea

but violence and dreams of power

you have changed of your own volition

transformed via your own power

your color patterns your own now

in protest and in desire to end it

having seen far too much, far too many shores

born of an idea

witness to what was forged

only you can measure the full cost of the years

so you act in what way you can

rebellion resurrection recreation renewal

Gene McLaughlin 2004

Marching Orders

American dogs

French frogs

The world is going to war

Angry continentals

Middle East fundamentals

The war is going to war

In the Arab lands

Among the sands

We all are going to war

Let it ignite

And burn all night

The world is going to war

Can you slow it down

When the oil’s underground

The world is going to war

The people forgot

The lessons taught

In 1944

No time to stop and think

When you’re at the brink

The world is going to war

I only take the side

Of those that have died

In the never ending glory of war

Gene G. McLaughlin 2012