Poems About Fighting the Good Fight
by Andrew Soboeiro
Residents of Southern Pines may recognize Carl McLaughlin as the man who wanders the streets, wielding a golf club.
Few would suspect that this same individual is a published poet.
In his new book, "America's Continuing Heartbeat: Hopes and Aspirations of Our New Tomorrows With Love of Life," McLaughlin brings to bear the full force of his experiences. He culminates all of his life's lessons, observations and emotions in a series of short poems.
McLaughlin is a deeply religious man; his spiritual convictions helped motivate him to become an author.
"I was going through some changes," he says. "God inspired me with some dreams, and I wrote some poems with those dreams. I published those poems, [the publisher] asked me for some more, and the good Lord provided."
McLaughlin sees his actions as an extension of God's divine plan: "It's not about what I did, it's about what God said I had to do at that point in time. God has his own time for everything."
Among the many forces that inspired McLaughlin to write his book was his own family history. His mother was a black woman born in the North Carolina countryside in 1928; it is a virtual certainty that she suffered from racial prejudice.
McLaughlin explained that this was the inspiration for his title, "America's Continuing Heartbeat."
For centuries, racial minorities were subjected to brutal, unwarranted hatred, yet they managed to survive, thrive, and eventually overcome their oppression.
"Their hearts kept beating," says McLaughlin thoughtfully. "It's not the number of times a man gets knocked down; it's the number of times he gets back up again."
McLaughlin enjoys a close friendship with his publisher, Gabriel Roy. Roy is a lifelong artist, having drawn sketches since he was 4 years old. His repertoire has expanded -considerably since then; he has moved into oil painting, watercolor, magic and literature.
"I became a publisher," he says, "because it takes too long to get a book published. I'm too old to wait for that."
The two collaborated heavily on "America's Continuing Heartbeat." Roy published the book and designed the cover; McLaughlin, of course, wrote the poetry.
"What I love about Carl," Roy says, "is that he always speaks poetically. Everything he says is always in rhyme."
McLaughlin has similar respect for Roy, devoting one of his poems to him. Gabriel Roy possesses "dignity beyond measure/ an unspoken treasure/ thus an unusual sage/ on an unseen page."
At the heart of McLaughlin's inspiration is a deep love for this community.
"To survive the decades in one place," he says, "and still be able to see people you used to know, and people who didn't make it... I've seen that different generations have different ways of looking at the future, and yet it's clear that everyone's the same age, we all want the same basic things."
Moore County is the perfect place for him to have these observations.
"I like this area because it's so serene, and you have a certain feeling of safety... everyone has the same basic moral highway."
Andrew Soboeiro is a rising freshman at UNC-Chapel Hill and was a summer intern at The Pilot.
PHOTO BY HANNAH SHARPE/The Pilot
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