Gary Beck


To the Lost Children

At night I hear the cries,

mostly ignored

by fellow citizens

of dwindling moral sway,

too preoccupied

with their fears

to stem the flow of tears

from tormented children,

screamed at, beaten by Mom,

tortured by the boyfriend,

murdered for gobbling candy,

for not using the toilet,

getting in someone’s way,

easier to remove

then to comfort, educate,

give a chance

to become a person,

survive a daily diet

of indigestible abuse

shocking the brain cells

until they no longer learn,

shattering the heart

until it no longer feels,

locked away in prison shell

a simulacra of youth

amputated from humanity.


The shattered discards,

punished for being born,

the wrong place, wrong time,

to the wrong people

unfit to raise children

whatever the reason,

corroding the minds and souls,

destroying the bodies,

creating twisted creatures

who cannot adapt

and succumb to rot of the street

in indifferent cities,

arbitrarily denied

the right to join the system,

with hopes, dreams, aspirations,

consigned to urban trash piles

for a tarnished existence.


Yet they watch the same tv

as the rest of us

and cannot comprehend

why they are deprived,

with no structure

to provide guidance

turn to crime, violence,

a desperate attempt

to get the goods they crave

dangled tantalizingly

out of honest reach.

But they never see beyond

the nearest store to rob,

the nearest victim to mug,

oblivious to the system

that manufactures monsters

from what should have been humans.


I do not sleep well at night

having seen the suffering

of so many children,

helpless to alter their fate,

knowing it is worse

in third world countries,

but the anguish never leaves me

that I cannot prevent

the horrors that go on

all over America.



Ode to the Passage of Time

When young,

preparations to go out,

grab a jacket,

no fuss, no complications,

no farewells,


When old,

preparations to go out,

laboriously dress,

lengthy bathroom visit,

double check

keys, phone, wallet,

climb into wheelchair,

slowly depart.



Health Problems

You have an ailment,

go to the doctor,

wait and wait.


Finally your turn.

The nurse leads you

to an examination room,

says she’ll be right back

to take blood pressure.

You wait and wait.


Finally she comes back,

draws blood,

technique acquired

from bayonet course,

says doctor will be a minute.

You wait and wait.


Doctor arrives with your chart,

barely looks at you,

does superficial check-up,

says he doesn’t know what’s wrong,

refers you to a specialist,

will write a painkiller prescription.

You wait and wait.


The nurse returns,

gives you the prescription,

after four hours

you’re free to leave.


You phone the specialist,

get an appointment

in three months,

so you’ll wait and wait

to resolve whatever ailment

makes you rear for your health.



Thinking of Farewells

I do not despair

at the approach of death,

having lived much longer

than expected.


I do not spend my time

musing about what comes next,

for the promises of man

are polluted by his deeds.


I can’t believe in heaven

when children suffer on earth

endless, heart-wrenching torments

from those who should protect them.


The self-righteous always claim

that we should accept on faith

what we do not understand,

yet there can’t be faith without justice.


In a cruel, unjust world

the promise of an afterlife

has always appealed to many,

desperate for something better.


I do not know if after death

there is punishment or reward.

I think there will be nothingness,

but I can’t imagine nothingness.


I have learned that my regrets

for the evil I have done

can’t erase the harm I have done.

There’s no atonement for my past.


I live each day with memories,

some good,  some painful,

and I can only try harder

to do better before I die.




I do not know

what comes after this life,

despite the efforts

of various religions

to describe the next station

on a haphazard journey

with few guidelines

that can be trusted,

judging by the behavior

of my fellow beings.

If it turns out

I have a choice,

my preference

is for rebirth

according to merit.

Of course, due to my sins

of commission and omission

I would return

at a lower level

than human,

assumed by fellow beings

to be the highest state

of existence,

but what I have seen

of the works of man

convinces me

there should be something better,

perhaps a simple creature

genetically determined

to subsist,


not destroy too much

of the beleaguered Earth,

then pass on,

barely noticed

in the choreography of things.


Gary Beck has spent most of his adult life as a theater director, andgary1 as an art dealer when he couldn’t make a living in theater. He has 11 published chapbooks. His poetry collections include: Days of Destruction (Skive Press), Expectations (Rogue Scholars Press). Dawn in Cities, Assault on Nature, Songs of a Clerk, Civilized Ways, Displays (Winter Goose Publishing). Perceptions, Fault Lines and Tremors will be published by Winter Goose Publishing. Conditioned Response (Nazar Look). Resonance will be published by Dreaming Big Press. His novels include: Extreme Change (Cogwheel Press) Acts of Defiance (Artema Press). Flawed Connections (Black Rose Writing). His short story collection, A Glimpse of Youth (Sweatshoppe Publications). His original plays and translations of Moliere, Aristophanes and Sophocles have been produced Off Broadway. His poetry, fiction and essays have appeared in hundreds of literary magazines. He currently lives in New York City.