The Works Of Gary Beck

Gary Beck has spent most of his adult life as a theater director, and as an art dealer when he couldn’t make a living in theater. He has over 11 published or soon-to-be 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 and the forthcoming Perceptions and Displays (Winter Goose Publishing). His novels include Extreme Change (Cogwheel Press) and Acts of Defiance (Artema Press). 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.


All Poems © Gary Beck

Dear America


We came to you,

some legally,

ship, plane,

believing what you told us,


Some of us

entered illegally,

walked the shallow river

evaded the border patrol

crossed the desert

like pioneers of old,


what you promised.

Then reality set in,

low paying jobs

when we could find work.

Always living in fear

that immigration

will arrest us,

deport us

and our families wouldn’t know

what happened to us.

 And the guarantees,


to your people

have been consumed

by the greedy

who refuse to share

the nation’s abundance.


Don't Look Back

When I was young
boys still enjoyed
building snow forts,
snowball fights,
ice skating.
Greenhouse effect
and climate change
altered winter.
At the same time
boys left the farms,
flocked to cities
and moved indoors,
plastic toys
the substitute
for outdoor play.
Video games
enslaved them,
planting youth
in front of screens
that shield them
from the future.

Listen to the Sound of….

When I was born

the guns were firing

in Europe, Asia,

many other regions,

in conflicted lands

married to bloodshed.


Then a great war

engulfed the world

and human decline

could be measured

by the sound of battle.

Explosions grew louder

and an atomic bomb

dwarfed the detonations

of colossal battles

in previous wars,

now suddenly futile.


The nature of war changed

and nations no longer risked

possible destruction

from well-armed enemies.

Police action, guerilla war,

revolution, peacekeeping,

limited ways of fighting,

carefully avoiding

final confrontation

inevitably bringing

total devastation,

yet still allowing countries,

blocs, alliances,

to indulge in combat

without losing control

of the avenues of peace.


But overshadowing all,

the ever-present threat

of nuclear holocaust,

as East and West rivals

confronted each other,

fingers on the triggers

of rifles, cannons, rockets 


with enough megatons

to eradicate life

on the entire planet,

while government policy

urged building shelters

to insure survival

and instructed children

to cower under school desks.


The twisted minds of men

invented dreadful weapons

without mechanisms

to control their use,

or restrict their spread,

while less temperate men

aspired to membership

in the nuclear club

as a means of deterrence,

a tool of aggression,

a last resort to survive

implacable enemies,

religious fanatics

dedicated to destroying

an entire people.


Yet during constant warfare,

colonial revolts,

ethnic cleansing,

seething hatreds,

total catastrophe

has so far been averted,

despite growing membership

in the nuclear club,

a dangerous menace

to peace and stability

miraculously preserved

by responsibility,

a fragile quality

that may not endure



Now that I am old,

greed, the lust for power,

other human frailties,


continue to motivate

the destiny of mankind

resulting in death,

loss of property,

brutal slavery,

as some insist on seeking

the overthrow of restraint

on ruthless ambitions

by any means possible,

regardless of consequences,

to the future of our species.


In my painful lifetime

the guns have never been silent.

Ravenous Cities


We have migrated

     from the land

to urban concentration.

     easily contained.

     easily controlled.

And as horizons vanish,

eclipsed by city towers

expectations plummet,

     clinical despair

infects the people

victims of construction,

ravaged by glass and steel,

devoured by concrete.