Poems from Unveilings*: Gary Beck

Gary Beck
My Troubled Land

America was only good
for some of the people,
some of the time,
but it was still better than
any other land.

Now, for the first time
in the history of the republic
an authoritarian President
who wasn’t reelected
claimed the election was stolen
and millions of his followers
supported his assertion
of fraud in the voting process,
although no documented proof
was ever presented.

Despite a last minute putsch
to prevent the new president
from being certified,
somehow democracy prevailed
a new occupant
moved into the White House
and began business of the state.

Yet the former president
still professes he was robbed
and many agree with him,
although the courts denied the claim
and they still show no evidence.
Some nations are ruled by ‘The Great Lie’,
which led to horrifying World Wars
that destroyed nations, cultures,
and now threatens our land.

Human nature brings to the surface
certain types of the ambitious
so urgent for money and power
there’s no traffic with decency.
Corruption becomes the tool box
to deal with business, government,
tempting, bribing, manipulating
those too weak to resist
the exertion of pressure
to collaborate with evil.
We have always been this way.
The strong lead. The weak follow.

When our leaders are good
many benefit and flourish.
Too often our leaders are bad
and jeopardize existence.

America, once beautiful
is at a turning point,
divided as only once before
when a great civil war
brought death to so many.
Yet out of the ashes of conflict
the nation reemerged,
became greater and greater,
until we ruled the world
with guns and dollars.

Then decay set in
and the lords of profit
neglect the needs of the people,
neglect the needs of the nation,
building corporate tyranny
that no longer pays taxes
to support the government.

We are on a steep precipice
with frightening imbalance
that we may not survive
when we’re so disunited
in a world of enemies,
ruthless competitors.
Our resources to meet challenges
foreign and domestic,
diminish drastically.
We may no longer have the means
to meet the next national crisis.

With all our failings
we were the best empire ever,
demonstrated by the help
we always gave to those in need,
always forgotten afterwards
by the bitterly resentful
who never realize
no one will ever
be more benevolent,
help more generously.


Winter winds scour the city
driving citizens indoors.
except the homeless
sentenced to the sidewalks,
cardboard signs pleading;
‘Help a veteran’.
‘Blest are the givers’.
Psalms of disintegration
proclaiming need,
diminishing help
threatening survival.

On the Warpath

We send our troops to Iraq,
Afghanistan, Syria,
complicated lands
not like the old days
to fight Jerries, Japs, commies.
Now it’s armies, militias,
clans, tribes, sects
united in resisting
our volunteer force
that no longer questions
why we’re there.

Some say they’re bringing freedom.
Few seem to know they’re fighting
for rampant capitalism,
the right for profit
at the expense of others.
Unlike wars past
when soldiers believed
they had a cause,
now they go where they’re told,
kill who they’re told,
are in constant peril
from an implacable foe
who ravages our boys and girls
unprepared for relentless assault
from men, women, children,
who dispense death
in unconventional ways.

Our battered children
return home devastated
from inexplicable conflict
not covered in training
for our cultural innocents
recently at high school proms,
while the children of hardship
were nurtured on AK-47s, I.E.D.s.
They never had little league, ballet class.
Our children return home
suffering from P.T.S.D.
and we do not comprehend
the horrors they saw,
since we still have security,
public safety from ambush,
and we are bloated with comforts
and no longer ask
why our troops are there.

We’ve Always Had Artists

The storyteller in the cave
recounted the glory of the hunt,
when little men with spears
brought down the mighty mammoth.

The strange wall painter
looked at differently,
until he filled the cave
with wondrous images.

Then they were few,
not as important
as hunters, gatherers,
the clan healers.

But they were seen, heard,
enriched lives,
easily understood
in simple times.

Unlike the present
life grown so complex
our species so numerous
we are beyond hunting/gathering.

And as life for many
becomes so detached
from day to day existence
artists are no longer tribal.

They who had identity
in the confines of the caves
have lost their magic,
exiled from our hearts.

*Unveilings is an unpublished poetry collection that requests a look at the human condition

Bio: Gary Beck has spent most of his adult life as a theater director and worked as an art dealer when he couldn't earn a living in the theater. He has also been a tennis pro, a ditch digger and a salvage diver. 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 and his published books include 32 poetry collections, 14 novels, 3 short story collections, 1 collection of essays and 5 books of plays. Published poetry books include:  Dawn in Cities, Assault on Nature, Songs of a Clerk, Civilized Ways, Displays, Perceptions, Fault Lines, Tremors, Perturbations, Rude Awakenings, The Remission of Order, Contusions, Desperate Seeker and Learning Curve (Winter Goose Publishing). Earth Links, Too Harsh For Pastels, Severance, Redemption Value, Fractional Disorder, Disruptions, Ignition Point, Resonance and Turbulence (Cyberwit Publishing. Forthcoming: Double Envelopment). Motifs (Adelaide Books). His novels include Extreme Change (Winter Goose Publishing). State of Rage, Wavelength, Protective Agency, Obsess and Flawed Connections (Cyberwit Publishing. Forthcoming: Still Obsessed). His short story collections include: A Glimpse of Youth (Sweatshoppe Publications). Now I Accuse and other stories (Winter Goose Publishing). Dogs Don’t Send Flowers and other stories (Wordcatcher Publishing). Collected Essays of Gary Beck (Cyberwit Publishing). The Big Match and other one act plays (Wordcatcher Publishing). Collected Plays of Gary Beck Volume 1 and Plays of Aristophanes translated, then directed by Gary Beck, Collected Plays of Gary Beck Volume II and Four Plays by Moliere translated then directed by Gary Beck (Cyberwit Publishing. Forthcoming: Collected Plays of Gary Beck Volume III). Gary lives in New York City.

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