Gary Beck

To A G.I. Who Never Read Pushkin

On a harsh cliff in Afghanistan,
wounded, a bullet in my chest
I lay, the hot blood seeped out of me
drop by drop and ebbed away.
My fading thoughts turned to home.
I remembered mom and dad
who fondly waved goodbye
as I left for a foreign land
and promised to return.
Sally, my wife, stood with them
and I didn't know what to say
to her unforgiving eyes.
So I did my duty and killed
and now I have been killed.
Mom and dad will miss me.
I wish I could say goodbye.
I know Sally will not cry.
In My Lifetime II

Once our nuclear problems
were confined to atomic tests.
Then an enterprise of fear
gave us nuclear families,
nuclear sunsets,
nuclear waste,
until we were too frightened
of detonation,
existence ending event
to control our prejudice.
So the oil industry flourished,
while the earth, air, oceans,
submitted to pollution
and  profit denied the quest
for clean energy.

The rise of cities
 altered the balance
in age-old conflict,
nomads versus farmers.
And citizens built walls
thwarting the horsemen
who traditionally crushed
feeble local resistance
under trampling hooves.
Then time-honored raids
for food, women, slaves, loot,
no longer succeeded,
now requiring siegecraft.
The new type of conflict
became a test of will;
who could endure longer,
the restless invaders,
or the confined dwellers.
Both were dependent
on the water supply.
Both feared the arrival
of fatal pestilence.
If the horses weakened
the attackers must leave.
If the defenders starved
they must surrender.
The tide went back and forth
as new tactics evolved
and the struggle went on,
and on, growing bigger,
more destructive,
as massive weapons
were developed and used,
obliterating cities,
creating a precedent
to extinguish everything.

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 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). Fault Lines, Perceptions, Tremors and Perturbations will be published by Winter Goose Publishing. Conditioned Response (Nazar Look). Resonance (Dreaming Big Publications). His novels include: Extreme Change (Cogwheel Press) Acts of Defiance (Artema Press). Flawed Connections (Black Rose Writing). Call to Valor will be published by Gnome on Pigs Productions. His short story collection, A Glimpse of Youth (Sweatshoppe Publications). Now I Accuse and other stories will be published by Winter Goose Publishing. 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.