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  • Gary Beck

Epidemic: Gary Beck

Gary Beck's 'Mortal Coil' is an unpublished poetry collection that grapples with the frailty of this conflicted life. We're bringing a few poems from this collection.

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 13 published chapbooks and 1 accepted for publication. 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, Perceptions, Fault Lines, Tremors, Perturbations and Rude Awakenings (Winter Goose Publishing) The Remission of Order will be published by Winter Goose Publishing. Conditioned Response (Nazar Look). Resonance (Dreaming Big Publications). Virtual Living (Thurston Howl Publications). Blossoms of Decay and Expectations (Wordcatcher Publishing). Blunt Force will be published by Wordcatcher Publishing. His novels include: Extreme Change (Cogwheel Press), Flawed Connections (Black Rose Writing), Call to Valor and Crumbling Ramparts (Gnome on Pigs Productions). As part of the continuing series, ‘Stand to Arms Marines’, Gnome on Pigs Productions will publish the third book in the series, Raise High the Walls. Sudden Conflicts (Lillicat Publishers). State of Rage will be published by Rainy Day Reads Publishing and Acts of Defiance by Wordcatcher Publishing. His short story collections include, A Glimpse of Youth (Sweatshoppe Publications) and. Now I Accuse and other stories (Winter Goose Publishing). Dogs Don’t Send Flowers and other stories will be published by Wordcatcher 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.



I listened to the radio,

the reading of the names

of those who died on 9/11,

when the Twin Towers fell.

The voices didn’t sound as bereaved

as they did twelve years ago,

when shock and horror

still possessed us.

Now time has passed.

The urgent cares of life

demand we move on

and if not as painful,

still heartfelt,

the sense of loss

still carries sorrow.

It’s difficult to imagine

in a few more years

that tragic event

will begin to fade

and someday be as remote

as ‘Remember Pearl Harbor’,

‘Remember the Maine’,

‘Remember the Alamo’.

Travel Plans III

It was so cold

on the boat last night

I had to put on a sweater.

The crew was still wearing shorts,

so I guess it’s me.

But I like it warm.

My trophy wife

prefers the city

and its culture.

The only culture

I care about

is agriculture,

because of my investments.

It’s just about time

to go south.

She can stay here

for all I care.

Wherever I go

on my mega-yacht

there are always willing women

eager to come aboard.


Symptoms of disease

course through

the body politic,

ambition and greed


bringing newcomers

to the public trough,

eager to dine,

most loath to serve.

None understanding

their first concern

should always be

well-being of the nation.


Dread disease

always plagued mankind,

terrifying us,

yet accepted as normal

human suffering.

Then existence changed

as modern medicine

cured illness,

prolonged life,

so when contagion strikes

we are unprepared,

morally outraged

for the suffering and loss

that doesn’t seem right

in the Information Age.

The Bored of Education

We go to school

mandated by the state

and what we learn

is actually determined

by the wealth of our parents.

The poor are packed

into large classrooms

burdened by disabilities,

learning, behavioral,

over-stressed teachers

with fraying dedication,

uninspired, uninspiring,

breeding little success

in non-receptive students

sufficiently traumatized

by the rigors of poverty,

harsh nurturing, poor diet,

overexposure to life on the streets,

Tv is an instructive academy

that competes with the internet

to shape the minds

of needy youth

before they enter school.

The offspring of privilege

have all the advantages

money can provide,

so despite parental neglect

are at least consoled

with material things,

that may not bring happiness,

but allow security.


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The image of Quasimodo is by French artist Louis Steinheil, which appeared in  the 1844 edition of Victor Hugo's "Notre-Dame de Paris" published by Perrotin of Paris.


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