Thursday, December 17, 2015

A Collection of Poetry by Gary Beck

For Immediate Release
With religion, terror, and politics as closely related as ever, is it possible to live in our world without fear? With the obvious threat of extremists willing to kill for their god, we also endure domestic terrorism driven by similar motives, and the politicians who seek to use it all to their advantage for power. Poet Gary Beck explores many of the practical, emotional, and irrational responses to acts of terror with Displays, a collection of poetry that honestly examines the state of human reaction.

“We are impressed with your vibrant writing, emotionally impacted by your vivid imagery and awed by your superior craft.” – EM Literary Magazine

“The works you produce are unique and superbly written.” – Blackmail Press

“We really enjoy your use of imagery, descriptive language and insight.” – Avocet Magazine
Displays is a 140 page poetry volume. Available in paperback with a retail price of $11.99, and eBook with a retail price of $5.99. ISBN: 1941058361 Published through Winter Goose Publishing and available now through all major retailers. For more information or to request a review copy, contact Winter Goose Publishing at info@wintergoosepublishing.

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). Perceptions, Fault Lines and Tremors will be published by Winter Goose Publishing. Conditioned Response (Nazar Look). Blossoms of Decay will be published by 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.

Winter Goose Publishing is an independent publisher founded in 2011. We are a royalty-paying publisher dedicated to putting out the best literature in prose, poetry and art; covering a variety of genres. Go to for more information.
A Milkshake Brings Advice

I bring a milkshake every other week
to an old man in a nursing home,
a refugee from Germany who paid me  
50 cents to cut his grass when I was 
a kid in Chicago after WWII.

I couldn’t understand him then
and I can’t understand him now 
but 50 cents was big money 
in 1950, 10 candy bars,
10 popsicles or maybe 5 Cokes.
Or I could mix and match and trade 
Pete the Collector for a baseball card.

Now my old neighbor sits in bed
and swigs his milkshake as I tell him  
that I drove by his house the other day 
and the new owners have planted 
roses and lilies everywhere.
Every color imaginable.
A botanical garden in bloom.
He blinks at me, smiles
and takes a final swig. 

Because of the language problem
we never talk about anything
except the house he will never 
see again and then marvel that 
he will turn 100 soon, quite a feat.
He smiles at that as well.

But he doesn’t smile when I get up 
to leave and offers me advice 
in the thunder of his accent:
“Someone had better stop ISIS now.
When I was a kid in Berlin, no one
stopped Hitler the bastard then."

Donal Mahoney

Can You Hear Me in the Bunker, Leroy?

Can you hear me in the bunker, Leroy?
Sorry to hear ISIS has you in a funk.
But I’m delighted to know you’re not afraid

camouflaged in your bunker with an AK-47.
Now you’re telling me ISIS is the python 
wrapped around the equator 

squeezing our planet to death, 
that ISIS will end global warming
and take out Putin too, that both are

greater threats than the global warming
you’ve preached against since the Ice Age.
We wonder how you’ll vote on Election Day. 

Donal Mahoney

Body Bag

I'm on my way to Larry’s Place, 
a food pantry in the city. 
I park a block away because 

parking in front of Larry’s
isn’t wise even if one drives 
a clunker. My old Buick 

almost qualifies as that.
It’s getting up in years
but still able to get around. 

I’m wobbling in the middle of
two shopping bags of food 
my wife found in our pantry.

Someone at Larry’s Place can 
take it home and have a meal. 
If they have a home. Not all do. 

Certainly not the fellow sleeping 
on the bench outside Larry’s 
in a black body bag, the zipper 

slightly ajar so he can breathe.
Lots of people go in and out
but no one bothers him. 

I go in, drop off my bags and 
exchange pleasantries with Larry. 
He says business is too good. 

He says the guy in the body bag
is a new arrival from out of town,
suggests I have a chat with him.

His story is remarkable, Larry says.
On the way out I see the fellow 
in the body bag is sitting up.

I give him five bucks 
and he asks if I want to hear 
the story about his body bag. 

I say I’d like to but I’m rushed,
that I’ll be back tomorrow with
my notebook and camera and

I’ll pay him. After all, everyone 
has to make a living. Or find 
their food at Larry’s Place.

Donal Mahoney

Billionaire and Beggar

A billionaire and beggar
die on the same day,
miles apart. They
never knew each other
but that’s no matter.

The billionaire is buried
with pomp reflecting
wealth and stature.

The beggar’s lowered 
in a potter’s field.
Two workers shovel. 
One says a prayer. 

Years later 
a major quake tosses 
thousands of caskets. 

Popped lids confirm
a truth the billionaire
and beggar share.

Dust and bones 
in both their caskets.
Equality lies here.

Donal Mahoney

Merry-Go-Rounds on Main Street

There are Merry-Go-Rounds 
on Main Street all over America. 
They hide in storefronts offering 
payday loans to people who can’t 
borrow money anywhere else.
Their commercials air on TV.

A payday loan in my hometown has   
a widowed neighbor as a customer.
Retired and poor, she takes out a loan 
she can’t afford almost every week.
The interest mounts and she has 
to pay it before they’ll give her 

another loan to pay more bills. 
That’s how the Merry-Go-Rounds work. 
She has no other place to go for help 
except for her children who are unaware 
their mother goes to the Merry-Go-Round
because they buy things they can’t afford. 

The widow says she has to buy 
food and clothes for her grandchildren.
She’s been our neighbor for years but 
I had no idea until she told my wife
while crying over coffee. My wife 
told me we have to help this lady.

I told my wife if we help the widow 
we might end up at the Merry-Go-Round
ourselves. The Merry-Go-Round, I said, 
will help us the way they helped the widow.
"Not good,” she yelled and now she writes
to Congress about Merry-Go-Rounds instead.

Donal Mahoney

Donal Mahoney

He sold subscriptions
To popular magazines
That ended up lining
The boxes of cats

And home improvements
To windows and gutters
For houses that were destined
To be foreclosed

And symphony tickets
In rural communities
Where country and western
Drew the biggest crowds

And donations for charities
To feed the homeless
The ones he saw begging
More and more each day

Richard Schnap

Friday, December 11, 2015


I snapped machines at fairly
sensitive ends.
 You’ll examine the hanging 
entrails like robovores.
A twisted circuit of all axioms
 masticated on by brittle, decaying
teeth, enjoining the power of amelioration
and deterioration; just matters if one uses
 petals, gears, or both, for eyes.

The Great Queen

The Queen sat silently
by her stupid glass-war game
which garnished her needs
for a reckless, homegrown fame.

The pieces fall over and over
in her nimble hands,
shattering the rules of the game,
cleaning up her enemies 

with a single swipe. Deep 
is the devotion she keeps.
And as her fragile body goes to sleep
not an enemy can rebuild itself,

to promise a stance against 
the dreaded Queen and her 
little, powerful hands
that once bothered, begins to stir.

Suspended Animation

It’s hard to take the essence of the sun
and crush it down like garlic in your kitchen,
but it’s done.

A stinging breath is in the thickening air.
The earthly cave-of-a-house is full of shadows
whispering, “We’re next.”

For all of the light that I’ve forgotten over the years
I say, take me quietly, I’m not hiding,
then go forth. 

Trample down the Earth’s corners and rounded waters.
There’s something ethereal about its efforts to 
euthanize the silence. 

The Dead Lilies’ Conversations 

In a faded, stained picture
were two men: one with a smile,
the other – faceless.

In that face is a pit of emptiness
that couldn’t even fit into
the universe.

For you go searching for the black
and for the white, and you find
all the colors in between.

Search his face for millennia
and naught will be found, except
his unsearchable smile.

The Event

Taken by the new age smell,
intoxicatingly white in her face-
a panicking photon, stripped of its way,
traveled through its bones- confetti thin -
branching out like a rounded lion’s roar
amongst a field of tall, yellow grass.

You’ve Always Loved the Cold

To think I was good at squandering
your dreams,

you told me you dreamt last night of us
in a star-lit field

basking in the paint-freckled sky, holding hands,
touching foreheads

like two battlefields trying to fight for peace,
but there will never be any.

You told the sky to hold off on love until you
were absolutely sure,

but you told me that you jump into pools head first
and enjoy the sensation of being

in that moment, feeling the skin rise as hills,
steam seeping through your pores,

and love biting your skin.

Aaron Wiley

Thursday, December 10, 2015

By Mistake He Later Said

Every once in awhile
over the last 40 years
Ralph wondered what might

have happened to the guy
who had moved in with the mother 
of his children and drank all the time.

He remembered the kids saying
when they were small 
the fellow got up one night  

to go to the bathroom
and got lost in the hallway 
went back to the wrong room

and got in the wrong bed 
with Ralph's daughter,
by mistake he later said.

Forty years later 
in a technicolor nightmare
Ralph saw the guy’s name 

blink on a neon billboard
and Ralph Googled him to find
the fellow had won the lottery

and moved to Arizona,
got cancer and died.
None of the children, 

adults with families
of their own now, knew 
what had happened to him

except for the daughter who 
wakes up and Googles him
in the still of the night.

Donal Mahoney

All the Nudes Not Fit to Print

No more nudes in Playboy
according to the anchor 
on the Nightly News.

Playboy has declared
nudes passé because 
they’re found so easily

gamboling on the Internet 
doing everything imaginable.
Some men date instead.

Donal Mahoney

Life in a Barrel

When we were kids
growing up in the city
we had prairies 
and a little hill
and we’d put Stevie
in a barrel and push him
down the hill. 

He’d laugh and scream
all the way down.
He loved the whole trip
and wanted to do it again.
As little boys we were 
happy to oblige him.

Everyone grew up 
and went off to college,
moved to the suburbs,
found wives and had kids
but not Stevie who stutters 
except when he sings.

Every midnight now 
he gets on the subway 
with his empty thermos
and barrels back home.
On Sundays they say
he sounds like Pavarotti
in the church choir.

Donal Mahoney

Flotsam and Jetsam

They're usually poor people,
sometimes considered
the flotsam of society,
always in the way
at the grocery store,
at the post office.
They can’t find their money,
if they have any.
They’re never in a hurry.
They have nowhere to go

and you’re always in line 
behind them, a busy man 
with people to see,
appointments to keep,
deadlines to meet.
You try to be patient.
You know flotsam loiters
until life takes it away.

Later in retirement 
you stand on a street corner
leaning on your cane 
waiting for the light to change 
but for you it never does.
You now have something 
in common with flotsam. 

In a year, maybe less,
you will be jetsam as
birds soar over your plot
four seasons of the year.
You won’t be aware
that on street corners
all over the world 
the lights won’t change for
other folks still in a hurry, 
those who don’t realize yet 
flotsam and jetsam 
at some point in time
have something in common.
They have nowhere to go.

Donal Mahoney

An Urban Tale: First Job Interview

Let’s check the terminal and see 
what jobs might be available 
to match your skill set,
the interviewer said. 
The young man
sitting next to the desk
was wearing a plaid shirt 
and his first tie. 

I know you'll take any job 
but let’s see what we can find.
A young man like you, Deon,
just starting out, has his 
entire life ahead of him.

Here’s the personal stuff
you gave me so let’s go over it
and you tell me if I have 
everything right.

Your father left your mother
when you were two and then 
your mother died when 
you were four and your granny 
took you and your brothers in.
But she died in an auto accident 
when you were ten.

An uncle took you after that
and he had trouble finding work.
Food was scarce and you
kept moving place to place.
He tried hard, you said.

An aunt in another city
took your little sister and 
she sounds fine on the phone
when you get a chance to talk.
Your brothers went to foster homes
and you see them now and then.
Things aren't going too well for them.

You graduated from grammar school,
then dropped out of high school 
and went back to get your GED. 
You’re 18 now and have never
worked anywhere before.
You have no car, no driver’s license,
and no record with the police. 

You live deep in the city but 
are willing to work in the suburbs.
Transportation’s not a problem
because your church has 
bus passes for anyone who 
needs them to get to work.
Let’s hope that’s you, Deon.

Bus passes are important because
most jobs you qualify for are 
out in the suburbs, a long trip, 
but our city buses do go there.
From your address I’d say
it will take an hour or more
each way, maybe a little longer
in winter weather with 
the snow plows and all.

Now here's a restaurant chain
with seven outlets in the suburbs
looking for young workers
with a GED and no experience
to wash dishes and bus tables. 

It’s minimum wage but no benefits 
and you'd start on the third shift, 
apply for the second shift when 
an opening occurs, and then apply 
for the first shift after you’ve 
been there at least a year.

Then you'd wait for an opening
on the salad bar and after a year
with the veggies you’d want to 
look for an opening on the grill 
but that’s third shift again.

I’d be happy to set up an interview
but that’s all I have at the moment.
You want me to call now, Deon?
Or do you want to sleep on it.
This is America. It’s your choice.

Donal Mahoney
Angel Call

Lost in the woods walking at night
Hoping to find a guiding light
Take a wrong step and you can fall
In the sky, hear an angel call

Life is a storm blowing like sand
Signs can be hard to understand
The answers no one has them all
In the sky, hear an angel call

Pathways can be lonely and dark
The fire can lose magic and spark  
Hear a voice say time to stand tall
In the sky, hear an angel call

Close Open Eyes

Looking for a wish just to sleep
Instead of restless find the deep
After telling the night good-byes
Wish I could close my open eyes

To get lost and find the lost dreams
Before awaking, break the seams
In darkened colors changing dyes
Wish I could close my open eyes

Ceiling is a friend lying awake
Was too much caffeine the mistake?
Float away with a bourbon rye
Wish I could close my open eyes


If I wrote a poem about her
I would sign my name
The words might make me embarrassed
Though never ashamed

Of watching a beautiful angel
Touching window frames
Or looking beneath the surface
Washing in her flames

My calm soul you turned into a
Endless hurricane
Since I looked into your blue eyes
Nothing is the same

Your depth, your beauty, all of you
Wraps my heart in chains
There is nothing about you that
Makes me feel ashamed

A.I.M. High

Art is a journey
Song the ritual
Dance is ceremony
Poems my soul
"Inca" plete without them
Enjoy the medley
Euthusi "Aztec" ly

Tag (Poe It)

He asked me
"Are you a poet?”
I avoided answering
And asked the question
"Are you a cook?"
Though you cook your own meals
"Are you a maid””
He answered "No"
Though he cleaned his own house
I asked, "Are you a dishwasher”"
He said "No"
Now I understood
Where that terrible smell
Was coming from
I stood up and said" Good–bye"
"And yes, I am a poet"
As I left
I hurried
I only had twenty minutes
To get to my factory job

A Place To Hide

Let my eyes close
Let me sleep
Somewhere to hide out
Out of your reach
Let me have a break
From thoughts of you
Before I start
To break in two
Let me dream for a long time
Don’t want to wake up
To wishing, you were mine
Turn the switch off
On my heart
Your rays are breaking
Me all apart
I toss and turn
Wake to the night
Hurry back to sleep
Before I see your light

Denny E. Marshall

Monday, December 7, 2015

Maybe I Had It Better in 1955

In 1955 there were four newspapers published every day in ChicagoI was one of hundreds of kids in the city who rode bikes seven days a week to deliver one of them. I had 100 papers or so in a canvas bag mounted on my handlebars. Had to deliver Saturdays and Sundays, too. 

I don’t know why I did it. My parents didn’t make me. It must have been for spending money. But the jobs were there in 1955 for any kid who wanted them. Those jobs aren’t there today.

I can’t remember what I earned but it was good money for a boy in his teens. When I collected from customers once a week, the tips were good unless someone had lost a job, had sickness in the family or was just a grump. 

After awhile you knew the homes at which you might get an extra dime. That was a big tip. The paper, Sunday edition included, cost 50 cents a week, a little more than $2 a month. 

A dime in 1955 would get you a candy bar and a bottle of pop, or soda as it’s called in some places.

I picked my papers up at an old garage called “the branch” run by a man who must have once been a marine. His name was Spencer. That may have been his first name or his last. I don’t know if he had any teeth because I never saw him smile. 

Organizing 30 boys to deliver hundreds of newspapers seven days a week was not a cushy way to make a living. And if one of his boys missed a delivery, Spencer is the one the customer called. 

And Spencer was the one who summoned you to his desk for a proper chastisement, nice and loud for the other boys to hear, so no more calls like that from your route would come in. 

The job itself would take about two hours to handle from start to finish. Spencer gave you your stacks of papers and you sat on a bench with the other guys and rolled them into makeshift tubes, put them in the canvas bag on your handle bars and then road off to deliver them. 

Every paperboy was taught to lob the paper from his bike so it landed on the door mat of the bungalow porch. Some guys had pinpoint accuracy. Usually they were the ones who had been doing it for a few years. 

One of those guys trained me. I can still see him hit those mats, three out of every four, if memory serves. I never got to be as good as he was but I was better than some.

Most of the houses were small brick bungalows with a few big frame houses on the corners. Sometimes you hit the mat and sometimes not but if the paper fell off the porch, you got off your bike, put the kickstand down and put the paper on the mat. 

I can still hear that kickstand going down, the sound of error ringing in my ears.

I thought about that this morning 60 years later when I walked out in the pouring rain to try to find my paper in the dark somewhere on the soaking lawn. It’s always wrapped in plastic that sometimes keeps it dry. It's tossed there every day by a man or woman I’ve never met who whizzes by in a small van hours earlier and tosses it somewhere on the lawn. He or she just has to hit the lawn, no worries about hitting a mat or even getting it on the porch

Sometimes the paper lands in a bush. Once it landed in a tree. I saw it out the window that day when the sun came up. 

Whoever delivers the paper doesn’t have to collect from customers. We’re billed monthly on credit cards. Recently the charge went up to $24 a month. Quite a bit more than the $2 a month customers paid in 1955.

I live in a different city now. There’s only one newspaper and it’s on life support. But as someone who once read four newspapers a day in Chicago, I can’t stop reading it. A harmless addiction.

Sometimes I wish they would bring out an edition with only the sports scores, the obituaries and the letters to the editor. But the big thing is that in 2015, unlike in 1955, there are no paper boys on bikes seven days a week earning a little money and more than a little responsibility. 

Maybe, in that respect at least, I had it better in 1955. 

Donal Mahoney
Holiday Party in San Bernardino

14 dead.
21 wounded.
Holiday party in San Bernardino.

Syed Farook and his wife 
in black tactical gear spray
75 bullets all over the hall.

Our president wants to know more.
He wants the FBI to tell him
the couple's motive.

Perhaps this explains why 
the Trumpeter Swan enjoys
20-point lead in the polls.

Donal Mahoney

Diplomatic Intrigue

We send diplomats
to talk with diplomats
of other nations
and hope a deal
is struck to bring
peace and justice
to all involved and

we’re stymied when
diplomats come back 
and bury us beneath
balderdash and buncombe.
It’s time we face the facts.
It’s time to send 
the exorcists instead.

Donal Mahoney

Just for a Day

If you want to know
what it’s like to have nothing
just for a day

head for Skid Row.
Trade your suit and 20 bucks
for the attire of a resident

standing against a wall.
Buy a tin cup and yellow pencils
and go to Union Station in time

for the evening rush hour
when suburbanites with jobs
on Michigan Avenue go home

for dinner and a little HBO.
Flop down near the entrance 
in your tatters with pencils and cup.

Wear Charles Bronson sunglasses
and hold high a sign that says,
“Will Work for Food.”

Count the briefcases that sail by 
and see how many pencils you sell,
how many people even look at you 

before the gendarmes arrive
and poke you with a baton
then walk you away.

Donal Mahoney

Friday, December 4, 2015

STATIONS            [Stefanie Bennett]
You say I’ve burgled the heart –,
Telescoped the vision –,
Conducted –, made
Magic of lineage...
This is an admission I’ll not
Shy from.
There once was a carpenter
Who stood accused –:
Who knew what these nails
Were for –.
SCAFFOLD: Syria 2015   [Stefanie Bennett]  
The gulls
The Stadium –.
The Stadium
Its people –.
The people
The gulls & themselves:
The Stadium’s empty
Wheezes fond

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

9:36 in the morning.

she paints her fingernails red
as I roll over
to catch another dream
hoping she'll still be here
when I wake.
hoping she'll still love me
this morning
and let me watch her
in the shower
as she washes off the stink.

she smokes cigarette
after cigarette
and writes in her diary
of the days and nights
we spend in this dingy
motel room
making love
with the sun and the moon.

she dies quietly
while she sleeps
and I lay close
as her body
turns from warm to cold
thinking of the memories
we made
and the times that have gone
knowing that they will never be

closing time.

the air is thick
with smoke
and B.O.
the jukebox
plays Sublime
as the pool balls
split to every
of the table.
I sit alone
at the bar
and a bottle
of beer
to the right
of me-
murder on my mind.

guess what?

it is quiet.
early morning-
7 a.m.
you drive
down to the store
as a serene
piece of music
plays on the radio.
could be better.
absolutely nothing.
darling today
is going to be
a wonderful day.

Keith Wesley Combs

Helpless I do not know if good intentions prevail among the elected, among the appointed, leaving me apprehensive that the fate ...