Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Danger Zone

City people

grow lax and casual

provided with amenities

to get from place to place

and frequently don’t notice

hazards of the streets,

cracks, potholes, construction,

red light jumpers,

many tuned out

listening to IPODS,

many texting,

all at imminent risk

from unexpected dangers.


In 1980

Bryant Park was a cesspool

of illegal drugs,

junkies, dealers, muggers,

prostitutes, criminals,

concealed from the public

behind tall bushes

surrounding the park.

Only the unwary entered.

But if you time traveled

to 2018

you’d find a neat pocket jewel

that pleases all users

and you’d never know

the woes besetting the people,

the erosion of democracy,

the declining middle class,

the disappearance of jobs,

a growing poverty population,

on a warm, spring day

in Bryant Park.


The temperature is almost 100F.

Some people are sniveling,

complain bitterly about the heat.

But it’s not the Sahara

and for one day, city folk

could stop griping.

Oases are everywhere.

Water is plentiful

and the odds are probable

that few will die

from one hot day.


All the protests we believe in

meant to improve the system

rarely change things for the better,

just allow us a means of complaint

as we passionately object

to a succession of abuses

by the lords of profit,

who do  not care

about the rest of us.


The last week of summer,

hot, hazy, still full of life.

The birds are singing.

They may or may not know

winter is coming

and many will not see spring.

Soon the land will go to sleep

with no guarantee

it will wake up again,

just the thoughtless assumption

that life continues

despite the ravages of man.

Gary Beck

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 31 poetry collections, 14 novels, 3 short story collections, 1 collection of essays and 4 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 and Resonance (Cyberwit Publishing Forthcoming: Turbulence). Forthcoming: ‘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 and). 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 and Collected Plays of Gary Beck Volume II (Cyberwit Publishing. Forthcoming: Four Plays by Moliere translated then directed by Gary Beck and Collected Plays of Gary Beck Volume III). 

Monday, May 3, 2021


Zen Seagal


Just like your dreams,

Steven Seagal is Hard

to Kill. The slower he fights

the more the villain's punches

land in empty space,

as though he's throwing them

from a different time zone,

or an older edit of the movie.


Always one step step ahead

by being one step behind,

Seagal slo-mo's through a world

perpetually in fast forward,

until the bad guy moves

so fast that our hero becomes

invisible to his speed,

and he cannot separate Seagal

from a rock or a tree;

then wonders why he feels

the kick he never sees coming.


One day Seagal will make

a movie where he stands still

and says nothing: with no one

to fight and nothing to lose,

the villain will despair

and fall down at his feet.


Why in such a hurry

to wipe out the world?

Seagal will ask him.

All you have to do is wait.


Blame Game



Bucket of vodka,

twelve red bulls
and a pack of pro-plus

raise the stakes but not
the game: no matter
how fast you spin
one day you
ll wake up here;
a bust piece of scrap
mainlining oil and blood,
all the plasma they can spare
to keep you out there
calling the shots

till the line goes flat
and your connection
s dead;

you’ll check out
never knowing if
you played your hand
or it played you,

either way youre out of here;

through with bottled beers

and blow jobs.


Its not a matter of the good book
versus the bad look, Jesus grappling
with Lolita; just the uneasy reckoning
of how much you
re willing to lose
to get high: a long life sitting

like a waste basket
in the corner of the office

versus the shortfall pension
of flooding the tank
with a blindfold over your eyes
and telling yourself keep going.

Either way youll crash out

where you knew youd ditch

all along. Every mans
a brave coward, but every bed
a death bed. Every road
detours here behind the house
of ashes where you smoke

your last smoke,
but only the clouds are getting high.


Laughin’ Lenny


Leonard Cohen Live



Between ‘nearly dead’
and ‘not dead yet’
is a sliver of silence
thinner than a vinyl groove:

but here you must work
to prosper the IRS,
straightening your tie

and tilting your hat

once more from the top;


knowing there never is,

never was, such hallowed turf.

All of the now you stake a claim to
is here: the smile on your face

as they pronounce your name

as though invoking an old god,
believed long deceased.

Remixed by the asking,

the telling, the need
of the songs for someone

to sing them as they themselves

would sing. Once more

from the top, old friends.


Stop The Count



See this towel? I threw it in

years ago to spare myself

another beating; but the crowd

is still screaming and the cornerman

whos watching my back

yells attack, attack!

as I back away from the barrage,

wondering how much more

my body can take before

it sinks to its knees


or I can throw myself down

and out, judging the crowd has

smelled enough blood

to offer mercy; hoping they wont

look too closely as I climb from the ring

knowing the real fight

has barely begun; that the bell they ring

before they announce the verdict

is only calling out my next bout.

And every judges scorecard will agree

I lost to the better man.


A Small Price



I dont take it

to get high


I take it to feel alive

briefly one of you

instead of one

of me


someone who might

reach through

the mirror

and come out

the other side

feeling so alive

theyll never want to

come back


  until one day

Ill be done with dying

the same way

Im done with living


and Ill find out

how you feel

when you launch a firework

from a high window

I can only fire

from the ground


 – find if death seems

a small price to pay

to finally be free

of the dreaming


Along For The Ride



Whos in charge here?

Not me; all I do is

ride the runaway horse

and heave on the reins

till he comes to a halt

and I can pretend

my pulling stopped him;


when the truth is he runs

where he wants to run,

and the best I can do

is coax and drag


till he gets bored and stamps

to a halt a few yards

from the cliff both of us

are tempted to plunge over

and lie motionless

on the shoreline; rocking horses

going nowhere fast. 

Ian Mullins 

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