Five Poems from ‘Severance’, by Gary Beck

School Days

The elevator was out again,
so I couldn’t get downstairs in time
and the school bus never waits.
The bus driver hates picking up
homeless kids at the welfare hotel.
I tried to tell him the first day
that I really wanted to go to school
even though the teacher ignored me
and the nasty kids teased me
about my shabby clothes.
But anyplace is better
than staying in the cold room all day,
with Mom nodding out on the bed,
her boyfriend looking at me with hard eyes,
and the big rats moving around
like they pay rent.
Once a month the social worker comes
and asks all kinds of questions.
When I asked: ‘What I do to deserve this?’
all she said was: ‘Things’ll get better, someday.’


Urban Nightmare

In the city of broken dreams,
on avenues of empty shops,
the gaping spaces do not beg
for customers to return,
departed employees, owners
subtracted from the economy
without hope of restoration,
victims of the loss of jobs, homes,
when their prosperity
submerged into poverty.



Winter winds blow across the park.
Employees, students, shoppers
decide to eat indoors.
The trash bins are empty.
The homeless have departed
in search of sustenance,
a never ending quest
to stave off hunger.
The outcasts of society
flock to city parks
in good weather,
desperate for tranquility
found momentarily
in a green enclave,
a brief oasis
before moving on
in the desert of cities.


Manifest Destiny

Our remaining factories
are often run by robots,
as the lords of profit
always try to make
more and more
and increasingly explore
how to substitute
mechanicals for people,
the obvious goal
advanced androids,
so pestiferous humans
can be replaced.



Officials of our city,
elected and appointed,
have no compassion
for homeless youth.
Thousands of youngsters daily
are subtracted from the future
already too poorly equipped
to compete for tomorrows.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars
are spent each day
to incarcerate innocent children
in welfare hotels, welfare motels,
drugs, violence, prostitution,
rampant in learning academies,
where the older
teach the younger
criminal ways
in the absence of
positive role models.

As poverty advances
in the war against well-being
and more and more Americans
are callously detached
from a nurturing system
we once called civilization,
abandonment is the threnody
discarding so many
without emergency efforts
to salvage the children.

And all the while
elected and appointed officials
have homes of comfort,
as the children of despair
nod out in school,
exhausted from turmoil nights
when unregulated chaos
ransacks the halls of horror
where children are confined.


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 12 published chapbooks and 2 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 and Perturbations (Winter Goose Publishing) Rude Awakenings and 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 (Wordcatcher Publishing). Blunt Force and Expectations will be published by Wordcatcher Publishing. His novels include: Extreme Change (Cogwheel Press), Flawed Connections (Black Rose Writing), Call to Valor(Gnome on Pigs Productions) and Sudden Conflicts (Lillicat Publishers). State of Rage will be published by Rainy Day Reads Publishing, Crumbling Ramparts by Gnome on Pigs Productions. His short story collections include, A Glimpse of Youth (Sweatshoppe Publications) and. Now I Accuse and other stories (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.

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