Gary Beck

The Nature of Cities II

The city of excess

produces waste,

pollutes the landscape,

poisons the waters, the air,

deludes us from awareness,

distracts us from action

diverts us with culture,

until sated citizens

perish from enrichment.

Polar Melt

Sea ice in the Arctic,

habitat for polar bears,

is melting so quickly

that bears are losing their homes

and must swim for their lives

in a desperate attempt

to reach the polar ice edge,

so far away most won’t arrive.

Since we won’t stop climate change,

perhaps President Obama

should order the construction

of artificial ice floes

to house an endangered species.


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 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 chapbook ‘Remembrance’ was published by Origami Condom Press, ‘The Conquest of Somalia’ was published by Cervena Barva Press, ‘The Dance of Hate’ was published by Calliope Nerve Media and ‘Mutilated Girls’ is being published by Bedouin Press. A collection of his poetry ‘Days of Destruction’ was published by Skive Press. Another collection ‘Expectations’ was published by Rogue Scholars Press. His original plays and translations of Moliere, Aristophanes and Sophocles have been produced Off Broadway and toured colleges and outdoor performance venues. His poetry has appeared in hundreds of literary magazines. He currently lives in New York City.

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