Author: Gary Beck


Learning Curve

Gary Beck/Learning Curve


Urban Reaches

Alone in a great city

strangers pass,

intent on jobs, crime,

shopping, terror.

I know not what.

They all look remote,

don’t say ‘good morning’,

don’t meet my gaze,

except the hostiles,

when I quickly look away.

I cannot tell

who is good, kind, normal,

smart enough to build a future.

Temporarily marooned

in a vast enclosure

I do not know what to do

to establish an identity.



Righteous Speech

We removed Saddam Hussein

because he was an evil man

gassing his people,

developing nuclear weapons,

a threat to world peace.


So elected leaders

of the good old U.S.A.,


international policeman,

decided arbitrarily,

against some sensible advice

that state building

replacing tyranny

with democracy

is a difficult task

in an alien land

without due process,

or civil rights,

and a fanatic clergy

opposed to Western ways.


But our elected leaders

ignored warning signs

and decided.

Saddam must go.


So we invaded Iraq,

crushed feeble resistance,

a super power

flexing its military,

and we excavated Saddam

from his hiding hole

and swift justice followed.


So we helped install

a new government

that didn’t know how to govern,

in a land divided

by race, religion, tribe.

And we proclaimed to the world

democracy was born.


But unrest was everywhere

and conflict spread

across the land.

And we withdrew our troops

and self-appointed bureaucrats,

as chaos prevailed.


Our elected leaders announced:

‘Our mission is complete’.

A newly elected

democratic government

rules the land,

so we met our goals.

Our virtuous troops

brought freedom

to a long suffering people.


But when the government

couldn’t govern,

and religious strife,

the lust for power,

erupted into bloody war

we looked the other way.

It wasn’t our problem anymore.


Our elected leaders never asked

was Iraq better off with Saddam.

And we’ll never know

if they lied to themselves,

lied to us,

or were just demented.

But the benefit of democracy,

is we get what we deserve.



Homeless VIII

They robbed my cans

for the second time

in a week.

I hustled my ass off

getting those cans

and got nothing for it.

At least they didn’t beat me.

Maybe I’ll get me a knife

and cut them good

if they try to rob me again.




Armies march in many lands.

Rebels attack in many lands.

Conflicts simmer across the globe,

boil over,


in deadly violence,

destroying lives,



aspirations for stability,


normal pursuits,


home building,

raising children,


tomorrow will be better

then the savagery today.




We go about our daily


those of us who have business,

jobs, shopping, social life,

all the activities

common to civilization,

only interrupted

by war, plague, disaster,

that thwarts plans

to build, create, acquire

whatever we desire,

while the fortunate

are allowed continuation

after the crisis is over.


'Learning Curve' is an unpublished collection concerned with the decline of Western civilization, as leading figures struggle with the issues of our times.