Author: Gary Beck



Gary Beck/Objectives



I don’t like living here.

There’s no heat in winter.

It’s sweaty hot in summer.

None of the people are nice.

This one guy wants to sex me.

I told him I was only twelve

but that didn’t matter to him.

He keep trying to touch me

whenever he comes close

and he’s very scary.

I told mom but she didn’t care,

always high with her boyfriend.

I talked to the social worker

but she wouldn’t do anything.

I’ll try to keep him off me

but he keeps offering stuff

that no one else will give me.

So maybe I’ll let him sex me.

Why not? Nobody else cares.




I always tried to be positive

no matter what went wrong.

I didn’t get promotions

at my long term job

as a statistical analyst,

while the people I worked with

got bonuses, raises,

much better positions.

Then they let me go

after seventeen years

with two weeks severance.


We didn’t have children

but we had a little house

in a nice neighborhood

and lived quietly,

until the streets turned bad

with drugs and violence.


We couldn’t afford to move,

so we didn’t go out much.

Then Carrie got sick.

Expenses mounted.

I took a service job

without benefits

making coffee.

Carrie keeps getting worse.

My insurance won’t cover her.

Without special treatment

she won’t get better.


I phoned my old boss,

told him I needed coverage

but he wouldn’t do anything.

Carrie was the one bright thing

in my difficult life

and now she’s going to die

because we can’t afford the cure.


She’s always so brave

it breaks my heart.

I won’t tell her this

but after she’s gone

I’ll get an AR-15,

visit the old office

and thank them

for not helping her.



Security Guard

I watch the rich kids come and go

and they never notice me

a big, anonymous black guy

in a rent-a cop uniform

with no relationship at all

to the students of privilege,

who barely acknowledge me

when I ask for their I.D.

I get paid minimum wage

with almost no benefits

and no job security.

Even though it’s not spelled out

there is an expectation

that I will protect these kids,

even at the risk of my life.

If a lunatic with weapons

comes to the entrance shooting

I’m getting out of the way

and we’ll see if their wealth saves them.



The E.R.

No matter how tired I feel

I keep smiling.

It makes the patients feel better,

reassures them nothing’s wrong,

yet it becomes harder each day,

especially on the weekend

where every irresponsible person

O.Ds on drugs or liquor,

gets shot or stabbed,

breaks something,

has some kind of infection…

The cases are non-stop,

each demanding my care

which is what I trained for.

But nursing school didn’t prepare me

for the Covid epidemic

that hospitalized so many.

They consumed our energy

going from patient to patient

hoping to control fevers,

trying to save lives,

trying to come to terms

with those we lost.

I was getting depressed,

beginning to despair

we’d never survive the virus,

when a smart, older nurse

took me aside:

“No matter what they tell us,

we’re at war

and we’re the first line of defense.

No matter what happens

it’s up to us

to save the patients,

no matter how tired we get.”

I thanked her and on my way home

after a grueling shift

when too many died

though we did our best,

I found new resolve

to return to the E.R.

and do my best

not to lose anyone else.



Gang Boy

Two of the big guys

for my initiation

beat the shit our of me

so bad I hurt for a week.

But I didn’t cry or quit,

so I was accepted

and now belong to the gang.

No one mess with me now,

or the gang get them good.

I asked my new bros

when I get a gun

and they laughed at me.

‘You a midget, boy.

Didn’t no one tell you?

Juniors don’t get guns.

Only seniors get guns.

You be how old? Thirteen?

You gotta wait a long time’.


Objectives is an unpublished poetry collection that reveals the demands, fears and troubles of a struggling society no longer capable of resolving difficult problems: 'Shelter', 'Burden', 'Security Guard', 'The E.R.', 'Gang Boy'.