by Gary Beck

Machine Learning

Before a car can drive
without a human,
one must first get behind the wheel.
As the driver accelerates,
stops and turns on local streets,
sensors in the car
record what he sees
and how he responds.

A team of engineers
build software
that can teach the car
how to behave
from the human data.

Software is installed
in the waiting car
eager to drive on its own
and mimics the choices
made by the human driver,
making it autonomous.
It won’t get drunk,
tailgate, smoke pot, text,
explode in road rage.


The property of light
does not give ownership
to those who see
only material things,
illumination elusive,
for even the blind
need to find their way
through the darkness.

That Old Black Magic

Old king coal
was once the soul
of American heating,
keeping us warm,
those who could afford it,
in bitterest winter.

Then the arrival of oil
created turmoil
when environmental concerns
and new capitalists
proposed a solution
to air pollution,
stop burning coal.

Conflict wasn’t overt
like the Civil War
between Southern agriculture
and Northern mercantilism,
but bituminous magnates
had a lot invested
that they didn’t want divested
and resisted stealthily.

There’s no doubt the coal barons
bought oil stock, wells, companies,
but they wouldn’t give up profit,
no matter who it poisoned.
They finally got a champion
in candidate Trump,
who played the miners for a chump,
promising new jobs
if they elected him.

Only desperate men
could ignore the boom
of shale oil, natural gas
that would end the rule
of traditional fuel
because it was easier to get,
cheaper to get, cleaner to use,
at least in comparison
to dirty old coal.

Coal powered plants are closing,
so less coal is needed.
Fewer miners are needed
while the insulated bosses
no longer dig holes in the ground,
just chop off the tops of mountains,
a massive assault on nature,
but still profitable.

The American way
has gone astray
that once allowed many
comfortable lives.
Now fewer and fewer
of the endangered middle class
still don’t realize the goal,
to make them as obsolete as coal.


My love has departed.
I wait beneath her window
in the pouring rain,
hoping to catch a glimpse
of the one I lost
and I have become drenched,
waiting to see my beloved.

Aging II

The elderly slowly shuffle
through hazardous city streets
menaced by careless drivers,
cracked sidewalks,
vicious predators
in increasing numbers
attacking the vulnerable,
old men and women
incapable of self-defense,
helpless to resist
assault, robbery,
victims of the dispossessed
subtracted from human values.

About the Author:

Gary Beck

Gary Beck has spent most of his adult life as a theater director. He has 14 published chapbooks. 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, Perturbations, Rude Awakenings and The Remission of Order (Winter Goose Publishing). Contusions and Desperate Seeker will be published by Winter Goose Publishing. Conditioned Response (Nazar Look). Resonance (Dreaming Big Publications). Virtual Living (Thurston Howl Publications). Blossoms of Decay, Expectations and Blunt Force (Wordcatcher Publishing). Transitions and Temporal Dreams will be published by Wordcatcher Publishing. His novels include: Extreme Change (Cogwheel Press), Flawed Connections (Black Rose Writing), Call to Valor and Crumbling Ramparts (Gnome on Pigs Productions). As part of the continuing series, ‘Stand to Arms Marines’, Gnome on Pigs Productions will publish the third book in the series, Raise High the Walls. Sudden Conflicts (Lillicat Publishers). Acts of Defiance, Flare Up and Pirate Spring will be published by Wordcatcher Publishing. Extreme Change will be published by Winter Goose Publishing. 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). The Republic of Dreams and other essays will be published by Gnome on Pigs Productions. Feast or Famine & other plays will be published by Wordcatcher 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 lives in New York City.