A review of my poetry collection, Fault Lines, by Alison McBain:
Nancy Beck reading my short story, “Intrusion” which is podcast by Soundcloud
Soundcloud Episode 11 can be found in several places:
At The Intersection of the Fault Lines
Poetry Book Review: FAULT LINES by Gary Beck
Reviewed by, Melissa R. Mendelson
We believe to live the ordinary life, encased by the ordinary world. The days grow shorter, and the nights grow longer. We worry over trivial and great issues, hoping for someone to come and ease our pain and suffering as we enter the dog eat dog world to make ends meet. It’s just an ordinary path that we walk surrounded by the daily drum of life, hounded by the horn-blowing motorists bent on getting from Point A to Point B, haunted by the hammers of construction, bombarded by the mindless chatter of those ensnared in electronic daze, and captivated by the sound of laughter from children in the park that think nothing of life’s tragedies but chasing endless dreams. All this is nothing more than notes in an anguished composition, and we are dancing blind at the intersection of the Fault Lines.
Fault Lines begins with a poetic symphony, a Symphony of the City, which paints an ordinary world as one described above, but as with most intricate paintings, you have to look deeper. You have to stare into that abyss of swirling color to see the dark streaks, the cracks, where the truth lies hidden, but it is a truth that we may not want to see. Pain. Suffering. Loss. Tragedy. Violence. Animosity. Gunfire. Citizens terrorized. People in constant assault. It’s a bitter pill that we do not want to swallow, and we would rather say, “What a beautiful painting,” and walk away. But the truth is that there is no escape for we live in The Information Age, and we are surrounded by a media that forces it down our throats. We are obliterated by an endless flow of babble dominating the airwaves that threatens the continued existence of serious transmissions. Our tongues have fallen loose, swaggering from side to side, and we have forgotten that once upon a time with the wrong word said, and it would have been off with our heads.
Like most, I try to avoid the truth, but even in a doctor’s office, it found me waiting there. I remember looking over at a stack of magazines, and normally I don’t read most magazines because I don’t want to know what’s going on. But on this day for whatever reason, I picked up a magazine, flipped through it, and found a photograph that I still remember today. The photograph was of a small South African, I think, boy holding a gun. The News story was of how he was used by a warlord to enact despicable terrors, and the story was both horrifying and heartbreaking. I wanted to know what fate fell to this boy, but the nurse was now calling me in. And I remember leaving that magazine on the chair beside me with that photograph facing upward in hopes that someone else would want to know the truth of what was really happening out there, and I remember this because of Homo Homini Lupus.
“They are not hallowed warriors
respected by those they protect.
They will have no parades.
No trumpets will sing their praises.
They will be remembered,
with pity or hatred.”
The sad truth is that we are not living in the past anymore for the past has been long buried and forgotten. When we open up the history books and look at all those images and photographs, it is like looking into an alternate world. We don’t remember what it was like then, and reading about it is like reading a work of fiction. The world we live in today would be considered to them as one of those futuristic movies that they would watch and say, “I hope I never awake to that day.” Somehow, we have awoken to that day, and we never saw it coming. We have been distracted, dazzled, and hypnotized as the past has fallen away to the now, and that world we knew, our past has been erased. And in its aftermath, our youth broken. Still, we struggle to hold ground and refuse to admit it’s all gone to hell, but it can’t be fixed. The future that lies ahead of us now is surely grim, and I hope to never awake to that day as I read the State of the Union.
“My fellow citizens.
I fear the future
of our bountiful nation
is in imminent danger
We are broken. Our world has broken, fallen through monstrous cavities that break our heels, pull us down, and swallow us whole. We try to jump away, clawing at distraction, and guided by the hum of technology, electronic toys to steal our minds away. We can then dare not think of those living on the false promises of others, begging for the lights to not fade or the heat to not die because then all they will know is darkness and cold, and we can’t think of that. We would rather be safe and warm and not know what turmoil rolls across this land, but trouble rolls this way. And there’s no avoiding it. Our television sets make sure of it, and the fault lines are electrified with truth, so raw that if in close range, we surely would be electrocuted especially if our minds have grown so numb that a simple fragment of truth like a gentle feather would burn instantly in one small breath.
We can’t outrun the ghosts of our past, and history has a way of repeating itself. Wars that we should have learned from fall upon today, and more innocence is lost. Soldiers have become marionettes in the politician’s Russian Roulette for they know not of strange lands and vicious enemies, and in the end, we lose. And I think this as I read the Iraq Dilemma for we walk through a mine field today, and maybe the past should be laid to rest. But Greed needs to die, and we need to stop chasing dreams of greatness, promises of a past that has been destroyed.
of the administration
invoked the ghosts of Vietnam
that still haunted the nation,
though many tried to forget,
and raise specters of defeat
for our venture in Iraq.”
Have you ever wanted for someone to just tell you the truth? The whole truth and nothing but the truth? Even in conversation, the truth is diluted. Nobody can tell you the honest truth because we feel this need to lie, to exaggerate, to paint over the facts, but when asked why, we don’t know. Just somewhere along the way, we can’t tell the truth, and when the truth is exposed, we call it a Lie. And we lie to ourselves all the time to feel better, to feel safe, to feel like things are going to be okay, but it’s a lie. And if we continue to run from the truth, then we are all surely doomed, and someone needs to be brave enough to say what is really going on. And Gary Beck does that, dishing out the ugly truth, but are we ready and willing to hear it? Or we would rather continue to dance blind at the intersection of the Fault Lines?
Review by Melissa R. Mendelson
Fault Lines Gary Beck
Social commentary writ large.
A review is one person’s take on another’s work, and thus is personal and depends on background, expectations, and experience. So as always, do not let my star count override your judgement of content. More on the stars, counting, and my rating challenges later. Let’s get to the real stuff, Beck’s book.
You will find some eighty-eight poems. Beck is a bit didactic, not surprising given the amount of social commentary present in this work. In more than one case I found myself wishing I’d said it that well myself, in a blog perhaps. The extreme evil of child soldiers is scarily depicted in Homo Homini Lupus, with an interesting side glance at the perpetrators of massacres: “They are not hallowed warriors /respected by those they protect. /They will have no parades.”
In State of the Union: “Yet we act surprised /when rejected offspring /erupt in tragic violence,/ while custodians of tomorrow, /failing in their duty, /are richly rewarded.” This is the country that elected Donald Trump, in part because of increasing inequality.
Somewhere I have a book of essays which includes one entitled “The War on ______”. Beck has a terse version of this in Ominous Signs, pointing out that the current war on terror follows the failed war on drugs and the failed war on poverty. No spoilers for this short punch to the gut; turn to this when you have the book in front of you.
Those scrolling for the tiny carps can give up. There might be a typo. Back to the real stuff.
Again, Beck reminded me of another writer, Noam Chomsky, who has commented on the USA’s moral position (the lack of one) as a terrorist nation. For a long exposition of America’s history of international action which profited special interests, turn to The Spoils of War.
In a favourite poem, Lost in the Land of Plenty, Beck gives us a first-person experience, forcing us, the readers, to be in the situation. Here’s the opening: “I live in a welfare hotel /and when the electricity /gets shut off again…”
If you’ve ever questioned the campaign / election process, and why it costs so much, you’ll enjoy Do We Get What We Pay For.
Anyone who has felt unsafe walking alone will identify with Urban Sorrow, where we find this: “Intruding beams from street lamps /sing illusion songs of safety.” It is not possible to give the full feel of this poem in a short quote.
Beck can be cynical, as in Learning Experience, and again in Compliance. For a short poem on alienation, turn to Super Highway.
I will close with another favourite, Pedestrian Traffic. Here Beck takes you in to the temporary occupants of a small park.
Now for my star count boilerplate. My personal guidelines, when doing an ‘official’ KBR review, are as follows: five stars means, roughly equal to best in genre. Rarely given. Four stars means, extremely good. Three stars means, definitely recommendable. I am a tough reviewer. I try hard to be consistent. Four stars feels about right here: Beck is extremely good at what he does. Strongly recommended.
Kindle Book Review Team member.
Here is someone else reading my poems for a change.
For Immediate Release
There are cracks in our foundation. Undeniable fractures that divide society when we should be standing united. Fault Lines is a poetry collection that examines the disconnect, the unchallenged chaos, and the possible downfall of humanity. Much like his collections Civilized Ways and Perceptions, Fault Lines brings us through the delicate ups and downs of lives that will shape the future, and leads us down whichever path we ultimately allow.
‘Thoughtful, densely rich poems.’ – Archers Crown Magazine
‘Excellent, chilling, sobering. Great work.’ – Six Sentences Magazine
One of the poems was a Pushcart Prize nominee by Nazar Look Magazine
Fault Lines is a 124 page poetry book. Available in paperback with a retail price of $10.99, and an ebook for $4.99. ISBN:19410585.
Published through Winter Goose Publishing. Available now through all major retailers. For information or to request a review copy, contact:
Fault Lines poetry video:
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 11 published chapbooks and 3 more 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 (Winter Goose Publishing). Tremors, Perturbations, Rude Awakenings and The Remission of Order will be published by Winter Goose Publishing. Conditioned Response (Nazar Look). Resonance (Dreaming Big Publications). His novels include: Extreme Change (Cogwheel Press), Flawed Connections (Black Rose Writing) and Call to Valor (Gnome on Pigs Productions). Sudden Conflicts will be published by Lillicat Publishers and State of Rage by Rainy Day Reads Publishing. His short story collection, A Glimpse of Youth (Sweatshoppe Publications). Now I Accuse and other stories will be published by 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.
Winter Goose Publishing is an independent publisher founded in 2011. We are a royalty-paying publisher dedicated to putting out the best literature in prose, poetry and art; covering a variety of genres. For more information go to: www.wintergoosepublishing.com
A review of my poetry collection, Perceptions, by Alison McBain of Bewildering Stories.