Daughters of Cambodia
She giggled for a moment,
the skinny, twelve year old girl child
of sparkling eyes and gleaming teeth.
Her laughter drowned the obscene grunts
of the man on her younger sister.
The brothel owner strutted by,
a scowling woman in her twenties,
heart missing beneath traditional garb,
carefully guarding her property.
She paid good money for the girls.
The brothel owner paused and smiled
and praised the virtues of the child,
baring her left breast, well, the nipple
of what will become her left breast,
if she survives to maturity.
The customer calmly haggled
while the owner praised the child’s body,
claiming eight dollars was not too much
for a girl who just recently
had lost her prized virginity.
But her virginity was lost
many and many a year ago
in a brothel far from the sea,
when her father sold her to servitude,
to endure men’s lust for a fee.
Now she labors 'til her debt is paid,
or until they know that she has AIDS.
She can’t escape for she’ll be caught,
severely beaten, starved, cruelly forced
to have sex with abusive men.
This child is one of tens of thousands
slaving in the sex plantations
of the growing cottage industry,
the Asian brothels of China,
India, Thailand, the Philippines.
The child prostitutes of Asia
sustain the evil appetites
for brutal molestation and rape,
forbidden at home to lawless men,
who post their lust on the internet.
Daughters of Cambodia
and other Asian lands,
you are unwilling playthings
of brothel keepers’ greed
and sick, consumer lust.
When sex tours started in Japan,
Korean and Taiwan brothels
cheerfully accepted the money
that let Koreans and Taiwanese
tour Manila and Bangkok brothels.
So Asia’s economic boom
brings more babies to prostitution,
some sold by desperate parents,
others are kidnapped off the streets,
as an ill wind blows from the east.
The rise of Asian prosperity
breeds new markets for human flesh,
increases appetites for children,
obeys laws of supply and demand
and violates all morality.
When AIDS the viral killer came
the men of Asia responded
using younger and younger children,
who were less likely to be infected
with the spreading sexual gift.
So AIDS the viral killer goes
quickly from country to country,
with children sold across borders,
while customers shop from place to place,
then leave with a final souvenir.
And in the east the Asians go
and put the blame on G.I. Joe,
but all the sins were surely there
before Americans would share
their native vices with the world.
Shanghai, Hong Kong, Hanoi,
cities famous years ago
for traffic in the flesh of youth,
blamed on wretched poverty,
yet profit increases slavery.
G.I. Joe and westerners
helped build the brothels of Asia,
when their military bases
crammed full of rich, horny soldiers,
spread the wealth and sustained the trade.
And what of the children’s suffering,
smuggled across Vietnamese borders
and other lands, victims of collapse
of strict commie ideology,
and the demands of the flesh trade.
The buyers of virginity
are foreigners, generally
mostly newly prosperous Chinese,
for the superstitious Chinese claim
sex with virgins makes them young again.
And the children are always frightened,
desperate, debauched, diseased,
vaginas so easily torn,
leading to sores and the bleeding
that promotes H.I.V. breeding.
Most men prefer the younger girls
because they’re easily abused.
The older girls can set a price
and may even set conditions
that younger girls cannot demand.
Little girls learn the curse of sex
when they’re forced to perform for others.
A girl cannot make a grown man
use a condom when he refuses,
then gives AIDS to the child he uses.
In a brothel in Cambodia
for a five hundred dollar fee,
a girl lost her virginity,
a one time opportunity
for a bargain hunting buyer.
A helpless child speaks for her sisters.
“My life no longer matters,
nobody seems to care.
It’s better for me to die.
Cambodia won’t cry.
© 2006 Gary Beck
Kinder Capitalism (to Donald Rumsfeld)
In the 1930's,
the Soviet Union wasn't happy
because stubborn peasants
cultivated small plots of land,
and were dealt with drastically,
using various methods, including:
one way tickets to Siberia,
and for the fortunate,
life on a collective farm,
all dictated arbitrarily
by the will of the state
for the purpose of
At the very same time,
in the good old U.S.A.,
our weather beaten sharecroppers
were blown off the land,
until all they had to eat
was a bowlful of dust.
Now unlike the Soviet Union,
where big, bad comrades
could dispose of your fate,
here it was the banks,
and once the sharecroppers
were kicked off the land,
they were free to go
wherever they wanted,
and as long as they didn't disrupt,
disturb, distress, discomfort
the rest of the U.S.A.,
they were still left
with the personal choice
to suffer and starve
© 2006 Gary Beck
Hudson River (to Geroge E. Pataki)
Henry Hudson sailed upriver,
then only used by Indians,
who casually shared with fish, fowl, beasts.
How could he foresee, telescoping from his poop deck,
eyeing intimidating forests that concealed the new world,
crammed full of gold, goblins, god knows what,
on that Half Moon, half miracle observation spot,
the hopes, prayers, fears and lust that propelled the planks
faster than oars, the crew pausing only to commit
the first recorded crimes in the new world,
kidnapping and dispensing liquor to the Indians, without a license.
Although not actually boasting, history takes pride in you
Henry H., obviously overlooking your rough ways
and traditional discoverer's crude exploitation,
for after all you helped introduce civilization.
Then the noble river ran,
clean and pure,
to the untainted sea.
The Dutch immigrants neared your shores,
at first intimidated by untamed forests,
then went wild for what they saw
and religiously, six days per week,
began to disrupt animal, vegetable, mineral,
anything interfering with the prompt establishment
of old Amsterdam in New Amsterdam.
They disported on the Sabbath,
cherished kitchen, children, church,
while underfed portraitists, enamored of rosy cheeks,
benevolent glance and shapely hands,
sanguinely rebrushed their subjects,
eagerly praising the purveyors of power,
the acquirers on the installment plan
of anything they could grab, snatch, ingest, digest,
as they inflicted traditional European values
on fruitful woods, rich earth, endless game,
and only the locals to deal with, fair or foul.
It didn't take long for the colonists to notice
that the Indians lacked friends in high places,
so the inevitable encroachments led to conflict
and burgher housing replaced the wigwam.
Then the noble river ran...
Peter Stuyvesant stumped his city
dreaming a replica of the old world
and gave his loyal follower Joseph Bronck
a reward of a large chunk of the Bronx.
Then the English sailed into the harbor,
and their eyes popped at what they saw,
which they compared to their meager towns.
They promptly evicted the Dutch, who lacked the means
to resist the latest affliction on hospitable shores,
and English quickly shoved the local dialects aside,
spreading the word as fast as the forest fell to hungry axes;
We're here to stay, no matter what you do or say!
The French finally noticed the unruly Brits
and felt their threat to the fur trade,
as well as traditional rivalry and Gallic pride,
sufficient cause to deploy formal European armies.
Of course the distant masters of the new realms
had no idea how to dispute on the vast continent,
so their generals mostly fumbled and bumbled,
alienating the colonists with their haughty ways,
and provoking the Indians to unethical massacres.
clean and pure...
The leading members of the 13 colonies
did pretty well for themselves in the new world
and resented the distant rulership of kings.
They evaded or resisted authority,
as the well-to-do always seem to do,
never losing profits during upheavals,
though perhaps regretting the tea lost in Boston harbor.
Finally the armed conflict began
between the colonists and the home government,
and George III was appalled at their ingratitude.
War swirled up and down the Hudson and when it was over,
the sunken ships and cadavers made no impression on you, river.
And the towns and cities on your shores flourished
as fast as the new nation spread beyond the Appalachians.
But ex-mama England was still pining for her lost child
and tested the new owners in a clumsy war
that proved the old order unfit to rule vast America.
to the untainted sea...
So we whipped the British twice, and the Indians,
bought out the French, bluffed the Russians,
finally realized we had a huge land to settle
and opened the shores to white folk of substance.
The shock of shocks was when the barely human Irish
poured in by the thousands, tolerating degradations
just for the chance to grow a few subsistence spuds.
Some of them arrived in time to spill some blood
in the Mexican War, one of our finest land grabs,
that alerted the European powers that the new kid on the block,
puppy America, was voracious for expansion.
And steam began to replace sail to the promised land.
We quickly adopted ex-mama England's industrial revolution,
littering your shores with crude manufactures, river,
and a new class of magnates soared in the North,
disdained, then feared by the agricultural barons of the South.
Invoking the traditional problem solving method, bloody war,
Americans slaughtered each other while their masters profited.
But enough Irish lost limb or life to claim their fair share
of the delirious promises made by the U.S. Constitution.
still clean and pure...
Then the soldiers Blue and Gray, weary of the bloody fray,
returned from the uncivil battlefields of decision.
The grateful government pointed the warriors west
for free land, with only pesky Indians in the way,
an easy chore after the rifles of Johnny Reb,
and once across the distant Mississippi
the battle hardened veterans weren't around
to scrutinize the shady doings in Washington, D.C.
Crouched between your banks, river, you watched industry grow.
The ravaged South began to rebuild, still burdened
by many glances backwards to illusion time,
but others labored mightily to rejoin the present.
This time they crossed you, river, not to return,
and ever westward, in an ever mounting flow,
land grabbing peasants made their way
across mountains, rivers, deserts, no obstacles allowed
to halt the ravenous spread of manifest destiny.
The puppeteers who make government policy
hired clever propagandists to justify
serious snatching of someone else's property.
Then again, America was founded on larceny.
7. Giant Step
We had a lot of new muscle to flex
and the land was pacified from sea to shining...
Except for the poor, dispossessed, needy and disadvantaged,
young America was happy, eager for a worldly role.
Factories sprang up on your shores, Hudson, new enterprises
of small pith and moment, hungry for profits,
discarding failure into your concealing waters.
So our masters looked around for the right adversary
and the decadent Spanish Empire was our lucky choice.
After a minimal investment of blood, limbs, lives,
we snatched Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines,
and suddenly we were a player on the world scene,
strutting, but not fretting, on the stage of power.
Yet the birds on your shores, river, the fish in your waters,
had no champion to protect their civil rights.
Too late to snatch juicy chunks of Africa or Asia,
young America defended the rights of the colonized,
as long as we could virtuously bark loudly,
but not bite the hands that fed our business.
We watched the big European dogs battle for the bones,
picked the winning side and became a big dog.
the slightly tainted sea...
So we won the first world war, then lost the peace,
bamboozled by those tricky Europeans
into squandering the fruits of victory.
So we picked up our marbles, went home and sulked.
We had a lot of bitter lessons to digest,
until we got bored and conjured up an economic storm
that targeted farmers and laborers,
who were tossed so deep into a depression
that they could not turn their wrathful eyes
on malfeasance in Washington, D.C.,
where officials babbled of a chicken in every pot.
Yet the smokestacks belched profits on your shores, river.
Now that the fertile ground was properly prepared
for the next war of acquisition, all that remained
was the appropriate selection of the candidate enemy.
We considered many choices, but opted for a former friend.
No one else was threatening enough to deny Pacific expansion.
So we sold Japan steel to build ships, planes, tanks,
then cut the oil supply that ran the cherished toys.
And when they came out of the sun that Sunday morning,
we the people screamed foul,
but the lords of profit whispered fair.
Then oil and blood began to taint the sea.
9. Wind-up Cop
Our legions strode across Africa, Asia, Australia,
finally arrived in Europe and crushed the German juggernaut.
Then the sons of the good old USA went home,
renouncing military conquest for college credits.
Meanwhile, the sons of Mother Russia had no tractors,
so they refused to go home and starve on the cold steppes,
and remained in half of Europe, gawking, stealing, replacing the Nazis
with Uncle Joe's version of post war government,
while Uncle Sam's kids, weary of the years of slaughter,
went back to school to prepare for a better life.
And the corporations gave the ex GIs jobs,
while they dumped their waste in your waters, river.
Yet the lords of profit could have established Pax Americana,
but lacked the will, or balls, or feared the loss of net income.
Instead they sniped at the red menace, dividing countries
that became festering sores on the unhealthy world body,
until one fine June day, half of Korea invaded the other half,
and GI Joe was abruptly yanked from the classroom
and sent unprepared, halfway around the world
to fight half an Asian country, without knowing why.
But Uncle Sam said trust me, you have to go,
so our loyal sons dusted off their weapons
and faithfully marched off to war again.
Radiation juices seeped into your waters
and the grateful fishes glowed in the dark.
So we dwindled the not-a-war in Korea,
until the opponents faced each other at the starting point,
where the sons of the red, white and blue had been fought to a standstill
by the hordes of Gengis Khan, who mocked our legions.
And the national spirit was soured by non-victory.
But the lords of profit achieved their greatest dream,
a standing army that needed endless supplies,
food, shelter, clothing, weapons, wine, women, song,
all provided to Uncle Sugar for top dollar.
And the chemicals were too costly to dispose of,
so PCB's were dumped into your waters, gentle river,
that never surged like the Ohio or the Nile,
that destroyed its helpless neighbors.
And your fish became contaminated,
yet few noticed the toxic assault on your navigable body,
for the times they were a changing and undercitizens
demanded constitutional rights and children of the privileged agreed.
So the lords of profit selected a new Asian diversion
and sent our sons to fight another war with half a country.
Our loyal kids died by the thousands, obediently serving
a terrible cause that was unworthy of their sacrifice.
Yet the coffers of the rich gained as never before,
replacing over and over again, lost planes, tanks, guns, lives.
And when the dying was done and the survivors came home,
no one was held accountable for the bumper crop of body bags.
Chemicals and oil now stain your murky currents.
And the legions returned from the 'Nam',
scorned by their fellow Americans
for answering the call to arms,
just like their heroic daddies did.
No welcome home parades greeted them,
because they betrayed our country
by patriotically serving
in the first war of American defeat.
And the engineers who planned the war
chortled with glee when they got away with murder.
A large dose of public entertainment and comforts
made it easy to eat the flower of forgetfulness,
and renounce the shameful past for the promised dream,
excluding the usual underclass.
For the wealthy have decreed that some must always do without,
so others will appreciate their rank and station.
Then many benefited from democracy
and the sons and daughters of prosperity
forgot their obligations to the nation.
And no one reminded the poisoners
that we all breathe the same air.
Then corporations purchased legislators, river,
who passed laws that allowed the flooding of your waters
with toxins, while the people slumbered.
Good old Uncle Sam took it on the chin
from everybody for a while,
until the Wall came tumbling down
and the people danced in the streets.
The lords of profit grimaced
when the lucrative cold war ended
and quickly considered new conflicts.
But doubt had seeped into our genes,
so the right opponent was needed
to divert us from drugs, crime, AIDS, not caring.
We had been kicked out of Africa,
defeated in Southeast Asia,
we were being eased out of Europe
and we couldn't mess with the touchy Latinos.
All that was left was the oil bitch middle east.
Khaddafi was still sulking in his tent,
so the wheel of fortune selected Saddam,
who won the ugliest man in the world contest.
And when our soldiers squashed him a bit,
the simple-minded rejoiced at old-fashioned victory,
despite the paltry opposition,
and awarded the legions a triumph.
The healthiest inhabitants of your waters, river,
old tires, plastic bottles, chemical gunk, used condoms,
race the few remaining fish to the polluted sea.
We approached the year 2012, apprehensive
that our computers would not function.
And distracted by our superficial pleasures
in Armani suits and costly imported cars,
we ignored the march of drugs and AIDS
that ravaged our country like plagues of eld.
Now that assembly lines are run by robots
and food is grown in automated fields
and production is controlled by the oppressive few,
the programmers of the world will not unite
to support the endless struggle for liberty,
for they lack the toughness and endurance
for the age old conflict with the bosses.
Software does not prepare our sons and daughters
for sacrifice on the altar of freedom.
It is too late to resurrect the callused hands and stubborn backs
of farmers, workers, laborers, those accustomed to resist,
although they must always be defeated
by the tyranny of the lords of profit.
The stock market crash of 2005, river,
will fill your waters with the corpses
of those who can't survive the loss of comfort.
© 2006 Gary Beck
I sit behind my desk
watching the door.
Who will enter next?
with a memo of doom?
An office cruiser
after my body?
If I lose my job,
I sit in the cabin
watching the door.
Who will enter next?
with a tomahawk of doom?
A fierce beast
after my body?
If the crops fail,
© 2006 Gary Beck