The songs America once sang,
paeans to prosperity,
were only briefly interrupted
by dirges of depression,
rapidly forgotten
when the ailing economy
pleased us with recovery.

We still had hopes for tomorrow.

As the factories grow silent
unemployment lines expand,
job opportunities decline,
the service sector beckons
the liberal arts majors
who thrived in sheltered campuses,
now cast adrift on harsher streets.

We do not sing the fraying dream.

And as anticipation fades
the bitter herb of failure
pervades our damaged systems
suffering from rejections,
driving some of us to strike out
at wives, lovers, children, schools,
self-destructive blood baths.

So we lose the gift of song.

• “Anthem” is from Gary’s just released book of poetry entitled Perceptions

Gary Beck has spent most of his adult life as a theater director and worked as an art dealer when he couldn't earn a living in the theater. He has also been a tennis pro, a ditch digger and a salvage diver. 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 and his published books include 39 poetry collections, 14 novels, 4 short story collections, 1 collection of essays and 7 books of plays. Gary lives in New York City. Read other articles by Gary.