Art for Art’s Sake… But, What Is Art?

In 2007, Sotheby’s
auctioned a can of artist’s shit
for 180,000 dollars.

“Sophisticated,” “cultured” types
clamored to buy a tin of shit
an auction house called “Art.”

In the “market place of ideas”
no one demurred
that a thousand hungry kids
could eat all winter
on the money a jackass paid
for another jackass’s shit!

In this sad world,
in this turvy razzmatazz,,
“A little learning is a dang’rous thing”
and most of what we know
we do not know,
or know by rote,
or from a meme picked up like a virus
from an infected lover.

“Test axioms on the pulses,” Keats advised
(with the usual genius-disregard
of others being less wise than he).
“Axiom? What, what’s axiom?”

Against this moral turpitude
where anything that sells is “Art”
and leggy girls tell “news” between
commercials for pharmaceuticals,
the soul struggles not to be subsumed
by trinkets of acknowledgment.

“The true poet,” Owen wrote,
“must be a witness,” sound alarms.
(He watched men retch and writhe
from mustard gas.
He wrote it down, then died
just short of Armistice.)

Every concession to fraudulence
abominates the soul,
chips at our humanity
and we become the chips–
wagered on a Roulette table
for 30 silver pieces.

Day by day we weave
a web of lies…or,
build bridges
to Eternity—

testing diamonds on the glass of fashion,
refining selves,
and cutting through

obsessions of the sickened mind,
polishing
diamond-hard
truths.

• NOTE:  Gary Corseri will guest on Charlie McGrath’s national radio program, Wide Awake News, this Thursday, March 21, 9-10 PM EST. The program is Mon-Fri, from 8-10pm EST, produced and streamed here, and simulcast on Wide Awake News. Archives will be posted here the following day.

Gary Corseri's work has appeared at Dissident Voice, Common Dreams, CounterPunch, the New York Times, Village Voice and hundreds of other venues. His dramas have been produced on PBS-Atlanta and he has performed his work at the Carter Presidential Library and Museum. His books include novels and poetry collections. He can be reached at: gary_corseri@comcast.net. Read other articles by Gary.