Art for Art’s Sake…and Cutting Thru

Ansel Adams’ Winter Morning, Yosemite Valley, California on a Hills Brothers coffee can. Cuz it’s art ‘n’ stuf.

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 our turvy world of 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
for others being as wise as he.
(“Axiom? What’s axiom?”)

Against this moral turpitude
where anything that sells is “art,”
and leggy girls sell “news” between
a pharmaceutical haze and sheen,
the soul struggles not to be subsumed
by tawdry 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.)

“’Listen!‘” the sanctimonious judge intones,
“has the same letters as…”–solemnly intoning—
“’silent!‘” she concludes,
berating the perplexed defendant,
seeking to expound,

I want to say, “’tinsel,’ also….”

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

Day by day we weave
a web of lies
and demos plays 2nd fiddle
because the final score’s a riddle
only the Conductor knows;

or…if we have the will,
cutting thru
obsessions of the sickened mind,
and all chicanery,
we build

a web of diamond beads—
each reflecting each;

polishing, refining,
(if we have the will
and minds to learn
and will to heal),

testing diamonds on the glass of fashion,
cutting through,

refining, refining…polishing

universal diamond beads
of truth.

(Author’s note: Earlier versions of this poem appeared at Dissident Voice and The Smirking Chimp in 2013.)

Categories Poetry

Gary Corseri has published and posted articles, fiction and poems at hundreds of venues, including The Seattle Star, The Greanville Post,, Counterpunch, Information Clearing House, AlterNet, The New York Times, Village Voice, and The Palestine Chronicle and Global Research. He has published 2 novels and 2 collections of poetry, a literary anthology (edited), and his dramas have been produced on PBS-Atlanta and elsewhere. He has performed his poems at the Carter Presidential Library and Museum, and he has taught in universities in the US and Japan, and in US public schools and prisons. Contact: Gary_Corseri [at]

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