Friday, April 28, 2023

Whose Is Beauty?

Who owns beauty, beauty shared?

Museums, or collectors’ wares?

The galleries who sell, or where

The artist pleads his case to show?

Beauty, who has made you fair?

The painter, or the brush and paint?

The mother and the father whose

Connubial bliss has thence accrued

The spark divine of beautiful truth?

Or was it she so pictured there,

The damsel and her lovely hair?

Whose is beauty? Whose the chair

Of jurisprudence in this case?

Have we paid enough for that?

The beauty that the eye beholds

Belongs inside the last to know: 

The audience imagines that

All beauty is a matter of fact. 

John Sevcik

Monday, November 28, 2022

Beauty Is the Highest Good

Beauty is the highest good
Virtue is its own reward
Kindness softens every heart
Beauty is the highest good

Beauty is as beauty does
Nothing takes from excess much
Elegance returns the price
Beauty is as beauty does

Beauty is a balm in sun
Radiance as well as calm
Nothing ventured, nothing gained
Beauty is the finest wine

Beauty is the pride of place
How we waken in the maze
Like the song of mocking birds
Beauty is the good of grace

Beauty is the highest good
Art for art’s sake, if you could
Let the opening number play
Beauty is the highest good

Beauty is the highest good
Ring the anvil made of wood 
Going, going, going, gone
Beauty glimmers like the dawn

Beauty is the highest good
Give it money for its looks
Build it temples, charge to look
Beauty is the richest good

Beauty is the highest good
In the starving rustic shack
Or the garret atelier 
Beauty has us by the hook

Love is all that beauty good
Poor or rich it overlooks
Evolution rides along
Beauty is the highest good

John Sevcik


Thursday, July 21, 2022

Requiem over a Farm Field

You poor SOB.

I shot you in the sky so clear.

You weren’t old as I,

By 4 or 5 months not my peer.

You’re in god’s country now.

Forget your old home town.

We’ve planted you among the plow’s

Furrows with a furrowed brow.

War is like this, they have said,

That you and I are born and bred

From different bones in different lands. 

As we must stand for different things

Across the sky we spread our wings

Defending where we mewled our first,

Our milking mother’s mother tongue. 

Alas, it’s all just childhood fun,

And now we cock our guns to fight. 

Beware the church they fit us in,

Our pew of place, our fifth of gin. 

Now smoke is left of you, or me; 

It writes a different family tree. 

We own you now, your hope, your end,

Between the hedgerows, lost to death:

Our measure and our test as men.

We felled you here to bring an end

To war forever, wars that end

Before they’re ever thought again. 

A sunny day like this seems odd

For death and murder high aloft;

We both alive to fly, not fall. 

A different time, we’d have no fight;

Between us only cheers and stout. 

Goodbye, farewell, and keep me well.

Delay the airmen of the grave.

I’ll fly along some more and send

My good regards between good men. 

It couldn’t have been otherwise. 

We came from mothers on other sides. 

John Sevcik


Monday, September 28, 2020


The kingdom of Benin, palace of their king

Looted of its treasures by the British king.

One king to another: I have looted you. 

Keep on reading, to learn the IOU.

Now there is nothing we have not looted:

Valuable hides, gold, human beings looted.

Slaves of no rights slavery endured,

Then of looted rights further endured.

Centuries of progress on all sides but theirs;

Looters get up looting, the guns are all theirs. 

Stop the looters and the anarchists,

Though they be kings and royalists. 

Stop the looters and the socialists,

Though they be Republicans and capitalists.

We have the stolen and the looted lives;

Give them compensation: Black Lives

Matter. Doesn’t it condemn your court

To never catch the king at sport?

Looting, looting all the way to power, 

Even in the trickle of a golden shower. 

Blast it, thieves and mercenaries, too!

I have to know how mercy for the few

Tramples all the looted and the loot.

Perhaps the looted catches us as loot:

Masks observe us, while maledictions hue.

We stumble onward guilty and quite blue.

Looters, give up looting on your taxes;

Looters, come and loot us on our taxes.

Bring it all around to where you’re sitting.

Looters there their grand loot are splitting,

Pouring over all the loot of land —

You need some armies on that loot to stand.

Looters loot the lives of those brave armies,

Loot by force the spoils of warring armies.

Even cities stood around to seize

Looters come with all their force to please

The looters in their ranks and kings and princes:

Looting is the native national business. 

Looters of our rights stand up and see

You lose those rights without an RBG.

Oh, I’ve smoked the truth on out at last:

If you loot, loot by law, it’s fast. 

John Sevcik 

Friday, November 15, 2019


A painting is a painting
It’s not like you or me
Nobody gets older  
No one ever sleeps. 

It’s a stillness made of life
With meaning in its air
You feel it as you watch it,
Even as you stare:

At those forever praying
Or lying nude aware
Not of us but God
And the artist never there.

We travel time to then
And then to us appears;
Time becomes transparent
And what is far comes near. 

Who gave their life to painting
That we can know life more?
The artist in his garret?
The model in her maze?

We think of things self-evident
When we observe those lives
Frozen in the minerals
Of pigments and the mind

But what of art’s intention?
Does it think or know the way?
The artist isn’t talking;
There’s nothing more to say. 

Who made a painting matter
Then vanished long ago?
Who gave their life to painting
So we enjoy life more?

John Sevcik

Friday, June 15, 2018

We who have gone in search of beauty

We who have gone in search of beauty
For ourselves, or others, on the dole
Of what the muse abundantly provides
With little succor, only with demands
For more canvas, brushes, paint,
Or a mine of stones to chisel,
Rents to pay and transport to and from
The hovel you would travel to in Maine,
Or all that you must eat and feast your eyes
On books of reproductions from the past
Aligned with nothing they have taught in schools
Other than “don’t now do what was done before.”
How have you your own time measured out
To mete out beauty from a stunted time?
Just as you your measure take, it moves. 
Beauty alone is not its likeness now. 
It wrestled once already for its meaning
Immortalized for others in mute form, 
Illusioned like a perfect memory and bliss. 
Today there is no longer need of this. 
What you cannot afford to make your art,
They have in great abundance; who might part
With millions, climb far mountains, take
A class in art, and quit before you make
Of them, the slave this art has made of you. 
Brother, can you spare a dime of inspiration?
We have gone after you and found
The self-same artist on a mountaintop
And asked him what he’s doing, what he’s painting,
When it’s clear and we can see ourselves. 
We have our iPhone camera at the ready 
And only need a block of time to edit
Everything we didn’t look at while snapping up
The memories of a lifetime we will share
On Facebook. Canvas! Brushes! Stone?
We didn’t come this way to fall behind
Technology and all it’s given us to do:
Moon at every spectacle staged for show
From royal weddings to our landings
On the moon. Who would wait for Turner’s
Take on things; we have news and networks 
For such things. And all the addled paint
That Church could scumble, isn’t needed
As we have no interest in the jungle,
Nor of global warming, nor Impressionism
Gloating over light and color: we’ve got 
Money on the next big thing — a trip
To Mars! Please consider what the pottery
Says of us: a Campbell’s soup can
And a plastic vase of pop. 
The oceans gather it in eddies 
Large as Wales, and as you paint
The movies move about, narrating everything
Your ancient painters couldn’t dream about. 
So as to beauty, formal and relaxed,
You have no special dalliance with the past,
But up against the great improvements of your age 
You need to sink your sculptures into glass
Or turn your Mona Lisa into holograms. 
Bifurcate the modern from the now
And give us future art so early it is out. 
Make it hard to contemplate, a gunshot
Or an artist crucified to a bug (VW),
Or Jeff Koons’ balloon sculptures made of chrome. 
At least they still remember classic chrome!
And so to beauty we are now divorced
As we cannot marry or enforce
The rules of old to now, or to the future;
Everything’s reduced to price and profit. 
Give us new, the brand, the trademark scan,
The only one of these, the chit for wealth
Without which there’s no beauty in the bank,
No pampered yacht cruise to Capri,
Nor fashions you can wear and fling
As bundles of your waste to render shock
In others not so greedy for a frock. 
Polish these, your stones of comprehension
And mock the office, if not the sheer presumption
Of what it means to make a work of art. 
It isn’t going to be what they call art,
But something so well made you cannot do without. 
Your age is in your phone, your tv view,
Your market bringing you the bottom price
And capital distributing its gains
Unevenly but thickly over all. 
What poverty? What golden age of old?
You’re in the middle of the latter days. 
Nothing can impose itself on you,
Least beauty that might make you sad
You aren’t as lovely as Sargent’s Madame X. 
Bring on the pomp and ceremony of your life,
Forget the past, it wasn’t all that ripe. 
Effulgence wraps its languid arms about
And drags to drowning all your sorrows out. 
A problem? Take a pill, or rather
Wire yourself to this transductor
And smile it out. Beauty is only
Beauty talked about. Fame is what you need,
So get a media consultant and arouse
The sleeping giant of our networked
Consciousness. Sell when thus established
To your sponsors; everything’s a concept,
So are you. And so I bring down curtains
(What are those?) on the past
And record the speed of change at last. 
You who think that art will wait it out
Are parked at the rocket port
Waiting for a pack of mules. 
Surrender to your video display;
Even that’s too old, your DVD, no!
Your digital display! Curses, foiled again. 
The old hat, hatless, will not cure
Baldness, at least of that we’re sure. 

John Sevcik


  1. In this poem that questions old forms of art as irrelevant now, the poet slips in and out of an old-fashioned meter and rhyme scheme, as well as affecting a need to satisfy a British audience. Why would this be an effective strategy? Why not?
  2. Is the poet’s mockery out of place? Should there be a micro-aggression warning before the poem, or in the margin every time it occurs?
  3. Are your feelings hurt by this attempt at poetry? Would you read this poem a second time for meaning, or rather write a poem of your own in response?
  4. Should this even be included in a course on poetry or art? What are your feelings about how the teacher presented this material, and should he be granted tenure, or simply let go to teach in an art center somewhere else?
  5. The invisible administrators who generally have less qualifications than  they can confer on you would like a raise. Would this course material justify, in your opinion, a raise, or firings across the board?  
  6. Please submit your answers in the envelope on the side desk, return your pencils, and have one of your (micro-aggression warning:) “class-mates” return the surveys to the marketing representative at the front desk?

Friday, May 11, 2018

The starry night

Turn on the lights
And we don't see the stars!
So bright is our home. 
But that makes us forget
When we fell in love;
We were rapturous as the stars.  
And that was before
We needed reassurance of our strength:
Four corners staking out our yard
And a bright electric light
To frighten new lovers away. 
No. Turn out the lights,
And let God light our way
From every point of view
With every intensity of flickering pulse. 

John Sevcik