Monday, December 19, 2011

Greed Suite

This cycle of poems looks at greed from a number of sides. Does it exist? Has it been seen? Where is it?

The Statue of Greed

A statue of greed, if it could be made,
Might be of a fisherman, when the fish are
Biting, after the second and third have come in,
Or the seventh is on the line.

It could be of the fisherman at the pier,
Looking for takers, the village that might redeem
His insane catch as an act of Providence.

A statue of greed would have a human face
Of glee, the boy who has scored a hat-trick,
The girl with three boyfriends, or just the old
Man with three gloves, none of which match.

John Sevcik

What is Beyond Greed?

If greed is an addiction, what is success?
After success comes greed. Or come before?
Is the present-day economic system founded on addiction, conformity, or the sense of insurance? Assurance? Perhaps all. Fictions function as conduits for money. Write your business plan. If it makes a movie, all the better. Numbers don’t lie.
The numb move en masse. Greed is another’s problem, not mine.
There is a vortex in the sun. Other stars, too.
Stars earn more than their keep. In the keep of their un-use.
I would like to buy and sell, what to sell? Sell-out.
The position of everything is worth, even not recognized.
How is this perception of recognition? How is it to open
its eyes? Nothing can shock, if only a movie.
We are standing in front of the television.
Both sides. The mirror is wide-screen, high definition.
Nothing of truth seems to matter with those tattoos on the screen,
tattoos on the skin, the Dow Jones, the Davy Jones, the Jones’n.
Low-high, high-low. To the woodshed we go.
Something doesn’t believe we are in this jam.
Winning is forward to fail. Flail if you must.
Somebody serve the few. Everybody. Make yourselves useless.
Scurry out of the way. The giant is near and the mouse must away.
Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, heigh-away.

John Sevcik


Psychotic God of gold abound with me,
Inspire me to plant my Lobby fees
Behind the doors of power in the vestibules of war;
High five hundred billion dollars overtime my palms;
Cross me with the crucifix of no reform;
Believe in me and not the others who must pay;
By death and killing mutilate their souls;
By poverty arrange their apathy and vote-less No.
I am for the rush of everything turning into my
Possession, into me, replacing me,
Into the vacuum of the universe blown up
So long ago and lonely and so filled with dark
It absorbs the lightness of absurdity and woe.

John Sevcik

Mendicant Blues:

Emolumental truths align against me, envious
And disturbing as I’m driven, in my window-tinted car,
My jet of private overflight, my private stateroom,
And my private glee. No one to associate with,
Except to scorn from my own height of heights.
Buddha of the broken marriage, Buddha deadbeat-dad,
I pray you be the Buddha of banking nirvana.
Fiscally sound, middle-brow mendicant-lite popularizer
Of enlightenment and compassion: Feel sorry for me,
Until I begin to feel it, too, and then in a universalizing
Instant, feel the same for every one of you. Instead of greed,
I read the truth of each of you, needing more than me,
Needing while I while away my time at the mill of money
You can’t have. Oh, how I feel above the common need.
Needing only to feel and be felt about, I need community
Of spirit, and not only property. How much does compassion cost?
“Everything they own,” the Buddha whispers in my ear.
“And if they own nothing, it is free.”
Freedom is in the spending of everything,
The granting of everything, the everything of life.
I have made the masses free. I am the robber Buddha.
I am their enlightenment from greed.

John Sevcik

The Beggar’s Sonata:

If you support me in my 501(c)3 non-profit tax bracket,
And I come on-air to interrupt your favorite underwritten shows,
Can’t you see compassion in my eyes for you alone?
I am executive so as not to offend you with rags. Square
In the square of public opinion. Please let me have pennies,
Or if you want this mug, and tote-bag, and a handsome calendar,
AND a DVD of this show, all for 29.95, you can help underwrite
With your compassion my compassion, and all I care about is you,
Even though I again make a nice six-figure salary, it is begging
That is earning, all of us begging and earning. This is the truth,
Whomsoever we serve the opportunity for compassionate giving.

John Sevcik

And So, What Is Greed, After All?

When we die we are rich and then poor, or is it
Poor and then rich? When we are no more, we can’t take it
With us, yet some did, in their pyramids of wealth, and yet,
Power stayed behind on earth and went to others, so what is
Wealth, or the feeling of greed that has it, or wants it, or goads
One to get it? Over and out. Candles at the dinner table go out
Once the meal is feasted in their golden light. Away
It goes and what is left behind is grief – before or because of,
It doesn’t matter. Grief is neurotic that way, as crying at weddings
Shows the grief of waiting, or losing, or mistaken choices, or what?
Back to the story of greed and why it forgets to become immortal.
It is because anyone paying attention to it will probably not have
A better idea for anything else. It keeps one busy with nothing that lasts.
The telephone wasn’t discovered for greed, nor the wheel, nor the car,
Though fortunes were certainly made at some point, by someone.
Greed, simply put, is boring.

John Sevcik


Envy imagines greed.
Greed imagines envy.
Together they tie the world in knots of injustice.
This injustice is both real and imagined.
Thinking a free thought, you can escape it,
Even invent your place in the sun.
May you have good visions.

John Sevcik

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Thanks to a past art teacher

This is a poem about an old instructor of ours at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.
He was a remarkable and wonderful painter. Mr. Remenick often comes up in conversations among his past students. We remember his humanity and teaching with fondness.

And Then, Seymour Remenick

And then he wandered through the Louvre
Putting out a cigarette in Paul DuSold’s studio
And then lighting another, and then remembering
Walking up to a Rembrandt and wanting to know
How the other did it; how did he make those paintings
Like pure feelings and humanity fused?
And then he had also gone to the Academie
Des Beaux-Arts on the GI Bill
Right after his unit’s demobilization in Europe,
And then he told me in my studio
Of how he wouldn’t go to classes, only walk
In Paris in Spring and in Summer and Autumn
And in the Louvre, and then he would inhale
As he did then, to pull life into him,
Its very life and spirit, he would intoxicate
Himself and need a cigarette, and then
He would light another. We weighed crits
By the empty shells of Lucky Strikes
He left in a row, from the bandolier of pleasure,
And then Paul thought of Seymour in an American uniform
Getting girls in Paris, and I didn’t think so,
And then I said he was one of the soldiers
Eisenhower sent through Birkenwald or Auschwitz
To witness and remember, and then Seymour
Only told most of us of living, and then living,
And then painting the living of that time he paints
And notices, with the rapture of the world of the living,
Living even more, perhaps, for those refused their lives.

John Sevcik

Friday, December 2, 2011

How Is the Eye to See?

How is the eye to see, or hand to move,
Charcoal burning into what is mind
As cave painters long ago brushed
The ends of their lit torches into line?
How does the hand walk into the eye,
Talk to the ear, dance for the heart?
What is the timing of pure art?

In academies, since the Renaissance,
Refining measures were the near objective,
Discovery of nature further on.
Later in Rococo time, how was the prim
To be addressed, or the melancholy,
Or how to draw the person who has flown
By psyche to another place and time?

Or after Realism and Courbet,
Renoir, Eakins and Monet?
First the masses: how to weigh
Their slim recumbency, or say
How is the model older this week –
Can you tell? – or younger to an Age
You will not know? And how to draw
The blithe completeness of her form
In times both analytic and assured?

Along with central heating, and
Fluorescent lights
Skin is not pallor, only temperature.
So much about us medicine
And ill, we have to draw beyond,
Or long ago. Empirically we know,
Subjectively we draw – though how we think
Is too much only us.

To feel the other standing in a space,
Waiting to be seen and understood,
Remains a vestibule of intimates;
How the vulnerable model charms
By her quiet surprise of grace –
These are some infinities of space.

John Sevcik