The Artists

by waxnwings

Here we saw without shame nor want
the paint and ink and etches,
scenes in scratches, pencil, pen,
Art invested with value
but sold like Starbucks Coffee in
litters of cardboard cups

~ recycled

Sold for crowns, a local coin
for local views, to sell and to consume:
not to be but to have been.
Was is for their work?
Was it for their love?

Tell me. Because I too bought their vestige,
Bought a fragment for
their trade, their work, their pay.
But this thing: is it worthless?  What is this investment?
Are they blasphemous merchants
of art and culture or victims of commodity?
Are they artists or a deft-handed Gutenberg?

The people smile at sights and snap and flash,
They package and take home,
they feed and leave with the taste of culture
for a cost of crowns:
Not communion but illusion.

They are numb.

In front of statues they feign smiles,
stare at golden swords and crosses and
marvel at blackened stone,
at brass scenes eroded by hands
clawing at relics,
for how better to alleviate the guilt of lacking Spirit
than to take the flesh home under your nails.

The beautiful buildings become nothing
but a sight to behold. So be held!
Take them! Buy a picture of them! Buy some art!
Are they the ilk of those who carved the stone
and raised the Bridge? Perhaps.
For beauty only becomes when all else becomes
ugly, rotten; decayed.

But for all this – there is no ‘outside’ from which to speak.
There is no pedestal to stand and object.
There is no rightful place to complain,
without ending up in Starbucks
in a quiet corner
scribbling incomprehensibly onto an envelope
whilst staring at the drawing of an obscured view of
Charles Bridge:

because I felt sick at myself,

and at the obnoxious guilt of having bought a view for 150 crowns
out of shameful, romantic pity.

The Bridge