And What Of Art?

It used to be that there was a division
Between the arts, and each had segments, too.
A poem was just a poem, required revision,
A painter mixed his colors – blue was blue,

And didn’t need some trash, or added gravel
To make it more exciting to the eye.
Once dance depicted grace, and human travel
Through life, was not a calisthenic lie.

And when did sculpture morph into some girders,
Well rusted, piled together in a heap?
A thousand of these small aesthetic murders,
And art began to take a frantic leap

Into the current chaos that we think of
As progress; and the little love we keep
For beauty is sunk deep below the stink of
The odor of a rotting garbage heap.


What Matters

Colors are complementary,
And speak of a relationship,
One to another, I can see
No good in color censorship.

Let black lives matter; what of yours?
The image here cannot relate
To white or  brown, or those diverse,
And fosters conflict and dull hate.

.Each tone and color speaks about
Variety and of our lives;
The calm of blue, and bright red’s shout;
When regulated, what survives?.

Not butterfly’s variety,
Or comet’s glow in dark midnight —
A rainbow in a sky of grey,
Dark patterns in a sky of flight;

To those who guard diversity
In every university,
Some colors are less equal now,
Than those with any sense allow.

New Normal’s in, still I allow
I never saw a purple cow.*


*An allusion to the below 1895 nonsense verse by Gelett Burgess

 I Never Saw A Purple Cow

I never saw a Purple Cow,
I never hope to see one;
But I can tell you, anyhow,
I’d rather see than be one


A former Wilbur Fellow and six-time Pushcart nominee, Sally Cook is a regular contributor to National Review, and has appeared in venues as varied as Chronicles, Lighten Up On Line, and TRINACRIA. Also a painter, her present works in the style known as Magic Realism are represented in national collections such as the N.S.D.A.R. Museum in Washington, D.C. and The Burchfield-Penney, Buffalo, NY.

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14 Responses

  1. Red Was Iceblue

    The contrast between Hayter and Basquiat is telling. Basquiat’s painting is a perfect reflection of what Ms. Cook calls “trash” in “And What of Art?” I appreciated her hard-hitting question: “And when did sculpture morph into some girders/ Well rusted, piled together in a heap?”

    Also, I think Mr. Mantyk has done a remarkable job in continuing to publish paintings and pictures with the poems he presents @ SCP. It keeps the visual conversation going.

  2. Bic Uwel, "Erased"


    The painting of a black skull by Jean-Michel Basquiat
    was purchased by Yusaku Maezawa—costly art—
    and sold at Sotheby’s in May of 2017—
    in millions, it ap-prox-i-mate-ly was one-hun-dred-ten—
    110% of life to pay for black on blue,
    white circles dripping where the eyes are violent in view,
    red, gold, and black lines frame those eyes, graffiti nearly square,
    the penetrating gaze askew in heroin’s despair,
    the tic-tac-toes with 5’s and O’s and X’s on the top;
    off to the left, unaddled, A-d l—is slightly dropped.

    • Sally Cook

      Two comments:

      First, price does not always indicate quality. Once you realize the art market greatly resembles the stock market, then you can see that the “art” objects are only just that – things to be traded like Dutch tulip bulbs a few centuries ago.

      Eventually that marked collapsed; this one certainly will, too. But in the meantime, a lot of money will change hands.

      My second point is:

      The artist is not — or certainly should not be portrayed as some wild beast, incapable of anything but feelingsl

      All artists must have the freedom to experiment. But those same artists must take the responsibility to think. Why? Because artists in every milieu are interpreters of life. While they owe it to their audience to show life in all ways, first of all must give hope. In other words, look at anything, but somehow find Order, spirit, encouragement, and hope in it. It is easy to trivialize beauty. Not so easy to find meaning in the ugly.

  3. Shobha Pawar

    Isn’t aesthetics subject to change? If art is the reflection of life, hasn’t life changed? Dismissing some art as trash is as good as dismissing life.
    If art is an expression of what you have felt on your pulse, we cannot dictate the terms for the artist. You are free to dislike something by all means; however, the artist needs his freedom too.
    My appreciation of art is limited to whether the artist has said/painted well what he wants to say. To use the cliche, whether his form and content are finely fused together or not will define his status as an artist.

    • Joseph S. Salemi

      You are confusing aesthetics with taste. Everyone has the right to his own taste (de gustibus non est disputandum, as the Romans said). Taste is personal; aesthetics is rooted in canons of beauty and decorum.

      Can you honestly say that the piece of trash above painted by that overblown fraud Basquiat is in any way, shape, or form the aesthetic equal of the self portrait by Hayter? the fact that I even have to ask this question is a testament to the profound corruption of taste that has occurred in the West since the triumph of garbage art.

      • War di Beleceuse

        How right Mr. Salemi is. We must keep up the battle against the “profound corruption of taste that has occurred in the West since the triumph of garbage art.”

  4. David Hollywood

    Marvelous defence of standards. We all know the level to which we should try and reach, even if its beyond our capacity, and consequently apply a sense of appreciation. Equally we can recognise works that have no effort or art or skill applied to them, and therefore need to identify these just as readily. I enjoyed the above poetry for their pragmatic candour.

  5. James Sale

    As always, marvellous stuff Sally, especially And What of Art? The phrase, ‘A thousand of these small aesthetic murders’ so perfectly exemplifies what has happened, what ‘we’ have allowed to happen, only there has been a billion of them, over the last century. This is poetry that is clear, combative, and also a clarion call for that other wonderful phrase you use: ‘the little love we keep / For beauty …’ Yes, that is where we must direct our attention – on beauty; and your poetry gives us another taster of it. Thank you.

  6. Sally Cook

    Thanks! Sent iouy a response yesterday, but see it has now disappeared. Did you receive it, or is my computer in trouble again?

    • James Sale

      Yes, it has disappeared Sally, but thanks for your response anyway. Glad to see your poetry is being appreciated – and the underlying philosophy behind it.

  7. Satyananda Sarangi

    Greetings ma’am.

    The poem ‘And What of Art?’ is so sharp and a punch in the face of the
    self acclaimed liberated post modernist. I wonder to what extent these
    murders of sheer beautiful art would continue. Yet, I assure you the
    ones holding the superior form of this art within their hearts will
    never stop.
    I have read your poems and remember ‘Poem for a Birthday’, ‘Blue
    Star’, ‘Veiling’ and ‘Celebration of the Past’. I loved them very

    Looking forward to reading more.


  8. Sally Cook

    Dear Mr. Sarangi —

    Thanks for your comments. I am heartened to se that there is distaste for ugly nonsense across the world, and flattered to see you have remembered not only my poems, but also the titles!

    I also notice that you see a common thread running through them. Whatever one says in a poem, it is doubly significant when a relationship between them is clear.This makes me feel that I may be succeeding on that.

    I must now look for your work, which I have not yet read.

    • Satyananda Sarangi

      Dear ma’am,

      It is always a great learning curve for young poets like me ( though I may not be that young but still in the early twenties) to read true poetry. Your poems were true- true in the sense that being written with rich rhyme and meter, they also set up a contemporary theme around them which I feel is incredible. As said earlier, the curve has just begun and I’m convinced that more of your poems will delight me. To be honest, sometimes it doesn’t feel comfortable being surrounded by ugly, poor modern poems. Then rescue work has always been effected by poets like Longfellow, Blake, Shelley, Coleridge, Keats, Raleigh, Wyatt, Yeats, Drayton, Shakespeare and few others. Since the time I have discovered this website, I have read many poets who take me into a deep thought process, you being one of these poets.

      And about reading my work, I think you would find them on this website soon (at least that’s what I can say at the moment).

      Best wishes and regards ma’am. 🙂


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