To Whoever It Was at Sotheby’s on October 5th

in Culture by

You knew, most likely, what you were doing
and that, on some level, once you’d done it,

a certain shade of the sky would become clearer
to everyone, for a minute, or a few minutes.

More like you realized that a rose, when sold,
becomes more or less than the rose it was,

and the same is true of a violet, or a little
girl, or a balloon, even—that the better way

of being human in a landscape of wires
involves stealing light bulbs, and making

rings of bodies around them, and breathing
warmth on them until they glow for all of us.

That a field of flowers is just a field of flowers;
a little girl, just a little girl; a heart-shaped

balloon, for celebration, and not for auctioning.
No doubt, you realized, that the green men

at the auction house would gather round them
their cloaks and their curios, and come up

with some arcane plan to make your little rebellion
worth all the more in broken dollars. Isn’t this,

I’m sure you realized, how little rebellions always,
or almost always, seem to go? More important, though,

you must have realized, is that the fancy people,
who’d come to the cold auction house to pay homage

to the green men and their goods, were going to see
no longer a little girl and a red balloon, nor even

would they see, I know you knew, a canvas tearing
itself into many pieces. Instead, they saw a mirror,

bent weird, fucking with the angles of the light
in the room, putting the world back to itself absurd.

Seeing the mirror, I would imagine, as I bet you would,
that they were strangely relieved, to be absurd, all wrong.

The evidence of this, for me as, I’m sure, for you,
is their laughter, in the video, when the alarm gets going.


£1m Banksy artwork shredded at auction ‘now worth double’ [Evening Standard]

Michael J. Abraham is a PhD student in the English department of Yale University, studying 19th and 20th century transatlantic poetics, the rise of feminism, and post-Enlightenment formulations of reason and irrationality. His poetry has appeared in The Minetta Review, Palimpsest, and Poets Reading the News, among others. He lives in Harlem.

Image credit: thefreddyshow