Vicious Beauty

Nico Mara-McKay is a writer living in Toronto. Her poetry has been published in or is forthcoming in The Red River Review, EdgePiece, Line Zero, Northwind, and Contemporary Verse 2, among others journals. She can be found online at

Even where none of the parts
Of a good whole are bad
Or a bad whole good

Sid was in
a bad state
when he landed

It often happens that
The value of a complex whole
Cannot be measured

the only places
Sid could find peace:
celebrity haunts

By adding together
The value of its parts
The whole is often better

but then he
would often incite
trouble himself

Or worse than
The sum of the value
Of its parts

(life with Sid
and Nancy
was terrible)

In all aesthetic pleasures
It is important that the object admired
Should really be beautiful

he was desperate
to live up to
his name
as he felt fame

In the admiration of what is ugly
There is something ridiculous
Even sometimes repulsive

a meeting was arranged
on the condition that
Nancy did not attend

Although apart from the object
There may be no difference
In the value of the emotion

Sid turned up very late
with                                     Nancy
nevertheless in             tow

SOURCE: Bertrand Russell, from “The Elements of Ethics” in Philosophical Essays interspersed with fragments from Malcolm Butt’s Sid Vicious: Rock ‘n’ Roll Star.