Lofty Heights

Broken backs and calloused hands
dragging a large limestone block;
sand-eaten teeth in desert lands
while priests drink wine and pray and talk;
sun-parched lips cracking with work and heat
as ramps rise toward a tyrant sun
and the slave-drivers lazily whip and beat
blistered skin until blisters run.

The pyramids rose in Ancient Egypt
as emblems for each ruler who had bound
his people to build his stepping-stone crypt
so he might ascend his own burial ground.
Higher, he demanded, as the pyramid rose,
seeking the eye of falcon-headed Horus
and when one pharaoh was buried, another then chose
a new site to continue the endless chore, thus.

While modern humans gawp at these wonders
built in the mysterious and ancient past,
we seem to learn little from their blunders—
wisdom being as elusive as cat-headed Bast.
So while each pharaoh idiotically bethought
himself the steward of the all-seeing Ra,
it was with poorer souls he thereby wrought
the terminating stairways for his flighty ka.

So many died so one might live
on in the imaginations of those to come,
and the pharaoh, in turn, would thereby give
a prime example of vanitas vanitatum.
For while he was embalmed in his skyward tomb
he never did ascend beyond dog-headed Anubis,
but like the rest of us succumbed to his doom
and his crypt measured the heights of his hubris.

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