Pyramid Schemes

They sell you on being made a useful
telling you that you may have as many
wishes granted
as you wish
if only you would enslave yourself
to their lamp.
Meanwhile your dreams come true
only in your dreams
and they charge you a profit
for Sandman’s glitter.
It is a cynical alchemy
that transmogrifies hopes into
labor, like turning the
in your head
ones and zeroes
for some other person’s bank account.
I used to scoff at
ponzi makeup saleswomen
who sold the overpriced makeup
which had been sold beforehand to them;
women who gathered in
sales-pitch parties
to sell the same junk to each other
and their tight circle of friends,
all hoping to become rich
and yet all so
to the Chinese Whispers
being played on them.
Now I see my reflection in their
gaudy “compact” mirrors—
a reflection
done up with a rich lather of
egg on my face.
It is the kind of dream-baiting
that only hopeful
born among the proletariat
can fall prey to,
whereas real
born into pharaoh’s family
sit comfily atop the pyramid capstone
and let the rest of the us break our backs
at the bottom as we yearn so badly to
move up one rank
that we fail to see the
Tetris entrapment
we’ve fallen for.
The weight of the pyramid
presses us deeper into the sands.
To be conned by a conman
you must first
con yourself,
make-believing all you can
so you can believe that your
will be a hit,
that your
will make you rich,
ignoring the fact that
the most popular blogs
are the ones that claim they can show you
how to make your blog popular,
that the best-selling ebooks
are the ones that claim they can show you
how to make your ebook a best-seller.
It is recursive absurdity
with diminishing returns for you
and exponential returns for the
wearing the gimmicky crown.
Sinking pyramid.
Sinking ship.
Keep rowing, oarsman,
upon the sinking galley
and hold your breath
within the submerged deck
because your head might someday be
above water.
And keep following that carrot
always out of reach;
keep reading that blog
about reaching that carrot;
keep reading that ebook
about eating that carrot,
and keep ignoring the fact
that you are being led
straight to the glue factory
by someone happily straddling a
pulling its own foundation block.
That pharaoh needs
that block, that glue,
to build up their pyramid
and keep it together.
Rejoice, genie.
You’re making the pharaoh’s
come true.

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.