"The Job of Pharaoh," "In Operations on Me-Maw's Womb," and "The Cosmos Fails to Regulate Billionaires"

The Job of Pharaoh

When you consider that the position of being Pharaoh
required the person to sit with an elevated attitude
for hours in a gold gargantuan chair on a platform
at a height where he could see everyone in the room
in the Pharaonic throne hall, where he sat but soared
over aqueducts and tropical canopies as he watched over
domiciles and common quarters, scrutinized the borders
with an eye on the calendar, while managing transversal
oppositions of sun and moon, you might ask how he sat
so long without breaking out of rank to raid the kitchen
or head out with a score of posthypnotic bathing women
and men who were ballfield comrades with a good sense
of humor and regard for the latest improvisatory bands
with an intellectual edge and infectious drum-beat urge.

The point may have been for the sitting Pharaoh to actualize
each moment by making it a breakthrough of embodiment,
to occupy the center of civilization toward which the stars
are pointing out of cosmic arrangement that exacerbates
power of each knife, leverage of laboring musclemen, draw
of a dancer’s hand turning, and so forth. In this way, a man
fulfilling his purposes could rest assured, without fearing
the fall of his own shadow if it loomed large on a stone wall.
Maybe he’d say to a buddy, “I don’t know about your plan
or understand your methods, but I know the Pharaoh sits
on the throne of what we know, that order reigns over all.”



In Operations on Me-Maw’s Womb


I. The Smile of Mr. Pence

What keeps highly prayerful
seeming boy scout Pence square
in the pew, at the right hand
of – okay, he could be called Sir,
he could be called the Great Pretender,
the preacher of possessions who’s possessed –
but this is about Pence there in the stench
of regalia, in the putrefaction of stealing
the old colors, in the sea of mammoth petroleum
fish swallowing the fry of unknown others
with prehistoric gases foaming out of the mouths
in the rock of Arctic waters. What keeps little boy
Pence bleached, well replicated, and so completely
unimported, not to mention such a great big wig
flatterer of the character who does the bidding
of the hard-to-see devil out to undo civilization?
To whom does Mr. Pence give a little smile
and lines from a hymnal, onto what matter
does ripe angelic Pence hold, in what seas
does sea cucumber Pence feed, at what speeds
does unblooded Pence go, what appendages
does Mr. Pence tolerate, of which
appendectomies and oophorectomies
does Herr Pence approve? Is that
not Herr Privatizing Pence in the Here
and Now and yet already the Hereafter,
all together in a sealed package
of antique afternoon delight?
Is he, Flat-Out Pence, not the most
choir-hymned lickspittle
ever to wash this far ashore?


II. The Flummox Unpigmented in Pence

Whereas good mannerly pensive prehensile Pence
him go dog-diggety nosing up unpoliced spreads
of othern’s privates downward through dives
divoting him roughs whilst lowering the rank
bloom until unburying 1895, god bless it.

Going forth one of Great Great Grandad’s 1895s​
has been seated he square on upright corn-cob
RCA Victorian Indiana, nay-saying expert Pence
passing the Easter Island basket in a pump-organ
offertory grind after tossing in pence for bedeviled
spectacled othern elsewhere kept in the back
of bars for the glory of everlasting god damn it.

Whilst what have you, O Pence of the great waters
of money for praying out loud, as prayerful
as all-out dominion as was writ out onct​
by magic, long before science operated on babes
in me-maw’s womb, back when guarded
by auspices of Grandfathern him oxen Arbeit
Macht Frei with a destiny for the little shavers
and belles of woody barn dance balls.

Whence Pence do pray for him prey as incorporated
compensatory charges making great the good
ol’ daze plowing him’s lost plinks of piano
slogging asunder smackle be-gibbets as brethren
probe a be-lot of him’s mainstay penetration
sniffing out infraction urgent with unlearning
of the new for religiously tested old foundations
with ham hogs for bacon, apples for eyes,
under the single-bottom-line double cross.



The Cosmos Fails to Regulate Billionaires

           [a billion dollars = $70,000 a year for 14,285 years]

The origin launches into what it’ll never be again.
In the pitch-black night, the brain reports more
than the mind knows. Tumultuous summer crickets
keep chanting all accounts calm, as constellations appear
with surgical perspicuity and hazy out-of-date references.
In the day, we’ll see corporate panhandlings frying in light
before they bestow special status on themselves, ranking
themselves highly likely to end up in the throne room.

The consolidated holdings of a big billionaire, of course,
mathematically exceed those of a common millionaire
1000 times over. Having a billion bucks means you possess
a thousand stacks of US currency, a million bucks each.

In the present world of predatory capitalism, the person
with the most stacks of tall money as of July 9, 2018,
is Jeff Bezos who comes to the table with 112,000 stacks
a million bucks each. The next four billionaires on the Forbes
list possess 90, 84, 72, and 71 billion dollars, respectively.
So say you’re in fifth place, with 71,000 stacks of a million
bucks each, don’t you feel less than the person you could be,
shown by Forbes 41,000 stacks of a million behind the leader?

This is why billionaires should pay less in taxes, engaged
as they are in this profound competition. They shouldn’t,
in fact, be required to pay any that would just be spent
on programs that fail to create billionaires, but pretend
to address needs like eating food or sleeping in a building.

Where representative man has surfed the existential front
of knowledge, as heat-seeking apocalyptic belief has gone
to town on inexorable flowerhead lift and public necessity
of having the other species around, we’ve seen many sad
cases of yearning casting their lots with hoary materialism.

Holdings of billionaires have grown so immense, compared
to those of millionaires, that they’ve broken from human
limitations. By lifting one eyebrow, a billionaire can sink
great steel beams into a concrete foundation for a high-rise
that won’t collapse when a 747 slams into it. Or he can cause
a controlled demolition that topples it.
                                                           Is this when soup-pot
money-mongers will be fingerprinting the hungrier populations,
before so much cornucopia, pharmacopeia, and factory-fresh
farm, while they’re rifling through the public trust for what’s rife
for taking from the chimps of materialism maybe they’re called?

All night into the day, a few billionaires who believe that time is
of the essence when global resources hang in the balance can
arrange for comfortable passage through the cosmic needle eye
while never abandoning their Reagan fireplace busts or Civil War
trophies, with LED floodlight pulsars scouring the unconscious
sea-floor Mariana trenches for precious metals they could claim.

A billionaire can be a woman or man whose worldly effects break
through to a higher plain consisting of numerical extrapolation
and exotic profit margins, as possibilities exist that go undetected.

People in a room may be unable to speak if a billionaire walks in,
or was wheeled in by nurses, or is rumored to exist in the middle
of a tightly packed rugby formation of weightlifting body guards
in business suits. Maybe he’ll hand out currency for the hell of it.

Meanwhile, undead billionaires will do what they’ve always done:
purchasing mansions, exchanging goods or promises for power,
manipulating open markets, jetting between capitol cities, standing
up, sitting, or walking in with their serving persons and simulacra.



James Grabill’s poems have appeared in numerous periodicals and online at CalibanonlineTerrainonline, The Decadent Review, and others. He wrote four books from Lynx House Press including Poem Rising Out of the Earth (Oregon Book Award, 1995), as well as Sea-Level Nerve: I & II (2014 & 2015 – Wordcraft of Oregon), Branches Shaken by Light, Reverberations of the Genome, & Schoenberg in the Troposphere (2020, 2021, & 2023 – Cyberwit, India), Eye of the Spiral (2022 – Uncollected Press), Stray Dogs & Irreversible Cars (2023 – Atmosphere Press) & others. He taught writing and global issues relative to sustainability.


Edited for Unlikely by Jonathan Penton, Editor-in-Chief
Last revised on Sunday, October 28, 2018 - 10:48