you are in the diode archives v6n3



Working for the Pyramid

Whipped like rocks, we’re all Egyptians
working for death, for the pure idea
of capital numbers, tonnage
tricked and heaved up muddy slopes,
our own bodies the soft engines of increase,
spirit-shells boxed shoulder to shoulder and leashed
to a dream of freedom greater than labor,
labor stronger than pride.

With pride, then, we assume the pliant
ropes of subordination securing our lives.
We believe in a pyramid, in rank and ordered truth,
in an elevation of command more faithful
than all our cults and mild ambitions.

Stamped and soothed at night with exhaustion,
we lie awake in the cool desert winds,
dreaming of a monument finished,
radiant in all its massiveness,
with distant lights wavering at the top
where unseen leaders travel through the dark
like beautiful insects, shaping the future,
and over us all, the logical moon,
constant and airless, where lesser souls,
becoming shadows on earth, will someday shine.

Mergers & Acquisitions

Dreaming of Egyptians again, their hollowness,
dead men walking through airports, smiling, extending
their soft hands in recognition . . .

I lay out my business suit for another trip,
rehearsing my speech, and the beautiful numbers
pour out of me like water.

I believe in this corporation, in the natural
marriage of death and business, and I follow
the storm gods and executive furies
striding through terminals,
self-made and acquiring masters
flanked by falcons and honor guards,
low enemies scattered before us like roaches.

Even so, we have all seen that bewildered look
in the eyes of the dull, tremendous giants
we overtake, so we lay them down
gently on the conference table
and open the slack and bullish remains
with caution, working through layers
of pure contagion, rot
and pockets of fat. The body jerks
and relaxes, bones turning into silver.

The watchdogs with their manifestoes
wish us in hell, of course, stuffed
screaming into burning pipes,
but the soul endures—
spook and little shaving
inch-worming its way to heaven.

So let Egypt stand for the world
and let that world be stark and faithful
like an empty airport at midnight
as we touch down from another country,
our right hands extended, our wings
darkened from flight.  


Richard Cole is the author of two collections of poetry: The Glass Children (The University of Georgia Press) and Success Stories (Limestone Books). His poetry and prose has been published in The New Yorker, Poetry, The Sun, Hudson Review, and Image Journal: Good Letters. His upcoming memoir, Catholic by Choice: Why I embraced the faith, joined the Church, and embarked on the adventure of a lifetime, will be available from Loyola Press in spring 2014. He works as a business writer in Austin, TX. See more at www.richard-cole.net.