Pharaoh's Daughter

by Steven Hill
"The economic owning class is always the political ruling class." Eugene Debs, 1927

She died quietly in her sleep last night.
It was a nice sort of death, under a silken satin canopy

not like Ethiopian children of malnutrition or disease
or Salvadorans bombed by General Electric helicopters
or like southern United States Coca Cola sharecropper kids drinking pools of cesspool water

No, she died at 97 years of age,
at home, in peace,
at the family estate,
with rolling green lawns yawning outside her bedroom window,
and croquet wickets precisely placed among the petunias and daffodils.

She had lived a long, full life, as trustee of her family fortune

not like northern ghetto kids with a needle sticking out their arm
or like Guatemalan highlanders fleeing soldiers, burning villages
or homeless indigents' freezing feet, losing toes to Winter's bite

The family fortune was the New York Times,
her name, for 97 years, was Iphigene Ochs Sulzberger.
She was the daughter, wife, mother-in-law or mother
of every New York Times publisher since 1896.

In life she was a White House guest
of every president from Coolidge to Kennedy and beyond,
she was acquainted with Hirohito, the Shah, Winston Churchill and more,
she sipped coffee with Golda Meir, Chiang Kai-shek, and FDR's Eleanor
Raised in splendor, she died in splendor,
a newspaper heiress who was well-connected

not like Angolan peasants fleeing CIA-funded UNITA terror
or like Latin American children sold into sexual slavery
or Philippine women, young girls, selling themselves to GI Joes

the Iphigene Ochs Sulzberger family owns 80% of the New York Times,
80% of the Crown Jewel of the mighty Free Press,
"All the News that's fit to Print"
owned by one family, one fortune, one philosophy, one ideology,
one religion, one set of assumptions and preferences,
generation after generation, since 1896.

Upon her death, Iphigene Ochs Sulzberger handed over the reins
of this inheritance called the New York Times,
to her children and grandchildren,
together they renewed her father's,
the grand old Pharaoh's dream.

not like black and brown children without a prayer or dream
not like wives and children being battered by their husbands and fathers
not like the 25% functionally illiterate who can't even read the New York Times

Iphigene Ochs Sulzberger, the Pharaoh's Daughter,
set sail over the Great Sea for the Great Beyond.
But she was replaced by another Ochs Sulzberger Pharaoh
who continues construction
of their Great Pyramid called the New York Times,
hard and pointed on the outside, hollow inside,
a relic, a tomb
stuffed with attendants and hand-maidens,
the anguish of the poor accompanies Iphigene into her Afterlife,
the poor chewed by rats in some stench-filled tent or tenement,
children born to the hard rock of an earth
that yields to only a privileged few.

Iphigene Ochs Sulzberger died in her bed,
in her sleep, at the ripe old age of 97,
but the poor, chances are they won't see the short hairs of 97,
and 10 to 1 they won't die quietly in their sleep either,
and they won't make the obituary columns of the New York or Los Angeles Times, or the Washington Post or the Seattle Post-Intelligencer,
that's reserved for High Society folk,
those of the rich and the famous crowd,
the Beautiful People, prominent ones and VIPs,
the ones who own the press and their friends and associates,
not for a statistic,
a child shivering,
a child bawling, withering, receding,
its last wan breath in the cold, sharp night air.

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