Real Estate Ode


If the Pyramid at Giza were 

at Bleecker and LaGuardia, 

the base would extend down to West Broadway 

and Spring, and across Spring to Mercer, 

and up Mercer to Bleecker and across 

Bleecker to LaGuardia,

sloping up on four sides

to its peak the height of the skyscraper

on Spring and Varick. It would be 

the home of one person, one 

dead person, and of others made dead

to keep him company, in his deadness—

and the home of a GNP of plunder 

mined from the earth and from the lives of the miners,

and it would be solid, except for the chamber

of the hoarder, and it would weigh thirteen billion

two hundred twenty-four million pounds.

A Pharaoh, a University

President, an Executive Officer 

Chief could slip his trousers under it 

at night and they would come out very

flat in the morning, with a killer crease.


Sharon Olds is the author of eleven volumes of poetry, most recently Stag’s Leap (Knopf, 2012), which was awarded the T. S. Eliot Prize and the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. Her next collection, Odes, is due out shortly, also from Knopf. Named New York State Poet Laureate from 1998–2000, Olds teaches in the Graduate Creative Writing Program at New York University and is one of the founders of NYU’s writing workshops for residents of Goldwater Hospital and for veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. A Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Science, she was awarded the Donald Hall–Jane Kenyon Prize in American Poetry in 2014, and was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2015.