They set up their drums, their stands
pulling taut the rusty strings
of old, forgotten guitars.
The lead singer stood limply on the stage,
his hair damp and covering his eyes
his clothes dirtied and torn.
But all eyes turned to him
when the guitar gave a hoarse sounding twang
and the drums began to cough
in a rhythmic beat,
and the lead singer cleared his throat
and began to sing:
“We are lost, can you see us
standing here as we drown—
we are lost, no more pretending
pretension is over, we’ve been laid low.
What more can we desire?
What use is dreaming now?
This world keeps getting older
and the end is getting closer
all the time…”
All eyes stared, transfixed by his voice
the throbbing of the drums hardening;
softening, like the faltering heart
of a dying dragon.
His voice was raspy and rough
but it was low and fervent
and pulled them and pushed them
like a dark ocean the words took them
and they let it sweep them away.
Somewhere far away the moon
was turning erratically in its orbit;
the sun was sending deadly rays
that the sky could no longer
And somewhere, on that earth was
a group of dying people,
all ruined by the sun’s sickness
all with cracked skin
and pale eyes that glittered oddly
some without limbs, burned away
some dying of thirst or hunger
all dying because it was
the only thing left to do
that made any sense.
But all were listening as one
sheltered in an old bar that was
quickly crumbling away under
the sun’s light.
And all were listening to a song
that wasn’t sung well, that limped
a song played by the dying
to the dying
the last song ever to be played
on that dying planet
so alone, so far away
the last song played to the last people
by the last band in the world.
And all listened to that fevered song
all let themselves be gathered and
pulled, and the band played on,
playing until the drummer’s hands faltered
and stilled as he bent in agony
the guitar sobbing until its player
crumpled and hung limply over it.
And still the lead singer sang on,
alone, remembering how
as a boy he had always dreamed
of singing to people, of catching them like this.
He sang into the silence
his voice made hoarse and low by sickness
his body wracked and frail.
But he was separate from it
and everyone saw it
and everyone saw it and knew
that it was beautiful.
The first dying cracks
of the shelter crumbling could be heard—
it began to groan and sway
under the blows of the sun
The singer’s voice grew softer
and he sank slowly to the ground
and all their eyes watched him
because he was all they had left
and he could sing no more.
The blood roared from his lips, and out—
extinguishing the song like fire
in a spray of red.
But still they watched him
as he drowned in the blood
from his own lungs, pumped
from his own failing heart.
they watched him because they knew
even as he choked, coughing beneath the red spring
gurgling from his mouth,
that he had done something,
even as he died he was doing something;
he had made them all beautiful.