The Last Band

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

filter out.

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.


The End

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