the last skyscraper stands alone beneath the overcast sky.
it’s not a building of this world: no red triangles mar its views
no exit signs shine green within the dark slate of its outside walls
that rise in silence to their peak, dip down in glassy pools of blue
that look just out, and never in.
the roads outside run stark and bare: gray asphalt baked beneath the sky,
the dry grass whispers to the trees. they hush it as the wind replies.
the thunder claps. leaves brush on glass
composing shadows in the light.
the lobby, souped with dying sun: what little makes it through the clouds
to metal lifts built tall and proud with not a scratch upon their doors.
a stairwell window hangs ajar; rogue wind gives flight to crumbled leaves
to dance on empty marble floors.
long hallways cross the dark insides, each empty office dead with dust
where here a door hangs open, there, an old computer, slumbering.
unread reports on desks attest
to labors of futility
above them, in an office, a triangle window backs a desk.
a man sits, pressed, dress shirt and tie. his hands file papers in a waltz.
low thuds as stacked sheets fall aligned. the snaps of ring files—opened, closed—
his head snaps up. hello? he asks.
his face is wild with primal terror, panic ready in his throat;
his neat combed hair belies the truth. shirt ironed crisp, his tie on straight,
just-polished shoes upon his feet
(for if he just pretends, perhaps…)
his fingers tremble in the calm. the heavy air is still again.
the tendrils of our observation fade as phantoms in the mist;
the rain falls.
Davian Aw’s poetry has appeared in Strange Horizons, Not One of Us, Star*Line, The Future Fire and Stone Telling, among others. He lives in Singapore with his family.
Editor’s Note: The long lines of this subverted blank verse (there are more metrical feet than in the typical iambic pentameter) don’t let you catch your breath, but it’s not as labored as in the preceding poem in the sense of pending doom, it’s more sedate. The sun setting and skyscraper against an eerie red speaks to the destruction or to an alien starkness.