The Skyscraper (Benjamin Guterman)

The Skyscraper

by Benjamin Guterman

Concrete slabs, ribbed and reinforced with iron,
Set together on riveted crossbars of steel,
Towering from the earth, and thrusting
Ever upward through the clouds.

Skyscraper of bold and massive slabs,
A thousand glittering windows soaring through the clouds
In ever faster succession along the rising grey rock.
Skyscraper with skeleton of tempered iron,
Firm in the midst of hurricanes, earthquakes, and natural devastation,
Oblivious to that ancient mother of creation,
Soaring proudly upward beyond the clouds.

Skyscraper, symbolic apex of human achievement,
Its simple form the projection of logic, science, and truth,
Its invariable upward rise the reflection of recent evolution,
Its foundation the headstone of mankind.
And nature cannot revive the myth of Babel,
For man will only politely listen, preferring instead
To launch his energy upward into the unknown,
To build to new dizzying heights of understanding and control.
The tower, foundation of further experimentation,
Of basic principles the conglomeration, stands firm,
Piercing the heavens to proclaim the triumph of man,
Stands firm, and proud, and glorious. . .

The tower stood majestic in the darkening shadow of bursting clouds,
Until pounded by a booming fist, as stone gave inward,
Until it snapped, and those slabs were ripped apart
And hurled as meteors in all directions.

The blinding, wondrous clouds expand and roll upward,
Evoking the screams of sixty thousand generations,
Exhaling the breath of instant annihilation,
Threshing the bones of civilizations.

Before the rumbling folds of mushrooming clouds,
A tower crumbled suddenly, into rubble and mounds.

“The Skyscraper,” by Benjamin Guterman originally published in Forum (1969, City College of San Francisco).

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