The Last Day of Life on Earth


On the last day of life on earth, a little boy asked his mother for a drink of water, and she smiled and kissed him on the forehead.

In Chicago a bartender walked outside and stared at the sun for a minute. It didn’t look like rain.

A 14 year old girl raced her mom’s Mustang car as fast as she could down the hot center of a two lane blacktop heading toward a reservoir.

A priest remembered the lentil soup his mother used to make. She used mushrooms that came all the way from Poland.

A new bride turned to the last page of her novel to see how many pages she had left. 434.

The TV set went blank, and a fellow named Jim reached for his remote.

A truck driver pulled over to the side of the road. He had to pee and it was another forty miles to Davenport, Iowa.

A single guy named Fred opened up his refrigerator and wondered what his last meal would be. He didn’t see any beans and wondered if it was too late to buy some.

A writer wrote a sentence about God and then he wrote another about the devil. Finished, he read them in wonder. He had never written about either before.

The sky in the east was starting to cloud up just like it did the day before.

A marmalade colored cat ran across the street for no apparent reason.

A man sitting at his study window watched the cat and wondered why he did it.

Another man repeatedly smashed the wall in his living room with a hammer. At last there was an opening wide enough and tall enough for him to pass through.

The radio was on in a house where a father blindfolded his wife and two daughters and shot them before killing himself. The radio was playing an old Bruce Springsteen song, something about being on fire.

The star of the most popular show on TV sat alone in her bathroom drinking a sloe gin fizz. She wished her partner was home. She wanted to make love.

In the sky above Wichita, Kansas, an old man in a giant balloon drifted east toward the clouds coming toward him.








Photo by Sarah Browning


About Author

John Guzlowski’s writing appears in Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac, Rattle, Ontario Review, North American Review, Salon.Com, Atlanta Review, and many other print and online journals here and abroad.  His poems and personal essays about his parents’ experiences as slave laborers in Nazi Germany and refugees making a life for themselves in Chicago appear in his prose and poetry memoir, Echoes of Tattered Tongues (Aquila Polonica Press). Road of Bones, his novel about two German lovers separated by war, is forthcoming from Cervena Barva Press.  Of Guzlowski’s writing, Nobel Laureate Czeslaw Milosz said, “He has an astonishing ability for grasping reality.”


  1. Christina Pacosz on

    Loved the sparsity of your imagery. And how each image conveys perfectly what it needs to tell us. Especially that last bit.

  2. Very evocative snapshots of the human condition. It, honestly, did more for me in the minute it took to read it than what a lot of other longer stories of impending doom that have been in books and on screens as of late.
    I love this!

  3. You join quite a tradition. Milosz has a poem about the end of the world, and Ed Hirsch comes to mind too — I bet an anthology of poetry and prose could be put together.

    Personally, I loved the cat, and the way you described him as marmelade-colored.

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