The Last Man on Earth Watches Blazing Saddles
It’s his favorite scene.
The cowboys rise and fart, rise and fart, and he thinks of his wife farting in the night.
He never laughed when she did. Most of the time he was asleep when she started and half asleep when she finished. He realizes now, perhaps for the first time, that it’s hard to laugh in your sleep. He can’t remember ever laughing in his sleep, but when he would tell his wife in the morning about her farting, she would smile and say excuse me and fart again.
They would both laugh over that in the morning, and smiling now he turns again to the cowboys.
The scene he loves is still playing. The cowboys are still rising and farting, rising and farting, and he begins to weep.
The Last Man on Earth Hums an Old Rock Song
He thinks of that old Doors song, Jim Morrison in a blues growl singing he wants somebody to light his fire, some baby to light his fire, make the night light up, make their love a funeral pyre.
That would be nice.
The Last Man on Earth Remembers a Conversation
It didn’t mean much at the time. It was just him and his friend Bill talking. They were both hung over and drinking coffee, and Bill said,
“You know sometimes I think that I just want to leave, you know, just leave all this shit
and start over like in those sci fi novels you’re always reading, I mean this is fucked up. It’s me and you and you’re lonely and horny and I am too, and we dream about chicks all the time and never talk about them or do anything about them, like we don’t know they’re probably all just standing around waiting for us to call or say something even if it’s just hello and do you have a biscuit or a broom and shovel.”
And the last man didn’t say anything back then.
He just looked at Bill and shrugged, and then the waitress came and filled their cups and asked them if they wanted anything else. And there was a lot that he wanted back then, and even more that he wants now, but the last man couldn’t tell her then and he can’t tell anyone now.
The Last Man on Earth Wonders about the Daffodils
Will they come up this spring? Will there be a spring? So far God hasn't answer any of the last man’s prayers.
So why should He answer this one?
The Last Man on Earth Reads an Old Newspaper
There had been a car crash and six members of a family traveling home after Thanksgiving died. Some tried to get out of the car, and some didn’t. Either way they died. The parents and the kids. What a waste.
Down the page, it says somewhere else a typhoon ripped away an island. More people died.
The last man drops the paper and lets the wind take it away.
The Last Man on Earth Looks out His Window
Yesterday he thought he saw a shadow moving past a black Buick Century across the street, but when he looked again he didn’t see anything, just the car’s shadow.
A funny thought came into his head then, “When shadows are safe, no one’s safe.” And he wondered again where the people all went.
There had been no zombies, no vampires, no plague walkers either, no floods or tsunamis, no lightning from the sky or God’s terrible wrath. There had been nothing that would kill you quicker than usual.
Then, one day everybody was just gone, all gone, and outside the window there was nothing to see.
Nothing but safe shadows.
The Last Man on Earth Recognizes the Futility of All Things
If he were faster or stronger or wiser, he would still be the last man on earth
The Last Man on Earth Writes a Poem about the Dead
will bring them back.
will bring them back.
The Last Man on Earth Goes to the Zoo
At first he studied the lion hard, knowing he was the last man who would ever look at a lion and he wanted to make that moment important somehow, memorable, but then he realized there was no point to memory.
When the lion went it went. When he went he went.
All his scrambling to remember would end in death. Even if there was a heaven, he couldn’t believe remembering the way a lion rose — its muscled bones lifting curiously from the concrete in a way that had always been beautiful even in the old times when men scratched the image of the lion on the walls of cold caves — would be important.
Would God want to hear about the lion? Would the saints? Probably not. The last man smiled. Some of those old saints probably had bad memories of lions, the saints who died in Roman time, and they’d probably rather forget the king creature’s muscled loins.
So the last man let the lion go, and then he let the tiger go, and the elephant, and the chimps and gazelles. Singly and in pairs.
He even let the alligator and the crocodile go like the last man was some kind of bizzaro Noah doing God’s good work in reverse.
The Last Man on Earth Has a Nightmare
He groans again, and the groan is something between the sound of pain and a laugh, but it doesn’t feel like laughter. It’s a monotonic quick exhaled “ha” followed after a pause by another and another and another.
It’s the glottal sound of fear from deep in his throat and maybe deeper.
He’s dreaming of something coming for him that won’t stop until it drags him down and kills him.
Last Man on Earth Goes to Church
This church is empty too. What the hell is God waiting for? A wake up call?
The Last Man at the Last Beach
The water is cold and moon dark, and the last man rests for a moment on a bench and knows he won’t swim.
Once on this beach he saw a white car pull onto the sand and make slow circles for hours and then leave. Another time, a woman walked backwards holding her scarf hard against her head. She seemed to be dreaming, her eyes tracing the prints her shoes left in the sand.
No other sounds now, not cars, not singing, not voices of children playing tag in the grass beyond the red slat-and-wire storm fence leaning wave-like toward him and away.
All he can hear is the black water, the almost quiet waves swooshing across the wet cold sand.
A white plastic grocery bag balloons along the grass. Like the last man, it’s going nowhere, just moving, sometimes slowly sometimes fast as the wind picks up.
The last man stands and walks to the water and starts to swim away.
John Guzlowski’s writing appears in Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac, Ontario Review, North American Review, Salon.Com, Rattle, Crab Orchard 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 memoir in prose and poetry, Echoes of Tattered Tongues (Aquila Polonica Press). Of Guzlowski’s writing, Nobel Laureate Czeslaw Milosz said, “He has an astonishing ability for grasping reality.”