The End of the World


Every apocalypse deserves a better ending, but nothing I would leave behind looked anything like ruins. The summer’s disappointments no more significant than Superman IV, Beverly Hills Cop II, and Dragnet, oracles of the dying imagination of the late ’80s, ’90s, and beyond. Between the nights feeding quarters into Rygar: The Legendary Adventure and the mornings packing my possessions in those few boxes saved from the theater dumpsters, I would wander up the south Texas coast to Aransas, though I knew the whooping cranes would not return before I was Indiana bound, or I would follow the hard sand down Padre Island past Bob Hall Pier until the dirty waves left the sucking ground too soft to drive. I had felt like I fell off the continental shelf into deep water when I arrived in Corpus Christi, but now that everyone knew I was leaving I couldn’t find my bearings and go, stuck in this slow separation like the tar stains clinging to the bottom of the swimmers’ feet at the beaches that they labored to scrub and scrape away without much success. Heat lightning signaled from the rigs beyond the bay that it was time to go somewhere, but there was no more south from here for me and I wasn’t joyriding the sky on the first last bomb like Slim Pickens in Dr. Strangelove, whooping out a final gut check for all to hear before Vera Lynn serenades, “We’ll meet again . . .” and the screen goes white with all the expulsion the light can gather when film no longer shades the bright heat.

JON TRIBBLE was born in Little Rock, Arkansas. His poems have appeared in the anthologies The Jazz Poetry Anthology, Surreal South, and Two Weeks, and in Crazyhorse, Poetry, Ploughshares, and Quarterly West. He teaches at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, where he is the managing editor of Crab Orchard Review and the series editor of the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry published by SIU Press.