End of the World




End of the World


On my way home I pass a man.

He stands on the roadside with a sign.

“The wisest man in the world.”

White hair, standing there,

he looks harmless enough.

I’m curious. I stop,

roll down the window,

and feel the cold.

“Where you headed?” I say.
“I’m headed to the world’s end.

Looks like I found it.”

“I don’t think so. This is the middle of Pennsylvania.

It’s not the end of anything, much less the world.”
“Well, if you let me go along with you for a while, I’ll show you.

I’ll get out then.”
“I have about 30 miles to where I’m going.

I’m not going out of my way.”

“No problem,” he says.
He gets in, shoves the sign in the back seat.

We drive on.
“Your sign says you’re the wisest man in the world. Is that so?”

“Sure am.”
“OK. What’s it all about, then?”

“It’s the middle of winter. That means we are all dead. And we won’t wake up until spring. We die all the time but we don’t notice it because we all die at the same time,” he says.

“Do we all wake up at the same time then, too?”

“In a way we do. But that’s just a figure of speech.”

I’m thinking my passenger is clever, but he’s not the wisest man in the world.

“That’s it.” he says. “Don’t think another thought. I’m getting out right here.”

I bring my car to a stop. There’s nothing on either side but an old cornfield. He gets out and walks up a slight rise through snow and corn stubs. As he reaches the crest and descends, he seems to disappear.
Just before that he drops a small piece of paper.

I have some time.

I pull over, park, and follow his frozen footsteps.

At the top of the hill I find a folded note.

He is gone.

Back home now.

I bury his sign

and read the note:

I am old and I will die

It is time to come clean.
I woke up at an early age.

I lived a normal life.

So that you believe me

when I reveal all.

I will do that now.
It is not comforting to know

Hearing this will not set you free.

Freedom is not for us in this life.

We cannot be other than we are.

We pass our time with useless things

As if we live forever.

It is our bodies doing this.
Our minds know very well we die.

But our bodies refuse to hear of it.

Our bodies desire the useless things.

We go about our days in service to these dumb limbs

Serving them endless amounts of what they desire

But does not sustain them

Making them as comfortable as possible, as they demand it

Because they refuse to accept they will die.

Our brilliant minds are filled with petty annoyance.

That’s our lazy bodies talking

Constantly forcing us to confront ourselves in mirrors

So we can see the damage we’re doing.

And while we know love is the answer,

We are faced with the hard fact

We can only be loved to the degree we love ourselves.
And we do not love ourselves.

We are our bodies.

And because they are such stupid brutes

They are utterly unlovable.

I am good looking enough to know looks are worth nothing

And wealthy enough to have figured out it has no value.

I am intelligent and know I can never be smart enough.

I see far enough to see an end.

Waking up is like this.

Once it is yours you see right through it.

And you know

Like everything else

It is nothing at all.

The secret of life is life.

We all possess it for a while.

The world ends.

It is time to say


We know it then.

We were already dead.


Text and Image by Tullio DeSantis:

Image: “End of the World” – Tullio – 2012


Filed under Poetry

8 responses to “End of the World

  1. Hailey Knop

    Tullio, did you actually have this happen to you? This is an interesting story. This could not have been more accurate and inspiring. “we can only be loved to the degree we love ourselves”, “i see far enough to see an end.” I believe in these passages. It’s a shame that people live their day to day basis in a dreamland, and sometimes it’s ok, but most people do it to be comfortable and not accept the fact that not everything lasts forever. Some people think this point of view is being pessimistic but i think of it as realistic. A flower eventually dies, decomposes into earth and then gets reseeded and grows back in the spring time. just like you siad everything dies at once and then becomes alive again. Still, its a beautiful thing to see.

  2. rafael nunez

    This is a very interesting story and I enjoyed reading it, but I do not know if I would stopped and given a complete stranger a lift. However, this man really could have been the wisest man on earth. This experience has made me realize that this encounter has touched you and will probably affect the way you think or the way you live your life. At the same time by posting this experience on your blog the stranger in the story has now indirectly affected everyone who read this post. Furthermore, some people may retell this story of you and the hitchhiker and will affect others. However, this experience will probably affect you the most and as the experience is shared with others, the people who are the farthest from you will be affected but not as strongly. The best way that I can explain it is sort of how a ripple is made in the water when you throw a pebble in it.

  3. Larry

    I am going to start with the image. The title “End of the World” is perfect. I like how the middle is circular and seems to explode outward. It seems as if the world has exploded on a sunny day with no clouds. The blue background looks like a blue sky. The story doesn’t seem to match the image but also applies to the title. There is truth in this story whether it has happened to someone or not. This experience would be a great gift because it shows the driver what the end of the world is. The old man not only knows what the end of the world is but he describes it in a way that we can all understand. His knowledge being shared with only one person is selfish because once he figured this out he should have passed on the knowledge with whoever would listen. The fact that he is gone makes me wonder if he was an angel or God himself testing the man that was driving. The man was driving but a passenger on an enlightening journey that he questions till the end.

  4. Lisa

    This story was great to read and what is said is true; life is filled with trying to please ourselves with gifts when we are not doing anything to better ourselves, we are just feeding our greed. Being loved to the extent of loving ourselves rings true. I enjoyed the comparison of “the end world” is defined by meeting our untimely demise. The picture itself goes well with the title, to me I see the image as peaceful referring to everyone’s “end of the world.”

  5. Jeff

    Excellent picture and poem!!! Once reading the poem I thought of Jim Morrison’s Poem, “The Hitchhiker.” I barely remember the content of the poem, but I am sure It was some kinda love & apocalyptic journey into night with chanting foghorns and other meaningless chatter. Probably a ” killer on the road, and his brain was squirming like a toad.” Like my body in caught in a vortex of life and death. An “absurd life.” I feel myself caught up running to Walmart, buying & dying… meaningless things, adventures… bringing the absurd to life like some existential philosopher living the love scene, Unfortunately then comes Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s famous mortician singing the “swan song” THe end of your poem “you’re already dead” brought back homeschool memories, cranking up my walk-man, blaring White Zombie, “your already dead, so… burn an X in your end!!!!” Abba Zabba!!!

    ” If I had a body, I would throw it out the window.” Beckett

    THE END. THanks for sharing this post. I enjoyed the way you expressed peace with picture of the “end of the world.” THe poem is excellent. I loved the short anecdote Well that is all. mucho Gracias!! Hasta lavesta BABY!

  6. Niraj Patel

    Great art and poem. Your poem was so interesting to read as I read I was thinking what was going to happen next. It was really an interesting poem to read. The art you have with this poem is incredible showing snow, fire, dead cornfield, who knows? maybe the end of the world might looks like this? Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us

  7. Mariela Alvarado

    In this art piece titled “End of the World” looks to me like the world in the color blue in the middle and everything surrounding it represents different people getting sucked into the worlds ending. The poem that you wrote brings me to think that there is truth in what the man wrote on the note. People get so caught up in themselves that they forget to unite, love one another and live in peace.

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