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Tom Jungerberg

A Photograph Taken at the End of the World

White hot moon tumbling face forward

into a city where traffic lights make lovely targets

if you squint: rings surrounding dots.

 

At eye level, Mr. Johnston says, "The moon

seems awfully full tonight, I think

Iíll snap a few pictures."

 

He chooses his lens carefully: enormous

exposureóevery canyon, peak, valley, ocean

molds itself from fuzz and blur

 

and then melts away again as the moon

brands her image into the leafy clouds.

 

Mr. Johnston steadies his tripod and points his lens

towards the horizon line. Click.

 

Just testing. For posterity he often takes pictures

of his wife after she has her hair done at the salon.

 

Mrs. Johnstonís back is towards him and she is staring eastward.

The moon, that cheesy hag, makes it hard to focus.

 

The light is so great that Mrs. Johnsonís head

seems not to exist: just a gaunt body

 

holding an ogreís halo on its shoulders.

Mr. Johnstonís finger tightens elastically. Click.

 

Mrs. Johnstonís voice hovers over a suggested caption:

"Honey, I think the sky is falling.

 


 

Hooch

Japanese businessmen at the karaoke

          bar across the street wear their ties loosened

and their top button undone

          and it looks like their necks have shrunk.

On nights when the window rattles

          with their amplified voices,

 

I watch them from my roof

          as they drink fluorescent

fluids or grope waitresses with big Texas hair

          who only tolerate them because

 

of the Andrew Jackson tips

          they fold lengthwise on the tables

like bad love poems.

          The night always ends with a tipsy rendition

of "Coming to America" sung by the

          two who are still sober

 

enough to stand relatively erect.

          When I hear them, I invariably

think of my grandfather who flew gasoline

          into China over the Himalayan hump.

When he was alive, he wrote that the altitude can knock

          you on your ass like a shot of hooch

 

and I imagine that along with the nauseous

          stink of near-death and whatever fumes

came from the back of their metal coffin,

          that the flight crew must have felt similar

to these children of the once

          rising sun whose grandfathers

 

spat fire at my own from the hillsides.

 


Tom Jungerberg lives in Tampa and goes to school in Tallahassee.  This is his first publication and he is jealous of people with lots of italics in their biographies.

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