Thomas White

Love and Pain

Sacrifices Of Love

„[T]here was no meaning
anywhere outside their
own hearts“
Graham Greene

They were unashamed lovers,
Like ancient Aztec priests
Ripping out each other’s
Hearts: burnt offerings to gods
Who lord over riotous feasts,
Scavenged by passion-hungry mobs.
But jealousy was the still sharper knife
That finally brought some peace
To the moans of the lovers‘ sacrifice.
Splattered temples of their souls
Are now the refuge of sad beasts
Who mildly graze in a world gone cold.

The Incredible Shrinking Bohemian

At times like these – of too many coffees, of too many discarded illusions – Bill Kroth’s memory conjured up fragments of the 50s‘ horror flick, The Incredible Shrinking man. What vaguely floated back to him was the ultimate loser, a man who somehow, Bill can’t remember exactly why or how, was touched with nuclear fall-out and who thus poisoned shrank absurdly into a ridiculous gesticulating little figure, harassed by a gargantuan house cat, finally doing battle against a mammoth spider in the basement of his own house – a sort of pseudo-Kafka-style „Metamorphosis‘ for the early Nuclear Age. Bill smiled slightly at his clever literary talents.

A bit of a self-fancied film buff-historian, frustrated script writer and philosophy major drop-out – a man of huge ambitions but the author of a rather brief resume – he wondered if there had been any effort to remake this film to conform to the tastes of the modern audience. His mind is instantly filled with a thousand and one scenarios he could submit to contests or producers. First there is himself – reduced to the size of a match stick – taking up brave arms against the cockroach infestations of this Eastern Suburb café – a darkly comedic script which would yet contain a timely and trendy (a box office necessity) warning against a bioengineering technology run amok. (His protagonist and main character – but maybe not use himself, a business-type might be more appropriate – answers a false ad seeking „subjects“ for a new treatment for chronic bad breath. Instead he wakes up as the New Shrinking Man – the offspring of a ghastly genetic experiment gone terribly wrong). An even wider more self-satisfied grin crosses his face: Wow! This story „has legs“ and they are NOT short. Bill chuckles at the thought of his anti- hero constantly losing height, buying new suits every 3 or 4 months, finally getting sacked because his body cannot rise above his desk thuspreventing his manager from noting whether Bill is even performing his assigned duties, perhaps a landmark industrial relations action or workers‘ compo claim follows, a bit of social/political satire would find its perfect venue in these scenes. Then sadly, but still humorously, the day of reckoning: His heretofore loyal wife declares that she is finally leaving him. His sex organ has diminished to the size of a „pin prick“. (Smugly, Bill almost laughs out loud at his own cleverness). Even desperate promises from the shrunken man that one day (and soon) he can offer unique sexual satisfactions such as crawling between her legs and tickling her clit madly do not suffice. Bill envisions the final scenes: The New Shrunken Man barely keeping his head above the towering threads of the pile carpet watches his wife’s ocean-liner sized high heeled shoes bound gently across the soft fabric desert of the living room toward the skyscraper of the front door, the door knob a huge brass alien moon in the morning light, her long, gaily –pinkish fingernails approaching it like the pointed heads of missiles, leaving him behind in this vast universe of a house vulnerable to everything from a vacuum cleaner to vengeful household pests…

„More coffee?“, a tarted up waitress disturbs him some what brusquely, interrupting what Bill has now convinced himself is the nascent design for a mega-million blockbuster…

Bill does not reply: he merely glares down at his minuscule glass of (now cold) latte he has been sipping for, seemingly, an hour. It is getting harder and harder, he silently fumes, to find a café to be an artist in. All so predictable – and so bloody depressing. Fat cat real estate agents move in after getting wind of a trendy area: then they drive up the rents after which your old cheap café or pub is tarted up, and charges you a small bomb like, he thinks ruefully, your reliable old girlfriend suddenly charging you for a date or sex. This waitress has no doubt been trained to sell, not serve: a glass of latte, a dish of prawns, even her body: it makes no difference… After these reflections (which he quickly footnotes with a mental note of self-congratulation), he replies: „NO, I am right, thanks“. Slightly wincing, then steeling herself as if coming to attention, she throws out a distinct „fuck you“ look: immediately she retires to the service bar area where, instantly forgetting the previous exchange, she attends intensely to her painted, chipped nails while occasionally pausing to perfunctorily flirt with the kitchen boy whose own attention seems more drawn to a bowl of something he is stirring than to her episodic, watery blue glances.

God how great it is to have an interesting mental life, Bill complacently reflects, as he surveys the local help. They’re just, no doubt, bored, poor buggers. It is boredom really, he concludes, not money that makes the world go round – money is just the drug that feeds the emptiness – again he glances at the waitress and kitchen boy who still evidence no great passion nor profound thought – of many stale, dull lives. Contented now that he has banished, at least in his soul and heart where it really counts, the encroaching Philistine hoards, Bill Kroth, independent intellectual, shifts his bearded visage eagerly toward his sheet of notes, written in his trademark, unintelligible scrawl, and begins to scribble furiously. Some jealous (ex-)friends once described his creative writings as „Kroth’s Froth“. No more you fuckers, he curses angrily as he bears down on his pen as if it were a drill hungry for oil: I will show them.

Untutored In Humanity’s Greater Pain

Somewhere in this neighbourhood
they are murdering children,
from all those shrill squeaks
and pipes it must be with
the edge of a knife.

To comfort myself, I fancy
quick as a snort, a clean hit
that cuts the ageing short;
maybe a dwarf

untutored in humanity’s
greater pain with only
a truncated knowledge
of larger slaughters
in his compressed frame.

The purple squiggle
of his tattooed biceps
moves up and down
as he methodically
slices his little victims‘ necks.

He is anxious to emphasise
that he selects only according
to size: since he barely feels
any pain at what he sees
(reasons he)

„My victims will feel even less
if they are shorter than me“.

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