Schadenfreude or Why Banana Peels Are So Funny By Sy Roth

 

On the silent screen, the inglorious pratfall seemed so funny
The kinescope focused on a man eating a banana
Which he cavalierly tosses into the road.
An unsuspecting man ambles onto the screen
And finds himself flipping to the sidewalk quarry of a convoluted world
When the sidewalk greets his buttocks, we erupt in a cheerless clamor.
The banana eater moves on without care
Marches along in small goosesteps on his own highway and byway.
We sit in our seats and laugh at the fallen’s dismay
Heedless of the perpetrator.
Happy for the soft seat of the darkened theater.

In the foxhole, we dig frenziedly to find the underworld
Where the bombs will not find us.
They explode around us and we smell the terror of the dirt and the cordite.
As the others dig faster to the strains of the Valkyries
A bomb explodes in our crypt,
In a vaporized shower of clods of dirt
And screams and bloody body parts of the others
We thank that celestial being for the misdirection of the missiles
And, for leaving us whole.
Let it be the others, we scream in our revulsion
As we wait to exit the mausoleum of our birth.

In the novel we read of the bombing of Dresden
And the surprise of the Dresdeners, the silent Volk who wondered at the firestorm
And the reasons for the destruction of their city,
Wonderful baroque structures that married its art
To the vagaries of men and their desire for conquest
And we watch from afar as the survivors tunnel out from their rococo tombs
To sniff the air of the charred people and collapsing buildings
And marvel at the new-found fears that they had hatched
And the collapse of their 1000-year kingdoms that will be again
As new empires hatch in the minds of the mad.
They march off superciliously into their dawn while the Ivans guffaw.

It all seems hilarious, in hindsight, that we allowed it to happen
That the conflagrations sparked eons of time and time again
Reared their horrific heads.
We laughed when the worn shoe rested on the other foot
And the pain they inflicted electrified the bodies of the others.
So droll indeed when the innocent fall on their banana peels
And the others explode into molecules
And the cities and the people lie in smoke that they have shaped.
So funny, indeed–
The Indo-skulls Khmer stacked like pyramids
Skulls that once housed minds and dreams,
And the desiccated people and their left-behind suitcases and hair stacked miles high
All monuments to men and their machines.
We can’t stop laughing.
Our schadenfreude must be showing.

©2018 Sy Roth

 

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