The Thunder Box

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Tommy was a stranger to delights of city folk,
Subsisting as our parents used to do,
His simple life and Spartan were something of a joke,
To modern day contemporaries like you.

To warm the house in wintertime, he’d light an open fire,
And use the coals to roast a hot repast,
To wash his clothes he’d use the sink then peg them on a wire,
Strung up by wooden poles to hold it fast.

A balding individual, decades past his prime,
There was nothing in the world he wouldn’t face,
Excepting for the spiders that would come from time to time,
And nest among the confines of the place.

Along a winding path between a tank and ferret cage,
Erected while he still had golden locks,
Standing proudly like a symbol from a lost and golden age,
Widely known, was Tommy’s thunder-box.

The thunder-box for those of us too young to ever know,
Is the olden day equivalent of the Loo,
The only difference is you cannot flush it when you go,
So until it’s full the contents sit and stew.

In Australia the Thunder-box provides the perfect lair,
For Red Back spiders in the summer heat,
Where less than subtle fragrances permeate the air,
And blowflies by the million come to eat.

By any known example, this was not unique,
The boards were badly rotted to the core,
Some years ago in wintertime the roof had sprung a leak,
And white ants made a home beneath the floor.

The walls were full of holes and the door was hard to close,
Hinging crazily by a rusted pin,
And courageous souls who took the time to sit down in repose,
Took their chances with the creatures from therein.

Everyone was well aware of Tommy’s constitution,
Each day his faithful dog would fetch his shoes,
Then he’d shuffle up the path for his regular ablution,
While settling in to read the morning news.

Not long ago, while ‘on the throne’, with pants around his legs,
He feels a sudden sting that makes him jump,
In a moment he’s convinced a Red Back’s risen from the dregs,
It’s fangs embedded in his ample rump.

Repeatedly it strikes him with every move he makes,
He feels as if he’s just about to die,
Screaming like a madman with a pocketful of snakes,
While the faithful dog is idly sitting by.

Crashing through the doorway in terror more than haste,
To make it to the phone beside his bed,
He falls upon the ferret cage naked from the waist,
By tripping on his trouser legs instead.

Mounted on the ferret cage and feverish from the bite,
He moans an incoherent type of drawl,
Then gazes at the heavens and prays for some respite,
As the postman makes his early morning call.

The postman ventures over to cautiously survey,
The patient, as he’s gasping now for breath,
Mutters feebly to the postman, “Suck the poison all away,
Cos if you don’t I’m surely doomed for death”.

Sucking out the venom from such an injury,
Was not a thought that quickly came to mind,
But on close examination the cause was plain to see,
A splinter jutting out from his behind!

“It looks as if you’re done for Tom, I’d better make a call,
For assistance, as things are looking bleak,
That bloody Red Back spider is like a cricket ball,
And its fangs are pumping venom as we speak!”

The comments only make our Tommy feel especially poor,
Convinced the end could come at any time,
With the postman loudly pounding on everybody’s door,
Seeking witnesses to view the pantomime.

In even time a mob arrives, the butt of all their jokes,
Is Tommy, with the splinter in his rear,
He very soon discovers that it’s really just a hoax,
And the villains quickly flee in mortal fear.

Avoiding public ridicule became a daily chore,
He started pricing indoor porcelain,
Mysteriously the Thunder Box caught fire and Tommy swore,
He’d get a new one and connect it to the drain.

Now when he’s relating the wonders of a time,
Of bygone days to anyone who’ll listen,
The thunder box is gone and quiet comforts are sublime,
In modern days he’d rather have a cistern.

© Steven Smith
Wedderburn.
28/5/2000.