We Met on the Internet

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Poetry  |  House: Booksie Classic
A reflection on dating in the modern world after having taken a hiatus to get clean.

Submitted: September 30, 2018

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Submitted: September 30, 2018

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We Met on the Internet
by: Adam Boughton

I.

Everyone at this wedding is saying
I look great in my new, banker’s gray suit
that I got with a groupon.
They seem not to notice - until I announce it -
that it’s cheap and you can tell if you take your time.
The jacket is slightly too small
and the slacks more than slightly too long.
They must suspect that talking to a tailor
is too much to ask of a drunk
that just quit shaking, but it’s still embarrassing.
My shoes were a gift and don’t fit
but for the most part, I made my appointments
and these adults are mostly forgiving
and happy to see me awake during the daytime.

The extent to which I am
good looking is not an island.
I text message you a picture of myself
and then my nervous system shivers.

These particular people are family and friends of friends of the family.
They’re mostly used to the old me,
smelling of piss and gingivitis and laughing inappropriately.
Showing up loaded or hung over or not at all
in ill-fitting, thirteen dollar garb
from a goodwill, bought hours before the ceremony.
Pinstripes here but not there.
Unironed things on an impudent attendee.
Some of them sigh, “You can play at youth so long as you like
but when your father dies the invitations will likely dry up.
Our evenings are important to us and mostly we worked
hard to get here.”

In good humor though, maybe they consider,
at least he isn’t cursing by the campfire.
At least he hasn’t kissed a bridesmaid in front of her father
or driven off into the dark at night going ninety
to a little illegitimate comfort.
He’s here like we asked him to be, which isn’t nothing.
I hope that he finds what he needs before he’s forty.

II.

We met on the Internet and then again at a pizza place.
Your face in real life during daylight was breathtaking.
I should have shown up shorn and accommodating,
but I couldn’t, and kept letting the napkin fall out of my lap.

I probably should have warned you that my recently reformed
heart would leak out a scent. Nasal, but quiet weakness.
The smell of a child in over his head on purpose
and it made your pretty nostrils like me less.
I wanted to say things like, “Can we go over to that park and hold hands?
I have a comforter in the trunk of my car if you want to stretch your legs
out or feel the grass and I could get us something like strawberries.”
Instead, I led with how sex still makes me nervous
because the last time I had it I was much younger and still cruel.
I’ve been playing it cool from a distance, but it was foolish
not to suspect that you’d be able to see through my cellophane sheet
with your keen mind and cool eyes in the evening.

I’m sort of sorry I took up your free time.
Nobody liked me last year.

I have this condition with which you may not be familiar.
A person can arrive at a station, noticeably too young
and embarrassingly too old at the same time,
only capable of watching trains stop and then bellow by,
either too poor to get the ticket or too tall to ride.
Our appointment was far from the first time I was charming
in a chat room but awkward in a restaurant.
I knew that your final smile that night was the prequel
to “you seem like a great guy. I would like to stay friends.”
I’ll deny it until the week ends. Then desire to find
some cretin from high school to find me and kick at my weak shins.
The less mature modules of my mind couldn’t put it where it goes.
They are many and still healing and old.

III.

I watch my little nephew toddle and try
not to look at my phone while I do it.
To him, a playground in Missouri is still
a new continent and I don’t want him to scrape
his precious little face while his mother
is trying to socialize.
I briefly gaze at your facebook and congratulate myself
for not googling the guys I think are trying to fuck you.

I look away from my loved ones too often.

For I will blink and stare and think too many times,
then my little city gentleman will succumb
to the same ravages as the rest of us. 
There are a finite amount of television programs
between now and when he will be collapsing
on the kitchen floor, sobbing and screaming
at new-god why won’t she love me?! Why am I wrong?!
Too soon he will be sixteen and heartbroken.
Too soon he must encounter my failure and fatigue.
For I have never truly been your Mecha Suit, my little friend.
You simply could not see your rusty uncle
when you were covered in that horrifying innocence.
In mourning and impotence I may stammer,

“It stinks, kiddo, and it never gets easier.
We get older and uglier in increments,
everyday moving further from sanctity
and sacrament. Most things do not heal,
most people do not forgive you, and closure
is more like a unicorn than a donkey.” 

IV.

By the close of this month, I will have lost her completely.
My messages are saccharine and needy and too frequent.
The extent to which she found me enticing has dwindled
and the next part is a slow, sickly trickle.

In part, I wish that I could hide it from your hearing but
in my heart I have nourished the songbirds of harming
you a little. With steps and a smokescreen I will sneak
in my former false teeth and sink them deep into your little skin.
When I say I’m sorry I will mean that you must hurt some too
for this transgression. How dare you let me peek into
a future where you want me to adore your laugh and rub
your shoulders on occasion? How could you relieve me
of my duty to disarm you when I wanted to keep you in a jar?

Like the glare on the screen at a drive-in, it will come,
and when neglected it will eat the whole canvas, in time.
I have come for you with a mouth and a gut full of dead things.
When the jar breaks, it must be in both of our bathrooms.

I wish I could wish you’d be happy without me
but I have missed you since the day that we met.

V.

And yet…

If I would hear the noises of my friends inside my psyche
they’d say “Relax, spaz. You’re rad. And almost healthy.
We’re all very proud of the demons you’ve cowed in the year
and that you’re working out and flossing.
But maybe… quit pacing. It makes you look crazy.
And chain smoking’s bad for the vibe and your hygiene.
If you keep flagellating your back with your phone screen
it will prove you’re not ready for dating.
Take a breath. Take a walk. Call your mother and talk.
Read a book in the morning. Don’t just sit in the dark.
It’s no venial sin to watch a little television
on your laptop. Eat a blueberry muffin.”

When I was only a tiny bit younger
you’d have had better luck finding a rusty knife in my apartment
than a bar of soap or a roll of toilet paper.
My fear now is flavored more domestic,
like are my house plants getting enough natural sunlight?
And am I? Should I swallow some vitamin D in the morning
or be drinking a little less coffee?

In the black truth, I am really no longer that same,
sad, shame filled creature from my twenties.
He still paces in a cage in my chest and on occasion
I let him call someone a cunt while we’re driving.
But mostly he smokes and draws pictures and pouts.
I made some friends that new some tricks about
not letting him out.
We will talk and he’ll frown about painting the town
and I’ll pat his clammy hands and forgive him.

VI.

I do my morning meditation in the afternoon
and before it and after it I think about you and your cat.
Mostly, fondly.
I hope that you’re eating enough.
And I’m trying inside of painful patches of success
not to hope for anything else.

 

 

 


© Copyright 2018 Adam Boughton. All rights reserved.