will never know the terror
of tiptoeing downstairs
and booting up the internet in the middle of the night,
of the God-awful KKKKKKKKKKKK HONG HE-HAW HING!
It was no use to mute your speakers,
it was the modem. There was nothing you could do.
You prayed to the darkness that your parents remain sound asleep,
that your father’s snores might coincide with the worst parts of the dial-up.
You risked your life for a few moments to spend hours in this primitive New World of screen names,
You right-click and save a picture from the internet of a girl who looks at least 18.
The other screen name believes that it’s you,
or so he says.
You type the most X-rated things you can think of;
he types back worse.
Your heart pounds. . .
in the monitor’s glow,
darkness all around you,
your ears are perked for any sign of your mother’s footsteps,
your cursor lies in wait over the X in the corner,
ready to make this conversation,
and any record thereof,
vanish with one--