The Dark Net

Alan Gilbert


We took a dozen quizzes and failed every one,
but I know I’m gonna ace this next personality test.
You’d think that might get me far in this job,
except I didn’t go to the right college,
and now I’m just another parent getting drunk
on cheap margaritas at Chuck E. Cheese’s
while the kids do whatever.
These are the final days, and I don’t care.
Turns out the fire started inside the house.
Maybe that’s how me, my ex-wife,
and my ex-wife’s ex all ending up viewing
each other’s dating profiles on OKCupid.
The subject is the object, and the object is the subject,
though that didn’t stop you from moralizing about family.
Mine laid down on the tracks,
and now tall bridges make me nervous.
Anything you want to tell me,
you can say it through a mask.
The game’s rigged, anyway.
Wet roots rot in the bottom of the pot.



Let’s choose a route with less guns
in the window and a tug on the toga.
I’m banking on a run on the banks at the end
of a long hallway featuring doorbell chimes
of a gasmask cracking, of an even louder 4th of July,
and electroshock therapy back in fashion.
Is that what happened to my Manwich?
I’d rather have lots of whisker lickin’
and a soundtrack to the bomb squad
with flying saucers denting the makeshift stars
because this existence is all there is
with its fluctuating ratios of signal to noise.
Then there’s the one standing behind a register
selling people stuff,
or rows of rows for the butcher,
like soldiers climbing out of their foxholes
in the rain. No more future,
but I’m still glad I don’t live there anymore
with its endless game of fetch.



I’m not going to lie to you; actually, I might
after I deleted those old photos.
My burrito will be ready soon,
but you don’t need to make it interactive;
this report card is challenging enough
with HR now automated, except for the escape key
that never works after you’ve pressed send,
as if this is the desert
and you’ve been traveling for years.
I just got here, and I’ll be gone soon,
watching them steal your knife and then stab you
with it in the back.
That’s enough for now.
I’ll always root for the underdog.
The flight simulator is closed for the day
with its low-lying clouds graying the bracelets
loose on your wrists, slightly damaged
like the rest of us or dented.
The balm goes on your lips, curtains parted,
a temporary figure beneath the rolling pin.



Here comes the sun. How many selfies do you want?
What about this one where I’m clutching
a dustpan without a handle?
We kept her Facebook page active after she died.
This is a novel about peeling skin and sticking
a banana in the tailpipe of a police van
because it’s a long time until our next set
of New Year’s resolutions. Mine is to wash
the dog bed, so go ahead and instruct me again—
I love it when you do that.
There’s a shred in time, like a lion squatting
on your chest while you dream.
We ran circles around the island,
stopping to empty every trashcan filled
with tomorrow’s excuses and braces
extracted with taffy, just as life is one big cling,
and too much chewing only speeds it along.
A small flag flaps from the antennae,
pulling in any signal other than static and silence,
with their clotting inside,
missing wildly.