Computer Social Intercourse

By Ellen Pober Rittberg

David, who I shall call Steven
for reasons that may not be clear
love-bombs me or like-bombs me
with requests to visit
his insurance business website
out of boredom I do
why, I wish to ask him
do you think I’d be interested
I too have suffered from self-importance
in the past and like the wife of Bath
find experience although not authority
can save one from being an
unregenerate wreck
neurotic yes on bad days
on good days neutrinos and comet
and worldly-wise I am to the universe
but getting back to Stephen
spelled p-h not a vee
if you understand the distinction
there is nothing remotely
stimulating about your website
devoid of content, devoid even of a possibly
more flattering picture which may have helped
which may have redeemed you
might have made you appeal like a good book

to cement the perception that
relationship seeking is heat-seeking missile-like
Richard whose name I no longer remember
emails tells me he’s sorry
that because I keep kosher
and he doesn’t we wouldn’t work
well, frankly I am glad
good riddance to judgmental
potential matches, co-religionists

oh, and Jeff who I shall call Joe
wants to know why
I am not interested
after one round of Q’s mine and A’s his
shall I tell him I am mildly revolted not by
his slight scruffiness, I am broadminded
but by the photographs he posts
cross legged but non-yogic
full body arms above the head
breast self-examination
and dressed happy to report
more or less appropriately
in what is possibly power red
wrapped around himself as if to say
I am quite the package, n’est-ce pas
although I doubt he speaks French
and why law school at age fifty three
and why tout your own self-professed
altruism you may nonetheless if
true still be an s.o.b.
says he currently ministers to
cancer victims some sort of technician
a hybrid: prole/slightly upwardly mobile
thank g-d he’s not a nurse, the ones that
kill usually are male and no I haven’t
yet sworn off men but if I keep this up
I may I may just
but then again, my own picture is a bit
as the French might say de trop
the long shot full bodied pose
dressed in a tasteful empire dress
that nevertheless fairly screams
I am not excessive
and viewed from above
on a very good day I may resemble
a star of some television drama now gone
but – and here, the distinction –
I put up only one photo
Jeff has ten
Jeff you scare me frankly
have you killed if not humans
then small mammals I shall then predict
your slow decline into madness

if I were a man
I’d affect a slightly rakish pose
I’d have a hat
a newsboy’s cap
maybe corduroy patches
tweedy you know venerable
might mention my two advanced degrees
where does she come off she does indeed
she sheds skin just harmless thing.

Ellen Pober Rittberg’s poetry and fiction have appeared in Long Island Quarterly, Wheelhouse, Burning Bush, Kansas Quarterly, Slow Trains, Raintiger, Flutter, and anthologies. She is the author of 35 Things Your Teen Won’t Tell You, So I Will (Turner Publishing, 2010), a humorous parenting how-to. Her plays, “Sci Fi” and Sabbath Elevator have been performed in New York, Los Angeles and festivals. Her novel The Boy is scheduled for publication in early 2014.

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