it is their mother’s basement
with the glare of the TV giving their face
that 3 a.m. glow.
it is the local coffee shop,
amongst those too wrapped up in their own lives
to pay any attention to the pajama-clad man
behind the monitor.
They hide behind the faces of others,
of dogs and old, unrecognizable photos,
or shots taken from so far away,
we cannot close the distance and
see their every flaw.
We know not their face,
what makes them tick tock
like a clock bomb.
They reveal little parts,
like trailers to a movie—
a smash-cut of a life well-lived,
Under the cover of anonymity,
they hide behind an alias or several,
cropping their lives like their photos,
creating the life they want to live
through status updates,
and doctored pictures,
as if the images were sick.
They can be as hateful as they want,
Then they must, as we all do,
go out into the world
as a fully-functioning human being,
the face-to-face encounters
softening their inner core
What one reveals in their unguarded moments—
the bright screen stripped away like the Wizard’s curtain,
the keyboard stuck so that all is gibberish—
is the essence of who they are;
if the online presence and the actual one
then their identity is lost amongst the virtual rubble.