A Poet Travels the World Wide Web
Alexander Best

  1. Click click, click click, yes. A photograph of a gorgeous woman nursing two puppies—Spaniels, I believe. It wasn’t nightmarish like something out of Hieronymus Bosch. The little dogs were wet with milk and the woman’s face both tender and magnificent. Holland? Belgium?

  2. A photograph of me. Laughing, a cloud of smoke, cigar clamped in the corner of my mouth. Shirt open, and the meagre expanse of my skinny hairy chest. I zapped it to the image exchange. Out of the blue, a trucker down in Mississippi thanked me by sending a picture of himself—a great big softy, wearing a ballcap which read A2Z Haulage, sitting at a formica table with his complete Royal Doulton tea set.

  3. A young man with “bed head”—a mass of uncombed curls—sprawled on a carpet, a vinyl easy chair behind him covered in a large lace doily. He was naked, long and gangly, and several dozen clothes-pegs pinched his flesh. His face reminded me of Bernini’s sculpture of Saint Teresa of Avila. Country of origin: unknown.

  4. I took several photographs of my feet—they are handsome feet. I sent them to a fetish site. A half-dozen men in Brasil, Colombia, and Peru replied with childhood anecdotes; all involved the church. First eroticism came with kissing the stone or plaster Saviour’s feet—this part of His anatomy on the pedestal’d statue being level with the lips of 11-year-old boys. One man wrote that his aunt used to unwind her hair then caress Christ’s feet with the strands.

  5. Click click, click click, yes. A boy-man (16 years old) with the face of an angel and a well-developed body of beautiful proportions—the very picture of health. He’s standing a distance away from the computer, snapping his self-portrait via a lengthy extension cord held in one hand. The background looks generic and spartan: fly-by-night corporate. A bright light veers diagonally down from outside the frame—a door being opened? —and his eyes have darted in that direction. Innocence interrupted.

  6. Three group photographs. In the first, six couples—it’s hard to tell . . . anyway, they’re all having fun—clinking beers and smooching (girls and boys). Some have their arms around one another (boys and boys, girls and girls). A large pennant with Greek letters is half chopped by the picture’s edge. In the second picture all six boys “moon” the camera—bottoms face-forward, as it were. Some have craned their necks around and look devilish. Others are slapping their own bums. Third picture. A side view of everyone. On the left, the same six boys, their pants right off, on the floor, their asses in the air. A few cheeky boys have turned their faces toward us, the viewer. On the right, the same six girls jostle with one another, each with a camera. One of them crouches and appears to be shooting with a telephoto lens.

  7. Inspired by the frat-party triptych, I borrowed a digital camera and I took pictures of my own bottom. Luckily, this new technology makes it easy to discard dull photos—of which there were many. It is a difficult task: to photograph one’s own ass well! Flashless, I experimented with Christmas bulbs, candles, et cetera. I was astonished by the abstract grace, the chiaroscuro, of my photographic efforts. On a lark, I zapped the best of them to the famous Cielo Grande Observatory in California. I asked them if they could identify which vista of the heavens I’d been studying with my telescopic night camera. I apologized for my amateur’s lack of knowledge and included the longitude/latitude coordinates for Toronto, Canada. The Observatory sent me an acknowledgement, thanked me for the pictures, and said they were working on it.

  8. An old man and old woman were looking for pen-pals, figured they’d do it the modern way—via e-mail. They got a computer up and running—“my, but it was a trial”—settled on octogenarian font sizes, were finding spam to be “a nuisance,” and so forth. Their introductory message was accompanied by various nude photos of themselves. I quote: “We love one another to bits. Even after 50 years of marriage. Our children have shunned us, for the time being. But they’ll come around. We have faith in the young. Life is full of surprises, really. Perhaps we’re one of them. Arthur is proud of that glorious scar on his lower back. Such an elegant shape, and quite an interesting story behind it! What do you think of our snaps?” Country of origin: England.