There is mourning in America, all right.
Curses and slurs and the speech of red-faced hate
dominate the broadcasts that appear on our television
screens, large and immense black rectangles hung
on small walls, the beer cans and whiskey bottles piled
high beside the old couches covered with blankets and
white sheets. The images, sharp and well-defined,
alter the reality of minds muddled beyond redemption.
They keep their shotguns loaded with shells and their
handguns ready for the promised battles.
Assassination is on the lips of all cruel men and women.
Their well tailored shapes and bright colored clothes
spout “the word” to their followers. Deluded prophets,
hustling preachers, they bandy ill will and self-anoint
themselves in the oil of imagined persecution. They worship
the word that gives a face to their enemies, boasting
of the violence to come, raging in their righteous glory.
The spittle their vitriol produces dribbles out and dirties
every public place where the batons and arms of the men
in black bloody the innocents for their entertainment.
There is killing by America, and torture, and all manner
of desecration of the bodies and souls of those targeted
for reasons only the elites can elucidate without shame.
The rest of us are told what to think and spied upon
and attacked by minions who serve the powerful
if our thoughts do not match the approved message,
missives always subject to change at any moment. In return
for our compliance we are praised even as our hearts
and futures are stolen from us, and we are told that this is
For goodness and mercy have lost their way and death
is the new rallying cry. Our God, who we must acknowledge
and obey, is a fearful presence, and each day we are taught
to fear him, his rod and his staff and the furious anger of those
who do his works. No blessings remain for the weak or the poor
in spirit or otherwise, for this Lord recognizes only dominion
and respect for those created in his image, rewarding only
the tigers of our jungle society, who if we are lucky will allow us
to live long enough to be plucked naked, equal to the roast goose
whose flesh is picked clean off its bones and devoured.
This is the new gospel and it is well we should remember it,
accepting its blessings, meager though they be, for the world
has changed. Can’t you smell it, my brother? Can’t you hear it,
my sister? We are the appointed lesser beings who must serve
our masters and accept whatever crumbs fall from their tables
and love them for their generosity. For if we cannot, the spirit
of the age demands a sacrifice, and the knife wielders will call it
Tara Birch about Tara Birch
I’m 55, a former attorney. I haven’t worked since November 1998. I’m married and have two children, one who is now an adult and the other soon to graduate from high school. I’ve written poetry since the summer of 2001, and short stories since 2009. I’m presently working on a couple of novels when my health permits. I do not have any graduate or undergraduate degrees in the Fine Arts, Literature, etc. My undergraduate major was in psychology and I worked for a time as a counselor at residential facilities for emotionally disturbed children before burning out. Before attending law school I also worked at a number of odd jobs including stints as a Taxicab driver and a hospital pharmaceutical technician (a title far more glorified than the actual work required).
I have completed a short story cycle written primarily in the second person. The overall framing story that ties each of the separate tales together is that the stories are the project of an author, Tara Birch, who suffers from Dissociative Identity Disorder (i.e., Multiple Personality Disorder). One of her alternate identities (a female alter named T) is writing the stories in search of a third persona, named only “you” who she believes will ally itself with her against the male alternative personality (referred to as “S”) who T perceives as being hostile to her. After each story the two protagonists/antagonists comment and debate the merits of what T wrote, and thus flesh out the inner psychic conflict between them. The length of this work is roughly 400 pages. So far most agents to whom I’ve submitted a query letter have either rejected the concept outright or simply (if politely) told me it isn’t a book they are interested in. I can’t imagine why.