When Birds Aren’t Real

by Tanner Barnes

after @birdsarentreal

There is a group of old women who  
meet on Wednesdays and call themselves  
the Sewing Club but talk about surveillance  
cameras and the deep state. I found myself  
in one of these meetings. I’ll tell you what  
I’ve learned: the sixties, Kennedy, FBI, CIA,  
CUBA, all of them were in on it, no joke,
It goes all the way to the top. Santa & JFK  
ate lunch and decided to set up a system  
to monitor all the bad kids so they could know  
who to give coal, or universal healthcare.  
It wasn’t long until they realized all of us  
were bastards. But man, did this piss off Castro.  
He sent a man to kill Kennedy and another  
after Santa. He only succeeded in killing  
Saint Nic. And that’s why all birds are communist  
and hate Christmas. Can you imagine what  
would happen if the public knew? I couldn’t  
believe what those women were saying
in the back of that Joann’s Fabric. I drove home
and a bird hopped through the air vent above
my oven, and my cat decided to kill it. Instead
of my rug being covered in feathers and bird shit,
the cat fanged at metal flesh, and all of its cavities
shivered, and the bird/not bird opened and out shot
a hologram JFK, he was surrounded by ice that
was melting, and said Help, if you’re hearing
this, then we are in danger and reached out of frame
and pulled up Santa, not a pleasantly plump man
but one with the figure of a marathon runner.
The ice caps are melting, and the world is doomed, Santa
is alive, they have been lying to you. Then the picture
shook and blurred a bit and in the distance rumbled
what sounded like a soviet march, Castro is coming!
Hurry! Then JFK gave me the coordinates: 90° N
135° W — The North Pole. And that is why I’m
asking you to support my Kickstarter and with
your help, I can charter a ship, and the sewing club
and I can go save the planet. This is urgent. Help me
help you. We must save America. We must save Christmas!

Tanner Barnes is an MFA candidate in poetry at Florida State University. He does not have a website, but he thinks you should follow him on Twitter (@aint_no_cowboy). His work has previously been published in the Rappahannock Review, the Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, Sierra Nevada Review, and Chestnut Review, among others.


Photography by: Nikoline Arns