Svoboda_Terese_cWhy the title Tin God?

According to my esteemed Dictionary.com,  a tin god is someone, esp. a minor official, who is pompous and self-important. I’m referring to my fallen conquistador who perhaps was once pompous and self-important but as soon as he is relegated to the journey into the unknown, he’s in trouble. He has to gouge a dead comrade out of his armor and steal his tin hat in order to protect himself. His deterioration is a paean to “A Distant Episode,” Paul Bowles’ perfect story about the fall of an academic in Morocco, although maybe all stories about the disoriented in exotic climes derive from Bowles or maybe Dante’s Inferno, or even Rabelais whose narrator resides inside Pantagruel’s mouth for six months and discovers an entire nation living around his teeth.

tin-god-cover_0All over the Middle West you find people who know I’m here. Why, there was this woman in Minnesota—you saw her in the grocery-line-kind-of-paper—who found God in her dishwasher, on a scratched plastic Goofy cup. But there are others who know there’s something going on and so are forever talking aliens. Aliens, and I don’t mean just the unregistered citizen-slaves who trim trees and pick fruit, they talk about people of real color, purple, for example, with weeds attached to the person’s undersides or insect parts where their mouths should be. Sometimes that same newspaper puts them on the front page with a star’s parts. And there are also those who know there’s something going on but they can’t quite put their finger to it. What they end up fingering usually isn’t god, in general, the human mind always running to evil like it does. Remember the girl who last year offered her firstborn to the rising river?  I was behind her, in my pickup.