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This sentence is false.

“What if our universe were a concept like cosmic ether, or phlogiston, or the conspiracy of the Elders of Zion?”

- Umberto Eco, The Force of Falsity

It all seems so plausible, so

within reason. What we call rain

covers the city, having reached

that part of its story. This wet road

lies like a hair in the tub,

which could not have but fallen there

under some inconceivable design or

laws we study and then think no more on.

The air fairly crackles

with information we’ve amassed

and fitted into a transmission system

perfected in a series of false starts

and failed experiments (though failure

is a kind of success) based on ideas

and theories built up and washed away

like dunes over millennia.

Today’s truths, one for each of us,

coalesce from the fog like a solid tree

out of the mirage of a lanky stranger.

Tomorrow some will remain and some

will have fallen aside like veils

in an houri’s alluring pirouette—

the promise of what lies

beneath, and the lies

of what is promised.

Beliefs become heresies, heretics

prophets. What’s believed

occludes what is.

We’ve come to distrust the provenance,

or if not, risk our certainty down the road,

skittering on a surface become slick

with new weather. If “fake news”

is tonight’s lead story, is that true or false?

Whose ideas have filtered down to us

through the cosmic ether?

How long will inner fires

burn before someone finds

they were never there at all

except in the inchoate furnace

of our common mind? Will we

ever get to the bottom of it,

this conspiracy of being?

We wait to see if mists clear,

turn our searchlights

to the midnight clouds.

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