Who is this man? Unfurling new regard
Before a nation’s disbelieving ears–
Rendered alert, prepared for verbal carnage,
Awaiting fearsome words best left unheard.
What new falsehoods, descending rung by rung,
Can top a year of false flags and swornlies?
What more, from confidence’s silver tongue,
Can hide behind a businessman’s disguise?
The next day’s news suggests parties deceived,
Or just confused–by bluffing’s bard outbluffed.
Left in the aftermath–what to believe?
Will temporary phrases be enough?
Still, it takes an expert rhetorician
To make conciliation raise suspicion.
The cougar does not doubt his blood; the wren
Must find her songs before the hawk. A moon
Will not bring up the tide within a spoon,
And nothing bears us farther past than then.
Thus it might follow that the speaking pen
Extends beyond the mind into the room,
Depending on the bloom, the rent, the tomb,
To touch its rune to proof, its sheet to bend.
So if a man, hunched at the desk, intoned, All mine are things, all walking souls are pawns,
You lie! would be my answer, whereupon
He might refer me to our phones, our lawns,
Our concrete paths, collateralized loans.
It’s true, he’d say. I’d look for help, to yawns.
The brain in a vat, they used to call the test
Of whether fact, belief, and money all were real
Sensations, say, like moisture on the chest
Or water purling in a basin. Real
Was liquid, then, even when it was in vain.
Now all my doubt is wires and webs, fake news
From living just the way my vatted brain
Had wanted all along, thought it could use.
Did God have all the best Words, once?
Or, like poems, only coins and coinages,
Alt-shift-control, alternatives to nonce?
I cannot tell a lie on vetted stages.
And yet, in real air, and in real airplanes,
A stateless refugee opens his veins.