Keith Kopka
Flat Earth Conspiracy

Hesiod described our world’s uniform plane

as Achilles’ shield afloat

on the river Oceanus. A belief

that stood until Pythagoras

observed the shape of the moon’s terminator

in orbital cycle. And though more than a millennium

of scientific progress has brought

enough space exploration

and satellite imaging for Earth’s curvature

to no longer be a question

but a logo, flattened only

by mass-produced renderings,

there are still some who are looking for any reason

to disprove what’s been proven.

The privilege of their disbelief sharpened,

brandished like a switchblade,

on countless message boards and forums,

those newest, darkest alleys of the cultural zeitgeist

where we mug only ourselves.

Because if the earth were really a spinning chunk of rock,

a helicopter could hover in place,

its pilot waiting for their destination to appear

on the skyline. And any bullet

fired straight up would land at least a hundred feet

east or west of its origin.

But none of this really explains

why some can’t accept even the simplest terms

of our shared gravitational experience.

Most claims of grand deception

are a response to a perceived injustice (JFK, aliens,

capitalism, etc.). So if the earth is flat

it begs a question: who benefits from the lie?

Who wants our world to be spherical

rather than some verdant placemat, or giant Petri dish

enclosed by walls of ice that keep

the water in and monsters out? It’s always someone.

The Illuminati or the Free Masons. Surrogates

for whatever forces we’re convinced

are at work molding our happiness into bricks

that some shadowy They uses

to wall up its brief windows. But what if

this time it isn’t them?

Instead, what if our injustice

is self-inflicted? Because if the earth is flat,

we can’t be confident that

putting one foot in front of the other doesn’t

just move us towards an end.

An end that might even be worse than

all those years spent walking.

The more artless among us have named this gamble faith.

But even a true believer might admit

that by refusing to accept

what we haven’t borne witness to,

our ignorance is tenuous

as any higher power’s charity.

At least the tyranny of Pythagoras turns our world,

so that we’re forced to face ourselves.

We know the truth. We see it

coming on the horizon.

Found In Volume 52, No. 06
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  • Keith Kopka
Keith Kopka
About the Author

Keith Kopka is the recipient of the 2019 Tampa Review Prize for his debut collection of poems, Count Four (University of Tampa Press, 2020). His poetry and criticism have recently appeared in Best New Poets, Mid-American Review, New Ohio Review, Berfrois, Ninth Letter, the International Journal of the Book, and many others.