the poetry that matters

 Gregory Betts

2007_04_10gregorybetts.jpgGregory Betts was born in Vancouver to Maritime parents, and, "as part of the national compromise," spent most of his life in Toronto. Though not a natural "Upper Canadian," Gregory's work in poetry, fiction, and criticism has consistently explored the literary milieu of his adoptive city. He is the author of If Language (BookThug, 2005) and the collaborative Haikube (2006)—the sculptural counterpart of which, by Matt Donovan and Hallie Siegel, was displayed at the Olga Korper Gallery. He teaches Canadian and Avant-Garde Literature at Brock University in St. Catharines.




Heizenburg, Pop Scientist

for Jordon Smith, Victoria




He has achieved

a basic ideological

non-enemy status

something we all

long long for

length for


Quantum mechanics

remains the most privileged

post-modern turn

involved in the

recovery of ethics


He is the honorary founder

His platonic turn of mind

a nuclear weapon

faith in the unthinkable


1964, through the microscope

the submicroscope

within himself

certainty thru doubt


before the stake in the universal

before cultures

discursive phenomenon

and the Copenhagan

nexus of knowledge


Physics and beyond

across the frontiers

transgressing the boundaries


The origin of the science

translates itself obscure

systematized matter

still life and war

satisfied the need for

a new paradigm

post-Newtonian defamiliarization

learning by rote


rotting material bodies

experimental apparatus

he stressed the similes

that betray realities

frozen like shadows on walls

graffiti words too quiet to read


smiles undo the shadows of

daily existence

inside the atom bomb


He happily reported

its failure

until America

uncovered the irrevocable


He stumbled into

a unified field theory

of post-identity


the atom is not

a physical object

spoken in the matrix


it is a button





between the possibility

and the reality

Physics and beyond


the sight of a town

destroyed by an atom bomb

depresses our spirits


just one kind of cloaking device

this radical discontinuity

contaminated with too many

pre-modern connotations


the unpresentable

in presentation itself


all you have to do

is follow the rules

and disappear








A fountainous
source of river
high rolling wells swells
large, violent wave, billow
the rising and driving
of influences actions and agitations
fire, wind, sound
and the undulating hills

The windlass under strain
rocks forward to aft
peak voltage
the whispering voices

She will rise and fall
cast up by
moving tempestuously
of a crowd of people
of thoughts or feelings
driving with waves
slipping back accidentally
as a chain round a capstan
as a wheel

She lets go suddenly
sweeps, pulls, jerks
in every sudden direction

She will rise as a surgeon,
a violent oscillation of current

electric currency





The Television Malaria


the television malaria

blue light electrified bodies

of the personal

there is nothing to say


bugs forests and planets count

in the numbers of the body count

twinkling violence on mythic maps

bugs swarm the constellations

infect them one by one


we are the parents here

we count the bodies

of cities, the living world

the resource use

flowing between us


it’s a global whirl

identical houses web light spin

banana split subjectivities

well-trained movie goers


we say the prayers

we say goodbye

            after giving articulate speech

            one last rousing revival


in lakelands of automobiles

shimmering beneath whipped cream sky

the apparition of the cherry

rolls off the flat black earth


after the world ends

the human shame grows filmy

disappears cinematic fantasy

nature begins the long lunge back

bug by bug, little little stars

interrupting the drama

a cell phone rings

as if by instinct










                i leave the pale

              trail for a sideways




            i and i

            now bone

           find a  lone

            quiet sound



                   lie hearing how loud

                   my breath and that cloud






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