Poetry

Clean Up

Gregory Betts

The way the forest sounds

sneak into the grocery store

the shopping cart creaks

like mountains

I have seen mountain goats

scale Campbell’s soup cans

as if they were butter (aisle 12)

Through those aisles we move

in murmurations

enacting strange Pac-Man patterns

of consumption, holding coupons

up against the ghostly creep

the spilt cherries that

magically disappear, the floor unstained

The way the vitamin stacks whisper hypnotically

the freezers murmur anonymously

while these persistent birds overhead

click and chirp like cameras

only ever keep

one eye on you, the other eye

sees through the security guard

to the nightless blue sky of the neon sign

I think I will root for truffles tonight

I am no hero, I am skinny dipping

in a sea of potato chips

swaying like kelp past cookies and creosote cleaner

peanut butter tubs you could bathe in

When the elephants come back to Canada

we will hear their thunderous stomp

on the roofs of stores like these

stuff our shirts with water bottles

strap Quebecois cheeses to our thin chests

praise the lake waters come rushing in

Their trunks will come crashing through

grasping their ablation

collecting us or the shopping carts

or the salmonella that have miraculously

returned to these waters

The mountain goats, though, stay prophetically

dry climb or rather float

up those coarse highways

tablets returning to the mount

over drifting ice cream, soy milk bars,

and burning High Times

This is how we will all die,

knowing that only our vitamin dreams

will survive

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Gregory Betts

Gregory Betts is the author of seven books of poetry, most recently Sweet Forme (a data visualization of the sonic patterns in Shakespeare’s sonnets). His next books include a collection of visual poems, Foundry (redfoxpress), and a new monograph, Finding Nothing: Vancouver Avant-Garde Writing, 1959-1975 (University of Toronto Press). He is the curator of the bpNichol.ca  digital archive and a professor at Brock University.


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