Genevieve Betts

Samsara: an elegy

A rhizome may be broken, shattered at a given spot, but it will start up again on one of its old lines or on new lines. -Deleuze and Guattari

1. Clay was young and wrote When travelingin the far western statesat an altitude from five thousandto eight thousand feet,the sagebrush risesand valleys are decoratedwith cedaring juniperand piñon.


if you should chance to see a compact flockof birds, it may well bethat you have come upona party of blue crows.

2. Clay reflects in those crow-eyes,

his bluelightbulbs and tubers—multiple roots that branchlike couchgrass.

Those underground stems spawnarms at every inch,

loam mazes for the earth-worm—cut in halfwith a shovel—twowill travel double the soil.

Seedpod -for Pandora

The instructions liebehind my right ear:

a. Thin rindcut like avocado sliceis blood, but fadesdown the shaded staircase
carnation, rosemilk,
and will be your guide,though the stitches are removed.

b. Travel only by the mapin your bones.
Of ruinit is the longest lasting—
fluted pillar of floating rib,
earthworms can travel the distance.

c. You may begin at anypeninsula of the body,
head, hands, feet,
and follow straightthe street of belly,
a tightened drumof scallop shell.

d. You cannot know the spanof a light-source.
The synapse of a bulbmay at times flicker,
but is lostat the tinof a rattle.

1. or clinical lycanthropy,a condition where a personbelieves themselves unhuman, feral otherkin,animal of batwing and skin and tail.
Though mostly mammal,studies speak of one womantransformed into a bee— thorax banded in honey-yellow, tongue like a spring, and smoky windowpane wings.
She must have considered the stinger— was it a fair trade, death for self-defense?
Her human presence couldn’t say no,couldn’t touch that murky place of memory,but only feel an escape of the little animal inside.
2. Chuang Tzu contemplatedconsciousness like this— if in our dream, we see a grass-yellow butterfly,how do we know that it’s ours and notthe dream of the butterfly seeing us?
3. In a daydream, we can bein a metastable statelike the antique glass in a windowpane—
if unrotated,the proteins will leave their place,bubble and ooze and warpuntil an escape hole can be made.
It’s a wonder our own proteinsdon’t fizzle away, betray uslike carbonation.

Genevieve Betts’ poems and flash fiction pieces appear or are forthcoming in Poetry Quarterly, OVS Magazine, The 33rd Anthology, Quarter After Eight, Nano Fiction, 42opus, CHAIN, and MATTER, and her book reviews of poetry can be found in Western American Literature, Midwest Quarterly, and 42opus. Her manuscript, The Deafening, was a finalist for the ABZ First Book Award. She received her MFA from Arizona State University where she was a poetry editor for Hayden’s Ferry Review, and she currently teaches at Drexel University in Philadelphia.