Jerome Betts


Pixel versus Pulp

Much as the codex doomed the scroll
And oil supplanted steam and coal,
The book’s progressed. Now, often, it’s
Become a tale of bytes and bits.

Those buildings where real print is found
Increasingly are not around.
Some pundits even dare to say,
The library has had its day.

Since we can study texts with ease,
Not haunted by the ghosts of trees,
Who misses, in this touch-screen age,
A sized or brittle browning page?

The digit’s reign, from Omsk to Oudh,
Means word-hoards up there “in the cloud,”
Whole shelves, in fact, so vast the scope,
Virgil, Cervantes, Shakespeare, Pope . . .

Perhaps, but while electrons flow,
What happens if their circuits blow
Or lightning in a single flash
Turns long-filed data into trash?

True, memory sticks can be employed,
But, if corrupted, end up void,
So, stellar brain, or barrel-scraper,
The prudent still leave lines on paper.

Conversing With Ursines

“If the bear is aware of you . . . talk to
the bear in a calm voice (say
Hey bear,
hey bear) and slowly back away.”
—MassGov Fisheries & Wildlife website

There is a certain special Ooh! in
woods with trees galore to view in
Massachusetts, thanks to Bruin.

It’s habitat you could well share
With black-furred creatures browsing there
Who may or may not be aware.

On meeting one, these rules apply:
It’s bad to turn around and fly
As matters then might go awry.

Don’t shin up trees, you tough old-timers,
Tech-laden geeks or rambling rhymers,
As bears are rather better climbers!

Talk to the beast—a calm quiet tone
In, even though an Anglophone,
An accent not perhaps your own.

(It isn’t hard to get the hang
Of any local burr or twang
When focusing on claw and fang.)

If you are clearly in its face,
Say Hey bear, hey bear, just in case
It thinks it’s joined the human race.

Then, as you slowly back away,
Enjoy a thrill that makes your day
And put away that pepper spray.

Jerome Betts lives in Devon, England, and edits the quarterly Lighten Up Online. His verse has appeared in a variety of British magazines and in anthologies like Love Affairs At The Villa Nelle and The Potcake Poets 1 & 2, as well as UK, European, and North American web publications such as Amsterdam Quarterly, Better Than Starbucks, Light, The Asses of Parnassus, The Hypertexts, The New Verse News, and Snakeskin.