An Absence of Team Spirit

Now starts to mean then
the moment it’s written down.
(You completed all their forms two weeks ago.)

You send them a cheerful first-thing email,
followed by a crisp but pleasant lunchtime
voicemail. How much can you afford to care?

There seems to be an organic relationship between
a line’s rhythm as measured by the breath pattern
involved in speaking it, and the emotional impact

of that line: Making the team,
then making it win: low self-esteem
sure beats chagrin.

So much of what we hope we want
has no need of us. The parts of the fishhook:
eye, shank, bend, point, barb, gap and throat.

The spaces between cutthroat numbers.
Last, lest, list, lost, lust. Prosperity
through repression.

Not a single Taliban prisoner turned over
by Canadian Forces,
the Defence Minister says,
can be proven to have been abused.

Meanwhile, it’s 5:03, Mr. Retread. At a cartoon
crossroads, two portly snails commiserate about
speeding tortoises coming out of nowhere—

This poem “An Absence of Team Spirit” originally appeared in Canadian Literature 214 (Autumn 2012): 90.

Please note that works on the Canadian Literature website may not be the final versions as they appear in the journal, as additional editing may take place between the web and print versions. If you are quoting reviews, articles, and/or poems from the Canadian Literature website, please indicate the date of access.