Poetry

Canada, More or Less

ZACHARIAH WELLS

From Career Limiting Moves. Published by Biblioasis in 2014.

Define Canada?

You might say the home of McSorley

Or Ron Hextall

Who inspired innovative use of the hockey stick as

    lethal weapon

But we’re more than just aggravated assault

And salt-of-the earth goons

In wheat-growing and steel-making towns

Some say what defines us is our excessive consumption of 

    over-proof beer

And our friendly-to-a-fault willingness to give strangers 

    directions

Even if it’s just “Ya can’t get there from here”

Or some other bum steer

We are so friendly to strangers

We greet them at the YVR airport—with Tasers!

We are vegans and seal-clubbers

We are seamen and land-lubbers

We are loggers and tree-huggers

We are dipsomaniacs and abstemious tea-chuggers

We are a land of such equal opportunity

That not only our politicians, but our serial killers too

Can be hog farmers or Air Force brass

(That they are drawn still from the ranks of white men

Is a matter of some concern, but we’re working on that, 

    let me assure you)

We are constantly taking it up the ass

From our neighbour, for which we say not only thank you

But please sir, could I have some more?

Because we are more

We are the global economy’s friendliest whore

We are vast tracts of pristine land

We are pipelines, tailings and tar sand

We are exporting asbestos to India

Our number one motto’s “Buddy, get it inta ya!”

We are raping our fish stocks and when we reap our forests

We replace ’em with fast-growing stands of future

    bum paper

We’re melting, we’re melting

And all the while we’re belting out smug odes

As we keep putting the rubber to the road

We campaign from the left and govern from the right

We turn off the light and take back the night

We are getting tough on crime

And we’re doing it on your dime

Think art grants expensive, how ’bout hard time?

We are universal healthcare—if you’re in the right province

We are kernels of truth and nuggets of nonsense

We are paying recompense in monthly installments

We are a ragged patchwork of problematic diversity

We are in debt to our eyeballs for going to university

We just can’t decide

We were perpetrators of genocide

But we don’t call it that and we feel really bad about the 

    whole thing

We have interned innocent citizens and taken their 

    belongings

On a dérangé le peuple Acadien

Comme tout le monde, on dit merci et de rien

Mais une fois à la maison, on donne un coup de pied à 

    notre chien

We are one Jew too many

We are not two solitudes, but as long as the knackered nag 

    still knickers, might as well flog ’er

We are a game of Don Valley Parkway frogger

We are a pedophilic diocese

We are increasingly obese

We are plus-sized and disingenuously self-deprecating

We are eating where we are defecating

We are doing your dirty work, as long as it pays

We are not the sum total of our feel-good clichés

But you need more than an upbeat demeanour to sweep 

    garbage away

Saying “we are more” is just one more trite meme

We are still trying to forge what we mean

And what this means is

We made our bed

But we must change the sheets if we want to make it clean

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