Us (in a corporate poem)

This is a significant time for us.
We have a permanent spot to make dots
the rest of our lives. Each placement
assigned, approved, then lovelessly appraised
by the supervisor sitting behind us
who by default knows what size
and colour of dots the world needs.
At break, I sit among us—head lowered,
tongue lolled—and copy answers
for the compulsory staff survey.
Our names bilingual, we are multilingual
in saying “can”. So skilled at
putting tiny ticks in tinier boxes to agree
with our mouthful of over-chewed sandwich
we don’t need to squint our eyes to choose
the best place between __ M __ F (Tick only)
__ Married __ Single (Mandatory)
__ children __ pets __ cactuses (Round
number only). We get a bonus for being
“one of us”. Like the rest of us,
I worry about the upcoming task rotation:
the corporate mechanism
to make sure we are good at part of
something (with demonstrated examples).
In this concrete box full of
dots we are paid to connect
fragments and incomplete
arcs. We get used to hugging
our belly and entertaining each other
with our favorite snacks in drawers
8 hours a day. We bond
by not asking how each of us
become the other. We ask: Do you remember the REBEL—
The one who had once tapped on the keyboard
loudly when the boss was not around?
But the machine, banal and
philistine, only autocorrected and made copies
of copies to inauthenticate the only sound we know
that low hum from a human-sized seagull
sweating through the eye holes to win
hot chips from the easy-to-please crowd. True,
we don’t need mirrors to see
sameness. We wipe our faces, rub
runny makeup of grey and moss green
to thicken our curriculum vitae year after year.
Perhaps if we’d known how to hide properly,
say, like the violinist between
these walls, selling what he has
not given up, we would’ve made a fortune,
found meaning in life, or at least disappeared
into a new fiction…

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