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after Suzuki Harunobu
The sinews of the ox’s body, the muscles,
betray the limits of its independence.
Opium-white and residue-black, it balances the heavy
baskets to please its mistress.
Kneeling like a child for a punishment, or
a poem before the poet, it cannot act. The girl
commands it forward with a backward glance, anxious
as a mother or a poet in the aftermath.
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Reflecting on three monumental works of modernism—James Joyce’s Ulysses, T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, and Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus—a hundred years on.
Both regulators and employers have embraced new technologies for on-the-job monitoring, turning a blind eye to unjust working conditions.
But I do miss the hymns, / the small, hard apples with their dimpled skin. I do miss / things.