Ode to Sao

You bought farm equipment for the earth
And went into debt, cleaned for decades
To pay it off. Now you collect cardboard

With scarred hands cut, in the deep heat
Of Japanese summer. In a rich land,
Old and thinking of others, you work

And pull your cart, load and unload,
Cut, flatten and fold, lug and tilt
And smile, Stoic, more philosophical

Than philosophers. You say, amid your pain,
That we will understand if we have children
That a parent cannot take money from them,

That we want our children to have something
Better, and that, to spare them, I say I will
Work till I die, as a hobby. She is thinking

Of dignity even as the cardboard prices
Fall, eight dollars for three days work,
Lugging and hauling beside luxury cars

And we who complain should know some shame
And feed the poor, young and old, and give them
Books and oranges, not drive them with debt

And smother them with insecurity
In wind, sun, rain, sleet and bury
Our stone hearts in a sheet.

Jonathan Locke Hart

Jonathan Locke Hart

Jonathan Locke Hart, Chair Professor, School of Translation, Shandong University (Fellow CRRS, Toronto; Associate,Harvard University Herbaria)is a poet, historian and literary scholar who studied at Toronto and Cambridge and has taught literary theory, intellectual and cultural history, and creative writing in Canada, France, China, the United Kingdom, and the United States,for instance,at Princeton, the Sorbonne Nouvelle (Paris III), Cambridge, Shanghai Jiao Tong University and Peking University. As a poet, has collaborated with artists to create artist books and exhibitions. His collections include Unforgetting Private Charles Smith (2019), The Burning Lake (2016), Musing (2011), Dreamwork (2010), Dream Salvage (2003), Dream China (2002), and Breath and Dust (2000). His work has appeared in Harvard Review, Mattoid, Quarry, The Antigonish Review, among other journals; his poems and some of his books have been translated to several languages, including Chinese, French, Polish,Romanian, Estonian, Slovenian and Greek.
Jonathan Locke Hart

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Author: Jonathan Locke Hart

Jonathan Locke Hart, Chair Professor, School of Translation, Shandong University (Fellow CRRS, Toronto; Associate, Harvard University Herbaria) is a poet, historian and literary scholar who studied at Toronto and Cambridge and has taught literary theory, intellectual and cultural history, and creative writing in Canada, France, China, the United Kingdom, and the United States, for instance, at Princeton, the Sorbonne Nouvelle (Paris III), Cambridge, Shanghai Jiao Tong University and Peking University. As a poet, has collaborated with artists to create artist books and exhibitions. His collections include Unforgetting Private Charles Smith (2019), The Burning Lake (2016), Musing (2011), Dreamwork (2010), Dream Salvage (2003), Dream China (2002), and Breath and Dust (2000). His work has appeared in Harvard Review, Mattoid, Quarry, The Antigonish Review, among other journals; his poems and some of his books have been translated to several languages, including Chinese, French, Polish, Romanian, Estonian, Slovenian and Greek.