Winter 2014-15


The Blue Collar Review is a quarterly journal of poetry and prose published by Partisan Press. Our mission is to expand and promote
a progressive working class vision of culture that inspires us and that moves us forward as a class. The work presented is
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Poetry Samples from the Latest Issue

Two of Our Finest

Luis Hernandez died on the farm
A truck rolled down on him
He was a migrant
Ready to move on for the next crops
Was he born in Mexico? Honduras?
Scott Booth was trapped in a hay baler
On a farm out in Alexander
Died at the scene
They worked to bring us food
There were no fire trucks
No ladders extended
And meeting high up from where
Giant American or Mexican flags
Hung over solemn processions
With bagpipes
No ceremonies for just some
Dead farmworkers

They did not wear uniforms They were not the finest
But they had families, too.

       Gene Grabiner


The Immigrant

I am the miracle
No one wants;
The oracle of lost eyes
Always dreaming
Of the valley of my birth
I turned my back on,
Choosing to voyage in the wind.

I own the roads swept
With the headlights
Of fugitive cars
Inhaling the fragrance
Of another day
For an encore of promises.
My stomach grinds
From dawn to dusk
With memories I no longer
Believe in.

I am the child
The moon forgot
To wake
In a field of whispering wheat.

      Baloian


We Are All Whores

Slaving at our nine to five job
for minimum wage,
in order to pay the rent
that we cannot pay in full
without starving for a few days.

Putting a price on the priceless.
Our limited time is worth $8.50 an hour:
time is cheap.
Us girls,
we smile sweetly at our bosses.
In our hope for a raise
we wear attractive dresses
tight in all our curvy places.

We ignore sexual harassment:
it is part of the job.


      Bri A. McClaflin


The Downward Spiral

She did what everyone said was needed, high-school
and a degree from a two-year accredited college.
But she still cannot get the job she really wants.
Reeling from employer demands & minimum
wage worries, she navigates freeways filled
with horn-tooting, lane-changing traffic &
heads toward a place where burdens
used to fall away, a place where she
could always crawl into her self
and feel safe. Now, the world
has swirled into new con-
figurations. Inside her
house, she worries.
How long before
she cannot pay
the rent. buy
gas for the
car? The
only way,
rent first,
then gas,
eat last.


      Cleo Fellers Kocol


Around 32 and Falling

Snow man on the door
S'no man on the door
Yes, there's a door
better than no door
but where's the heat?

My rent just went up $115
I am scared    scared
Always scared

I plug in the little electric heater
not just at night now
People in bed at night
don't need heat, right?
People at work during the day
don't need heat, right?

Old people don't need heat       we
are chillin,
in our own cells.


      Mary Franke


Jobless

When is my time? Walkin' these rough and rocky,
mean and murky, soggy and smelly back streets and back allies
and sidewalks, fervently. Turnin' the corner, uncertain, if and
when, life throws a curve ball my way. And then a nothing.
Tormented by a demoralized spirit; plagued by inactivity;
denied a greater challenge; handicapped in my expertise.
But why?

Again, walking those streets daily, doin' endless research on
different companies. My nemeses boredom, clingin' to me
like my shadow.
My fingers stiff and numb from typin' a sea of resumes.
My feet sore and achin', askin' for a recess.
My eyes bloodshot, like downin's ten Bloody Marys.
My brain overworked from too much brainstormin'.
My depleted body yearns for food and rest, the earmarks
of my persona.
My bedroom lamp burns incessantly,
anticipatin' those sixty-four dollar questions
searchin' for those sixty-four dollar answers.

My motto: if opportunity doesn't knock, build a door.
Knockin' on doors, uh, knockin' down doors,
from one interview to another, Nervousness indecision
uncertainty rejection. Those seeds of despair hauntin' my
inhibitions, stalkin' my confidence, Timin' is essential; timin' is
perfect. Sellin' myself, my worth, my soul, my integrity, my
career, but for a few measly bucks like a model toy on display.
And my mind cries, "Mister employer, please don't tie my hands!"
Then what does it take to convince him that I'm the ideal
person for this vacant position?

For I am in the door; out the door; I am overqualified;
underqualified;
not qualified; I am even disqualified.
Then what is the happy median?
These alternatives; should I be aggressive or assertive?
Should I show much interest, some indifference or vice versa?
Do the rewards outweigh the repercussions? Will he be true to
his words or play a dirty game of politics with me? Should I
make contacts or recommendations of secret payoffs? I presume
all of the above correct,
like takin' a multiple choice exam. Perhaps, none of the above.

They look from the inside on out; and I from the outside on in.
I am that unused tool, hopin' to trade places with them some day.
But when?

       Reg Murray


Men

Let me tell you about
Men

Men need to work, to have something
we do       something
we take pride in doing
something we identify with

Men need self-respect
some reason to take pride
in ourselves       not
that chest-beating kind of
egotistical one-upsmanship
not ownership of things
or control of others but
something that
justifies our existence
and gives our lives meaning

Without this, we wither
beating up on ourselves
or worse --

I know a bright, talented, warm
young man you would have loved
who couldn't find work
who finally gave up
taking his own life
just a few days ago

I'm carrying this around like
a hot stone
in my chest because,
having been there     I know
it could just as well be me
and may yet --
and neither of us are alone in this.

Our opportunities, our pride
our self image have been stolen from us
and squandered by venal
self-serving creeps at AIG, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and
Goldman Sachs. Our lives,
our manhood -- and our womanhood
have been taken by ravenous corporatists and
the politicians who serve them
and we are left
to do degrading shit-work for nothing          if even that --
to beg and scavenge, nesting where we can
or to keep our last bit of self respect
and independence
by killing ourselves.

My anger and grief are epic
and my tears are not enough
My hands want to find
the throat of the beast that is killing us
and put an end to it but
I can't do it alone

This poem isn't about that young man
It's about me, about you
about all of us.

       Al Markowitz


Inquest

Our statesmen, those politicians fat
with contempt for the People,
and holding a nuclear pistol pointed
at the world's hostage head --
why do they keep digging foxholes
on Wall Street?

Can't they see the angels descend
from dusty heavens, helpless
to take the injured workman's place?
Can't they see the braiding together
of earth and sky on the rainy horizon?

Why are they trying to dam up the future
behind the dawn? And why
are they whispering
to one another in the language of blood?

Isn't it fantastic
they don't know the equation in the leaf
is not the end of mystery?
Are their feet dead,
or are they just plain stupid
because they can't understand that the dance
of millions together
is the terror of the gods?

Don't they know
that more than winter
will blow between them and their names,
that they too shall go into a universal
Alzheimer's dark?
What lies can they preach
to our tired salute
that we have not already believed?


      Robert Edwards


Paul Robeson

When the hearts of the Titans are broken
and despair and dread fill one's mind,
the people hunker down for survival
while Prometheus in chains does time.

When the hearts of the Titans are broken
and Everyman placed on the dock,
I remember John Brown hanging
and Prometheus chained to a rock.

When the hearts of the people are broken
and hope dies of thirst beside the fount,
we pull ourselves together
and Prometheus comes down from the mount.

       T.K. O'Rourke


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