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
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Mom is working;
From O'Farrell Street,
Amy gets dropped off
Each morning. There's Ellen,
The childcare worker.
Couldn't get to work
Without Head Start,
The city daycare.
Lydia can't leave Robbie alone
In the Tenderloin apartment.
Ellen tells stories,
And has breakfast
For these really little ones.
Ariel's and Lily's Grandmas are back in
Russia or China
Or died years ago.
Desiree's not really a street person,
But she used to leave her little boy
In the library.
The librarians are nice too.
Came from Texas,
Not every US city has
Collette in France does
People call that Socialism.
Ellen serves cereal
And orange juice
And reads from story books
When Mom is working
Alice E. Rogoff
Perchance to Dream
I'd love to have time
Time to read the paper
Time to drink a cup of coffee
Or a glass of good wine
Time to enjoy a book
Or a magazine
Some good music
The dark inside of my eyelids
I'd love to have the time
To think up something new
Watch a good movie
Spend all day cooking
Time to spend
With my family
With the love of my life
Renew my friendship with me
I'd love to have time
But I trade my time
For the false wealth of money
The cold coin of wasted time
I'd love to have time
Before I don't
We trail and tail one another after work
In summer sitting bumper to bumper amidst
noxious fumes and the catalyzing heat
Spreading out across the valley floor
we make our homesteads, those places
of the spirits fit for Saturday nights,
and for reconciling hearts on Sunday mornings
The nets of wonder are spread out wide
among each Monday morning sojourner
Strung out into the truth of their lies
the feigned delusion that there is more
to it than there is. That their weeks
and weekends never end and may be counted
upon like merging cars entering highways,
A highway one has spent hours upon,
many twilights of blue,
Michael S. Morris
I woke up to the bailer
I woke up to chicken feed, dusty chalk-like in my hands.
I woke up to working dry clay earth
that was moisture-weeped below.
I woke up and walked between two gardens. I felt the last dew
wetting the tires of my feet.
I woke up to August against my back.
I woke up as a woman leaving farm and family.
Then for many years I slept, and counted money.
I watched lettered numbers crawl across the bottom
of dead backlit things.
I was slipping into that unnecessary arithmetic
they call the bottom line.
I will go back now to the bailer, twine, feed, brown bags,
clay, dew, and the staking of tomato plants --
though family is gone.
I will feel the sun, hot red on my shoulders,
and the sky will be the same salmon-cloudless in the morning.
All will be work and calm silhouette. I will never be lost again.
Jessica Wiseman Lawrence
Richmond, CA 2014
They were embarrased
Chevron, that is
Their old money maker
Blew up and poisoned
What was their response?
To fix up the old hospital?
To make a decent reparation?
No, no, no
"We have your best interests at heart"
They set out to buy and paper the town
"Here take our slick
$24 and some colored beads
Bought plush council seats
To utter "the party" line
The ususal cold wind from the bay
Richmond, CA, November 2014
$72 per voter didn't carry the day
How about that!
Memory and common sense
Are a wonderful thing
All that money, 3 million
Could have gone elsewhere
What Bothers Me Most
What bothers me
is not so much that we
clever apes are driving ourselves
There is at least some humor and
irony in that
and a lesson to be learned
by someone --
What really bothers me
is that we are taking
the rest of the living world with us
plants and animals of all kinds
life can never be the same --
is already changed
What drives me to distraction
is that we know better
that a very few of us
who know better
are destroying life on earth
for the most selfish shortsighted and venal
What bothers and puzzles me most
is why we let them.
A Final Prayer "Do you know why they call it the American Dream? Because you have to
be asleep to believe it." -- George Carlin
First they killed off the unions with so called right to work laws.
They said, you have to increase productivity.
So we worked even harder, longer hours with no additional pay.
They said, we can no longer pay your current wages.
You are too costly.
We have to hire those who will work for less.
So they laid some of us off.
They said, we can no longer provide you with benefits,
our shareholders demand higher dividends.
They said, you must provide your own retirement.
We cannot afford to offer that.
Then they said, it is no longer profitable to operate here in this
country and out-sourced our jobs to countries with low wages
and less restrictive laws.
And when we collected our rightful unemployment benefits,
they lobbied to pass laws to restrict them . . .
What are we supposed to do when the only prayer left to us
is to hope they choke to death on their own greed?
Is this war fair and vaguely justified?
With working class contractors raking
(with no worker protection) plump bucks
pro tem and then no tem?
Silenced soldier deaths and unfilled sleeves
ball caps and family chairs and
big money getting larger than the planet?
And flip-flops (made in China) on the ground
paying with lives and livelihoods and life
(check the dates on the canned goods
but not the ones you get) . . .
Is this like something that
would make you not
want to sharpen sticks
and go out every spring
and be a warrior society
nuclear warheads riot police dry boots
sultry windowed cars?
People with shoes that would feed
you for a year
shoes you could eat . . . ?
How can there be peace
when existence is a crime?
When public existence is a crime . . .
I mean, is the U.S. us
The summer sunlight slants as through a prism
Even the most gentle breeze caresses the skin
There is a luxurious coolness in the air that kisses
All that it touches, all that is and has been
It is the fourth season in the American North
It is late summer, when summer would begin
To drift towards fall and the harshness of the heat
Releases its grip and when
The cool morning is as glorious as the cooler night when they meet
We begin to say goodbye to the play of the summer passing
Tryin to ignore the harshness that winter will bring
It is but a moment of change, a flash in the span
Of our lives that reminds there is no stasis, only
The constant unfolding of change
And our lives a struggle to steer the range
Of that change
Toward a future worthy of beings with souls
And hearts that can love but only
When the heat of hate and anger pass the way
Of the harshness of midsummer sun in the middle of the day.
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