Winter 2018-19


The Blue Collar Review is a quarterly journal of poetry and prose published by Partisan Press. Our mission is to expand and promote
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Poetry Samples from the Latest Issue

Another Monday

6:00 am.
I hold my breath until the car starts.
Scraping ice from the windshield,
I cast a lone shadow in the cold moonlight.
It's lights out in the trailer park
across the street.
Young men, fed and flatulent,
dream opiate dreams.
Lately, my own sleep has been robbed
by muscle cramps.
Walking at midnight to ease the pain,
I worry.
My employee/spouse premiums are
500 dollars a month this year
Medicare, another 134.
Yesterday, a deer hunter in camouflage
showed me a card that pays everything.
Somewhere I've gone wrong.
But Uncle Sam is generous this year:
A whopping thirty-nine dollar increase
in S/S benefits before Medicare takes a bite.
Once more I will pay two grand
in income tax
because in 1982, a sign in the zodiac
told Reagan to tax Social Security.
Seems the Federal Reserve needed the money
more than we who have the need
and the guts to work past 66.
Somewhere I want wrong.
The windshield has thawed.
The warmth from the heater
feels good on my aching hips.
I think about retirement:
a Carnival Cruise, an Amtrak tour of the Rockies,
a hickory bottom rocker on my front porch.
Maybe next year.
My wife says to call her when I get to work.
She worries.
I turned 74 in November

      G.C. Compton


Toiling Away at the Mill

Without these rough men,
without these tough women,
without these space-suited steelworkers
who brave the hell-like fury of the blast furnace,
the steel mills could not produce
a single steel coil, tube or a foot of rail.

These workers make the metal
that frames all the cars, spans all the bridges,
and forms all the appliances into the boxy shapes
dollied off the truck into the cocoon of your home.

But their importance outstrips
their productivity on the assembly line,
their daily relevance to you and American society.
They are all of us.

If these steelworkers don't get paid,
no one does.
If the aren't fairly compensated,
wages everywhere decline.

The strength of the steel beam
supports the whole building,
everything and everyone else..

       Joseph S. Pete


Overtime Effects

Curled into hooks
his pinky and ring finger,
left hand,

after a day spent
hefting six hundred cinder blocks
up to the unfinished second floor,

the digits with luck in the evening
yielding a lock click as the phalanges
unstuck as if hinges on tight,

little-used springs. So no work
until next week, a doubly-long weekend
waiting for the joints to loosen,
feel like tendon and muscles
   young man again

fingers nimble enough for picking
and plectrum anew,

arpeggiate the strings in off-hours
and days after recovering flow and ease
and hoping not for extremities

frozen in the week's efforts again.

       John Zedolik


Hazard Corners

Nobody knows where the heart of town is anymore;
The banks around here change hands every other day;
The rich keep getting richer but the poor stay poor.

The post office closed down, the corner grocery store,
The travel bureau & the car dealer moved away
And nobody knows where the heart of town is anymore.

Some say it's 'cuz of all these god-damned foreign wars
Or the property taxes nobody wants to pay,
But the rich keep getting richer & the poor stay poor.

All that's left is the gravestone cutter & the liquor store,
The barber shop & deli have both seen better days
And nobody knows where the heart of town is anymore.

The price of everything's higher than ever before,
Folks with jobs put in more than an 8-hour day
And the rich keep getting richer while the poor stay poor.

Foreclosure signs are everywhere & eyesores galore!
Schools underfunded & kids don't come out to play . . .
Nobody knows where the heart of town is anymore;
The rich keep getting richer but the poor stay poor.

      E.P. Fisher


The Aggrieved

They drown in our cereal bowls,
blow down the street in our fast food wraps,
lie amidst our fruit peels.

The dust clouding our windows is theirs.
They lie in our car tracks and scatter,
the flurried wakes of our passage,
and on high their wavery shadows
cling to our time-tattered flags
bombarded by foul circumstance.

Their witness rings silent,
dawn's rays unimpeded through them,
dusk's ledger without record of their day --

these echoes of our voices,
these ruins of our love,
these droughts from our dried tears

we'd rather disown like old shoes
and hats given to the charity shop
than look anything like them.

      Darrell Petska


To Survive the Boy Sold Toothpaste Tubes for
Recycling During the Cultural Revolution

When the time comes and the need arises
we can all be peddlers, Hucksters?
    ON   TRUH   PREN   NOORS
Water, you need water?
I can carry it.
You have 2 dollars a week? A day?
I can put you on my list
Bread, you need bread? No yeast around
but I can bring you
corn cakes. Ten for a dollar?
Then 50 cents? or 75 cents?
And I have this lovely
coat. I just can't
use it. Too large. Too small. Not
right for my life now. I used it at
the office. The farm. Anyway, $10.00
$2.50
And I noticed your curtains
I've been wanting something like that to
keep the sun out the heat in
to brighten up the place

When the time comes
we can all be sellers
of our excess our
sacrifices
that diamond ring    that clear eye    lost
to screens
our child's labor    our vaginas   or
safety or our own life in the warm sun
out of the bone breaking day but
at best we part with parts of the world
ourselves like flakes of skin we no
longer need or Rembrandts I can
get you Rembrandts?
My woven hand loomed
skirt? Our
relinquished covetousness    the
sweat of our
backs bloody tear-
lessness what we
gave up not
swimstrokes
in a blue and endless sea of life and then
not     not . . .

      Mary Franke


Where Have You Gone, Megyn Kelly?
Our Nation Turns its Lonely Eyes to You.

Blonde moist dream,
heroine of the white working man
before he discovered heroin.

The quarterback's girlfriend.
Cheerleader.
Fox's fox.

"Santa is just white"
Megyn assured us.
Santa is just.
Santa is white.

Oh Megyn did you say
on Halloween
blackface is okay?

Who would you portray?
Lucy Parsons, Sojourner Truth,
Harriet Tubman, Fannie Lou Hamer,
Angela Davis, Sandra Bland?

You really could scare some people.

      Burt Raabe


Singing for Another Revolution

In the Mexican revolution the Mexican women fired guns
threw hand grenades
marching in boots and fighting beside their men for Zapata
and Villa
"adelitas" they were called
now
they are on drill presses and grinding and buffing wheels in
overalls and steel-toed shoes
beside us men in this war for our lives working these Los
Angeles basin factories on low wages
as we grit out teeth
and dig in our boot heels
purple scarves wrapped around their long black shiny hair
smiles
brighter than sunrises they wrap green surgical tape
around their fingertips burned
and blistered and shredded by the sharp edges of steel parts they grip and go on
their raised chins
their breasts wrapped in greasy overalls their hips swaying across
dirty concrete floors beside pounding 100-ton presses and
screaminng smoking drills
their souls
telling us they will always be beside us more beautiful
than any beauty queen
ever crowned on stage
adelitas
singing as their buffing and grinding wheels hum turning their
glowing eyes at us
no screaming foreman
low wage
long hours or lost home can conquer us
no stiff twisted back
or numbed hand or sore bones break us
with so much beauty beside us
our mother earth
under us
as Zapata leaps onto his horse
and we fire up our machines
and our adelitas sing
never to let us stop fighting for the day
we are free.

       Fred Voss


What Do I Hear?

I wonder if that rumble
is simply late afternoon
atmospheric instability
so common in summer?

Or perhaps --

When I last landed in New York City,
I could swear I saw a tear
on the disenfranchised lady's cheek
while she stood in the harbor
singing from Lazarus' words
inscribed on her tablet.
Perhaps her voice disturbs the rest
of those whose vision created a land
where the brave may be free?

Or perhaps --

Within those who still believe in the dream
yet must watch the concept of equality
erode in rivers of hate and fear,
could a festering anger be rumbling
like tectonic forces in conflict?
Whatever the case . . .

Deep within my bones,
I feel a coming storm.

       John Rowland


This Dark Wind

You can feel it coming
just around the bend
an angry crowd is stirring
moving with the wind

Blood and bone for this
or that land,
life and limb, for this
or that place

It's coming from the self-righteous
who are tethered to their tribe
or race

It's coming from aristocratic
sovereigns of the Neoliberal state
It's coming from the rule of law, bought off,
sold off, at a discount rate
It's coming from the politically
corrupt keepers of the gate

It's coming from the homicidal rage
That flows from center stage
of the authoritarian state

It's coming from the dog whistle call
coming on a flood of drugs and alcohol

It's coming from people lost in hand held screens
the hallucinating bubble of ends and means

Fascism is coming to the USA

Resistance is coming from people
in the street
the sacrificial altar where the frightened
and the courageous meet
it's coming from the human drive,
the will to live, the will to survive,
coming from the rabble, the rattle, the restless hum
the ceaseless cry of justice for all
and not just for some.

Democracy is coming to the USA

       Angelo Mesisco


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