Summer 2016

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

The Earth and Stars in the Palm of Our Hand

"Another day in paradise"
a machinist says to me as he drops his time card into the
time clock and the sun rises
over the San Gabriel mountains
and we laugh
it's a pretty good job we have
considering how tough it is out there in so many other factories
in this era of the busted union and the beaten-down worker
but paradise?
and we walk away toward our machines ready for another 10
hours inside tin walls
as outside perfect blue waves roll onto black Hawaiian beaches
and billionaires raise martini glasses
sailing their yachts to Cancun
but I can't help thinking
why not paradise
why not a job
where I feel like I did when I was 4
out in my father's garage
joyously shaving a block of wood in his vise with his plane
as a pile of sweet-smelling wood shavings rose at my feet
and my father smiled down at me and we held
the earth and the stars in the palm of our hand
why not a job
joyous as one of these poems I write
a job where each turn of a wrench
each ring of a hammer makes my soul sing out glad for each
drop of sweat rolling down my back because the world
has woken up and stopped worshipping money
and power and fame
and because presidents and kings and professors and popes and
Buddhas and mystics and watch repairmen an
d astrophysicists
and waitresses and undertakers know there is nothing more important than the strong grip and will of
men carving steel
like I do
nothing more important than Jorge muscling a drill through
steel plate so he can send money to his mother and sister
living under a sacred mountain in Honduras
nothing more noble
than bread on the table and a steel cutter's grandson
reaching for the moon and men dropping time cards into
time clocks and stepping up
to their machines
like the sun
couldn't rise
without them.

      Fred Voss

Lay Off

They wait until Friday to give you the news --
enough time to cancel
reservations at the water park for kids
in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

The CEO is touring ancient Tuscany,
the land of sunflowers, with his wife and
teenaged daughter,
shopping for Italian diamonds under the
Ponte Vecchio's stone arches.

He sends his regrets for letting go such a dedicated,
production-oriented, mission-driven team player
who has punched the clock for 29 years --
but business is business.

However, you will be pleased to know you qualify
for a nice watch with the company logo
and a life-time subscription to our newsletter.

How comforting that he of the great
fraternal heart,
quietly sipping Masseto on Giglio Island,
knows who you are, has always known
who you are.

You are service employee No. 1437

      Gayle Compton


The sun is shining
on a beautiful summer day
and those of us who have jobs
go to work dutifully,
perhaps not happy with their fate,
but more cheerful than many
whose homes were foreclosed,
whose lives won't improve
in the land of plenty,
where there's never enough
for everyone.

      Gary Beck

Save Us

Save us
from those passing freedom to hate laws
calling the freedom of religion,
then saying nobody else can pass
living wage laws if they don't need or want them.

Save us
from those who want their gun pacifiers and blankeys
wherever they go toddling
to eat, drink, shop and spectate
in places full of romping children.

Save us
from a broken for-profit health care system
where even with health insurance
an illness can destroy your family
and lifesaving pills cost thousands.

Save us
from a loudmouthed hate-spewing candidate
who boasts about shooting people,
whose followers beat up anyone questioning him
and threaten delegates who might vote against him.

Save us
from false prophets who worship profit,
who teach salvation comes from money,
that virtue and goodness are measured in wealth,
and workers must be beggars for crumbs from business

      Sarah M. Lewis

In Wind All the Leaves Shake Together

yet each shakes by itself.
Together we shake, by ourselves we shake.
Every cruelty is a terrible wind stinging all.
Domination is damnation.
As I age, skin loosens, fear tightens.
Are meaning and Happiness conjoined?
What do you choose that makes you think
you matter? Easy to be hoodwinked.
Can your meaning take its moments
where it doesn't matter?
Later, the talk of others thins
and the sad voices get louder.
All a fat gas experiment? I'm a sucker
for non-dogmatic meaning
I'm a kindergarten mystic,
my hankering for soul makes me say childish things
The moon fills me as it fills itself.
(We're like the moon, sometimes bright
sometimes half bright sometimes not bright at all.)
Many pictures still need to be drawn.
Blip of buttery light slides in at day's end
like a runner under the tag, just enough
after rough clouds to show the sun is safe.
We're breeding out tenderness.
Glassy-eyed we run over each other.
The exercise of love, sweat of love,
is good for the heart. Trees pray for us.

      Clifford Paul Fetters

White Coral

Pink reefs
bleach        when the ocean
turns acidic.

Sea that graduated aqua to
cobalt blue
eating the pink?
Will it turn purple?
Imagine a world
with no flocks of shrimp colored flamingos
on pink beaches

The plastic ones surviving only
on the greenest of plush lawns

Or will we just
inject dye into our eyes
if forced into that dawnless

      Mary Franke

Pipeline Protest

Its name is Nexus,
from the Latin
meaning to bind, fasten, tie.
The pipeline, nearly as wide
as a ten-year-old child is tall,
will cut through
dairy farms and backyards,
hurtling high-pressure
danger for profit. Always profit.

Maybe it's another wake-up call,
like the one Bush offered:
invading a sovereign nation,
brutalizing the Iraqi people
we claimed to be saving.
Brutalizing ourselves.

Of course we keep hitting
the snooze button.
Waking up isn't easy.
Birds flounder
in oily waters
and we're desperate
to sleep a little longer.

Today you and I stand
amidst hand lettered signs:
Windmills Not Oil Spills.
Eminent Domain = Greed,
Fuck Fracking.

cold wind brings tears to our eyes.

Fear brings us here. Anger too.
And bone-deep grief
for this lovely lovely planet.
Awakening shows us a million ways
to climb past despair.
I want us to do it for love.

       Laura Grace Weldon

For the Many As Well As the Few

You can see the humidity in the air
As tho' looking through dingy even dirty glass
Sun behind huge clouds so no glare
Nothin' at all today will happen too fast
Just like those days long ago hard by the Mississippi
When time hung there
And the fields of baled hay were miserable early
You grabbed the twine and it cut into a finger
Liftin' it to your thigh then buckin' it up on a trailer
All day till the sun no longer pulled the sweat from your back
And your body
And you welcomed dusk as the gull greets the sea
Many years later the ladies from Dallas called the massive
Puffs in the air
Gulf clouds as we drove to the Statehouse in Austin where
We tried to offset the mighty power of greed
With the pent up anger of folks too used to need
So the give and take of need and greed and work
Some might call the dialectic of the life of the poor
Consumed you from those fields to the cities to a crack in the door
That you spent yourself in Struggle to open for the many
As well as the few

       Stewart Acuff

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