Summer 2014

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

If You Don't Have Choices

you eat what you catch.

My first lesson in language:
"Do Not Eat White Croaker:
White Croaker, also known as King Fish,
is contaminated with toxic chemicals
DDT's and PCBs
in this area."

My first lesson in family:
willful ignorance.
What we did not eat ourselves,
we sold to poor-like-us aunts and uncles.

       Christian Hanz Lozada

Drops From the Sky

Little flecks of moisture floating up
peopling a dark foreboding sky
seeking lovers to blend in passionate embrace
to swell and form a drop
slip from the covetous sky
invade the soil inflate the rivers
swell the oceans incite the waves
wet the slicking streets
frighten the shore people
kicking up swells to hammer streets flood roads
smash houses tumble bridges
shred families
every falling drop a harbinger
wondering when it will begin again
is this the big one
has it finally arrived.

       Gerald Zipper

90% of Americans Cannot Place the Philippines on a Map

It's the strongest ever recorded hitting landfall,
known as Super Typhoon Haiyan,
but mention it to many Americans
and you receive blank stares.

The news making radar
involves Incognito and the Dolphins,
bullying and racism in the locker room,
his insistence he said what he did out or love.

Or the plagiarism scandal engulfing Paul Rand
and his desire to duel Rachel Maddow,
were it still legal in the state of Kentucky,
for daring to break the story.

Meanwhile, estimated ten thousand people died,
four and a half million homeless,
a swath of destruction compared to a tsunami,
bloated bodies rotting in the street,

not enough body bags to hold them all,
children crying for food and water,
rain lashing a people with no shelter left,
desperately crowding the airport to leave --

for days a footnote in the American media,
and, soon after the blip, are forgotten.

      Emily Jo Scalzo

That Day

the last tree
at the end of the world
will wear
a human face
mouth open in a frozen scream
only withered leaves
and bleached bones
will hear.

      Holly Day

The Real Threat

Our food is
full of poisons

Our rivers and lakes
are toxic

The seas are
dying dumps

The air is
making us sick

You feel ill but
can't afford a doctor

Your child
is obese, autistic, with gender issues and ADD

The trains carrying poisons
keep running through your town and now
they're fracking --

the ground shakes and
the tap water burns

You live in fear of destitution

You dread what the weather will bring

The enemy that threatens us all --
is Islamic militants?

       Al Markowitz

And So We Plunge and Plunder Once Again

I watch him attach old glory to the beach trolley
his trio of mid-50's gals grab the prime view;
I ponder moving my chair closer to the waves
still wrapped in the mood of last night's peace vigil.

Nearby a four year old carries water for his castle.
The worn peace symbol on his wet shirt flares memories:
Nam, its thousands of dead kids we forgot to count,
and the land mines still killing babies today.

The advance/retreat of the waves      still lulls us
like the logic we proffer for this or that
invasion: dominoes    WMDs    liberation
God-and-the-flag wrapped in mumbo-jumbo.

Each new president, war-machine puppet,
on bended knees to every new technology
a nation's short-term memory
buried with the mounding dead.

How I long to make amends
for depleted uranium/napalm/misdirected drones
and vets whose suicides are brushed aside:
We have redefined the meaning of murder.

      Kit Zak

The Changing of the Guard

At the change of the guard at Arlington,
At the Tomb of the Unknowns, they turn,
Clicking their heels, ticking into position
With mechanical, clock-like precision;
Their eyes behind dark glasses, silver-mirrored,
Reflect an anonymous marble block
In freeze-frame, as the camera shutters click
And the ticking of insects fills the air.
Stepping out smartly, with a sharp "Left-Right!"
The sergeant-at-arms barks his commands,
Inspecting the bolt-action, barrel & sight
And fixed bayonet, with his white-gloved hands.
All spit and polish in patent-leather boots
He snaps to attention, pivots and salutes!

Endless plain stone markers in even rows
Pay tribute to the dead, whose deep repose
Overlooks the Potomac in early spring;
Its banks now in bud, or just burgeoning.
If you listen hard, you can almost hear
The delirious inner-workings of chance
And the hum of history's machine-like gears
Where greed and cruelty mesh tight in a dance
Which, if the innocent young stand too close,
Will catch at their sleeves & turn them to ghosts --
Their faces drained of emotion, mere masks;
Their movements, perfectly choreographed --
Toy soldiers, once lovers & poets, whose dreams
Are ground to stardust in that dark regime.

      E.P. Fisher

Our Green Start Buttons

Through the Vietnam War the Cold War the Gulf War the Iraq
War the war in Afghanistan we have punched
the green Start buttons to our machines
through communism capitalism
earthquakes shaking until the tube lights in the factory ceilings
around L.A. fell and smashed on concrete floors through 9/11
when voices of announcers on the radio from New York shook
with panic
we stayed at our machines in our steel-toed shoes with our
greasy shop rags hanging from our pockets
whistled the same old tunes ate the same egg and chicken sandwiches as
supervisors and presidents in the front office came and went
and records turned into cassette tapes turned into CDs turned
into i-Pods until people on street corners looked at pads in their
palms instead of the horizons of their lives
through acid rock punk rock rap hip-hop Banda Jalisco mariachi
music steel has sliced the same
or rpm charts unchanging
as the North Star and our 1 and 1/4 inch chrome steel crescent
wrenches shiny throughout our lifetimes a nut and a bolt are still a nut and bolt from the
1960s Jungian dream analysis through
Prozac LSD to Cymbalta hippies to yuppies long hair to shaved
heads gears are gears and skinned knuckles are skinned knuckles
wheels still turn oil still pumps muscles still flex and we
are still at the machines
dropping time card into time clock
closing micrometer anvil and barrel
around rod of steel we have gone on
as the Berlin Wall fell the ozone hole opened the
human genome was decoded the stain on Monica Lewinsky's
dress examined the end of the world predicted by kings and
presidents and revolutions come and go Marx and Freud are right
and then they are wrong
but the sine of 45 degrees is always one
as we stack Jo blocks under sine bars in vises and cut perfect angles across blocks of steel or magnesium
we wait
for the word the plan the scheme
in our work aprons hard hats face shields with our same fists
closed around the same hammer handles and the same blood
pulsing in our veins we wait
for the blue print
to finally build
a better world.

       Fred Voss

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