Fall 2016


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
only a sampling from the magazine. Subscriptions are $20.00 yearly, or $7.00 for a single issue.
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Poetry Samples from the Latest Issue

Onion Rings

Behind the plate glass
At the famous hamburger joint,
The air is thick with the shout
Of orders and hot oil.
Hair net in place, she stands
Before the shiny metal table,
Long knife in hand,
In full view and invisible
Against blinding white tile.
Sweat circles her armpits
As she strips the golden skins
From onion after onion,
Every one as big as her tired hands.
The juice stings her eyes
And stains her uniform.
Her face gleams with fryer fat.

At shift end, the odors
Stalk her to the bus stop
Like a jealous lover.
They jolt down cracked roads,
Past busted streetlights,
And through the peeling door
That says she's home.
The line from her hair net
Still creases her forehead
As she bends her aching back
To kiss her kids,
For whom onions, fry grease, and sweat
Will always be
The smell of Mama
And the scent of love.

      Susan Yarborough


Clerical Poem

Rules restrict the temps to their ghetto
near the loading dock entrance, near
the men's and women's johns.

Their desks sit in exposed rows
in the building's rear, once
a furniture warehouse.

Cubicles ennoble the permanent people,
flimsy barricades covered with carpet
that wiggle with the slightest touch,

marks of caste. The temps,
the night workers, share desks
with lesser nobles,

who always fear contamination
during cold and flu season, their mantra:
"Management should force them to clean

the keyboards with Lysol. They sneeze."
Permanent people harbor no germs, just money
to pay for their antidepressants.

Temps are students, lay workers
uncalled to do the ritual;
the lifers have sworn their vows.

Data entry's a job for ascetics.
Bosses expect eyes not to translate arcana:
name, provider number, diagnosis code.
Medieval monks bore their deprivation
because the books belonged to them;
they created the colors of illumination.

      Lesa Williams


Cultural Revolution

The new regime wants to change the culture.
They have velvet hammers, paper handcuffs,
and singing shotguns for the job.
They have reinvented language
with torque wrenches and tweezers,
spouting bobblehead nostrums
and economic fairly tales, candy coating
the despotic methodologies of micromanagement.
They have cost effective syphon hoses
for sapping motivation from the soul.
They have implied precessions,
numerical commandments,
and rigid top down schematics
backed by selective
up-tightly, ratchet up the anxiety
systemic fanatacisms.

These tool worshippers
whose feet never quite touch the ground
are flying their regalia
in a fearmongering flurry of alacrity and verve.
They are engaging in the dissemination of trinkets,
imposing dispassionate coercions on the workforce,
not taking into account all the unforeseen probabilities of
circumstance produced by life, which they don't want to hear about.
These social engineers resent the inconvenience of rational dissent,
or anyone poking holes in the party line with
uncomfortable questions.
Their "science" leaks.

Management fads come and go.
This new crop of ideologues
has no formulaic prescription
for changing disgruntled hearts,
but the list of forbidden transgressions grows longer.
And so we endure the new administration,
with their workaholic veneer of muzzled hostility,
and mechanical recipes for enforcing happiness on the job,
which they carry home with them, and use
to kick the cowering dog.

      Stew Jorgenson


After Steel

A stray laps dirty water at the curb
on deserted Main Street.
No longer does the butcher
leave out scraps and
fill an order on credit.

Catching their breath
the women organize rent parties
and forgo cosmetics.
Explaining the rosary beads
to inquiring atheists.

The men vow the banks will never take their homes
like they took their summer cottages
and were making a move on their boats
until, unable to pay the gas bill
they cut them up for firewood.

For all their loyalty
they are left alone to fend for themselves
the remainder of the way
Andrjewski, Kemp, Hughes kissed off
a couple of years of pension.

Long time friends hardly recognize each other
sit silently staring into their drinks
down to the last of their savings.

And all the while, there the plant sits
from the heat and grime of coke ovens
to banding lifts on the bar mill . . .
this monster . . .

      Frank J. Dunbar


Learning to Protest
But I, being poor, have only my dreams.-- W.B. Yeats

Colleges raise tuition, the price of a dream,
yet graduates can't get a decent job;
an education is not what it might seem

when many PhDs work scooping ice cream,
in a factory assembling a thingamabob.
Colleges raise tuition, the price of a dream,

and no bankruptcies on loans is a scheme
by the oligarchy to enslave the mob.
An education is not what it might seem.

This injustice should make Americans scream,
paint picket signs, stage sit-ins, as nabob
colleges raise tuition. The price of a dream

unredeemed. Students lose self-esteem,
robbed as wealthy creditors hobnob.
An education is not what it might seem.

Better to self-educate, reject the regime,
and protest class warfare. Now, snob
colleges raise tuition. The price of a dream?
An education is not what it might seem.

      Dana Stamps, II


October

October, when breast cancer
testimonials almost outnumber
pharma ads. Survivors thanking
hospitals and medical staff for
today when tomorrow seemed
as improbable as breast cancer
yesterday. Now, twenty three
years post breast cancer I cry,
remembering the struggle,
to struggle on:

An adjunct rushing from treatment
to college to college until my body
gave out.
Walking from the sofa
            to the kitchen,
a destination
            I struggled to reach.

A Department Head argued,
I should have known
I had breast cancer before
starting the semester.
In the future, when the future
seemed as illusive as an income,
he threatened to give me
a midnight schedule at the Navy
Yard, a distant satellite campus,

He came close to fulfilling
this threat by giving me
evening classes in a tough
neighborhood where, waiting
for public transportation meant
risking a mugging

Cruelty leaves scars deeper
than surgery, more lethal
than invasive breast cancer,
and so I cry.

I wonder: What is the average
life span of an adjunct working
from paycheck to paycheck,
dependent upon department
heads who teach the humanities,
but lack heart.

      Shirely Adelman


Patriots

They must be brothers: of the grape and
of the flesh. Drinking Screwdriver Cocktails
in a can, the concept that changed the face
of alcoholics at bus stops everywhere.
Are the voices in cell phones on board,
relaying the day's adventures getting rousted
both in Schenectady and Albany, the far reaches
of bus plus route. Say they are headed for Colonie,
dead center between the two, begin acting out
after last stop before theirs, once bus shifts
into passing lane to make time, start chanting
how they are "Proud to be Americans.
Hope their man Trump does a number on all
the rag heads. Now that he's got the bombs
they'll get fried for sure. Build a Wall.
Yeah, go for it Trump! He's the man all proud
Americans love. Proud Americans! Proud Americans!
That's us. Suck on this you Hillary lovers.
You know she killed people?" Don't elaborate
on just who that was just so proud to be
Americans, "text book cases of why no one
in their right mind voted for him," a Black guy
says once they are outside. "That's what
patriotism looks like now" an old guy says:
Two drunk guys in mid-afternoon, crossing
a four lane highway against the light, giving
the world the finger.

       Alan Catlin


Tomorrow's Backlash

A howling darkness
                descends --
fascist thugs threatening
a reenactment of
              monstrosity

Half-assed liberals
            spout nonsense
missing their complicity
"misreading" the truths and warnings
            they cursed --
hypocrisies still echoing
              between tears and hopeless defeat

The best of us must come together
            united
in a common defiance forged
                 of militant love and solidarity

The promise of tomorrow's backlash
            begins today.

      Al Markowitz


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