Winter 2016-17

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
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Poetry Samples from the Latest Issue

Another Pox on Our Town

The giant retailer finally came to town.
You know the one.
Low prices,
Good times, Wave the flag,
Family friendly,
Support the troops,
Happy happy,
Yada yada.

The one that's always in the news for pushing the boundaries of
human indecency. The one that tells a high school kid who tries
for weeks in advance to get a day off from his part-time job to
attend a rare family reunion, "No! You can't go!."
"If you do you're fired."

That's right. They're here now.
Down the street from the taco huts,
burger joints, pizza shacks,
and other fast food assembly lines
that already have these kids working 13 hour days on weekends
and 'til 11 p.m. on school nights.

That's right. They're here. Instilling fear,
and economic intimidation in the juvenile workforce.
Where's the vaccine?

      Stew Jorgenson

March of Dimes, March of Time
Cashiering at K-Mart

The register's precise: Punch in,
punch out. Equilibrium
of breath, tilting up the chin.
The dimes are slippery thin,
nestling in the palm of your hand,
in a crinkling one or ten.
And how much is this item?
It's on sale? I'll take it!
Beep, scan, beep, and scan again.
And would you like to donate
today so others may live?
And do you need a receipt?
March of ones and tens and fives,
trading nickels for quarters.
Tell me, how much will I save?
Every barcode's a number,
everything here has its own,
every panty and trouser,
as in the genetic code.
The metal cups of the till
open to me: a furrow
where I plant copper pennies,
sliding a fifty or hundred
beneath with the twenties,
as under the mattress board.
Now it's close to closing time.
Now you may slide your card
or dig for a last thin dime.

      Zara Raab

Selling Chifforobes

After forty-two years of selling
I am dead inside. My wife
needs her meds, my insurance
is all teeth shiny with American blasphemy,
and the soulless furniture I move
is American markup
and foreign sweat-gland
recycled pillow-filler crap.

Forty-two years of smiling
and playing nice with non-buyers
coming in to the kick the tires
of their empty-pocket dreams,
of cringing at the owners
featuring themselves
in commercial gratings,
of pacing false hallways
to kneel before faux leather,
of elbowing the other
commissioned buzzwords
circling the store. I am

the half-glass of red wine
on the edge of
the Tempur-pedic mattress,
with the pasty-smile bosses
and bargain-hungry-when-there is-
no-bargain people
bouncing up and down just to see
if it will spill. But my
Sweetie-girl needs her
daily box of pills
and so I wrench myself
up from the dark corner of the
scratch & dent room
in hopes of stealing another day
another dollar
from Dust-Mites and Death.

       Scott T. Hutchison

Cock Your Gun

Hornady Critical Defense Ammunition On Sale
Sounds like "Horny"
This ammo is for penetration.

"Unaffected by thick, heavy clothing
including denim and leather"

"Delivers superior controlled expansion
and large deep wound cavities"

Put up thy sword by its place, for all who take up the sword
shall perish by the sword.

                   -- Matthew 26:52

Weapons are tools of violence and fear.
All decent men detest them.

                   -- Chapter 31, Tao Te Ching

Dad's day

This ad shows a hunter, Ol' Blue, and a shotgun.
Ready to bag some ducks or sumpin.'
But I don't see any guns for huntin'
all I see are white guys
and they aren't smilin.'

When every other ad,
Be it pop, cigarettes, MickyD's, Walmart, Ford,
cell phones, cable TV, checking accounts, title loans,

and alcohol.

Shows smiling women and Black folks.

Are these for defense?

Young Black men are most likely
targets of violence.

And women are victims
of boyfriends and mates irate.

If they were in the ads,
it would be real scary.
And they could sell guns
to everyone.

      Burt Raabe

Charm to Save a Life

Efficacy of this
falls victim
to stars, wills, genius loci.

Placement of ritual objects
wallet, keys, insurance card--
require precision upon the altar.

Gestures of supplication:
hands gripping, motionless at ten and two,
eyes fixed ahead, or cast down:

placate, or not.
Charms demand your faith.
Believe this will work.

With stars in proper courses,
the spirit of the place
may smile.

      Lesa Williams

"Make American Great AGAIN"

Which part of great do YOU want back?
Pick you favorite four
and write your republican congressman.
He'll gladly try to oblige.

No minimum wage
Sixteen hour workdays
No overtime pay
No child labor laws
No workplace safety rules
No unemployment checks
No worker's compensation
Bank failures; no FDIC
Lower women's wages
No votes for females
Ban on women owning land
No prevention of unwanted pregnancies
More maternal deaths in childbirth
Opposition to Irish immigration
Legal lynchings
Relocation camps for certain citizens
Extermination for Native Americans
Pretending Gays aren't people
No relief for refugees
No public transportation
No public education
Buying textbooks for your kids
Higher education limited to the highly paid
No limits on pollutants
No meat inspection
Guessing food ingredients
Untested tainted drinking water
Untested prescription drugs

  No health insurance after cancer
   NO health insurance for the poor
   Escalating threat of nuclear war
OR we could go FORWARD instead of BACK.
We could try to convince congress to

      Carol V. James

Zombie Nation Awakes

Zombies long silent awake
shaking in a chaos of fear and obsessions --
can they see or hear
beyond identities --

    Women focused on resisting misogyny
            mistrusting men
    Blacks confronting racism
            mistrusting whites
   Latinos      Muslims      targeted immigrants
           fearing everyone
   Youth frantically thumbing their cellphones
           searching for hope and a way forward
    Democrats resenting the left, the young, truth-tellers
           loving the CIA
   Families split       an ugly chasm of mythologies

Can we unite beyond subcultures
beyond peer groups      beyond
long held illusions, sectarian perspectives and
alienating tribal loyalties?

Can we recognize ourselves
in each other?       Find a common language --
grasp the reality of class
that unites us beyond our differences
            beyond invented narratives?
Can we come together beyond resistance
a movement         for ourselves
      for each other?

The future         our future
     depends on it.

       Al Markowitz

Born of the strain of struggle

Conceived in genocide and slavery
America has never been as good as her words
But our people fought through it all
In never ending effort to make her words real
Now we face the threat once thought unimaginable
The assault on all we believed that we were
Shredding our freedoms
Bullying the weak
Destroying the strong
It is now our turn and our time
To meet the struggle with strength
Standing in solidarity
Don't give in, don't give out, don't give up
Refuse his authority
Resist his power
Resist , defy, defend
As Americans always have
Till we watch history turn

      Stewart Acuff

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