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
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They both work.
Her: four to close, and any spare shift she can cover.
Him: six to two, and any odd job he can muster.
They see each other coming and going,
pass off the baby, exchange
words about his diaper rash,
the note from Bobby's teacher,
the power disconnect
notice on the table, quickly shoved
under the corner of a food box, dropped
off by the ladies from the corner church.
They brought a monster
truck for Bobby, a teddy bear for his baby brother,
a pat on the arm for his mother,
who squeezed out a thank you,
one eye on the clock --
another shift about to begin.
She'll find them asleep
when she gets home tonight.
Him: in front of the 11:00 news,
the baby on his chest.
Bobby: in his bed,
one arm thrown over his new truck,
a candy cane from the food box
stuck to his sheets.
The Three Personalities of Water
In our coal-town, insulation was
a luxury for poor people.
Some winters water lines froze
beneath our shotgun shack.
With propane torches stuffed under our coats,
flashlights in hand, we crawled through drafty,
cracked, cinderblock crawlspace.
Dangling from floor joists, hanging down
subfloor, dead stars of spiders, defying gravity,
adrift in dying galaxies of dirty gossamer.
We thawed pipes with flames
held as close to the floor as we could
without setting something on fire.
Sometimes it was so cold we worked in shifts,
holding blue fire to galvanized pipes until we
couldn't feel our fingers in our thin jersey gloves.
Listening closely for sounds of melting ice,
faint whispers, popping, cracking, a final
rushing swoosh as gurgled through faucets.
Then we wound our way back through a dim
rectangle of streetlight, through the back door
and the payback of a long, steamy bath.
You're driving out. You're on the way.
Any child grabs its nearest utensil,
mannered or not, for something to chew on.
The frame of a house is a church
of mouth tobacco, rock-n-roll radio,
energy cans and tan arms.
Gospel is sketched on risers, and
devils drawn in sharpie in the John.
No apostle could've guessed that one.
Nail gun prayers test the roof.
Kneeling close to the sun and its worshippers,
is a test of faith without a harness,
never straying from the page that raised
you. Scripted stacks of gritty love are tossed
overboard, fall like plague. So read billboards,
attempt redemption in the green of exits,
envies, paychecks. Erasures do not come easy,
if at all. Erasures do not come at all.
Juke Box Factory
The Juke Box Factory
went belly up.
The pension plan
paid in advance.
safe in Bermuda.
out the door
and milled around
the parking lot.
Hands in pockets
at a loss for tools.
Words rang empty as hope
stared at the firing squad
looked the other way.
A well of bitter pennies.
A pail of wishful thinking.
Police were sent
to prevent justice
and obstruct peace.
a few capitalists saw
an opportunity in misfortune,
advantage in desperation.
A group of investors bought
the rights of property,
and the power of attorneys.
The new company
with the same old name
and the same old managers
of the same old workers
a chance to apply
for the same old jobs
wages and bennies.
That's the spirit.
We got a two tier
system of justice here.
One for some,
and five for Mr. Unearned Income.
We got two tier wages
and we got two tier health care.
We got two tier schools
and we got two tier prisons.
We got free choice too.
Put your buck
in the Juke Box Machine,
you can choose
We had cold tamales last night,
cold tamales & warm beer
because the electricity is off;
cut last week for
I told Maria I'll get something,
that they might need a
dishwasher at Carlito's,
but they didn't.
The children helped with just
I didn't want to tell her -- the love
of my existence.
I called her from a phone down on Pico,
a phone next to the liquor store.
She wept softly & said that she was
cold & lonely,
that the gas no longer worked . . .
I never thought much about me
becoming a bad man,
but a woman like Maria doesn't come
around every day . . .
& I had made a vow.
This is how it happens.
Duplicity, or Why I Will Not Support Hillary Clinton
At eight I campaigned for Perot over Clinton
during the faux elections at my elementary school.
As a child I didn't trust that smile,
just wide enough to feel false.
My true dislike of the Clintons came much later,
when in college I learned about NAFTA,
saw Bill betray his base with his predecessor
patting his back as he signed without alteration,
betraying the working class who had voted for him
after he had promised provisions to protect their jobs.
Later I learned of the genocide in Rwanda,
watched the news clips of his Press Secretary
quibbling over how many 'acts of genocide'
constitute genocide, and the meaning of 'is,'
while 800,000 were massacred by machete
and principles were abandoned for convenience.
Perhaps I shouldn't find Hillary guilty of Bill's crimes,
but her record as Senator was more of the same.
Like a snake she sheds her skin when politic,
becoming whatever will garner the most donations,
a career politician basing convictions on focus groups;
forked tongue hidden until too late.
Emily Jo Scalzo
The Iowa Caucuses Almost Put Me to Sleep
but I snapped out of it just in time
to write this poem
from my pen
to the keyboard
everything's so rah-rah
has been out of work
his circle of friends has shrunk to a dot --
a stack of bills the size
of a stage 4 tumor
I wonder how rah-rah he feels
the speeches have ended,
that's something to be grateful for --
there is ALWAYS something to be
grateful for, according to the disciples
of belief -- I agree; I thank many gods
that I can still find the remote
to initiate silence
"let's take back our country"
"we need to get back to old-fashioned values"
"love it or leave it"
"put God back in the White House"
share if you agree
we need more Herons
as in Gil-Scott
more Public Enemies
and I'll throw in Kennedy
just to piss somebody off
because we all need to be pissed off
and use it
listen to the man
who no longer speaks
is the official language
of a country
Trump! Trump! Trump!
an echo of history
the sound of jackboots on stone.
Civilization and the informed
take a different view
nature itself joining in the growing uproar --
the cardinal on the limb sings
Bernie! Bernie! Bernie!
The ruling class trembles
in paneled boardrooms --
the prevaricating pundits of prognostication
speaking in tongues
spinning and re-spinning narratives
like gossamer webs
to fewer and fewer ears.
As a River
Old rivers wide but not deep
Takes a long time for water to cut
Its way through stone
Takes a long time for water to make sand, but
It does, year after year, eon after eon
The rivers where I'm from flooded every spring
And left rich river silt over the land, they bring
Rich soil not sand, but where the rivers flow
They are steady, continuously moving
Ever changing and changing all they touch, so
So must we, a people as a river, a steady flow
Never stopping, cutting rock, making sand
Enriching the soil, changing the land.
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