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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Each man lived eight hours a day
in the basement with a tiny metal folding chair
to sit on and a 2" diameter hose to wash the chute.
The air tactile with polymer vapor and the yellow
40 watt light bulbs enclosed in ribbed steel cages.
The droning of the warped conveyor belt transferring
solids from the centrifuges to the five story incinerator
staffed by another man barking into a two-way radio: Too wet! Too dry! More polymer! Speed it up! Slow it down!
Twenty-four hour a day operation, dependable city job
spinning shit in centrifuges, transferring "solids" to the
big red-primered incinerator. Rubber boots, face shield,
hardhat or baseball cap to keep it out of your hair.
Basement duty the worst job, reserved for new guys.
I put in six months, till I got an outside position monitoring
final effluent tanks. Six months in the basement with a hose,
tiny metal folding chair to siy on when the consistency
of solids was right, Watching the weak yellow lights flicker,
waiting for the incinerator man to transmit instructions,
climb up into a better position.
A Strip Miner's Psalm to John C.C. Mayo: Holy Father of the Broad Form Deed
John C. is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me tear down hills and green pastures: he leadeth
me beside the stale waters.
He restoreth my soil with fescue; he leadeth me in the paths of
D9's for his name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of debt,
I will fear no evil: for Master Charge and Visa art with me:
J.C. Penny's and Wal-Mart they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of my wife,
six kids, five dogs and Aunt Berthie.
Thou anointest my head with blood, sweat and tears, my cup
runneth over with acids and sulfates.
Surely Demerol, Xanax and back pain will follow me all the days
of my life: and I will dwell in a doublewide trailer forever.
Ridin' This Road
Drivin' this road with my son Sam
Across South Georgia
The deepest Deep South
Once to every little town where workers might want a union
Ridin' this road I rode
Tellin' Sam the stories of all the little jails and the smells
of the people locked up
And the hatred of the sheriffs and deputies and judges
If you ain't heard that steel clank behind you, you might think
politics and organizing are separate.
But if you're trying to get out of Muscogee County Stockade
on a Friday evenin' you want a sheriff or a magistrate knows
you'll be there election time
We're ridin' now in a different time but still an awful mean time
They got better at coding their racism
They pretend now we're abusing the system cos folks don't
duck their heads n' mutter yessuh or no'm
Can't have these Blacks so uppity and prideful jus' cos they got
their President and they wearin' an Obama hat
So they carry all this shit and hate to the Statehouse and sayin'
you ain't voting
22 states done that after the new Roger Taney-John Roberts
Supreme Court tore up the Voting Rights Act
They did all they could to stop the country while Obama's been
I know them hate-filled little possum eyes of McConnell and the
muskrat face of Bob Corker
I know the lyin' smile of Jeff Sessions beaten' hell out of you in
his principal's office lyin' it's for your own good
I know the white privilege they will kill America to keep.
Anything I write about Michael Brown is self-righteous.
These incidents are so repetitious.
If the slaughter of Amadou Diallo didn't change things, will this?
The media depict everything as sequential.
Bullets were likely flying as hands went up,
the adrenaline of their fears mixing together without warning.
It's not about sides, it's a dynamic.
Are new cops encouraged to recognize their fears?
Are they taught that unarmed people have the right to be
before them under the influence,
suffering from mental illness, an inability to understand,
or having a bad day?
I don't want to admit my fear of young black men.
Sure there's hate, prejudice.
But mainly it's fear for most of us.
Justice requires a confession of fear,
not a ledger of how open we are, who our friends are,
who we voted for, how often we marched.
Justice requires a ferreting out of how fear is engendered,
a mass psychoanalysis of our culture.
FB postings of dogs, cats, horses hit a new high.
Can't blame people for that.
Here are the latest pics of my granddaughters.
When do we deal with life and death issues?
Vietnam, Amadou, Sandy Hook.
Lessons unlearned in a life getting long.
So repetitious, so depressing.
Cameras on the Police? Body cams or not, the problem you have to deal with is that the system is
so systemically racially biased in its nature. America saw Eric Garner get
choked to death on televised video just like we saw Rodney King get viciously
beaten on video in our living rooms and still all the police misconduct was later justified.
-- Retired D.C. Chief Deputy Matthew Fogg
Yes that would do it --
Cameras on everyone!
Cameras everywhere -- on, in everything
(smash that teddy bear nanny cam or
all-seeing tampon or condom or soda machine cam)
And in case the accused terrorist,
perp, villain, suspect, errant one
was turned away from
the all-seeing eye cameras in space
and microphones, yes, mega-microphones
to suck up every word
it must be processed probed
utilized to Keep Order
or just to Keep Ready
motion sensors. Don't dance.
Fabric meters -- sensors in your crackers?
You feel it, don't you? The presence within?
Where God was?
Crawl thee back
to the darkness
from whence ye came!
Return to the shadows --
the ugly underbelly of the Past,
of slavery of
the flickering light
of your burning crosses!
under the rock of your cold, atrophied
Back, I command thee
to the ash heap of History --
of Bergen Belsen
of Soweto and Jenin
of internment camps
and ghettoes and reservations and
Of pogroms and hooded terror and
I Exorcise you and
your vile cohorts:
the Conservative White Citizens Councils
the 912 crowd
the KKK, Stormfront, Christian Identity Dominionists, Aryans,
Racist cops and judges
The anti-social Libertarians and their phony think tanks
The bigoted ignorant Teabaggers
And you usurers, hucksters, and thieves of finance
robbing workers of a livelihood,
the elders and the ill of sustenance
of shelter, of health --
you Earth rapists destroying the living world
for the illusion of wealth
In the name of All that is
Holy and Decent --
I invoke the memory and principle of
Sojourner Truth and Frederick Douglas
of Robeson and Seegar and Guthrie, of
Duboise and Debs,
Whitman and Wellstone
of Medgar Evers, of
Alice Paul, of
of George Meyers and
Big Bill Haywood and
Mother Bloor and Ruby Dee
of Cesar Chavez
of Martin Luther King
Of the Jesus you besmirch
twisting wise words to
I call upon
the limitless power of
the militant, class conscious,
arrogant ignorance --
that defeats hate
I command thee
you betrayers of humanity
the lowest levels
Your Rights and the Rights of the Right
I. Health Care
You have no right to health care
You have no right to be healthy
You have a right to get sick
To amass great debt in an effort to get well again
To pay for it for the rest of you short life
If you are rich you have the right to purchase health insurance
You have the right to invest on profit making health insurance companies
To invest in profit making health care providers
You have the right to get richer
As the poor get sicker.
II. Public Assistance
You have no right to public assistance
All safety bets are off
There are no safety nets
All safety nets have holes in them
Where sharks swim through to prey on the poor
I'm assuming you are poor
Or on your way there
That's the safe bet
If you are rich you have a right to public assistance
You may need a new stadium for your sports team
And even if your city is bankrupt
You have the right to bleed the poor some more
Or you may need tax relief to create a few jobs
Which you will then move overseas
Claiming you cannot find skilled workers
Because the publicly funded college is bankrupt
You have no right to an education
The college you and your parents
And your grandparents have paid taxes forever
Is being shut down
You now have a right to transfer to a for profit college
And to amass great debt in an effort to get educated
To pay back you debt to the rich
For the rest of your short life
If you are rich you have the right to purchase an education
Funded by the debts of the poor
You have the right to invest in profit making schools and colleges
You have the right to get richer
As the poor pay and pay and pay
They Who Dream
A man and a woman sleep
And all their dreams are nightmares
They dream the dream of millions
with no poetry, no song, no food, no work
They dream the dream of soup kitchens
of radioactive fish
of chemical vegetables
They dream a Muslim boy
with charred stumps for arms
They dream of unmanly men raping
women and telling them to enjoy it
They dream the insipid fantasy of football
They dream the madness of homeland, of heartland
They dream of police beating, killing civilians
They dream the homeless, homeless, homeless
They dream the torture that is prison
They dream of all the guns, all the bombs
They dream the horror of rich white men
They dream that science in their country
is more turned to death than to life
They dream that their country wars on the world,
on our mother, earth
They dream the oceans rising, the seas dying
the birds falling from the skies
And they awaken — into their dream
Will they wake up from this waking dream?
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