Spring 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
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Poetry Samples from the Latest Issue

7:00 A.M. at the Coffee Shop

Early morning coffee
Adventure stories
Comparing toys
6-foot, 7-foot box
Drive shafts and truck caps
And ball caps with logos of distinction
Rarely removed
Creating premature baldness
And comfortable status

Billy ran his 12 wheeler
Into a building
Randy's just out of jail
The wife wants me to quit
The miles are killing my legs
But I can't quit
Unless
She wins at bingo
Fifty-two thousand times in a row

The doctors are spoiled
The government doesn't care
And anyone can take my job away
In a second of corporate greed

We tried to pull
That son of a bitch
Out of the ditch
It took 3 hours and 2 winches
And 1 flat beer
But we hauled her outa there
And most of its load too
Wearing a brace now
My back is nearly broke
The pills the doctor prescribed me
Cost $300
So I live with the pain
But escaped the unforgiving addiction
Damn government
Lets doctors and drug companies
Steal us blind
And vacation in the Bahamas
Paying no mind
That we wait 7 hours to pee in a bottle
and 7 more hours to find out why

The wife's mother's not doing too good either
Diabetes and diet coke are killing her
Brother-in-law
Got a new 'stang
He loves his cars
Restores them new
Drives only 82 clicks a year
Prepares for days
To have others see
His artful ways
in the 'stang's shining reflection
Of beauty and brute force
The People's Choice
Of course


Gotta get to work See ya . . .

      Thomas A. Fish


Noble Savages

The notion that work somehow
ennobles you must have been conceived
by someone who never had a soul sucking
job working with the public. Most jobs
are soul sucking even if you remove the
public, but if people admitted this,
who would be the drones? Who would do all
the dirty work so that the owners could
enrich themselves and go to places where
they can sneer at the people who have to
work to earn a living? I'd like to hear
from one of these wise folk who had his
or her supervisor, roughly ten years younger
than your oldest child, criticizing how you do
a job you've been doing, and doing well,
since before the guy was born. Since you're,
basically perceived to be a no-brain automaton,
despite seven or eight years of college,
if you work on the lines, that is behind a bar,
waiting tables, throwing the hash up on the counter,
you are a dead beat loser, by definition. Maybe you
could aspire to be a Noble Savage, if you
were lucky, but we know how that works out.
I suppose being a circus freak, sideshow artist,
is better than being unemployed. Or so the
sociologist owners, big boss tweed types would
like you to think.

      Alan Catlin


Mumia Abu Jamal

In the latest attack
on prisoner rights,
The Department of Corrections
creates a new rule:
all inmates must keep all
belongings in a single box
12x12x14 inches,

Mumia Abu Jamal, who has become in recent years
a kind of all-purpose legal library
for abused African-American inmates
throughout the Pennsylvania DOC

must throw out
17 boxes of books
and legal correspondence --

correspondence which exposed
the brutality of the Pennsylvania
criminal justice system.

In one such report,
leaked and subsequently published
by the Pittsburgh Gazette,
publicity which apparently was the reason
for the new DOC crackdown,

a beaten inmate watched
as a guard spells the letters
KKK in a pool of the inmates' blood
on the floor.

In another, an organizer
of an inmate strike is framed
on false charges of striking an officer
and placed for two months in solitary.

The new rule means that Jamal,
confined on death row since 1992
for a crime witnesses say he did not commit,
but whose case has inspired
a worldwide movement for his freedom
and a new trial

now can only possess a single book
while his conviction is appealed
and he does his life sentence
in his tiny jail cell
at Waynesburg State Correctional Facility.

The book he chooses?
Toni Morrison's novel
Beloved.

      Chris Butters


Ghost Ballad

Trudging from hollers and ridges
from shacks unpainted and sinking
to the waiting open-mouthed ground,
they've memorized the furrow path
seven miles maybe more
for ten pound bags of rice and beans.

Behind windows curtained by briars
many families raised orphaned kin
for brothers buried deep in mines or
coughing to death from black lung.

By March indoor ice boxes
empty of rabbit, muskrat and squirrel --
women folk trade gov'mint stamps and sew --
and their men folk trap for small prey.

Today we sing of uncles and friends
buried alive in the mine below.
History books don't tell of our dead --
ghosts still haunting the peaks.
The rivers, valleys, and hills moan
with once mighty mountains rubbled to stone.

      Kit Zak


Rust Belt Jobs Blown Away

Half of Detroit looks for aluminum cans;
every couple of bucks helps.
And guys in Pittsburgh have lost
a lot of muscle tone.
You don't get much flexing done scrolling screens
looking for jobs or standing in unemployment lines.
In Akron and Youngstown hungry workers wonder
if Japanese cars run on polyester tires;
all the rubber seems to have been shipped back
to Asia; they sure are not making it in America.
Flint has become "The Thirst Capital of the US;"
some EPA crooks ran off with all the good water
and left only contaminated, empty businesses.
The Greyhound bus no longer stops in West Virginia;
no one gets off anymore since the coal mines were boarded up.
Parts of Indiana and Illinois have been declared "No-Job Zones,"
and even Wisconsin is destined for diary substitutes
now that farms and processing plants are closed.
Rust blows through these states and makes people's eyes water.

      Philip C. Kolin


The Bottom Line

Reduced to basics, in elemental terms,
Commodified, strip-searched, sold off for parts,
The mind's eye is merely a matter for worms
Consumed at the core of the Big Apple's heart.

Measured for worth on a Manpower scale,
Figured, at interest, with rates guaranteed,
Lives on a balance-sheet, gone up for sale,
Out-sourced or downsized for bottom-line greed.

Bodies in motion, a handful of dust,
Made mostly of water and mineral salts,
Sway to the music, the boom and the bust,
In the dans macabre of mortgage defaults . . .

While hucksters and psychopaths factor-in fear
And tycoons and fat-cats shed crocodile tears

      E.P. Fisher


We Will Risk Being on the Wrong Side of History

We will enter the porn shops on Times Square
where women are tortured for pay
We will take your guns
We know whose babies you love and how
We will watch snuff films
           (it could only happen in South America
        where life is cheap)

We will see the girl skin halo
ing napalm down the road in Vietnam
the hooded in Abu Ghraib, the black blood
puddling in the road

We will, we have at times been militant
in the ANC against apartheid       in
South America, in Palestine, in the U.S.A.
against war, against race hate
We did this because we looked
and we listened to accounts of the School
of the America's tortures

We wore blood willingly, unwillingly, owned
our trafficked bodies, our ghettoed minds.

We are hard, hardened. Make no mistake
I for one take no responsibility
for the sins of my ancestors
and all for my own
So not everyday show me the picture
but educate the vulnerable.
Make this your obsession
I will not look away
Never have so many been able
to look at so much
at the moment it is happening and
been unable to say
we did not know

We will not sing for you. Make us angry
Make us grieve. Make us corrupt?
Make us coarse? Risk that
we will risk being
on the wrong side of history.

Too many died for these ballots.
We will not give them up
to shills.

       Mary Franke


Defy the Narrative!

Ignore the pundits
paid big money to guide
the gullible.
Turn off the talking heads and
burn the op-eds.

The truth is not hidden.
It isn't coming from
your radio, your
TV.
Subvert the Narrative!

Believe your own eyes
your own ears           your own
life
              look around,       listen
to your neighbors        your
co-workers        your
used-to-be co-workers
to the person in the street
who lives there now.

We are real.
We are the Truth.
We are powerful.
Believe it.

       Al Markowitz


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