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. Subscribe using the on-line link or send checks to Partisan Press P.O. 11417 Norfolk, VA 23517.
e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org Submission Guidelines
Eight hours of standing, left leg
hurting even before posing
behind the register.
At night I dream of customers
laying groceries on my bed, impatient
to be rung up. I tell them no, I am
trying to sleep, come back in the morning
when I am at work.
They pile their cans of hominy and peas
along my left leg, throw their sacks of potatoes
on my knee, loaves of bread a foot high on my stomach
while I struggle to keep up, to figure out the price
of a can of Libby's if six cost a dollar.
There is no register, no belt to move the milk
or ground beef. But they keep coming with their
cookies and dog food. Wanting cigarettes and batteries.
And all of it, all of it, on my left leg, the weight cementing,
encasing, keeping the leg from bending, running
away from these people who now sit on the edges
of my mattress, not happy, threatening to call the manager.
I yell, I'm not wearing my uniform, just before
the alarm goes off and I wake to another day of standing.
Whispers a thump
In unseen bowels
Before bending its
Yellow joints and
Half of the mold
To reveal a plastic
From the final whole,
Oil seeps to the floor,
A puddle of water
On the opposite side,
Its paint grimed and
Scratched by the years
of repetitious work.
The operator reaches
In and extracts
The part, his joints
Too creak and grind
From the eight hour
Monotony of doing
The same thing over
And over, again and
His frame and cover
Also bears the marks
Of the ceaseless labor,
So that the separation
Of man and machine
Is up to the philosophers.
He likes to hold his temper in the face of adversity
even though his hours are reduced
and Mellie's moving away.
Now Gregor no longer takes coffee with him
Even though his hours are reduced,
the manager hovers over him;
now Gregor no longer takes coffee with him.
He knew the night shift would be long --
the manager hovers over him.
Somehow the mortgage will get paid.
He knew the night shift would be long
since the woman became the CEO.
Somehow the mortgage will get paid --
and Mellie's moving away.
Since the woman became the CEO
he likes to hold his temper in the face of adversity.
I say, it's mine.
You know who I am.
Mine is mine,
and those things you thought were yours?
The mines are mine.
All the mines that miners mined
and died in -- or out of.
And that mine that is not mine yet?
That mine you don't want?
It will be a mine,
and it will be mine.
Protest and speak out
all you want. I've got
my people working on it.
They're mining the constitution.
You didn't think THAT was yours
I'll sing you a part of an old refrain: This land is MY land.
I forget the rest.
The oil is mine
the water is mine,
even the wind.
I'll meter it and sell it to you,
as soon as you buy all my oil.
Yes, the earth is mine!
And when I'm gone it's going
to stay in the family -- inherited.
And don't give me any of that
the meek with inherit the earth crap.
You wanna get yourself crucified?
New World Order
Here in the land of infinite distraction,
glib-fingered scrollers fondling portable screens,
dictate exacting standards of mediocrity
at McDonalds and the latte shop.
Who even notices
the disparity and despair
between the victims of capitalism
and rapacious little Napoleans
who know no attribute beyond self-aggrandizement,
and keep score with profits churned,
who rationalize redundant abundance with mutable truth,
stick a "k" in demockracy and laugh?
Their concentric-asshole management scheme
jerks the chain of the money monkey
promising a never-never land that never, never comes,
blind in the mythos of homegrown fascism
to the fact this is a dogma that chases its tail,
stoking an aggregation of aberrations
that provokes a disconnect of intellect --
crazy like a Fox News --
cultivating minds with verbal fertilizer that mutates
the theory of relativity into
the relativity of theory,
Off the people!
Buy the people!
Fork the people into the ditch.
There's more where they came from.
Little Hitlers peddle the grindstone faster
insuring the world turns on an axis of evil,
and the dark before the dawn rolls on and on
with the graceless calm of an execution.
Turning Off the Radio
In these twilight days of the empire's waning
we have to sacrifice. Me, I'm giving up
the news (that weirdly coherent crafting
of a tale where truth is cut and sewn to shape)
and, with a dollop of guilt, I'll stir my hours
with poetry, with ancient, hard-wrought verse
composed to outlive lunatics, tyrannies,
and more than a handful of gods. My nerves
can stand the blood and wars, but the lies
have finished me. So I choose faith in words
and those who craft them true. Why despise
the work of hearts who tried? Even my curse
won't stretch that far. Better to click and switch
and settle toward a few poems, toward lines
that suckle a history of hope, that reach
deep to find, maybe tonight, something fine.
Preparations For War
Weeds stand erect on the roadside
Squinting through the heat of motel curtains.
A three-day stubble of dreams blankets me.
My shadow outruns me when I pass under lights
Flashing from over-head rockets. Each day
Snapshots of the dead grow
In the lining of my coat;
Their faces grow out of me
Like a mirror for all to see;
And what do I have to show for it,
My face contorts without command.
My tendons grind like old gears
And flake away as I watch the sun rise
To catch shadows of the dying
Vanish stars into clouds of dust
Before falling into the faceless mirror of black boots.
Seattle Peace March, 2003
and volcanos sleeping in our rearview mirrors,
we park by warehouses, start walking
to where the March begins.
Whichever street we look up
or down, there are people going our way,
singly or in small groups.
Many springs break free from stone.
A trickle becomes a flow to join with many streams.
Backpacks, hiking shoes, sandals with socks.
Some dressed for the church
of the street, others for street theater.
Old hippies with gray hair in pony tails,
tattooed kids with green mohawks,
suburban moms pushing strollers.
Now from every street, rivers of people flowing
into a confluence, every one of us a walking wave.
Now we come together and wait for the signal.
People are hitching up their pants
and making sure their shoelaces are tied tight.
Crows and seagulls carry
Pacific salt air on their wings,
bring messages from the other side of history.
A grim excitement, a fierce joy in the air,
a revolutionary ozone as we breathe.
The world trembles, like water over a fault line.
We surge forward and the March begins.
I hold my daughter's hand, her small fist raised.
I've been baptized in the waters of the People!
Lordy, amen! I've been double dipped!
This act of resistance is beautiful beyond tears and we know
it will stop nothing. The War Machine
has decided there will be war
and the marketing machine of the media sells it
like soap and soda pop.
A woman in a green dress trips in a pothole and falls
and half a dozen people rush to help her up.
She thanks them but waves away their questions.
"Today," she says, "I own the streets
and I'll be damned if I'll sit down with a skinned knee
while our bombers are being fueled for war."
Above our heads the monorail sounds its horn
in solidarity and people inside wave signs to our signs
and everybody cheers. Cars horns honk.
People lean out of windows, flashing peace signs.
Banners are hung out of windows.
Stone face cops stare behind sunglasses, fondle
their guns, chew gum and talk into radios.
Helicopters circle overhead, a sea of people to the horizon.
Later, on the news, television androids will say
"Police estimate the crowd at 1000."
"Do you feel that?" someone asks, and I do:
the ground shaking, a thunder rippling through stone:
the earthquake that is us
Huge tectonic plates of stasis shift under our feet
Feet themselves that can't stand still
All the world is changing, challenges to meet
Hope on the horizon risin' like dawn to fill
Our hearts and soul and even intellect and drive our feet
To join the growing change until
We make that hope real
The status quo cannot hold
Desperate people, new leaders, agendas bold
With ideas and the imperative of imagining
Imagining how to unite ourselves, save our Mother
Render justice, build peace, push great wealth to each other
Instead of the handful who hold our money and our lives
Changing demands we count on one another
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