Summer 2020

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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Laid Off, As In

When you get home from the job office
where you met with a guy who clearly
disliked his position you'd be glad to fill --

you leave the mail in the box knowing
it'll be mostly bills you're trying to pay off
before their tone changes to threats
about penalties and collection agencies

the kids are shooting each other because their
grandma lets them watch bad TV shows and eat
junk food instead of healthier stuff you'll prepare
since your wife's working the 3 to 11 shift so
at least you can pay the essentials like rent

you'd enjoy a couple of beers but that's a luxury
like a night out with the guys maybe a decent
set of tires for the car or finding time to
reconnect with your wife which hasn't occurred
since she went full-time after you got laid off

the house is hotter than hell but your can't afford
the AC so you go room to room shutting off
lights the kids always leave on and putting fans
in windows to get the kids settled in front of
a decent TV show while you start dinner

you make pancakes and apples slices for the kids
and ask about their day though they won't ask
how yours was since your face already shows it
but you remind them to be nicer to their grandma
whose help they need till school starts and yes, yes,
you'll buy school supplies, don't worry,
don't worry

       Darrell Petska

A Degree in Education

Spring 1964.
Dogwoods bloomed, the plowman prayed and kudzu climbed
the rusting tipple.
Mortarboard askew, I shook my principal's hand and crossed
the stage to light applause.
In Inez, Kentucky, the Savior arrived in a two-piece suit.
LBJ, squatting on the porch of Tom Fletcher's shack, said he'd
come to whip poverty in the Appalachian hills.
My dad said, "Whup poverty, my Pike County ass!
That flop-eared Texan ain't never lived on frost-bit turnips or
stood in line for commodity cheese."
Therefore, me, and my cousin Eugene, fresh sprung from the
state pen, earned enough sawing wood for old One-Eyed Bates
for two Greyhound tickets to the Promised Land,
River Rouge, Michigan, where twice a day,
the smog lifts and you can see and taste the Detroit skyline.
Got a job on a Great Lakes freighter shoveling magnesium with a
band of pirates from the Greater Antilles high on Peach & Honey.
Lived over Mom's Bar, but never slept for the crepuscular brawlers,
rats, roaches, and Bobby Bare in the throes of "Detroit City."
When our ship sailed for foreign seas, saw a career in aviation at
Willow Run. Pilot on a fork lift loading tail pipes and bumpers for
Motor City's Big Three,
I ripped a wing off Old November, slick as you please.
Dead broke, me and Eugene, thumbs up, caught a hog-hauler to
East Chicago, Indiana, and dayshift at Inland Steel trundling
hell fire on an ingot buggy and breathing
the sulfurous breath of Satan.

November 1965.
Thanksgiving blew in on an ice storm from Canada.
Me and Eugene, shivering in two pairs of pants, stood at the
Greyhound depot, eyes peeled and waiting.
Snuck aboard a south-bound dog and hid in the restroom.
three days later, crawled out and pulled the chord at
Pikeville Kentucky,
a mountain jewel spackled in hominy snow.
lesson learned. Spent four years in college inculcating Faulkner,
Dreiser and Hemingway, Keats, Shelly, Byron and Beowulf.
Today, staring out a dusty office window at two north-bound
I can't recall a single line of "Ode on a Grecian Urn," but I can
give you every word and note of a hillbilly anthem called
"Detroit City."

      G.C. Compton

Simple Addition

The old Maine waterman whose life had changed, who
was finding it harder and harder to make a living,
said he one hundred percent believed in climate change
but was not convinced there was global warming.

He might have said, I suppose, that he surely
believed in addition, but questioned whether
one plus one equaled two. Think about it.

A whole lot of very smart people observing
and measuring and reporting global warming, but
the waterman whose livelihood is affected
doubts they're correct. Doesn't add up, does it?

       Matthew J. Spireng

It is Time

The Globe
is a head in flames
although people
still do not believe it.

The density
of the green forests
and the celestial blue of the sea
are all gone
while waiting for people's consciousness
to help liberate them from greed,
abuse, and demand
for commodities.

Now it is time
to recognize that air
water and the Earth
are worth much more
than money.

      Teresinka Pereira

Songs of Cruelty in the Empire of Dreams

Political hymns of hypocrisy sung by choirs of ignorance
voices raised in ecstatic harmony
singing in praise of rockets red glare
eyes glazed with bombs bursting in air

you may live with the illusion of might makes right
while an invisible virus ravishes your life

you may pledge allegiance
in national assemblies of corporate greed
and sleep with the dreams of the chosen
while hospitals and morgues are overwhelmed
and the economy is frozen

you may believe in America's manifest destiny
make excuses for genocide and slavery
you may worship money and military might
while the world suffers from the American way of life

Give me your tired, your poor,
your huddled masses,
yearning to breathe free
oh say can you see the hypocrisy
as children die in cages
at the border of law and order

You may be in denial
fossil fuels
threaten our survival
you may think that guns and ammunition
are your right
while global warming
destroys your life

The sun has no provenance
the stars cannot be privatized
the wind cannot be colonized

California dreaming is up in flames
forests of smoke and ashes cover
the remains of giant sequoias
and the common good

misguided militia put down your arms
your precious guns, missiles and bombs
forget your useless commitment
to American exceptionalism and white supremacy
along with the hate it brings,
there's bigotry and cruelty in the empire of dreams

      Angelo Mesisco

Naming the Bridge

Does it take as much amiable courage
to risk your life for an evil cause
as for noble liberation? Probably.
It gives no pleasure to derogate
honorable fearlessness infested
with treason; to order that a court
martial's drums accompany
this cashiering: may the name
of Edmund Pettus be soured
from the girders of the bridge
into Selma, Alabama and let
a hero's name, or heroes --
or their ideals! -- be thought of
when someone gives directions
to a nearby plaque restoring
the valor of Joe Spinner Johnson,
who was murdered in a jail cell
in Selma in 1935 for the crime
of organizing sharecroppers.
Whatever recollection of renewal
is chosen, let it be by vote,
and may the ballot blossom
with enfranchisement, long inured,
but not deterred.

       Bill Mohr

The business of America is business -- -- Calvin Coolidge

White House for sale, time to reshuffle the deck,
Let another sit at the table of power and privilege.
Time to resurrect the tried and true methods
of political pomposity. Let us dust off the hackneyed
phrase, regurgitate the familiar slogan, put just enough
lipstick on that pig to feign originality. Get out your wallets,
buy now, save later ye captains of industry. Those without
greenback caché need not apply, feed the machine.
The poor may vote but can't get elected. The beast
must have an enemy to justify its budget. Divide your
citizens, let them rend each other, lest they see behind
the curtain of corporate greed and discover a God
of mammon. Let them feast on a diet of bitter herbs
of anger while they count their gold in marble halls
and you in silent rooms mourn for your lost children.

       William Scott Galasso

Covidiary Week 22

The People, oh the People
Are so persistent about voting
that even a convenient plague
has not stopped them wanting to.

We will take them out of
the list      the book of humans able
to vote      we will take away
their polling places --
have only 3 where once
there were 3,000       we will
force them to travel long
distances, even stop the bus, (there
was only ONE for all)
We will see them camp all night
in masks with their sick babies
incontinent grandpas
(Who'd have thought of toilets, water
umbrellas blankets anyway?)
Then we will wish away
their polling place as the sun
rises on the third day -- oops
gotcha! Like Brigadoon       or
find them deficient    one by one
by the rules that descended
at midnight or "bad hair"      ability to read,
skin, lack of high-powered legal clout

Miss Mildred cannot mail her electric bill
lives in the dark anyway. Her pension check does not come.
They are starving the P.O. into
extinction because they know it
would/might mail votes for the
guy not their anointee.

The people are on their
knees, the ones not coughing to death
in beds or
      behind dumpsters.
They have been on their knees before, they will
get up.

On the coasts of California
bare faced praisers
raise their exultant faces
toward the sky, away from
humanity. We have seen them before.
   Rye fungus?      A love of flails?
           flails for others -- this time.

Miss Mildred used to process your ballot.
She thought that was holy work. HE is
calling her a fraud. He is confiscating paper.
The airwaves have waved goodbye. He is
coming with nukes for your pencil.

      Mary Franke

Demands of the Day

Here in the summer
of our discontent        two nations
violently divided        too many
dreading the rent
        the scent of rot --
the dread
      of spreading illness
an unending disaster
                    and yet --
the roar from the streets
              grows louder
demanding an end
        to bullying injustice      the
imposed terror of the uniformed
the uninformed the misinformed       of landlords,
bosses, bigots and banks
so many of us many demanding civil rights
demanding an end
to unjust authority to
the arrogant concept of it
and the beginning
of cooperation --
all of us united
for each other

       Al Markowitz

Learning Solidarity

When moms protect protesters in Portland
When veterans take the streets to stand
In the breach to break attacks by storm troopers
When dads disperse tear gas with leaf blowers
And white people march night after night
To ensure BLACK LIVES MATTER in truth and light
When elite athletes kneel for others' rights
When healthcare heroes risk their lives and their families
To fight for the lives of strangers with Covid disease
When folks fight pipelines and toxic factories
In Appalachia's heights and valleys
America is learning lessons of solidarity
Solidarity is acting on sisterhood and brotherhood
Making real universal human connection
Workers organizing the railways learned solidarity early
As did other workers in western mines and logging
Women fighting for the right to vote learned sister solidarity
Workers in sit down strikes in Flint and Atlanta and Akron and Detroit fought with solidarity
Dr. King and A. Philip Randolph and John Lewis lived in solidarity
Young people marching now, are practicing solidarity.

       Stewart Acuff

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