The Blue Collar Review is a quarterly journal of poetry and prose published by Partisan Press. Our mission is to expand
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Scott was let go today, after
35 years. No chance to say goodbye
to co-workers; escorted off the
property and told his stuff would
be packed and shipped to his
home address -- but under NO
circumstances, is he to ever step
foot inside this building again --
or the cops would be called, even
though he never had one disciplinary
action taken against him, no record
of violence or anything of that nature.
I caught a glimpse of his face on
the way out; looked like he may have
shed a few. It happened so fast,
I almost forgot to blink.
I'm So Glad I'm Working in a Union Workplace
This was especially driven home
to me during the height of COVID
when, upset because a heavy box
on an ill-stacked pallet nearly fell on my foot,
I was so upset I forgot to pull up
my face mask (it was on my face,
attached over my ears, but in my
upset I'd forgotten to pull it up),
was nastily reprimanded for it
by an obnoxious assistant manager and
I blew up angrily in his face.
In a non-union workplace I would've
been fired, perhaps summarily.
Instead, rather than have to face that
assistant manager the following day,
I simply went to the store manager and
requested a personal day off, which was
granted (because the ability to do so
was part of the union contract); going home,
I immediately applied through the union
for a month's disability leave, which was also
granted. In the meantime, the nasty assistant
manager was forced to take a vacation, and,
when I came back to work a month later,
not only had I calmed down, he had too.
He wasn't hassling me any longer, as he had,
and even more beneficially, I had a job to return to!
That is what union protection is all about --
ensuring you don't pay through the nose for an
inadvertent mistake by getting fired for it.
This is Urban Blight
they have mercifully stopped putting up signs
informing us of what is coming to our neighborhood
shovel ready is all there is on my side of town
the mall destroyed, wal-mart gone
target and best-buy gone k-mart sears gone
most restaurants gone and on and on
the hospital is gone
a mass exodus
a dollar store on every corner
where is our grocery store
the dig-into-the-ground photo-op
nothing is built around here
our children are shovel ready
the boys in the baggy pants and over-sized shirts
quit failing schools and failing families
go to the streets selling themselves and drugs
guns and girls and drive-bys
the shovel hits us in the gut
keep hope alive
thank you very much for your platitudes
they don't fill our bellies
they've taken the signs down
all there are -- big empty spaces and buildings
just some wooden signposts in a parking lot
looking to heaven
not to release us to heal or help us
some wooden posts
the sun resting on them
and little else.
We Dim Poor
Our greatest fame is our shabby style.
We roam the streets, told being homeless
is our lazy fault and the banks are just
strengthening the profit line, the one
they draw between heaven and hell.
The accusers can say these things until
the clocks surrender their minutes
at the end of time, but none were driven
to take shelter in cardboard boxes,
nor wanted to stroll anywhere near
a fact they didn't like, certainly not hunger.
We should have learned from their habit
of dropping name places from their lexicon,
Wounded Knee, Sand Creek, Samar, East Timor,
My Lai, Tulsa -- where history dined on massacre,
and also numbers they wrote off while counting
profits, half a million children in Iraq whose deaths
the Secretary of State said were worth it.
We might have learned about those who say
"love" as if it were free as air, or advise
"become as little children" but put children
in cages like animals to be beaten while
they beat their bibles" "Lock them up!"
they say. "We do not know these refugees!' --
though their own God was one. We might
have learned how stone breaks when
it smiles and hypocrites don't.
collides with the Iron Curtain in Ukraine,
& he failed to invest in Javelin missiles
& full-metal jackets . . . you know
those implements of destruction
the manufacture of which
claim a small portion
of every man, woman,
they won't get back.
So much for the industrial world.
Dogs of war -- bow-wows of inflation.
Bring on pork-bellyaches,
& wheat prices
blasting through a glass ceiling.
a former standard of living
frisking corpses in the street
at home & abroad.
(a good thing cannibalism
requires neither fire nor fork & knife)
thanks to this ideological impasse
& economic stutter-step,
he won't be the only winner
in the race to the bottom
America Violence, American as Apple Pie
-- H. Rap Brown
No flintlocks or muskets
but AR-15's, no hunting rifles
but high-capacity magazines.
The British aren't coming
and frontier raids are done.
Sandy Hook Elementary in Newton
twenty-seven children killed
and forty-seven senators in NRA
pockets said pray but did nothing.
America, our pandemic is violence
killing neighbors in supermarkets,
movie theaters, concert halls,
synagogues and churches.
Marjorie Stoneman Douglas, Parkland,
seventeen children dead seventeen wounded,
and forty-seven senators in NRA
pockets counted their blood money
feigned regret and did nothing
America, 400 million guns, 330 million people
Robb Elementary School, Uvalde,
nineteen children and two teachers dead,
forty-seven senators can you love our
children more than you love your guns?
Culture of Booklesness (Weapons for the World)
Textbooks largely disappeared,
during the Covid school-shutting.
I was a teacher I know the value
of a book -- a free book a book
freed is a mind freed
and a mind freed shouldn't die of kill
At the burger joint the counter clerk
gives the thin children food
The $1,000 a month rent raises are here
The Library of Congress has run out of paper
for books for the blind I mean why
When the Pentagoons can drown the planet
in guns and worse
Blood money doesn't read or write erase
This country traffics in tomorrows yet to come
weapons and humans who need everything
Arm these children must
see them open   neither obliterated or obliterating
who need everything it no longer has to offer
offers to have must
Who Wants Democracy Dead?
Pull back the old blanket on the bed
See who wants democracy dead
In rural towns and counties across this country -- not united
The Violent Right settles easy where Trump gave hate
And viciousness a heyday
Our county commissioner poses with the Proud Boys in
Colors and gear
Hands held in signs of white power
Gonna have to dig down
To dig them out
Where fascism sinks its fangs in local politics
And free people fight the spreading sickness.
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