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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I set up my work area,
remember some of the desks
of former jobs,
where they were in the rooms
where other employees sat,
funny, the flood of images
so vivid after all these years.
Places and people, tools of work,
the changes. Yet I suppose the dynamics
have not changed in any drastic way,
the sympathies and enmities that
floated through each office space.
The prickly acceptance of each other,
sly looks, raised eyebrows, careful wording,
bosses and underlings joined in the making
of a company, continuation of a service.
But here, I am alone,
surrounded by heavy bodies
from the past, yet able to move
through them in an ecstasy of now,
a treat long-awaited, gladly embraced.
Night Shift at the Computer Factory
What mistakes brought me to this cage?
Its net of warped angles surrounds all sides
And stretches three feet above my head,
Slick gray concrete beneath my feet,
Grounding straps wrapped tight
Around the heels of my shoes.
The thick eye of a surveillance camera
Glares from cables and wires at a point
Below the girted ceiling of the enormous outer room,
Suspended amid a conglomeration of conduit and pipes
Between diagonal rows of fluorescent tubes
That refuse to disclose either night or day.
The deep hum of electrical surge underlies
The assembly clatter of production lines
-- power tools, metal bolted and screwed --
The heavy groan and precautionary beep
Of forklifts navigating narrow labyrinths
Between high stacks of steel storage racks.
Boxes of boxes balance wrapped and attached
To pallets made of lumber. Hydraulic lifts
Raise them up and bring them down
After they are counted, verified and categorized,
A work of endless division and multiplication.
And I myself am divided and multiplied
Diffused in scattered directions,
Hope diminished, resignation confirmed.
I stand exposed, accused and blamed
By powers far beyond my understanding.
The tap, whir, clatter and hiss
Of empty motherboard case, conveyor belt
And hydraulic tool is the unmistakable sound
Of the speedy downward swirl of social mobility,
The fast approach of inevitable crash.
I count and recount the black processors
Delivered from Costa Rica, Korea, and Ireland.
Boxes full of identical rows of memory boards
From Malasia, the Philippines, and China.
I lose count of my mistakes.
Each green dimm board looks like a city
With unified streets, parking lots, broad
Warehouses, shopping malls and factories.
I squint sleepy eyes and realize
I am looking down on the huddled
Buildings of this very manufacturing plant.
Somewhere toward the middle
Of the plastic, mercury, lead and brass design
Stands a tiny man in a metal cage.
He's wearing an anti-static smock -- celestial blue --
Like all the other micro-angels bored
With pretending to keep busy outside the cage.
With his knuckles hooked
Through the warped metal quadrangles of the mesh
He stares perplexed, paces a few short steps,
And contemplates the dark limitations of his life.
James Miller Robinson
Professor Full-time and Tenure-track,
I appreciate your asking me if we
rent, learned that we live in an attached
structure, but I assure you that we do,
holding down our fort as we pay a mortgage
just as you live in your discrete domicile
and full benefits that have eluded us
these seven years and will likely keep
ahead of our pursuit that probably
is fruitless. But I do not begrudge
your success even though I wish
I had the same so will converse
collegially since we both work
for the university, and what callow
student would know the difference
between our respective, official positions
and the perks, the fruits of your yields
compared to mine? We both sport terminal
degrees, ties, and the quiet power
to assess the youngsters on their journey,
who need not know our places in this graded tower.
The Golden Door
On a drive-in screen, last night I saw:
The American Dream of shock & awe
Blinking on & off like a neon sign
Rising over shipyards & loading docks
The moon tick-tocked like a time-bomb clock
And bounced like a ball in the bottom line . . .
Transfixed by a vision of the Golden Door
And the dirty laundry of permanent war,
My mind traumatized in a living lie,
As a B-52 refueled mid-air,
Made mechanical sex on a wing & a prayer
With the hardened silo of a missile sight.
Thrown up on the master bedroom wall
Lady Liberty, stripped like some femme fatale,
Made X-rated love in a brown paper bag --
Her mouth puckered up, her lips painted red
With hissing serpents on her severed head.
With ornaments & miniature flags!
In silence look into the eyes
watch the flight of birds
follow the movement of sea grass
ride centuries on clouds of passage
swim in the salt of oceans holding the mirrored sky to your lips
endure the suffering
into civilizations of remorseless revenge
eye for eye
bone for bone
devour the left-overs of unintended consequences
scratch the bleeding
blast the hobbled mountains
beg for the remains when there are no remains.
This Frog Produces no Atomic Dust "listening to the moon
gazing at the croaking of frogs
in a field of rice" -- buson
This frog produces no atomic dust
no hydrogen explosion
no gangrenous breezes
no barbed wire
this frog honors dandelions, dew drops & large sapien
figures which urinate on its home &
with solomonic equanimity, this frog accepts cumulus
clouds, toxic clouds, the suns corona & stinkbugs.
this frog cannot tell you the difference between
dutch shulz, richard the 3rd or the kalihari bushman.
this frog does not create a permian period of mass destruction
does not slaughter humpback whales
no climate change no killing fields no cancerous polyps
nor burn down the library of alexandria
nor build worker robots to replace worker humans
this frog produces no atomic dust.
no gang rape
no skid row
bump-stock assault rifle
no billowing smokestacks
small pox blankets
industrial waste disposal sites
no xenophobic marches
no vengeful dieties
this frog produces no atomic dust.
without judgment this frog leaps
among splendid fallen leaves, rainbow tinted shadows,
blighted elms & large excrementous canine heaps &
in hops & bounds this frog bounces upon crumbling
greek ruins, future fossils & pre-fabricated
this frog moves unseen thru wedding receptions
upon mosaic alhambra floors
this frog has known the neanderthal
the writers of sanskrit & torah
early cave christians
this frog has shared breakfast crumbs with nostradamus
has traveled with christopher columbus
has mingled socially among friends on noah's ark.
this frog has been roasted on the spits of pre-dawn
river dwellers &
served with ceremony & etiquette upon the opulent
plates of georges auguste escoffier.
holocaust times breath & desist
conspiracy & brainstorm become same-caste citizens
of the hourglass
worlds come, worlds go
this frog produces no atomic dust
this frog survives.
at night he joins his fellows
to drink darkness & sing joyful their croaked
chorus to venus & the horn of the moon.
in the morning
once again this frog hops unnoticed over
a spring blossom & a dead bird.
about & around
god nods his head
acknowledging perfect obedience.
A Undrinkable Water
a blue lake of undrinkable water left
from a dead lumber mill across the street
a dump of toxic materials is behind us
3 aquifers under me, only one is drinkable
so the fires go without enough water to douse them,
hotter and bigger they burn every year.
smoke invades my nose and lungs
so, why do i live in this beautiful, mountainous area
close to the coast where my soul is fed?
The Breeze that Surrounds After Gregory Corso
What do you have to say?
What do you want to do?
Let's meet where the trees still grow
and breathe along with them.
Let's feel the breeze that surrounds
and trust it to bring no harm.
Those who pollute the earth
below and the heavens above
they are with hell's accountants
I want no part of you
and neither should the world.
But those who seek to profit
believe we are expendable.
This is no big sad lie.
Luis Cuauhtémoc Berriozabal
Doors Closing "When the music's over,
turn out the light."
>-- Jim Morrison
I thought there was an "us"
then a generational movement
on the edge of taking over
of going back to the land
of ending war and
saving the living world
so get out of the way
here we are here
in this blood-soaked
worse than ever
on the verge of extinction
Where did we go and
what happened to
that vision --
our New World?
The old record
keeps turning on its warped axis
and the tears won't stop
when the music's over
turn out the light . . .
Idealism Meets Schrodinger's Cat
Idealism is hanging on the ropes
and it's in the tenth round.
Corporate moguls and CEOs
have shoved Marx
along with socialism itself
into a box and nailed it shut.
The end of history?
Does our story end here?
Is idealism alive or dead?
It's best not to open the box
right now. For now, let's assume
idealism lives, and push on.
It's our only hope
against a bleak future.
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