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Posts Tagged ‘Blue Collar Review 2018’


I got this issue of Blue Collar Review a little late and I’m a bit tardy on getting to the review. But here we go. I like the incantatory aspects of the poem, “Lament of the Shade Tree Mechanic,” by T.K. O’Rourke, which opens this issue. “These hands are not hammers but craftsman’s hands / meant to hold a knife or file…” It’s a meditative poem about hands, very grounded in the specific. “…meant to move across the face of rock… for splicing lines on sailboats.” A worthy poem, with a proper ending.

I like Adele Gardner’s “Grip,” a story-poem about a construction worker, working high steel. “I never got to thank him, this man perched / on the end of a girder.” It tells a story of loss, despair, and support, with the danger of such work constantly looming. “High steel work isn’t for everyone.” Though the poem is long, to give away more I feel is to give away too much. It’s a good read, worth looking up.

This is Blue Collar Review, so there are plenty of tales of a hardscrabble life. Such is “Better Buy Blue Bell,” by David Gross. “My father worked there when he was a kid, / shaking hides of cattle, some already maggoty.” Tough bosses, unions and strikes, such is the life in this world. “a greasy union boss brought back / their final offer — fifty cents.” And such stories often have a tough ending, as does this one. A solid poem.

I liked Joan Colby’s “New Year’s Eve.” “It’s midnight, New Year’s Eve / So on our road all the neighbors / Are shooting.” I first ran into this tradition many years ago in Santa Fe, and it is startling to hear. “They celebrate the curve / Beyond the solstice with / A barrage of bullets.” Great language in a taut poem.

#MeToo has its place here. Sarah M. Lewis gives us “Memo To Men.” “You don’t own women. // You don’t punish women / if they don’t like what you do.” A stark, blunt piece.

There are just a lot of really good poems in this issue. But the last one I’ll mention is “The Power of Peace,” by Bernard M. Jackson. “Not from the crank / who would pose with a tank / to further his future career…” it starts. The rhyme scheme gives it a lilt and a catchiness that rewards the reader. It is a poem of hope, as many are in this issue, and I’m glad to see that. “Only in time, by the people who rhyme, / will a moral be found for the story…” A fine work of art.

Peace in poetry,

P M F Johnson

My eBook of poems, Against The Night, a sweet, rueful look at love in a long marriage, is available on Amazon, and at other fine e-retailers.

Related blog posts:

The Nation – Apr 9 2018

Convergence Online Journal – Spring 2018

The New Yorker – Apr 30 18

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