Posts Tagged ‘Sarah M Lewis Owned’

So much reportage these days focuses on the high tech and financial worlds, it’s nice to have the Blue Collar Review to put us back in touch with the hard workers who built it all, those with integrity making their way in a hostile world.

“Then there was my Dad,” Robert Cooperman writes in “The Men in Our Apartment House,” “a blocker in the millenary (sic.) trade, / his hands… and arms / a drunken spider’s web / of scars and burns.” So much of life is tougher than our myths admit. We all hope to actualize ourselves, to find meaningful work. But there’s a reason they pay us, and there are hard realities out there, and these poems reflect that, honoring, as Cooperman does, those who went before.

Steve Hartman understands this well. “Junior Management Trainee starts, “Where are all the glamorous groovy jobs / you see in sitcoms that require no experience…?” This is a wry and amusing view of truth versus image. “I’m tired of working with idiotic sidekicks…”, but “the Personnel Director…wants to know…what makes me more qualified / than the two thousand other applicants…” Humor arises from truth, right? So it would seem here.

These poems can be downright harsh, as they challenge us. Sarah M. Lewis starts out her poem, “Owned,” with: “Bosses want you / to understand they own you… not just the time you’re paid for… weekends, holidays, after work hours.” This poem cries out for justice, with a sense that the worker must battle for dignity and right.

Yet there is beauty as well. In Olivia Inwood’s “Artist,” we have: “Trains curling around the rocks / and broken masterpieces / blown up by a cannon.” Many different occupations join in the struggle. “art for the working class / art in and of this land”

And also, Jeffrey Alfier’s “The Back Porch at Carter’s Brewery in Billings.” “I hear an empty / beer can rattle over the rails, / blown along by a southerly wind.” A lonesome sound, maybe the essence of these poems right there.

Finally, at the core of it all, we see the relationships between people. In Holly Day’s “The Last Day:” “I watch my son packing his bags and I have to leave… no, I can’t help him because… I can only think of how to fold him / back into the infant he once was.” An archetypal moment for so many of us: “I want / to find some way to do all this over…” Sweet and sad. (Oh, and notice the pun on her own last name).

Very much an issue worth perusing.

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:

Missouri Review – Winter 2017

The New Yorker – Jan 22 2018

Rattle 58 – Winter 2017



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