SPECIAL SECTION

16 American Working-class Poets

  •    By Karen J. Weyant
    Late three times for work, so it’s night shiftor my job. I’m eighteen, no experience, broke,so I make the deal. I wear jeans and a T-shirt:Shop at Ray’s for the Best Deals Around,a message more perti...
  • Sandy stands in the designer-wear sectionof a suburban department storein her best jeans and a cheery holidaysweater picked up at the Goodwill.The Muzak versions of Christmas carolsleave a hollow ach...
  • I try to tell my brother not to call himself a “go-fer”just because he fetches cardboard  for women shouting, “Bring me a double order,”  who get paid by the piece. A thin vibration against her machi...
  •    By Aaron Rudolph
    “You’re a big guy. You should be working construction.”                                                             – a woman in line at Kmart   Every time I swung a sledgehammer,shattered the faces...
  •    By Levi Romero
    maybe we should just writeand see what happens  and what if something does?could we live with ourselvesif nothing did?  nothing has in such a long timeand yet that’s a lie too didn’t you just laugh,...
  •    By Jason Poudrier
    Blind dog staccato howlsin regular intervals in four-four time,on guard like me, can’t sleep.Am I happier here?When in we talked like cellmates,“How many years you got?” Wife alongside, “Wish that da...
  •    By Joseph Millar
    Love picks its way through the gravel rutsleading into the job site, past the truck tiresexploded nearby, the crows’ rusted voices, blackwings and feet, cottonwoods risen in ghostlyfields and the lev...
  •    By Dorianne Laux
    When I was young and had to rise at 5 a.m.I did not look at the lamplight slicingthrough the blinds and say: Once againI have survived the night. I did not raisemy two hands to my face and whisper:Th...
  • Boy, don’t you kick that ball in tha garden. If you kick thatball in tha garden one mo time, imma tan yo’ little brown hiney!                                                Anna “Mu...
  •    By Kathleen Hellen
    The vendor closing up on Wolfe and Monumentdeconstructs the skewered souvlaki. A striped umbrella on a truck.Someone buys a soda. Someone rents the scent of onions wafting up.How is it upheld? This f...
  •                                     for the sharecropper I left behind in ’79  Thirteen years ago,   before bulk barns  andfifth gear diesel tractors, we rode r...
  •    By Rain C. Goméz
    Five years old, I am chubby, strong, husky, and brown. My hair bleached under southern sun smelling of saltwater, Spanish moss, and cedar, parted down middle pulled into pigtails, that droop in after...
  •    By Brian Fanelli
    My dinged-up Honda sputtersto the next school, next class –Freshman Comp 101, where students in sweatsyawn away my 8 a.m. lecture and the new recruit quarterbackslouches at his seat, texts while his...
  •    By Jim Daniels
    If you have a map, eat it.The old man wedging curb-dirt under his nailswill give you directions for getting lost.Getting off the grid involves talking in tongueswith other tongues. Follow the sidewal...
  •    By Jeanne Bryner
    Behind our homes a road liesit suffers like a patch of skin alteredby its rash, a scarred spine, yearsof combined ruts. Aging fence linesborder the fields’ windswept grass. Retired from factory work,...
  •    By Hakim Bellamy
    In the year of our Constitution, 1787, our country was already over 150 years into the practice of creating FREE & CHEAP laborers for life. And in 1786, printers in our then capital of Philad...