Saturday, December 24, 2022

Fall 2023 Editorial

Autumn is a time of coming together with family and friends, a time of celebration and of battening down for the rigors of winter. This winter is made harder for us by an economy impacted by pandemic, war, and price gouging.

As corporate politicians gladly dole out another $857 Billion for weapons production and the escalation of a dangerous war, child poverty grows and rent-gouging leaves more of us hungry, homeless, criminalized and disenfranchised. As Senator Ocasio-Cortez recently pointed out regarding the latest weapons spending, $20 Billion could end homelessness, and child poverty could be reduced by half for $90 Billion -- far less than the money spent on weapons and war -- and far more controversial in a corporate oligarchy where business agendas and global hegemony are prioritized and citizen needs come last. Our lives remain endangered in a country saturated with guns. Mass shootings are a near daily occurrence. Our ruling class is more dedicated to our right to kill each other than to our rights to have healthcare, education, homes, or even sick leave in a continuing pandemic.

Who speaks for us? A few labor unions and a handful of elected progressives are not enough. We must speak for ourselves as a class. The poets in this issue do just that.

Some in this collection are nostalgic but, as Adrienne Rich once wrote, "nostalgia is the flip side of amnesia." We must see the past clearly to learn from it, whether on working conditions and labor history or on the realities of racism and sexism which continue to stifle so many lives.

We are living in a time when our systems and our lives are being held hostage by empowered corporate interests. We are divided by corporate parties, that rhetoric aside, agree more than disagree when in comes to priorities that harm us for the benefit of profiteers.

In the next few months our nation will likely be held hostage by overt right Republicans who have stated their intent to block any budget that doesn't include cutting, destroying or privatizing Social Security and Medicare. Center-right Democrats could have raised the debt ceiling to prevent this, but have refused to do so; nor have they stood with workers striking for sick leave they themselves feel entitled to. We, especially the poor and the elderly, must fight for our ability to live as profits for connected corporations such as big insurance, fossil fuel companies, pharmaceutical giants, and military industries reap record profits at our very real expense.

At the same time, we see an escalation in working class fight-back from teachers, railroad workers, students and climate activists. As working people, we know we can trust corporate parties and politicians to screw us. When we are left to choose lesser evils in elections, we are always the losers. We need to be active and united beyond elections. This must include massive protests, labor actions, building a progressive workers' party, and consideration of a national strike.

This journal continues to seek to unify working people around issues that affect us all, and to foster a class perspective which makes unity possible. We recognize the power of culture to shape perspectives and the potential strength of our unified class to disempower the destructive rule of self-serving corporate power. We are more than grateful for the poets and writers who join us in this effort. May this season of coming together shape our struggles in the coming year.

Monday, October 17, 2022

Correction

In the recent issue, the poem "Poets Supporting Nazis" is by Dale Jacobson and waa mis-attributed to Dale Johnson -- an honest typo. It is correct in the contents listing. I love this poem and feel bad about the error.


Poets Supporting Nazis


It could be someone named Victoria Nuland
did not orchestrate a coup in Ukraine in 2014
for someone named Obama, the murderer of Libya.

It could be Obama's henchwoman never said
"fuck the EU" when deciding Ukraine's new government
after she and her Nazis dumped the old one.
And then she didn't give them cookies.

It could be no threats were made,
no assassinations were ordered,
water was not shut down to Crimea
the same as Israel does to Palestinians

and no collective punishment happened,
fifty souls were not burned alive by Nazis in Odessa,
the people of Donbas were not shelled for eight years,
and they did not die, and a comedian strutting tyrant
did not make all parties except Nazis illegal.

It could be the United States of Liars did not lie
despite all previous tradition of lying well.

It could be the U.S. did not break its word,
and NATO did not expand from 17 nations to 30
up to Russia's border with its missiles and bombs.

It could be that these U.S. poets really cared
about the peoples of Ukraine dying
(though not those of Donbas or Crimea,
where math also died) and they were not
poor historians who blamed Stalin, 68 years dead,
or the Red Army that no longer existed,
the one that defeated Nazis in World War II.

It could be these poets cared enough about words,
they protested loudly, or even a little,
when Ukraine outlawed Russian music and books
though a third of its people speak their own
Russian tongue. No more Tolstoy, Pushkin,
Dostoyevsky. It could be these poets
did not ignore that the U.S. is an empire
that starts wars in defense of greater wealth
for the empire, and that it started this one in 2014,
and these poets were not dizzy in praising Nazis
because they were told Nazis were heroes
and were not Nazis, even though the Nazis
said they were. O yeah. It could be
they condemned Obama's murder of Libya.

It could be.
But it wasn't.

-- Dale Jacobson

Sunday, September 18, 2022

Summer Editorial 2022

This summer has been marked by fires, floods, severe drought, famine and pestilence, by escalating global social conflict and war. None of these can be separated from each other and all are connected by and to an economic system of exploitation and global competition for control of resources. In our own country and others, social stresses and rising citizen demands have given rise to fascist, as well as progressive movements.

Fascism is the defensive reaction of corporate oligarchy to rising citizen demands for inclusion and for citizen interests when they challenge corporate profits and dominance. It is the brutal rule of corporate power using hyper-nationalism, fear, religion, disinformation, division and hatreds to rally popular support among the less informed.

Due to U.S. expansion of the conflict in Ukraine we now find ourselves closer to nuclear annihilation than any time since the Cuban missile crisis. The Ukraine leadership, a result of U.S. meddling, is proudly and overtly fascist. Russia's leadership under Putin is also a corrupt, neo-Tsarist variety of fascism. The US/NATO stoking of a proxy war in this nuclearized region is the height of myopic arrogance that further endangers the world with no hope for a positive outcome. This deadly conflict must end, not be made any worse.

American workers are struggling with price-gouging, poverty, stagnant wages, the least accessible healthcare in the developed world, pandemic levels of gun violence, continuing institutional racism, and growing attacks on women's rights. We are appalled that addressing public-health and safety issues are seen as questionable expenses while repeated record-breaking money for war and weapons sales continues without question.

U.S. funding of war and aggressive actions are not limited to Ukraine as we see from recent visits and $1.8 Billion in weapons sales to Taiwan in violation of agreements with China, drone attacks in Somalia, and continued arming and funding of Israeli apartheid and Saudi aggression. These are the fascist priorities of an aggressor state vested in endless war; as Martin Luther King opined, the greatest purveyor of violence on the planet.

The contributors in this summer issue understand the growing threat of competitive corporate dominance, of fascism and war, especially in this time of climate emergency. Close to 80% of working people support universal healthcare, climate action, voting rights, and women's reproductive freedom. These priorities are subverted by corporate media and politicians funded by big business interests whose priorities are legislated at the expense of our freedoms, our health, and the future of life on earth.

Democracy, unlike fascism, is defined by authentic public participation. Getting there from here is a continuing struggle upon which our rights and existence depend. The majority of us understand the level of rot and corruption that cripples democracy, sickening our country and world for the enrichment of a few like an insatiable parasite. We must actively stand against war and oppression and for priorities of sustenance. We must vote and we must work to unite our progressive majority in the struggle to end military aggression, war and criminally corrupt, globally destructive corporate dictatorship. This issue completes twenty-five years of publication. We are grateful to be able to continue doing our part to demonstrate and encourage a mindset of social and class solidarity necessary to our struggle for a livable world and for authentic democracy.

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Spring 2022 Editorial

For many decades our country has been engaged in one war or another to feed our weapons-based economy and to expand U.S. corporate hegemony. We have trained foreign nationals, along with our own soldiers, in torture and murder methods. They have perpetrated terrible violence around the world. The violence we do elsewhere, the culture of violence we are sold, and the minds scarred by it have come home with a vengeance.

As spring turns to summer this collection looks back on a season of violence. Our country continues to supply weapons of war to Ukraine and to fund the Pentagon at record levels even as funding for citizen needs is challenged as too costly. Yet we are less safe. Medical care remains unaffordable for many. Prices are rising and mass shootings have become a near daily event.

As working people, we continue to suffer the daunting violence of poverty, terror of landlords, bill collectors, and the added trauma of rising prices on rent, groceries and essentials. We, whose hands make and repair the physical world, we who create the wealth we rarely see have little or no representation or voice in decisions that affect our daily lives. This reality fosters disempowering cynicism as well as anger often twisted against our real interests by corporate politicians and media.

With our ability to live increasingly threatened by the realities of climate collapse and economic hardship made worse by corruption and war, a rise in citizen activism is upon us. Progressive forces like the Poor People's Campaign, organized labor, women's rights, climate action groups and demands for sane gun control are growing -- as are the extreme-right forces of violent reaction.

Poems in this collection focus on poverty, labor struggles, and on the devaluing of, and impact on, children in our corrupt corporate oligarchy. Children suffer inordinately from the criminal irresponsibility of political opportunism and arrogant class disregard. Poems like "Torta" by Hector Jimenez, "The Milk of Dreams" by Mary Franke, and "Children of the Estate" by Paul Barron speak of the hunger and abuse children experience.

Violence driven by bigotry is a continuing foundational American reality as described in "American Pestilence" by Stewart Acuff and "Narrow was the Way" by Marge Piercy. The scapegoating and targeting of people based on perceived differences is meant to divide us, diverting the focus of our frustration and rage from those who perpetrate vicious, unrelenting injustice upon us to our class brothers and sisters. Added to the targets of hate are Trans and gender non-binary people. As a class, our struggle demands transcending such prejudices and creating our own justice rooted in our common issues and interests.

Working class literature exists to make us more aware of the commonality or our shared class experience and to strengthen the social solidarity we need to have a voice and to create authentic democracy. We are happy to be able to present fresh voices in this issue and hope to see the continuing growth of our readership. We are deeply grateful for the support of the community of readers and contributors which has allowed us to continue publishing. Together, out of our unique genius and the fruits of our connected experience, we can inspire the construction of a just and livable future that is ours.

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Winter 2021-22 issue Editorial

As with climate change, capitalism is inseparable from war, a barbarous crime always inflicted on our working class. The horror in Ukraine is largely a result of 8 years of U.S. meddling and efforts to expand NATO, an aggressive, U.S.-led military bloc, to Russia's border in spite of previous agreements and warnings. Though this does not and cannot justify Russia's monstrous actions, our further involvement may quickly escalate to global nuclear annihilation. We, living at Ground Zero, hope to survive long enough to get this issue out.

Many of us are having terrifying flashbacks to the cold war. People in places like Baghdad, Panama City, Beirut, Belgrade, Afghanistan, Gaza and elsewhere are reliving the visceral terror of being bombed. Unlike Ukrainian victims ubiquitous our media, we did not see such coverage of them.

As working people, the inevitable targets of every ruling class dispute, we stand against war and the escalation of war. The horrors inflicted on Ukraine, Yemen and elsewhere make clear the barbarity of military solutions and the necessity of abolishing nuclear weapons. The UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, already ratified by 86 countries, demonstrates that this is possible. Our security and survival as a species requires global cooperation and an end to corporate nation-states fighting for control of resources, especially oil and gas -- again.

The poets in this issue have had enough: enough on the job abuse, enough commercialism and the commodification and extortion of our most basic needs, enough of racism, sexism, xenophobia, militarism and of the murderous, lying hypocrisy of corrupt corporate oligarchy feeding on destruction and disaster. Poems in this issue confront cultural discrimination as well as wrestling with our unchosen places and complicity in the web of racism that defines U.S. society. This includes the struggle against cultural arrogance that seeks to oppress other languages and those who speak them. Other poems speak of the accumulated loneliness and difficulties of the pandemic and question what the "new normal" will be. Especially relevant is a long poem by Davida Kilgore titled, Normal is Just a Setting on the Dryer, which gets to the root of our deeper national disease. Also prominent are poems and prose on the poisoning of poor and Black communities for profit by fossil fuel corporations in Louisiana's "cancer ally" and their power over elected legislators.

These are the kind of poems, the kind of collection, that you will likely not find in other literary magazines and journals, though we wish that were not the case. This is a not-for-profit collective effort funded by our subscribers and supporters. Our staff subsists with difficulty on Social Security. We couldn't afford to do this on our own. This is made more difficult as our copy-editor and spouse of Al, our editor, is recovering from a recent mild but significant stroke. As the price of everything, including postal rates, continues to rise, your support is even more important. This is our fundraising issue and we more than appreciate your support as well as your writing and your input.

A hard winter bears the promise of spring. Let us work for an end to war and against the continuing destruction of our world by the profiteering gangsterism of corporate state power and the blind, murderous, bigoted nationalism they promote to justify their existence and their crimes at our expense. Let us together continue to shape a culture of sanity, of empathy and of solidarity toward the creation of a better world.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Fall 2021 Editorial

This collection emerges in a time when every system, from healthcare to education, from the Post Office to the Congress, is broken and dysfunctional and everyone knows it. Yet we live day to day with the pretense of a functional society. This condition has been called "hyper-normalization" and has preceded collapse or revolution. The pandemic continues to take a heavy toll with over 800,000 dead in the U.S. and hospitals overwhelmed. The rise of viral variants from the unvaccinated and from globally uneven access to vaccines underscores how deeply connected we all are on this small world. We breathe each others' breaths even as we labor for the same companies.

The deaths of so many workers has impacted the supply chains for production and shipping of goods. The deadly demands of employers have set off many labor actions and strikes with continuing attempts to organize Amazon and Starbucks. There were strikes at Kelloggs and John Deere with victories won against "2 Tier" exploitation of newer hires.

As congressional corporate representatives hold back already compromised spending on needed climate action, healthcare expansion, and support for child care, a record $770 Billion was given to the Pentagon without argument, debate or terrified warnings of inflation. Weapons and endless aggression remain the bipartisan priority.

We also face the continuing rise of fascism. Heavily armed and organized fanatics, some of whom were involved in the January coup attempt, are driven by disinformation media which few other countries would tolerate and which would not have been allowed in our own country before media deregulation which began in the 1980's. The Biden administration and corporate democrats are unwilling to pull the plug on this brainwashing program of cultivated fascist incitement to insurrection by reactivating historic limits on media. The problem for them is not the rise of fascism which serves and strengthens corporate power. More concerning for them is maintaining public confidence in the pretense of continuing functional government because, like Wall Street, corporate rule is a confidence game. It would collapse without public confidence in its legitimate authority -- which daily wanes.

A large majority of us oppose fascism war and corruption. Most of us support living wages, progress on climate mediation, child care support, universal medical access and labor rights. Many find our voice and discover our power when united in labor struggles and in organizing on issues which affect us. It is in such struggles where we learn that corporate power blocks every attempt to enact the needed changes we demand. No government run by vested interests is capable of serving public interests if they conflict with corporate profits. Such change can and must come from us; from an awakened working class, active and united in our own interests. That is why so much effort is made to keep us divided.

The poets in this collection see through the phony shilling of corporate embedded media and the deadly global aggression of an empire obsessed with and dependent on military might and endless war. Herein are poems of struggle, from tenant actions, civil disobedience and resistance, to racism militarism, war, and the legal misogyny of anti-choicers threatening a return to past oppressions. Only together do we have any chance of a livable future. Our words have power. Thet can serve as inspiration and outreach but that requires people seeing them. If you can, pass this journal around or leave it where others can find it.

Monday, September 13, 2021

Summer 2021 Editorial

This issue completes twenty-four years of our publication. Traditionally, our summer issue has a focus on the inseparable subjects of war and climate change. Summer has, especially over the last twenty years, become the "terrible season," each year hotter than the year before; each summer rife with natural disasters from fire and flooding to deadly storms.

The recent IPCC report shows that as we pass 410 ppm of atmospheric CO2 and 1866 ppb of methane, a far more powerful greenhouse gas, it is warmer now than it has been in 800,000 years. Even so, minimal but important actions which would slow our emissions are opposed by influential fossil-fuel corporations. Though the Biden plan may pass, the licensing for methane fracking on public lands continues unabated.

We knew from the poems we had about these issues that this would be a hard-hitting collection. We feared that it might be too demoralizing, if that is possible in this time of continuing crises. We still struggle with a pandemic made far worse by media disinformation, misinformed resistance, the reality of nightmarish corporate medicine and the continuing reality of class and racist inequities endemic to capitalism.

The existential crises of COVID and of the expanding climate catastrophe require global cooperation made nearly impossible by a system of competitive corporate nation states. This obsolete model, barely 250 years old, has become an obstacle to our survival. Marxists understand that this kind of state and system must be abolished and replaced with cooperative working-class democracies. We can work together globally for the common good or we can compete and fight to the death --- of everything.

The poets in this issue understand that our working class experience is shared, as is our fate as a species. We must force our elected leaders to act responsibly. What is made clear repeatedly in these poems is our shared knowledge of the power behind the curtain of Amercan "democracy". Corporate and military-industrial interests rule both official political parties and the leaders they back. We live under a system of utter corruption. We have managed to elect some publicly funded progressives who are making a big difference. But it is not enough. We face the onslaught of an extreme-right insurgency much like the Taliban, with a sympathetic media, Supreme Court, and politial party with elected representatives. We, as cultural workers, have an important role to play in shaping the culture and mindset necessary to topple the rule of wealth in its own interest and at our very real expense.

That is what this journal is about. We have no illusions about our impact but it does change lives and inspire, letting people know they are not alone but part of a class determined to have each other's backs and to fight for a just and livable society and world. Expanding our voice is vital to this effort. Pass this and other issues around or put them where others can find them. We are fortunate to have new voices in this issue.

Our summer issue also presents the winner of our Working Peoples' Poetry Competition. Our winner this year is Marge Piercy for her poem "The Unfinished Masterpiece." Another entry included in this issue is "My Grandfather's Grindstone" by Sally Ventura. This contest helps support our existence. We are grateful for your entries and for a your continuing support.

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Spring 2021 Editorial

As the contagion continues, spring arrived this year strained between optimism and pandemic burnout. This is further complicated by those hesitant to get vaccinated and by new variants. The Biden administration, while working to make progress on important issues, struggles in its attempt to appease and compromise with ideological zealots and corporate-loyal politicians who hold progress hostage. Biden seems stuck in outdated, cold war foreign policy and agendas of dominance.

Meanwhile, jobs remain tenuous with low wages, unsafe working conditions and lack of child care, leaving many hesitant or unable to return to work. In reaction, there are moves to cut unemployment compensation and to end the moratorium on evictions. These attacks on workers come even as more money is dumped into the Pentagon budget.

Over-stressed medical workers and others deemed "essential" have slogged through a hellish year with little appreciation or increased pay, as noted in poems by Joe Hilliard and Stewart Acuff, who lambaste the wealth accrued at their and our expense.

As our broken country returns to delusions of normality, mass shootings and racist police murders are once again daily news. There are continuing attempts to prevent and to reverse limits on assault weapon availability along with calls by the extreme-right against teaching a fuller account of our national history which includes systemic racial oppression. These subjects are also confronted by poems in this collection. The mounting evidence of extreme-right inseparability from police, the courts and from the violent assault on the capitol are ignored, denied and downplayed in media. Biden has voiced his intent to crack down on violent extremism using the FBI and Justice department, also inseparable from right-wing extremism. Our history tells us that the outcome may well be a crackdown on progressive activists who, unlike the extreme right, challenge the corrupt power and vested interests of wealth.

This spring has also seen an increase in activism with demonstrations against the continuing police murders of Black people and against our funding of genocidal terror by Israel in its increasing brutal attacks on Palestinians. The connection between Israeli apartheid, American racism and our continuing mistreatment of refugees has become increasingly evident. Those standing against U.S. underwriting of Israeli atrocities have been attacked as "anti-Semitic." Continuing abuses by Israel and the growing number of Jews protesting them have discredited that charge and moved public opinion against continued blind support. Yet, more weapons have been supplied and promises of support continue as do hypocritical punishing embargoes against Cuba, Iran and Venezuela even blocking medical equipment in the pandemic.

This was a tough collection to put together in a moment that is hard to define. The change of leadership and the availability of vaccines have given us cause for relief even as our deeply broken and divided country faces the climate crisis, armed reactionary terror and escalating global tensions.

Due to your continuing support we are grateful to be able to continue publishing vital writers of our working class. We continue to believe in the power of working class literature to speak to and connect us beyond cultivated partisan division through the commonality of our class experience in a way that other venues cannot. We thank you and look forward to continuing and enlarging our outreach.

Friday, April 02, 2021

Winter 2021 Editorial

Whether you have been locked down or worked overtime fearing for your health, this has been a strange and hard winter for all of us. Many of us have lost friends and loved ones, yet we look forward with tenuous hope to spring. We are encouraged by increasing vaccine availability and by a new leadership which surprises us daily. seeming in some ways, more progressive than we would have believed.

Progress on economic issues, climate and immigration address crises at least 40 years in the making which are the direct result of corporate dominance and imperial myopia. Based on our experience we understand that even well-meaning corporate democrats (rhetoric aside) push empty symbolism, incrementalism and rarely do anything close to what is needed to address problems we face daily. If we are to win real labor rights, civil rights, national health care and climate sanity, we must keep the pressure on.

Though domestic policy changes are better than we would have hoped, Biden's foreign policy remains aggressive, pushing for cold war conflicts to support military industries as well as continuation of refugee deportations. He continues policies of strangling countries that resist our corporate dominance with dire results.

The poems in this collection speak to the realities of soul deadening jobs, often rife with abuse. They speak out against sexual oppression and related violence and of the decline and unraveling of our economy, ecology and of our country. Though there are ongoing efforts to guarantee voting rights, to undermine gerrymandering and the kind of racist voter disenfranchisement we see in states like Georgia, extreme right terrorism remains a powerful threat.

Even after the recent assault on our capitol by fascists, many of our fellow workers remain misled by media disinformation, xenophobic hate and partisan conspiracies. Poems in this issue speak to and lambaste the self-destructive idiocy of fascist nonsense which only serves to strengthen the very forces which impoverish our lives and destroy our health.

Poking fun and fiery words are not enough. If we are to have a livable society and future, we need to reach out and close the media-cultivated divide which can only lead to violent disaster.

As worker poets, we do this by relating our shared class experience and connecting it to issues which affect us all. It is no coincidence that even many who continue to identify with the extreme right approve of Biden's stimulus package which, beyond the payout, includes payments for child care. Many also support health care expansion, minimum wage increases and job creating infrastructure improvements. As the last poem by longtime labor organizer Stewart Acuff says, eliminating poverty would undermine much of the righteous anger that corporate think-tanks and their libelous media twist to fanaticism by scape-goating.

Beyond acceptance of half-measures that maintain corporate rule, this journal seeks to inspire us toward its replacement with authentic, post-capitalist working class democracy based on sustenance and living within our ecological means. As our fund-raising season continues, your literary and financial contributions to our collective efforts are most appreciated

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Fall Editorial

This issue emerges at one of the bleakest times in our history amid a raging pandemic but, with light on the not too distant horizon. Vaccines may soon trickle down in availability to us, as things in our corrupted system tend to do.

We celebrate the limited progress of the recent election. Blatant gangsterism and overt bigotry has been set back with the return of corporate neo-liberal democrats. Recalling the difficult years of Obama's presidency: the racist police brutality, the poisoning of our land and water, the suppression of Occupy and of truth-tellers and the international aggressions, we have low expectations of the incoming administration. That said, we see more possibilities for progress rooted in struggle.

The multiple crises we face, from healthcare and a failing economy to a rapidly unfolding climate catastrophe, are already shaping and pushing the Biden administration in a more progressive direction. How far that goes, as history informs us, is up to us.

One of the most dangerous things we face is a cultivated, dis-empowering division within our working class driven by media abuse, disinformation and hyper-partisanship. The truth is that neither wing of the corporate oligarchy represents us.

One of the primary reasons this journal exists is to unite our class around common concerns by promoting a unifyng class perspective. We do not identify with any political party. Our loyalty remains with working people. Though we intend for this to be the last issue in which the name of the Odious One appears, we continue to welcome poetry and prose which support that goal rather than serving to drive the wedge of division deeper. As the poems in this issue demonstrate, we will continue to criticize the extreme and center-right which directly harm the real interests of our working class as well as politicians and the system which prioritize corporate interests over citzen needs at our very real expense.

The poems in this issue speak of hard times and hard work. They speak of hunger, illness and the terror of contagion amid this pandemic. They speak of loss and loss of community which keeps us going -- the memory of it and of the terrible emotional toll its absence takes on us.

Most of all, these poems speak with class awareness of our continuing determined struggle against the deadly and arrogant warmongering and world-destroying rule of greed which we can no longer afford or tolerate.

We are humbled beyond appreciation for the support that keeps us able to continue publishing this journal and for the strong poetry you contnue to send us. We are also enriched by the community of writers who let us know we are not alone in these brutal and divisive times and for the sanity which gives us hope.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Summer Issue Editorial

Again, the west is on fire and Gulf coast states are inundated with hurricanes and flooding. As connected crises escalate, this has been a summer unlike any we have experienced.

Increasing police violence, driven by arrogant racism is driving protests around the country. These are now targets of extreme-right racist attacks from "boogaloo" terrorists to federal goon squads licensed and urged on from the top, to kill us. The tyrannies and violence our government has unleashed for decades on poor countries, who dare to resist U.S. corporate control and the impoverishing austerity of debt colonialism, have now come home and are being inflicted on us.

The targeted enemy (minorities and ecological activists aside) is "Antifa," meaning those who actively oppose fascism, as every decent human being must. We named ourselves Partisan Press because we identify with the antifascist partisans of the past. Ironically, as a not-for-profit press, we are officially nonpartisan meaning that we do not endorse either wing of the corporate party or any candidates. While making no endorsement, we hope this election year will put an end to the monstrosity of a fascist-identified misleader who makes war on the old, the poor, minorities, women and the biosphere on which life depends.

The poems in this collection speak not only of the misery of wage slavery, but of the terror of losing jobs and homes. We as a class have no security. Many of us lack basic healthcare. We live in constant fear of landlords, bosses and illness.

The continuing nightmare of this mismanaged pandemic is also reflected by numerous poems. Our social and personal losses pervade this collection, as does our militant human solidarity with those especially targeted for abuse by this monstrous system. Our Summer issue has always had a thematic focus on the inseparability of climate and war. This issue is no different with poems remembering the anniversary of the U.S. bombing of Hiroshima and condemning our continuing nuclear weapons escalation and foreign aggressions. We remember and mourn the multitudinous and unnecessary deaths, continuous suffering and devastation of the crime of war.

The rapidly escalating climate catastrophe and our realization of the strong probability of resulting social collapse and possible extinction pervade this collection as well. A fossil-fuel reliant system based on endless growth in a finite world is beyond suicidal. It is ecocidal, threatening life itself.

The winning poems in our annual Working Peoples Poetry Contest are featured here. This year's winner is Frank Flavin for "A Working Man's Son." He wins the $100.00 prize and a one year subscription. and his poem will be posted on our website for a year. A runner-up is "Fitting" by Lyle Estill whose poem is also posted for a year.

Other poems in this issue remember poets lost. As a Taoist saying goes, we are not truly gone until we are forgotten in the world. These poems, like the writing left behind, keep those presences with us.

Class conscious solidarity is what keeps us going and what can save our country and world from the deadly onslaught of myopic greed and cultivated division by profiteering gangsters. That is the necessary foundation of our struggle for social and economic justice, climate sanity and authentic democracy. The final poem by labor organizer Stewart Acuff gets to that point and reminds us that militant solidarity -- love in action -- is a learning process. All of us or none!

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Spring Edtiorial

Most of us have never lived through times like these. Even before this pandemic -- this plague of the body and spirit -- most of us were struggling. Most of our working class were a paycheck or two or an illness away from destitution. Many of us were not far from the poverty line and some of us were well below it, even working multiple jobs.

Since our last issue, we have experienced an economic collapse with mass unemployment which rivals that of the Great Depression. We've lost loved ones -- over a hundred thousand and the numbers keep growing with no end in sight.

All the festering pandemics of bigoted, corrupt, greed-driven, violence and nationalism are combined and on full display. Sparked by racist police violence and fed by class injustice we are seeing a massive uprising of progress, solidarity, and resistance against divisive, destructive corporate fascism.

The poets in this issue get to the nitty-gritty. Alan Catlin, Lyle Estill, Rick Swann, Fred Voss, normal, and others speak of the stress and desperation we feel. Ed Werstein's poem, "Dying for Capitalism" is an indictment of capitalist tyranny ready to force us back to work in cesspools of disease, purposely made more deadly, for the further enrichment of a few. We are the disposable stock upon which this system of life-destroying exploitation is built.

But our working class has a long memory, as Mary Franke's poem "2020-1919" about that "red summer" illuminates. So too, these poems speak from our knowledge of who the 1% are, and of our long history of struggle against them for rights that, until recently, many of us took for granted. History shows us that in a capitalist system nothing won is permanent. Maintaining even basic rights gained is like paddling upstream against constant efforts to push us back. As the present shows and growing voices in the streets demand, we must go further than winning shallow promises and temporary partial victories. Capitalism has outlived its usefulness and has become a deadlier pandemic than corona virus.

Even as we struggle to survive this pandemic, we are facing down fascism unmasked and brutal even as greater existential crisis metastasizes. The climate catastrophe too is driven by myopic greed and profiteering. Like COVID, efforts to address it are crippled by criminal gangsterism and the hijacking of our governments by corporations. Surviving this culmination of disasters requires us to reclaim and remake the Republic, as our closing poem "A Call to Action" makes clear.

Together we have the power. This issue would not exist without the support we have gotten, for which we are more that appreciative. Though our efforts may further inspire class- conscious progress, the struggle is happening now in streets and city halls across this nation and around the world. People have finally had enough. It will require all of us to push hard enough to end this nightmare of brutal capitalist world destruction. For older, ill activists, especially vulnerable, this is a big challenge. Together, old and young, Black and white, we have wisdom, words and a stubborn commitment. We have little left to lose and a world to reclaim and protect from those who are actively, knowingly destroying it.