Poems for April 16: Julia Stein, Carol Tarlen, Jack Hirschman Muse About Workers and Work

1996 by Julia Stein

This is the year women started walking again.

Julia Stein, photo by Teresa McGowan

In Los Angeles we are walking outside the big whale
of a shopping center carrying picket signs to get garment workers
a union in our city which had Thai slaves sewing clothes.
We are the daughters of Fannie Sellins who was
gunned down in a mill yard, whose hat was stolen from
her dead body by a deputy who laughed at her corpse,
whose death set off the great steel strike of 1919.
We are the daughters of Sara Plotkin who walked all over
in 1932 organizing in the coal fields from Pittsburgh
to Wheeling, snuck in and out of company towns, evaded spies

reposted from Voices, the Women’s College Magazine of Santa Monica College, 2003

[from Julia Stein‘s web site: “I’m a poet, teacher, novelist, and critic now living in Los Angeles. I’ve published four books of poetry: Under the Ladder to Heaven, Desert Soldiers, Shulamith, and Walker Woman. My education is all in California: UC Berkeley, UC Irvine, and California State University at Los Angeles. I’ve lived in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Berkeley, and hiked, walked, and camped all over California. I’ve worked as a secretary, waitress, oral historian of Los Angeles, grunt at a publishing house, TV producer, radio producer, free-lance writer, and college professor in both psychology and English.”  Read more from her very informative web site, including essays, reviews and other writers’ poetry.]


Inflation Achieves a Single Digit
Unemployment Rises to 8.9%

By Carol Tarlen

Our hands complain of protein deficiency as
David slices more than his ration of ham
5 ½ lbs of meat per person per month in Poland
Pass the navy beans, please
They are pink and slushy
Legumes are good for the soul
The free enterprise of a well-balanced amino acids
The dialectics of eating
Alicia denounces bland cabbage soup
History gets a C- at your fashionable
Bourgeois Butcher Block Table
When the grade drops to a D+
We steal a loaf of bread
Then we build barricades

This and other poems by Carol Tarlen may be found on Julia Stein‘s web site.


Crane by Jack Hirschman

Jack Hirschman, drawing by Sue Ying

How did the crane
get all the way on top
of that new building?

It didn’t.
It was there to begin with.

The workers
built the building
like a nest
under the crane.

from The Bottom Line by Jack Hirschman


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