March 3-9, 1997: Marie T. Dufour and Julia Stein

Week of Mar 3-Mar 9

Marie T Dufour and Julia Stein

Marie T Dufour
Carbure53@aol.com

bio:(auto)

You can call me frenchie, or mom, or grandma: I respond to all three I write from Huntington Beach, Mexico, or France, wherever I happen to be, and my prose and poetry have been published in The Hudson Review, Poetry in the Garden, The Poetic Soul, and a chapbook: The Beamdancer I am currently a featured poet at www.hudsonet.com/~amajo3.

The following work is Copyright © 1997 and owned by Marie T Dufour and may not be distributed or reprinted in any manner whatsover without written permission from the author.

What Juan Alzamora taught me: 2/08/97

Poets are
beep-beep, beep-beep,
positioning beacons of distress or rescue
bobbing on oceans of their lives,
cresting destinations to naufragees*,
lights lost in troughs too deep,
too dark for safe-harbor sightings,
poets, 
pinpoint signals
semaphores blinking at each othersí metaphors between storms,
one thousand watts
cracked into a thousand gems in slick topaz maple syrup waves
that run on the reader’s short stack,
the pancakes she feeds on,
this Friday, 
sat on a corner booth
at Spires, wondering if one should
display for discount
a Senior Citizen or Student
identification.

* naufragees: French for *shipwrecked* fem plur = a bunch of female castaways

Attention!
(from The Beamdancer)

I thought
I caught
one
once One thought, that is-was-
brillirant!
Shimmering-like
Rangiroa’s silver-black pearl: Tahiti
But he
ran away from me!
If I could just find him again!
Again,
if just
find him
He didn’t roll on the carpet;
he’s not hovering over my forehead Maybe
he’s in
hiding
somehwere safe
where thinking is
harmless
like inside my eyeball
where the lens
attempts
to focus
but doesn’t
quite!

Knickerbocker Award

(for Richard McDonald’s sculpture: “Butterfly”)

As though sprung from ocher earth,
a figure rises from patterned patina
Larval feet, splayed, rough, spring
from vanishing cocoon
and aging calves and thighs twist
to a torso, a torque,
a bend, like a crisis which
resolves in the definition
of shoulders, muscles,
as lines in aging face
Call it strength, call it release, even peace,
biceps no longer kept in check,
forearms extend in donation,
without ransom,
thrusting hands open in release
of butterflies.

Julia Stein
jstein@laedu.lalc.k12.ca.us

Bio(auto)

Julia Stein, poet, literary critic, and activist, has two books of poetry, Under the Ladder to Heaven (West End Press) and Desert Soldiers (California Classics) She was one of the founders of the Los Angeles local of the National Writers Union/U.A.W and has served on the steering committee of the Los Angeles local Also, she did human rights work with PEN Center U.S.A West.

As a scholar, she is one of the country’s leading experts on working class literature Her essay “Industrial Music: Contemporary American Working Class Poetry and Modernism” was in the “Working Class Studies” issue of Women’s Studies Quarterly (Spring/Summer 1995, Feminist Press, New York City) Her essay “Tangled Threads: Two Contemporary Novels about Women in the Textile Trades” retrieves American fiction on garment work from 1810 to the present day Her Russian Jewish immigrant grandmother was a garment worker for many years.

The “Justice for Garment Workers” reading she organized Sept 8, 1997, at Midnight Special bookstore, is now being sued by Guess Inc jeans as part of a large libel/slander suit against the garment workers’ union UNITE and Common Threads, a women’s group After being sued for the 1st reading, she then organized “Justice for Garment Workers 2” literary reading which took place Feb 2, 1997 She dedicates her poem “The Triangle Fire” to the garment workers in Thailand who a few years ago were trapped inside a locked facotory and lost their lives.

The following work is Copyright © 1997 and owned by Julia Stein and may not be distributed or reprinted in any manner whatsover without written permission from the author.

The Triangle Fire

Defeated by scabs, the girls returned
to sew shirtwaists in a tinderbox, no union,
the doors locked, only one fire escape
on the seventh, eighth and ninth floors,
no union, locked in, no union, locked in
Smoke poured out of the eighth floor Girls ran to the locked door, banged on it A body jumped out of the ninth floor Another girl jumped Fire trucks came The crowd below screamed, the fire ladders
only reached the sixth floor, not high enough On the seventh floor girls beat on locked doors The girls on the ninth floor tried the fire escape
–it broke under their weight
The men below yelled, “Jump into the blankets “
Three girls, arms wound around each other, jumped Their bodies crashed through the blankets A boy kissed a girl, then held her out into space,
she floats down from the eighth floor that day
146 Jewish and Italian girls got the graveyard
Workers packing the floor, the galleries at
the Metropolitan Opera House hissed the resolutions offered,
only quieted when Rosie Schneiderman,
tiny steel wisp of a union organizer, whispered,

“This is not the first time girls have burned
alive in this city Every week
I must learn of the untimely death of one
of my sister workers ” This is not the first time,
not the first time, every week
aaaaaaiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii

120,000 funeral marchers in a downpour
walked solemnly up Fifth Avenue,
no music,
just one streamer carried by garment workers,
“We demand fire protection,”

set off a spark in the New York governor
who ignited a commission,
four years Inspector Frances Perkins led commissioners
into visiting canneries where five-years old snipped beans,
saw machinery that scalped women,
cut men’s arms off,
the commissioners crawled through tiny holes in the wall
to the steep iron ladder covered with ice,
the factory’s only fire escape,
saw little tinderbox factories with locked doors,
four years the crowds at open air meetings screamed,
“We demand fire protection,”
sparked the Governor to sign a new bill,*
the doors to the factories were unlocked.

———–
*These laws were the first legislation for safety at the work place in the
history of the United States.