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In Praise of Unions

I must have been three and played

in my crib while mom cleaned.

She never looked at me but shouted.

“Your father is a BLUE collar

worker for a printing plant—

long hours, walks 20 blocks

home from the subway,

Every Friday, union meetings.

fights for good pay, holidays.

He loved Roosevelt LaGuardia.,

Remember those names.

“Did you hear me?” She came close,

waved her dust rag in my curly hair.

I nodded, yes, asked for jelly beans.

“What color?” I said blue, pointed to pink.

I worked as a teacher for thirty years, believed

In unions. Today my daughter does too.

The Board of Ed wants teachers back in school.

It must be safe. It’s only

the union leaders who demand teachers

be vaccinated, that schools comply

with Lysol cleaned desks, insist everyone must

be masked, no contact with other students or adults.

My dad did not have any safety regulations

or ventilation. He inhaled benzene, died

from the fumes.

I demand my daughter speak up, use her intellect,

ask her union president to insure teachers’ needs.

“But do the best teaching you can, and always wear blue.”

Forget the chocolate cake the crème brulee on my 76th birthday

I read the headline in the NY Times. The Justice denied a bid For Trump to hide his tax records

This, the beginning of the end? Will Vance give us a chance?

to accept our nation’s ethnicities? My grandparents

carried their lives in burlap bags, moved into the slums

of Hell’s Kitchen. Their skin brown , their language—

the movement of their hands. They were taunted by yells

of WOP , without papers. Have we moved on?.

I tell myself to celebrate my birthday for god’s sake,

get politics out of my head. My husband and I grab a bottle

of Sancerre to watch the last episode of Call My Agent.

The show relied on weaving politics and surprise,

The characters became our family for a month.

I am sad to see them disappear

A zoom call from the east and west arrives. Chants of Nana. Nana.

The three year old yells “Everyone calm down.” Someone is singing

76 Trombones off key and finally Happy Birthday from my entire family.

See you all this fall at the Jersey Shore. We still have time to finish off the Sancerre

and watch Chris Hayes of course.

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