M CJf(j(ONI CLPS

ISSVCE·#15

Dear Wl aholics, So much has happened and so much has changed ... .It's been a long time since the last WI' Chronicles has been put out, and almost two years Sll1CC we've been around. (keep your eyes open for a killer white trash birthday party near youl) We apologize for the lapse in publication. One of the most thrilling new things this time is our content-all of the work in this issue is original work, by nine of the most fabulous working class writers we know! This is amazing to me ... two years ago we were only two writers and frequently (and probably illegally) republishing poems and essays by working class authors we loved, both because we relr they were important to read, and because we needed to fill space in what was then a bimonthly publication. This time around, I couldn't fit all of the submissions in! Thanks so much to the writers who shared their work with us! The WT Chronicles has always been meant to be a forum for working class writers and for others who want to share their thoughts about class through writing and art. We loosely center the publication around topics; this issue's theme is about family ... .it seems We never run out of things on that subject to talk about. We are always seeking submissions, and looking for venues in which to do spoken word performances-many of us are spoken word artists, always eager for an audience to bear witness to our class rage! (but don't let that scare you) We also have back issues available for anyone who wants them-the WT Chronicles is always free, and available online at wtchronicles.org, but donations are always appreciated. Your ideas and thoughts on class are welcome and much needed!

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Better Than Tony--Bruja Bones
Tony Giovani lived in the trailer next to the interstate overpass. We had to go by there on the bus on the way to school. I'd see Tony, his shoulders hunched over, in the mornings making his way across the weedy field between the highway and the school. In the rain, his greasy hair would be plastered to his head. His Jimmy's Auto Parts windbreaker wasn't waterproof and his wrists stuck four inches out the sleeves anyway. His knees poked out of his jeans into the rain. My ankles stuck out of my too-short pants, but Mom would die before sending me to school in holey jeans. Besides, I had new slip-on shoes from KMart and I stepped off the bus dry. When We sat down at our desks, Tony dripped and made little puddles on the floor around his chair. That's what made me better than Tony. I lived across town in a house with a rusty swing set out back and a cracked slab of pavement for a driveway. We always had two cars. Weekends would find dad sticking out from under one or the other. Whichever had the worst leak at the time would get parked in the grass to slow down the growth of the dark spot on the driveway. But we also had little flower gardens--an especially nice one down at the mailbox so all the neighbors would see. And all around was woods. That was the best part-woods where I was free to wander and play. All Tony had out back was the interstate and the power lines. And there were always way more than two cars at Tony's--6,7,8,9--rusted out and not going anywhere any time soon. Dad said, "That place is a dump." That's what made me better than Tony. Tony's dad was the game warden. Tony made the mistake of bragging to kids about getting to eat road kill for dinner. Big mistake. My dad sat behind a desk all day. He'd be gone from before I woke up in the morning until after dark--always later than he said. Dinner would be cold and Mom stood in the kitchen with the dish towel over one shoulder wringing her hands and cursing him under her breath. Finally we'd hear him coming down the road. The dogs always heard first and jumped up, tails wagging. No one else's car sounded like that coming down Maple Street. Pork and beans in the crock pot. mac "n ' cheese with hot dogs, tuna casserole. All our meat came in clean packages from the store. That's what made me better than Tony.

I have a lot of memories of Mom back then and in so many of them she's standing at the sink, doin' dishes. It seemed like she was always doing the dishes. In the daylight, she ran a daycare out of our house so she'd stand at the sink with babies tugging on her pants legs. She'd have to stop to hoist one up ontu her hip. In the evening, the spot at the sink was alternately a battle ground and a safe haven. Doin' dishes while yelling into the phone at a bill collector. Doin' dishes while staring out the window into space softly humming to herself. Doin' dishes while spitting out angry words at Dad. Doin' dishes while avoiding one of his explosions for five more minutes. I have so many memories of Mom but it's hard to remember her ever really happy. All I can remember about Tony's mom IS the rumor that she had been in jail once. Jail! That's what made me better than Tony. I don't think Mom would remember Tony. I don't think I ever mentioned him to her back then. If! had ever told her about Tony she would have said, "Well don't you hang around that Tony Giovani. Those are the kind of kids that'll get you a bad reputation if you're seen with them." MCIll1 and Dad were both proud and they worked their asses off to create the image of our family. You found something of use down at the road that the neighbors were throwing out: God don't let anyone see you take it. They'll think we're poor people. We don't wear stains and holes-that's for poor people. Dad got a friend to tow off the cars

when they died so they didn't sit around- that's for poor people. We had flowers and enough space between our house and the next so that at night when the windows glowed it looked cozy and no one knew that the glow was Dad's fury and Mom's sadness. Poor people scream and fight and we were NOT poor and that's what made me better than Tony. Warm weather meant ticks. Ticks in my socks. Ticks in my hair. Ticks flushed down the toilet. Ticks sucking the dogs' blood until they dropped off, silver grapes on the rug. One day at school I was day dreaming as usual, staring ahead at Tony'S back when I spotted a tick crawling up his t-shirt. "Hey Tony, there's a tick on you." And then for dramatic effect, "EEEW! There's a TICK crawling on Tony Giovani," loud enough for the whole room to hear. I was delighted but later a little sick with the effect this had, the squealing of the barbie doll girls, the shuffle as some kids came over to get a closer look, the teacher trying to regain control and calling the nurse to come and pluck the tick off Tony's shirt. I felt utter relief that it was Tony with the tick and not me. But I'll never forget Tony's eyes when he turned around to look at me, pleading eyes that flashed to embarrassment and then to rage. I had ticks on me almost every day of every summer but Tony Giovani had one on him in the middle of school and I spotted it and that's what made me better than Tony. A few years later I was big enough to do the dishes--to stand there in that spot at the sink and feel little slivers of what it was like to be living inside Mom's own jail. I stopped complaining about the fatty bits of pork in the beans and about not being able to get new clothes from the mall. I too learned to steer clear of Dad, who eventually left and moved into the basement of the building next to Tony--under the power lines, next to the highway. I still had never spoken to Tony, except for the tick. even though we'd both started smoking and wore the same black leather jackets. I grew a bitter hatred for the kids in Gap sweaters with shiny new cars in two-car garages and fancy ski trip vacations. I dumped my friends who never had jobs and didn't do drugs. I couldn't stand the look on their faces when they talked about eating out at restaurants with their families or spending so much time on their English papers. I never understood their looking forward to prom and to college. And I didn't think much anymore about being better than Tony.

NO CLASS is a group of Maine people who began getting together in 2003 to educate ourselves and each other on issues of class and classism. The group is at least people of working lowered class background.

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NO CLASS works for justice and the redistribution of power by working in our communities to increase understanding, change attitudes, take action and overcome class inequity. Our goals include: • Increase understanding of class oppression • Break down class barriers in activist communities • Create ways to break down communication barriers in local communities • Increase class awareness of people in the middle class

Here are some projects we're working on: • Provide workshops & presentations to groups in Maine • Create skits and other interesting ways to illustrate class issues • Use surveys and listening to help people think about (and tal k about) class • Develop games and activities for groups and individuals • • Gather resources for No Class and other interested people Support each other as we work individually and together on issues of class

interested? contact us.---+ NO CLASS
(207) 338-0406 or 474-0950 noclass@megalink.net

Petey-Jen

Hodsdon

Petey stretches up ttl the drawer that holds his underwear. lund barely reaches it, and he can't see inside, but he feels around until Ius hands close around the small piece of fabric. The Spiderrnan ones, he sees, as he pulls them out. He slips his thin legs U1[() the briefs and pulls them up, followed by a pair of jeans still stiff from the clothesline. He hates when his Nana hangs the clothes out on the line, they're all crunchy when he puts them on. He executes a series of enthusiastic karate chops to soften the jeans, kicking and slashing at the air with his bare feet and hands. Petey imagmes a Bad Guy in front of him. This one is a tall bald man with ,1 thick black mustache that curves around his mouth like a frown. Peter kicks at the Bad Guy's stomach, shouting "Hyuh!" like his sensei told him, and the Bad Guy bends over, groaning, giving Petey the: OpP( .rtunitv to kick his head. The Bad Guy falls over and disappears, and the Jeans are not scratching the backs of his knees any more, Petey reaches into the drawer again, fumbles out a pair of socks, and SIb on the floor to pull them on. His feet are cold. His feet arc always cold here, not like at Nana's house where he can watch cartoons in his briefs and a t-shirt before Nana wakes up. His dad says Nana's house is too hot, but Petey likes it just fine. Petey thinks it's funny how him and his dad got the same name but they like things so different, like Nana's hot house, and what kind of piZza they like. Petey's dad likes pepperoni on his pizza but it burns Petey's mouth whenever he eats it Nana always lets him pick the kind of pizza that they get. Hamburger is Petey's most favorite kind, but sometimes he likes to get bacon instead. He hates onions and green peppers and pepperoni. The mornings at Nana's arc Petey's favorite, sitting in front of the TV in the dark room, eating cold plZza, little slivers of light around the heavy curtains Nana closes en:r), night before she goes to bed. \X'hen hIS sucks are on, Petey rummages in another drawer for a tshut. He finds his Harley-Davidson shirt that his dad got him in Laconia this summer and puts it on, but he is still cold, so he goes back for a sweatshirt. Petey can hear the water running in the little bathroom across the hall from his room, and knows his dad must be still in the shower. His dad takes a shower every single day. Petey's glad he doesn't have to. t Ie hates taking a shower; he gets too cold,
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even though his dad always says, "just get under the water, you'll warm up." But the water sprays in his face and he has to "hut his eyes, and he definitely doesn't like standing there in the spraYlJ1g water with his eyes closed. He took a shower two nights ago, so he doesn't have to worry about it again until next Sunday. Their last apartment had a bathtub, Petey liked that better. The water in the bathroom turns off, and Petey's dad calls from the bathroom. "Are you gettin dressed?" "Yup." Petey yells back. He pulls the sweatshirt over his head and feels warmer. "Put on your sneakers, then. I'm almost ready." Petey almost forgot that today is Wednesday and that means gym day at school. Gym day is a good one because Petey can run fast; he runs with his elbows bent, his fingers stiff out, and his thumbs folded to his palms because it's his secret way to run extra fast. Nobody else knows that's why he can do it. His dad calls it robot arms, Petey lies down on the floor and pulls the sneakers out from under the bed. He doesn't leave his hand under there tCH) ong l because it makes him scared, but he gets the sneakers and puts them on, pulling the velcro tight, tighter, so he can't feel the sneakers move around on his feet. He hates when he can feel them move. \V'hen the sneakers are on, Petey jumps up and down so he can see if they wiggle. They seem OK. He jumps a few more times because the sneakers make his feet feel bouncy, even though he knows his dad is going to yell. He's right. "Petey! Cut it out! It's too frigging early." Petey knows that the landlord lives right under them, and Petey has to be careful not to make so much noise, especially in the morning. The landlord is a fat man with thick glasses and big brown teeth, and he always says that Petey makes too much noise. That's why he can't ride his Big Wheel inside any more. He doesn't really ride it at all because the porch IS too small and he can't go down to the yard by himself, and his dad never wants to go watch him. But it did make a wicked noise on the floor when Petey rode it up and down the hall, and Petey could pretend to be a Harley Davidson guy with a big Hog. He wishes the landlord lived someplace else. Trying not to bounce too much in his springy sneakers, Petey heads for the kitchen, thinking about the Lucky Charms cereal his dad had probably put in a bowl for him on the counter.

Economic jCivil Rights Efforts Are In the Wind-Jan Lightfoot Many people do not see the signs of a second Economic/Civil Rights Movement on the wind. But with some states passing laws against feeding the homeless, another movement, like the 1960's civil right cause, will be born. Hospitality House Inc. of Maine is presenting logic to other groups throughout the USA. This small non-profit is doing powerful work. It not only provides statewide information on preventing homelessness. It is fighting the number one cause of homelessness--poverty. It is workers being paid less than the cost to live a modest decent life. The government's own figures say 65% of all of the poor are the working poor. They are not lazy--just underpaid. Plato and others of his time spoke against the violence of poverty. And not much has changed in over 2,000 years. It is not until us-advocates and contributorshelp those who know poverty first-hand to speak out. That is when poverty can become a nightmare of the past. The richest country in the world should not have 40 million people counted as surviving under the poverty level. Even one million living under the poverty level, out of our 300 million US residents, is too much. Nearly 1/6 of all Americans live in poverty. Hospitality House Inc, needs your help to take action. We want to be part of the improvement riding on the wind. We need free places to advertise, donations and places to speak out. Write to: Hospitality House Inc, PO Box 62, Hinckley, ME, 04944.207/453-2353, Jan Lightfoot

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