S. Renay Sanders

Blue Collar Cleveland

Northeast · Collinwood · Poetry

The Titans of Industry
Still, hold court on the bridge
Over the once burning river
Where steel mills shot fire in the sky
And billowed smoke from their stacks.

Early risers to all night third shifters
Went to work
Metal lunch boxes in tow
Hard hats, steel-toed shoes, blue collars
Working Joes with names displayed on their shirts.
Hot molten steel being tended to by muscular men
Never in need of a gym.

Now industry is about tourists
Museums, casinos, and posh eateries.
Rock n Roll has been encased
In a pyramid of glass
Glistening on the lake.
Music archived and digitized.

But the raucous rock in roll’s roots remain
Played in the taverns, honky tonks
and neighborhood saloons.
In the past on payday
The railroaders, stevedores and factory Joes
Ordered up boilermakers or perhaps a glass of POC
With a blonde, brunette or redhead standing by
Jukebox blaring
polka, country or maybe a bit of the blues.
The women and the music
a reflection of the neighborhood
In which they were raised.
The heart of rock n roll was and is in Cleveland.

The sons and daughters of the hard-working Joes, hustle
To answer the call of the new industrialists
Dealing cards, waiting tables
Serving the connoisseurs and conventioneers
Who speak of the comeback of this town.
Truth is she never left
Cleveland survived your insults
Rust Belt, mistake on the lake
Didn’t much care what outsiders thought anyway
But hey welcome to Cleveland
Enjoy your time here and in her spirit
Rock on!

S. Renay Sanders

S. Renay Sanders learned to love the spoken word amidst a family of storytellers, secretly writing her own stories as poems. She came out of the poetry closet in 2010 with a poem in the Hessler Street Poetry Anthology. She subsequently had poems published in a variety of anthologies. Her first chapbook Dancing in Place was recently published.


Neighborhood Voices is a city-wide creative writing project designed by Literary Cleveland and the Cleveland Public Library to engage writers across Cleveland, allowing residents to connect with neighbors, share stories of their community, and draft new writing about what makes their neighborhood unique.


Cleveland Public Library
325 Superior Ave.
Cleveland, OH 44114

Project Created By Literary Cleveland

Literary Cleveland is a nonprofit organization and creative writing center that empowers people to explore other voices and discover their own. Through an expanding roster of multi-level classes, workshops and events, Literary Cleveland assists writers and readers at all stages of development, promotes new and existing literature of the highest quality, and advances Northeast Ohio as a vital center of diverse voices and visions.

Project Presented with Support By the Cleveland Public Library

Founded in 1869, Cleveland Public Library serves the residents of Cleveland through its network of 27 neighborhood branches, the Main Library downtown, Public Administration Library at City Hall, homebound delivery services, and mobile services to daycare and senior centers. From a collection of 10.5 million items, the Library lends over 5 million items a year to its 330,000 registered borrowers and to 43 other CLEVNET-member libraries in 12 counties across Northeast Ohio. Cleveland Public Library is home to the Ohio Center for the Book and the Ohio Library for the Blind and Physically Disabled, serving all 88 counties in the state of Ohio. For more information, visit cpl.org.