Men of the Docks by David Salner

after the painting by George Bellows, 1912

A ship is drifting up the river,
through the February rain, all the way from Hamburg

bringing work. A huddle of discouraged men
waits by the docks. Beside them, two white horses,

wanting to be put to use, soaked
from croup to withers. The men are fidgeting,

hands reaching through the rain-flecked air
for a barrel of orange flames.

I think I see my father—his hazel eyes
are searching through gray sheets of rain.

If I would speak and he would listen,
I’d tell him he was not to blame,

in this wide world, for anything.
If I would speak and he would listen.
David Salner’s second book, Working Here, was published by Minnesota State University’s Rooster Hill Press in 2010. His writing appears in recent issues of Poetry Daily, Threepenny Review, North American Review, River Styx, Poetry Northwest, North Dakota Quarterly, and many other journals. He worked for 25 years as an iron ore miner, steelworker, and general laborer.