Labor Poem #6
Royal Pacific Fisheries, Kenai, Alaska
by Dan Alter
Under floodlights, the nylon line, half hitches
on the dock cleat. The twenty four hours. Knee deep
in the living. Thrash of salmon, the boat bump
on old tires, jump down. Fiberglass hold, jump
into the thrashing, with a hose, under
floodlights. Until I lie down in my tent.
The ten inch vacuum hose, jumping, the hours.
Angry under the water blast, my wader
boots. Where the Kenai Delta becomes. Hours
to catch, my tent. Knee deep, thrash of the vacuum,
the salmon angry, kick them. Until I lie
down. Catch, with my wader boots in the water
blast, twenty four hours. Half hitches, on the dock
cleat. Kick them in. Where the delta becomes a bay.
Labor Poem #18
Lafayette Electric, Redwood City, Calif.
by Dan Alter
Against the pour and set of concrete, four flung feet of the A-frame.
Palm-sweat. The fiberglass rails, steps, my reach in ducts and shadows. The four
feet spread across silica piled, steel debris. Rotohammer snarl.
My waist, up through the tangle of ceiling wires, a few extra inches.
The steady, the rubber-butted feet. Everywhere a film of dust. Up
in shadows, waist above, flimsy of t-bar steel, and somewhere, windows.
The fiberglass steady, aluminum and spread of the 8-footer,
extra inches, and the snarl among trunks of duct, cables spidered
away. If a few more inches of reach, in spidered shadows above
the grid, and daylight removed from window-banks. And the ladder feet freed,
from four dusty stations. Over the pour and set, its steady and scrap
piles. My reach, above the screen of daylight somewhere, the fall of palm-
sweaty while the freedom of fiberglass, loose of aluminum, as
my reach to the twistable, flimsy grid, swinging down, out of duct
trunks and tangle from a high step of the 8 footer, swinging low
to the station of concrete. Windows removed daylight, somewhere away.
Dan Alter has poems published recently in Zyzzyva, The Cafe Review, Fourteen Hills, and others. He lives in Berkeley, Calif., with his wife and daughter, moving between the edges of his tool bag, the dishes, his daughter’s training wheels, and dawn.