Poem A Day Challenge & Poetry Friday April 12, 2019

Poetry Friday is hosted today by Irene Latham at Live Your Poem. Check out her page for links to more poets sharing work today.

In 1958, when I was five years old, my parents and other relatives set out on a great adventure north. I have been writing bits and pieces about that time for a while. Over the last couple of years I interviewed remaining family members for more details and stories about their adventure. To motivate myself to write, I plan to post bits and pieces of their saga here every Friday. They might not be in any kind of order. I'm just hoping to get some kind of reasonable drafts out there. I hope for feedback both on the construction of the poetry, and more details from family.

This is the second instalment. You can read the first one here


my father
wanted to be more
than a tree faller
hard work didn’t frighten him
he intended to
build a nest egg,
fancied being a farmer
an horizon of sheep
filled his dreams

my mother
busy with four
children under six
and her belly full
of my baby brother,
followed him,
eyes primed
on possibility
trusting in him 
and a chunk of land
to call their own.

my parents were young
Daddy not yet 26
Mommy barely 25

the eldest of the lot,
my mother’s brother, Walter,
and his wife, Margaret,
were old enough to be her parents
they knew what was what
had been through the ringer
and survived
some of their
dozen children were
still in the nest
Peter, their youngest,
was only a couple of years older
than my five years

three of their older boys
(my mother’s age and younger)
brought wives and
passels of children:
Billy and Joyce,
Howard and Lynn,
Lee and Sharon

these were wild
untamed men,
a society of survivors,
taunting disaster and
fearless in the face
of adversity

they spoke the language of laughter
were appeased by a strong cup of coffee
and a shot of rye whisky.

I feared and revered them,
then, and for many years to follow.

the women were
get on with it
did what they had to do
cooked, cleaned,
nursed babies,
grit and determination
in their genes
had no truck with
giving up
their capacity for love
for joy
for forgiveness
was only outdone
by their generosity

a girl couldn’t get better role models than them

still can’t


  1. The 2nd installment of your story is rich with descriptions of your family member. While the men being wild, untamed survivors, "they spoke the language of laughter." The women were mothers in every sense of the word and generous. I like that you provided the descriptions first and the ended with the men and women of the families were and still are good role models.

    1. Yes, they might have been a bit 'rough around the edges' but they are/were the kind of people who never hesitated to do the right thing.

  2. Oh, Cheriee, this is so full of more about your family, makes me want to know more and more. I haven't heard this saying for years, but do know it: "had no truck with/giving up".

    1. I'm trying to use the kind of language that feels right for who they are/were, so while I know some of this is cliche, it is also how be heard them talk.

  3. This speaks most to me:
    "they spoke the language of laughter
    were appeased by a strong cup of coffee
    and a shot of rye whisky."
    There's so much said there in so few words. I feel like I know these people.

  4. I REALLY enjoyed reading this, Cherlee, and your first installment as well. Sounds like a wonderful verse novel in the making!

  5. A "society of survivors" and "get on with it goddesses" -- I'm sure they would like this appreciation of their steadfast resilience! I am rooting for them (and you).