Poetry Friday May 17, 2019

This week's Poetry Friday roundup is hosted by Margaret Simon at Reflections on the Teche. Check out her page to read some Pi-ku written by students she works with and to connect up with others sharing poetry today. 

I am working on poems about a pivotal time in 1958, when my family joined other relatives on an adventure into the Pine Valley region in Northern British Columbia. I'm committed to sharing a bit every week to keep me going. They might not be in any kind of order. I just hope to get some kind of drafts out there. I appreciate feedback on the construction of the poetry and ideas and questions about what information might be missing.
I'm still researching logging history in BC, but today's post is all about food.


August was too late
to til the earth,
but game of all kinds:
white fish, pickerel,
moose, deer and bear
were in abundance.

Wood for heating
and cooking
was plentiful.

Almost everything
we needed
was at hand.


That far north,
grub was expensive.
$12.50 was outrageous
for a 100 pound sack of potatoes.

Lee and Sharon
spent their last pennies,
all they had,
on some spuds.
Kerosene spilled on them.
No matter what she did,
she couldn’t make them edible.

It wasn't till Sharon
made Johnnycake
that she found out
the flour had
soaked it up too.

Lee shrugged it off.
They wouldn’t starve.
All he had to do was throw his line
into the river,
and there was white fish to eat.

Our family looked out for each other.
Meat got shared around,
but didn’t last long in that crowd.
Billy got a moose.
Had to go into town for a few days.
When he returned,
nearly all of it was gone.

Billy, Don and Howard
built a smokehouse.
Loaded it with game,
set the fire to burning
and went to bed.
That evening,
flames lit up
the forest.
Woke everyone up.
Wasn't much they could do,
just keep the fire from spreading
and stand around watching
the building burn,
leaving behind charred
carcasses of meat.

By then, game was
getting scarce.
A diet of potatoes,
pancakes and oatmeal
gets pretty darn boring.

Mommy, always cheerful,
made eating hotcakes
day after day,
meal after meal,
seem like a party.
But she was nursing a newborn
and needed more.

Eventually they
carved an inch of char
off that meat
and ate the rest.

From then on
we dined on
pancakes and
smoked bear.

Other families made do with
the moose and venison.

Still remark
that bear,
that moose,
was the best ever eaten.

I'm heading off with some women friends this weekend. Depending on the internet situation, I might not get to access your work till next week, but I'm looking forward to reading all your posts.

Here are links to previous Pine Valley poems. 

Ready and Willing 


  1. I find this all so fascinating! The details evoke such a sense of history and place. What stories you have to share!

  2. Such strength and perseverance. So much that we take for granted now that was so difficult to obtain back then. This story is inspiring.

  3. When you fall, you just get back up, right? What challenges they faced, & your mother nursing a newborn! I am fascinated, Cheriee. These are really wonderful!

  4. Such a challenging time. Thanks for sharing.

  5. I'll bet it would be hard to get kerosene out. Smoked bear! I can't even picture what that tastes like. Thanks for sharing these stories with us. They feel very intimate with all your clear details.

  6. What cushy lives we lead in comparison! I love this:

    Mommy, always cheerful,
    made eating hotcakes
    day after day,
    meal after meal,
    seem like a party.

    Says so much about what kind of person she was.

  7. Cheriee, you captured the struggles so well in this section of your verse novel. Despite the issues and disappointments in their lives, Mommy remains hopeful and cheerful. Early settlers you describe were not faint of heart. Your tale brings tribute to their journey.

  8. OH, my goodness....and this life was voluntary? I'm so glad you are capturing it in writing as Carol above says. This is hard to read because even though we know the adults are keeping their chins up, this is hard stuff. This is malnutrition and hardship and what about the kids? YIKES!

  9. What a treasure trove of family history these poems are. And a lovely collection they'll make. Can't wait for more! -- Christie @ https://wonderingandwondering.wordpress.com/