Poetry Friday June 21, 2019

This week's Poetry Friday roundup is hosted by Linda Mitchell at A Word Edgewise. Check out the clunkers, lines of discarded poetry, and see if there is something you can work with to create your own poem. Then go and check out the links to other participants sharing poetry today.

I'm still working on poems about a time when my family joined other relatives on an adventure into the Pine Valley region in Northern British Columbia, but today I am sharing poetry written by loggers.

While scouring through MORE DEADLY THAN WAR: Pacific Coast Logging 1827 - 1981 by Andrew Mason Prouty, I discovered jewels. Tucked inside heartbreaking accounts of deprivation and disaster, I found poetry.

The Bunkhouse by Doc Wilson 1908

O! Bunks and bunks,
Valises and trunks;
Blankets and swags by the score;
Smoky oil cans,
Old spittoon pans,
Scattered all over the floor!

Old gunny sacks
Filled from the stacks
Of hay in the field nearby;
Under your nose
Pillow your clothes,
And sleep with many sigh.

Old broken door
Drags on the floor,
Overhead the nightbats hide;
The roof’s too thin
And rain drips in
The bunk where Anderson died.

Old shirts and coats
Where spider gloats
On the flies and moths in his lair.
Rusty old stove,
Socks by the grove,
Polluting the room’s warm air.

Off to the junks!
Bunkhouse and bunks!
For the toiler requires rest.
A clean warm bed,
Or home instead,
And then his labour’s are blest.

Later on, in a section titled, The Price They Paid, I found this poem. It was written to Manager Ransom of the Western Lumber Company in 1902.

Down where the sun's gentle rays cannot beam,
Beside the bright roll of Wilamett's fair stream.
A few faithful workmen each day can be seen,
Whose hard, weary labor is dangerous and mean.

The past dreary winter we toiled here below,
Regardless a moment of frost, rain or snow;
Determined to labor though meagre our pay,
With huge rumbling slabs tumbling down as they may.

Times without warning not even a sound
Those slabs make us jump like wild bronchos around;
The man throwing them down cares not for the slab,
All he thinks is to quickly get next to his job.

Last week unexpected glad tidings we found,
In the cool gentle breeze it was wafted around,
Claiming employe[e]s would get TWO-BITS raise,
Rewarding the toil of their hard working days.

The import was pleasing, though yet all a fake,
It was only some flippant old babbler's mistake.
Some may receive it, but one thing I know,
Not by us toilers way down here below.

Now, as a finale, I trust you will pay
The humble slab-loaders $2.00 per day.
The nerve of the writer I hope you'll excuse,
With feeble shortcomings and talentless muse.
                              A COMMON SLAB-LOADER

Finding these sent me off in search of more logging poetry. I discovered a collection of delightful verse at Mosaic of Forestry Memories.  Go and spend some time there!

Finally, I found this snippet by Peter Trower, a BC logger turned poet. 

Like A War:

No bombs explode, no khaki regiments tramp

to battle in a coastal logging-camp.

Yet blood can spill upon the forest floor

and logging can be very like a war.

Here are links to my Pine Valley poems. 

Ready and Willing
Diaper Duty

Skunk Trouble 


  1. Oh, wow! How fun to find these treasures! I love the rhythm of The Bunkhouse. So tongue-in-cheek good fun.

    1. Yes, and so much is said in this line from The Bunkhouse:
      The bunk where Anderson died.

  2. Logging like war... WOW. I love when poetry pops up in unexpected places... it's obvious you are enjoying this project very much! Thank you for sharing with all of us.

  3. Wow! Treasures found while researching! The voices that echo down through history to is in these words...amazing! I agree about the line, "The bunk where Anderson died." So jarring, but matter of fact, and on the poem rollicks from there. Like life.

  4. As a person who loves history and antiques, I think you found a gem in this old book. The poem, "The Bunkhouse," speaks of horrible living conditions and death. I did follow your link to the "Forestry Memories" and was equally as pleased with what I found. Great digging, Cheriee.

  5. What a discovery! I'll share these with my husband--he's a forester and works frequently with loggers. Logging is still hard and dangerous work.

  6. Such rich, rich history in these poems. I read them and want to know more about the logger/poets.

  7. Who knew there could be such poetry in the logging life? I love the poems and poets you shared with us.

  8. Cherie - hello there! We have only been to your British Columbia once but O, what a grand land it is. Good luck with all your family research endeavors. And this post on cutting wood is a shocker. Since we all use wood & seem to desire more of it unfortunately, I believe, it is a surprise to not have thought of lumbering poetry. Many appreciations for educating me. I especially love the cadence of Doc Wilson's ballad-like piece.

  9. I think the "A COMMON SLAB-LOADER" was being too humble when he wrote,
    " The nerve of the writer I hope you'll excuse,
    With feeble shortcomings and talentless muse."

    He get's right to the heart of what's happening there. Thanks for sharing all Cheriee.

  10. Poetry in surprising places reminds us that poetry lives, and has lived, in every place of human habitation. Thanks for sharing your finds!

  11. Your poems this week remind me that there is poetry in absolutely everything. Such vivd stories and imagery in the logging poems you shared. Thank you.

  12. Such wonderful discoveries, Cheriee. Who knows where your musings will take you next?!

  13. Amazing! Thanks for sharing!