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
Ready and Willing