Poetry Friday June 28, 2019

This week's Poetry Friday roundup is hosted by Buffy Silverman, author of numerous nonfiction titles for children. She's reviewing a charming nonfiction picture book, written in verse, about a baby crane. Have a gander (sorry, I couldn't help it) and then enjoy her poem giving advice to a young check. Make sure to check out the links to other participants sharing poetry today.

I'm still working on poems from around 1958 when my family joined other relatives on an adventure into the Pine Valley region in Northern British Columbia.  

In today's poem I'm trying to distill a decade or so of history into a few lines. Huge changes were made in how forests were managed. These macro interventions had profound consequences for individuals working in the bush. 


They didn't know it, but
they were caught up
in the middle of a war.

A corrupt forestry minister
set trouble in motion.
Paid off by
multinational corporations 
he gave away management of 
vast expanses of forested land.

Landed in the lockup, 
destroyed a collaborative,
gentlemanly approach of
sharing the wealth
of the forest.

Ended up pitting

small time
bush mill and
planer operations


large companies and
international enterprises.

A new regime tried to revise it,
auctioned off concessions


the damage had been done

large outfits had more money
more resources

less conscience

left the smaller ones
little but bones to pick.

Another mend was attempted.

Contracts were awarded
based on a quota method.
Quota was the average
of wood cut and processed
in the previous three years.

Being new to the area,
they had no quota.

Couldn’t afford to purchase one.

The day they repossessed
the one ton truck,
was the only time
anyone remembers
Uncle Walter swearing.

Here are links to previous Pine Valley poems. 

Ready and Willing
Diaper Duty
Skunk Trouble 


  1. This is such an interesting project...and so wonderful for you to find the stories that shaped your family. Your final stanza packs an emotional punch in just a few words.

    1. Thanks Buffy. I've been carrying it around with me, trying to figure out how to best use it.

  2. You've captured so much here about the history of the times, but also, with your ending, about the profound impact on a more individual level. Fascinating!

    1. Thanks Molly. I'm enjoying learning all this history.

  3. Well done. The history of a decade to distill is so hard! I've had situations like that in my writing. There's so much to tell. But, your last line really does the trick. All that business stuff down to uncle Walter's reaction. I agree with Molly, profound is a good word. I love learning about the industry and your family at the same time.

    1. Thanks Linda. I'm not sure where I'm going with it all, but at least I will have a record for younger family members.

  4. You've nailed that last stanza. It's an unexpected twist that makes the drama personal in an instant. (Love the photo, too!)

    1. Thanks Kat. Those macro interventions have major consequences in the lives of ordinary people.

  5. This brought tears to my eyes. Very powerful!

  6. Your poem saga sounds like an event that could happen or is happening today. And I'd agree with all ahead of me, your last stanza is powerful and brings everything home.

    1. As I read more I am appalled that it all feels too familiar. I couldn't figure out how to fit it in, but prior to the takeover of the forest by multinational corporations, forests were select logged. Clearcutting is how big money manages the land.

  7. So good. I'm really enjoying your project!

  8. As I was reading this chapter in verse, I was struck by the magnitude of the information that you digested and distilled for us, Cheriee. I continue to find your story fascinating.

    1. Thanks Carol. It has not been easy, but with all the research I've been reading, I've also come to understand and appreciate the lives of my grandparents and these uncles and aunts more fully.

  9. The ending is so poignant. It puts a relatable human face on the careless (or, maybe, care-only-for-my-own-wealth-and-profits) attitudes of the big corporations. Sadly, this feels very current...

    1. I too was struck by the similarities Mary Lee.

  10. This has been a fascinating history to read. Thank you for sharing it with us. Those younger members of your family are lucky to have a record of their history--and one beautifully written. Today's installment is heart-wrenching, and all-too-current still today.

  11. Cheriee, I love this history that you've shared with us through poems. The images you've created with your words have brought your family's journey into the present. Very powerful and so interesting.