Poetry Friday June 14, 2019

This week's Poetry Friday roundup is hosted by Laura Shovan, author of Takedown and The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary. Check out the poems written by grade three students she's been working with, and find links to other participants sharing poetry today.

I am continuing to work 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've been reading so much about forestry history it's made my head spin. Trying to interpret it through the lens of those relatives who lived through it is even wilder. The following is my first poem about what was going on in the bush in those times. It's been fascinating reading about gyppo loggers and mills. Family members who are alive and remember, denigrate these kinds of outfits. They differentiated between gyppo outfits and honest small operators, of which they considered themselves members. Over time, many small operations took on the label gyppo as a mark of honour. I suspect they wouldn't want to be associated with the businesses my uncles disdain. 


Stalwart and hearty
they might have been
but they met their match
in that country
in those times

Tricked by
empty promises
empty opportunity,

Costly equipment,
one ton truck
D9 caterpillar
sat idle
no contact to be had.

Uncle Wilf at Stuart Lake
was foreman of a company outfit.
Daddy set off to work with him.
Lived in camp during the week,
leaving my mother home alone
with four children
and a newborn.

Came home on the weekends
visited, cut wood, and puttered,
before heading off again.

Bill, Howard and Lee
found work
at a skinflint
lumber mill,
a step above
a gyppo outfit.

Most independent loggers
and small portable mills
offered proper pay for a day’s work.

Then there were the gyppo outfits,
undercutting honest crews,
strike breakers,
ne’er do wells,
running shady shops.

The worst of them
set up in one place on Monday,
hired workers,
ran up a bunch of bills
at the local store.
Come Friday they would
deliver their product,
collect what was owing,
and slink away into the night
opening up next Monday
in a new place
under a new name.

Here are links to previous Pine Valley poems. 

Ready and Willing

Diaper Duty

Skunk Trouble

1 comment:

  1. Cherie, you continue to fascinate
    Me with your story. I always was intrigued with the topic of forestry. Syracuse Iniversity was locates in the city where I grew up and forestry was one of its courses if study but I never met anyone who majored in it.