Poetry Friday August 30th, 2019

Poetry Friday is hosted today by children's author & poet, Kathryn Apel at The Kat’s Whiskers. She shares two Aussie verse novels and has an exciting announcement about her new picture book. When you are done admiring all that, make sure to check out the links to other participants sharing poetry today.

I'm travelling on Friday but will be sure to connect up with all your posts as soon as I am connected to the internet again! I'll be away camping next week so I'm not sure if I will be able to connect up with you next week.

In 1958, I was five when my family joined other relatives on a logging and homesteading adventure into the Pine River region of Northern British Columbia.

I'm committed to sharing a bit every week so that I don't give up. I appreciate feedback on the construction of the poetry and ideas and questions about what information might be missing.
I have one or two poems left in this part of the story. 

Miserable Physics

early December

headlights cut through
the afternoon darkness
of another winter storm

a truck fishtailed on the ice

before sliding into the snowed lot
beside our cabin

Uncle Wilf, 

who worked with Daddy,
emerged from the vehicle,
his face unusually somber

us kids were happy to see him

but as he entered

Mommy froze

went quiet

just looked at him

eyes wide open

lips already forming

the word



his voice cracked,
I'm so sorry

she collapsed

into his arms

her voice

an anguished
of denial

no, no, no,

not my Donny

uncle held her

as she wept

sitting at the table

he revealed details

a tree

a snag
back broken
internal injuries

Don would be on his way

air ambulance to Vancouver
next morning

didn't know how bad it was

didn't know if he would make it

more didn't need to be said

hanging between them

was the god awful truth of
Uncle Len, Wilf’s twin,
who, having met the same fate
a few years earlier,
was now confined
to a wheelchair

both knew it was

the best to be expected

on that day

those twin demons,
fear and grief
took possession of our home
and our lives

standing there watching it unravel,

I understood only that
something had happened to
my Daddy
knew nothing about what it meant

only that it was real bad

Today's poem has been the most challenging to write. So many buried emotions have come roiling to the surface. I feel like I don't do the event justice. In the process of writing I spoke to my siblings about how they imagined our mother would react. I've come to realize that I alone have memories of who my parents were in those days before my father's accident. This has helped me make more sense of the direction my relationship with my mother veered into later on. 

My brother thinks I should have named this one Widowmaker, but I thought it might give too much away. What do you think?

Here are links to previous poems in this collection.






Ready and Willing 



Diaper Duty

Skunk Trouble




Bath Time


Time For Fun
First Snow


  1. Oh for sure this would be a tough poem for you to write.

    Coming at it objectively with some thoughts (that you can ponder and reject and I won't be offended)...

    I was thinking that Don was your dad. And that was later confirmed. I just wonder if the better point for that to be revealed might be during or before this stanza - and if during, I'm thinking at the Don part.

    Don -
    my daddy -
    would be on his way
    air ambulance to Vancouver
    next morning

    I don't know - but I just felt that at that point, the child would be reacting for herself. No longer Don - but daddy. I actually wonder if you have two poems here. Because the other thing that I thought was holding things up was Uncle Len in a wheel chair. I know that's important, but could that be either the next (or a later?) poem? Make this poem all about the child witness mum's reaction - and experience her own reaction.

    You ask about 'Widowmaker'... Until I read that comment, I didn't KNOW that that was the outcome. I think save it. You want to let the story unfold, and that pre-empts it.

    Hope that helps. Just some thoughts for you to ponder, and shape into your own story.

    1. Thank you so much for this Kat. I wasn't close to being satisfied with this and really appreciate your advice. I have started rewriting it and chunked it into at least three separate smaller poems. My mother had to make a decision about whether or not she wanted to see my father before he was air lifted out. I think I can figure out how to bring that into it by doing this.

  2. Heartbreaking to read, Cheriee, & I agree with Kat, 'Widowmaker" tells too much as a title. I like 'Miserable Physics", intriguing. I wonder if as you tell the story, it might be in present tense instead of past? You start with present as in "cut through" but then it changes. It feels to me like the rest could be in present tense, more immediate. "a truck fishtails", and on. Sorry to read this, see that it must have been so hard to write.

    1. The more I learn about logging, the more I understand how much physics is involved in the process of getting the logs to the mill. Getting a tree to fall just where you want it to is all dependent on the loggers intuitive sense of physics. Then there is more physics involved in bucking the tree and on and on.
      I appreciate your advice about putting it into present tense. I've reworked much of this already taking yours and Kat's advice and it feels better already.

  3. I agree with the other comments and completely understand why this would be difficult to write. I found your blog via the Poetry Friday round-up, so haven't read other posts. Is this to be part of a novel in verse or a collection of some sort. Very powerful.
    I love the title "Miserable Physics." It's what drew me to this post from among the many in today's link up.
    Since you've already revised, I don't know if this comment will help, but at first I was confused--I thought Uncle Wilf was somber because of fishtailing the truck and I thought Don was hurt in the truck.
    Also, if this is part of a novel in verse, I wonder if it might actually help the reader to already know about Uncle Len earlier because the child narrator does. It could foreshadow the event, and the reader might anticipate or at least empathize more with the narrator's fear of her father possibly having the same fate. Just a thought.
    The best to you and your project!

    1. Thanks Carmela. This is part of a collection of a memoir in verse. Uncle Len is mentioned in an earlier poem about the dangers of logging. I've been writing these in no particular order and expect to rewrite the whole thing and organize it next.

  4. Cheriee, I have to say that this is a powerful poem with intense emotion emanating. I think the title Widow Maker is a give away but maybe you can rethink the title you have. I do like starting with Miserable but wasn't sure about the word physics. I agree with Kat that I was confused when the name Don came up but I really like this piece of writing. Just a few thoughts.

    1. Thanks Carol. I think I am going to have to write something about how integral a knowledge of physics is to logging. From my reading it's there intuitively, even if it's not acknowledged. And of course, even when everything is done right, an unseen snag of some kind can wreck havoc.

  5. This is so very powerful, Cheriee. Whatever revisions you decide on, keep the heart of it! I had some similar feelings as mentioned in above comments, particularly Linda B's suggestion about tense. (I'd re-read and thought, well, "cut" could be past tense, too, but I do wonder if it would be even stronger in present tense.) Thank you for sharing such a hard, harrowing memory - there's a lot of life in these lines. (And, agreed re. title - as it is, you keep the reader guessing, which is good at this point.)

    1. Thanks Robyn. I'm glad the title works for you. I sure never expected writing this would be as emotionally intense as it has been.

  6. Yes, this would be a poem to work up to. This one is a toughy. But, it is powerful and shows the raw emotion parallel to a child's ability to know and not know what's going on. It's really well done. I'm not sure this title is working for this poem as well as it could. There is the idea of duality in it -- related to the twins, brothers, incidents, demons....I wonder if the idea of duality or twin demons could serve up this poem. I think Widow Maker gives a bit too much away from the get go.

    1. Thanks Linda, I have hoped that by reliving all this I could show how traumatic it was. What also made it challenging was trying to put myself into my mother's head. At least I have come to appreciate her more as a result!

  7. Oh, Cheriee, this is such a powerful poem. I second Robyn's thought to keep its heart as you work on it. I like the title. I've seen my husband fell a few trees - and am in awe of those who can drop one exactly where it needs to go. It is an impressive feat of physics.

    1. Thank's Kay. I think the title works well if you understand that importance.

  8. I do think Widowmaker would give too much away. This is so well written with such a strong voice. I felt your mother's agony when I read it. It's really good, Cheriee.

    1. Thanks Kimberly. I appreciate your words and the inspiration to go on.

  9. This is a powerful poem, for sure. I can identify so well because a similar accident happened to my uncle in the Maine woods. With that background, I had no problem understanding that the accident you relate was fatal. I love that you double space the poem as you show your mom's reaction. It slows down the action, puts the moment in slow motion. I feel that Uncle Wilf's simple statement of "Evy,I'm sorry " and her reaction as portrayed is just the way it would have been. Blessings as you record these memories!

    1. Thanks Joyce. I think a lot of this makes more sense if you have any kind of background knowledge. My challenge I think is to ensure that I build that in.

  10. I have no doubt writing this one put you through the wringer, Cheriee. :( It gave me chills. While I agree with others about Widowmaker giving too much away, I'm not sure your current title works if you don't make any reference to the physics involved (the details of what actually happened) in your poem. We know what happened was something awful, but the "physics" will be lost on some readers.

  11. Oh, Cheriee, this has got to be gut-wrenching to write. I'm a little behind here, so I'm on my way into the future now to read the next part....