Trade Customers click here
← Back to Book Main Page

Sample Poems by David (Dale) Zieroth, Michael Turner, Howard White and Kate Braid


On the first day of the strike
they drove by honking and giving us
the finger, and we were depressed
until another stranger came by
with doughnuts and coffee and she said
good luck. So we remembered
to be glad that the rain had quit;
yet the cold ran up our legs from the pavement
and bit into us. Our signs flew up in our faces,
the wind rattled at us from the trees,
and we were caught in the news.

After the second day on the line,
we watched ourselves on tv and we heard
Knowlton giving us the finger with his
words and half-words, the way he
smiled and went on to Beirut and
a faraway war. So we read
and by all accounts we were asking for
the overthrow of the government again;
friends called from other provinces:
what did the unions want, and I wanted to say
we were hungry for decency and no more news.

The third day we were out,
we watched them cross -
and we told ourselves right was still right.
But at night, bringing home anger
to our families, and eating it on the table,
an old indigestible piece of the lamb,
we fall into a sleep and a worry: that the
full new fact-of-the-world is turned loose
on us - and we dream late into the night
for a change in the weather, much less
bitter wind.

-Remembrance Day, 1983


There's ten of 'em.
Real young.
All from the canning lines.
They're here 'cause their work's too slow.
They drive the older women crazy.

But I get 'em. working.
Out here's too close.
Ev'ryone knows so and so.
And no one's slow.
Out here we go one speed.

7:59 A.M.

Company man stands on a tote
and thinks he's ten feet tall.
His watch extends long past the dock,
the parking lot, the hotels and motels
we wake up from.

He sees our kitchen tables.
And from our kitchen tables he sees us
flickering, grabbing for underwear,
wincing into clothes all wet with overtime.

As he drinks the coffee we don't have time for
he thinks a lot about our sleep, how we dream
of milts and roe, loose bones,
belly bum, pew holes...

Company man now tippy-toed, taller
as the time grows closer, plants a thought
beneath our heads: company clock's a moment slow.

In his eyes we know we're tardy
but stop to look and light a smoke.
He opens his mouth to bring us down.
The whistle blows, we punch in late.

You can spot a fisherman anywhere.
There is a roll to his walk.
There is a mournful whine in his voice,
sharpened by years of complaining about bad catches.
There's a sadness, a slowness, as if
too deep knowledge of the darkness below life's surfaces
had taken the hurry out of him. A patience
born of waiting - waiting for weather and tide
waiting for the fish to appear.
No one learns more of waiting than the fisherman.

In the fisherman's eye is none of the animal spark
you find in the logger's eyes, no scent
of male animal, twitching tail. Fishing
isn't so dumbly masculine a species of work as logging -
women take well to its slow but intricate rhythm.

The logger is up in the pub bothering the barmaids
and starting fights; the fisherman is down on the dock
sitting on a fish box jawing politics and mending gear.
The logger has a new tinsel shirt he will tell you
how outrageously he paid for, but it will
be on the floor, once used and ruined when he leaves.
The fisherman has on wool and tweeds bagged to his shape
and prefers to drink on the boat among his own.

In the eye of the fisherman is a diffuse deepness
like the cloudy gulf he lets his gear into,
and his mind. The logger's work is fast and dangerous;
he must keep his eyes wide open.

The fisherman works blind, feeling
his familiar but neverknown world
with the sightless, superstitious part of the mind.

The logger is strong, like the land
but the fisherman is stronger

like the sea.


Pouring concrete is just like baking a cake.
The main difference is
that first you build the pans. Call them forms.
Think grand.
Mix the batter with a few simple ingredients:
one shovel of sand
one shovel of gravel
a pinch of cement.

Add water until it looks right.
Depends how you like it.
Can be mixed by hand or with a beater called
a Readi-Mix truck.
Pour into forms and smooth off.
Adjust the heat so it's not too cold,
not too hot. Protect from rain.
Let cook until tomorrow.
Remove the forms and walk on it.

There is one big difference from cakes.
This one will never disappear.
For the rest of your life your kids
will run on the same sidewalk, singing
My mom baked this!