Uniontown Supreme Court: If The Pilings Could Talk

Back in Astoria, Oregon, I befriended Columbia River Gillnetter, Cook Inlet Drifter, FisherPoet and Folklorist TOM HILTON, who shared with me this poem:

 

All that’s left is legend,

Names etched in a

granite Wall

Black and white photos

Folk Lores For sale

In the maritime museum

store

 

Boats of wood

Hands of Steel

Hearts of gold

 

All races

Colors

Creeds

A man was valued

By his word

Firm handshake

His deeds

 

White aproned Super-

models

Grinning from ear to ear

Days measured by

seasons

Not years

 

Tattered edges

Faded Yellow Brown

Ripped

Torn

Memories of the glory

days

When gillnetting was

born

 

Dilapidated docks

Rotten pilings

Broken tops beneath

our tidal view

Skeleton bones

Partially Submerged

Floating Homes

 

Lonely Net racks

Empty Bluestone tanks

Broken windows

Moldy musty dusty

dank

 

Wooden corks,

Lead lines,

Linen nets

Stripped clean of all

their glory

 

No more Mug up,

Coffee Time

Just Empty Chairs

waiting for stories

 

Court is no longer in

session

 

Yesterday’s myths

See thru faded

Transparent

Not bitter

Jaded

 

Today’s Mono-filament

Tangle Nets

Jesus Box

Deadliest catch drama

Overstated

Overrated

Prima Donnas

 

If those pilings could

talk

What tales would they

weave? Would they be

fortuitous of sport

fisherman’s greed?

 

Countless stories

Work is our Joy

Fortunes made

Love

Families

Togetherness

Life

Salmon

Laughter

Heartbreak

Lost

 

Of Butterflies

And Bowpickers

Double-enders

Power scows

Cash buyers

And Tenders

Four bits a pound

 

Clifton

Brookefield

Altoona

Alderbrooke

Uppertown

Uniontown

Celilo

 

Where did they all go?

 

Salmon Culture

A menagerie of people

A colorful past

Romanticized

Plagiarized

Eulogized

By people like me

 

Fishing is more than

Tradition

Governor

It’s a Religious

Ceremony

 

Ebbing current

Tides shift

Surge of change

Pulling our nets

Taking us under

These words bury my

pain

 

Black and white photos

Names etched on a

granite wall

Let’s not forget them

The true legends of fall!

 

This mighty river

What It was back then

Full of Salmon Sturgeon

Seiners, Trollers,

Gillnetters

Cannery women

Stomper

Astoria’s Fighting

Fishermen

 

The Story is over…

All the Legends have

died

Our Eyes welled with

wet

Politicians lied

Last of my tears shed

Cried

 

So if pilings could talk

 

Ask one how it was

back then…

 

It will probably tell you

Those days are gone

forever

Kid

 

With the stroke of a pen…

 

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Photo by Mitch Eckhardt

Copyright Tom Hilton and FisherPoets Anthology. Illusions of Separateness. “Uniontown Supreme Court: If The Pilings Could Talk” was written to pay respect for the men who fished and the women who worked the Columbia River.  Audio recording and video of the old cannery at Clifton, Oregon by Neal Moore.

2 thoughts on “Uniontown Supreme Court: If The Pilings Could Talk

  1. Kevin scales

    I fished with a friend of mine out of the mayger station Ron Cox in the 80 being on the river was a great adventure listening to the old timers was interesting stories of what fishing was like before the dams and the restrictions fisherman could live off the river now ts a hobby

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