January 21, 2018

Crossing the Great Poetic Divide

(Crossing the Great Poetic Divide is an excerpt stolen from one of my forthcoming books entitled “The Storyteller and the Poet” slated to be available in the coming months on Amazon Kindle Books.)

It’s only fitting that I make an opening comment or two as regards the words of today’s stolen post.

For these words to make sense you need to know that I’ve also been a writer of poetry for over 40 years of my life who began his early scratchings in a time and place of great magic and mystery – during the still rough and ready decade of the early ’70’s in the Yukon Territory of northern Canada.

Way back in that Stone Age of 1972 when these events you’ll be reading about were unfolding I was still a  reluctant poet, only yet learning to express my life in the cadences of the rhyming poetic words that would change my life and eventually lead to the telling of my stories about it, like I’m doing here today.

Although having been captured by the Yukon’s heart-song vibrations and its promising mystery the instant I crossed the border into its territory the year before, I hadn’t yet managed to quite cross the Great Poetic Divide of my budding craft that would commit me heart and soul to its expression.

This story begins at a moment in time when I had just finished writing a roughly crafted poem, in which I’d clearly indicated the leanings of my heart towards this great Land I had chosen to come to…

“Reading back what I’ve written while in the blaze of this particular inspiration, it’s pretty obvious even to my reluctant poet’s spirit that I’ve given not only clear intent, but also signaled my complete willingness to do whatever it takes to find harmony with this Land that’s called me to it’s heart.

It’s over the remaining months of the year that my first confirmation of the Land’s acceptance of my written intent to find that harmony begins to shed its fruit, because I’ve made the effort of trying to earn my spurs with it by spending time out on that Land to learn its ways.

One of the most profound connections made in terms of my future writings, established in my earliest days in the Territory, is that of forming a close friendship with a local Professional Mining Engineer who by his actions unknowingly opens the doors of my creativity. He’s involved in resurrecting an old fly-in placer gold field which had been discovered and successfully worked before the infamous Klondike Gold Rush of 1898. He invites me to come spend some time on the creeks with him and get to know the country. I jump at the chance because my heart is telling me there’s more than just his stated reason that I need to get me out there into the bush.

It’s during this bush time that I earn those spurs I mentioned; in those months of first wandering the lofty and soaring ridges, the deep and dark pine forests, the dim and winding game trails, the thick willow buck brush or devil’s claw patches, or fording a hundred icy streams in bare feet that the magic of the Land starts coming home to roost in a heart swelling with its new experiences and insights.

I’m in the process of learning one of the Land’s most vitally important lessons; that it lives and breathes its own eternal rhythms within itself, and that the person who wants to live within it has to first understand and respect that lesson before being able to come into harmony with it themselves.

The single most crucial experience on the Land which drives this lesson home to me happens on an exposed and grassy ridge I stop to rest on one day while out exploring again. I’m sprawled flat on my back enjoying the breezes of a sunny afternoon when a sense of something compels me to sit up and look around. At first I see nothing beyond what stands around me, until both my eye and heart’s attention are drawn to a six-inch pine tree living on its own atop the ridge.

I feel drawn by a strong compulsion to stand and walk to this single lonely tree, and upon arriving to wrap both hands around its trunk and gently close my eyes. I obey this impulse, and in the doing so am given a gift which I’m still to this day utterly convinced the Land has decided to share with me because of my openness of spirit towards it.

My hands wrapped around the tree trunk are first to feel the tingle, before both arms and then my entire body start to feel it and vibrate down to my toes with a power which gently rocks me side to side while keeping my feet firmly fixed to the earth itself. I realize suddenly that what I’m being gifted with is a sharing of the flow of life force within the tree itself – that the soft lullaby of living energy flowing through both of us is completing a circuit of connection meant to teach me that all living things on the Land are bound together by this same rhythmical force of life.

The gentleness and power of this teaching pours through me for long and blissful minutes as I remain rooted in place; feeling for the first time the potency of those rhythms of the Land itself embracing all aspects of my body, mind and spirit in an encompassing spiral of insight and understanding, laced with a depth of gratitude I don’t even know I’m capable of until the moment of its flaring within me. The Land has spoken and I’ve listened and understood its message of living rhythm that binds and makes us all one.

In the weeks and months that follow I’m no longer able to contain myself as images of my rich and varied experiences on the Land reach out to sear my soul with a passion for expression that won’t accept boundaries or limitations. The poet in me is breaking loose, and even my former reluctances can’t stop the force of its unleashing.

There’s also a certain poetic justice at work here which the benefit of twenty-twenty hindsight later exposes to the light of day – and that’s the outright craftiness of my Muse in first directing the passion of my writing desires toward this Land I’d come to love. He knew I wouldn’t be able to refuse it. He also knew he’d be able to use it as a stepping stone to drag me into other crucial parts of my life stream that needed some writing attention of their own down the road.

Turns out he was right about that too…”

Your response to Jimmy’s story about Crossing the Great Poetic Divide is both requested and welcomed. Please use the comment form below to share your thoughts with me.

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