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Oneriver
2003-10-24, 11:48
The Yukon River written by Dan Dulitz and Skip Black Summer 02 in the Yukon Territory…I swear every word is true, skip Black

The Yukon River

The trip was planned a y’r ago, for Skipper it was five
To float the mighty Yukon and make it back alive
So we will be recordin’, in Robert Service style
The prose that sure will come to us each moment and each mile
We ain’t to good at rhymin’, beat poets don’t do that
But Robert Services our man, to him we tip our hat

We launched our craft on July 4th, Yank’s freedom from the Brits
But this is Northern Canada and they don’t give a shit
With load above the gunnels, the freeboard it was nigh
Along the spruce lined bank we drifted, below a darkened sky
Soon the rain was falling; eagles guided our way
So what the hell, we’ve got a month, we’ll do eight miles to day
Dan pitched a tent; Skip brewed a pot; we drank two cups of grape
Crawled into our fartsacks, and soon we weren’t awake
The rain it fell; a beaver slapped the water near the shore
Skip was there beside me, that cheechako sure can snore
We dreamt of Diamond-tooth-Gerdie”s in Dawson far away
Of faro games and whisky, but that another day

Two mornin’cups of coffee; fried taters and some eggs
Then fish along the shoreline; walk the kinks outa my legs
Down the gray-green river, our canoe was listing left
The mountain vistas up ahead took away out breath
A beaver-no a muskrat-on the shore as we glided by
Eagles high at every bend and ravens with their cry
On the island where we camped, moose and bear tracks deep
The midnight sun behind the clouds, another night we sleep

One more lazy driftin’ day Labarge’s upper shore
Is where we spent another night and pondered Klondike lore
Here amongst the spruce and poplar, dogwood and wild rose
Mosquitoes, gnats, and blackflies brought the evenin’to a close

Now ‘eres a tale to tell you and I know it sounds absurd
But it actually did happen’ I swear it is the word
‘cause poets cannot lie; they see the truth and write it down
There’s no sense in writin’ falsehoods when the truth is all around
We were out upon ol’ Lake Labarge trollin’ for northern pike
Dozin’ in the sunshine and then, wham!, the line went tight

The fish soon hit the surface, and we got a look at it
From its nose to its tail it three feet long, no shit
That pike towed us ‘round the lake till both of us were tired
Slowly then, I reeled him in; I thought I had it wired
That pike was right up ‘side the boat, blood oozin’ from his gill
My arms were really achin’, but the fight was quite a thrill
Then six foot long piranha grabbed the pike by his chin
And before we knew what happened, the fight was on again
Piranha here grow large and mean, the Yukon is their home
In seconds they can down a moose, and clean it to the bone
Now we’re back off to the races, and we just can’t take much more
That piranha had our pike in tow, and was headed towards the shore
But what that piranha did not see was waitin’ on the right
A river caiman twelve feet long, with a Yukon appetite
He grabbed that big piranha; gave us quite a jar
Toughest fight we’ve ever had; on land or sea by far
Then we thought about what that caiman might eat, or worse , what might eat him
To exit seemed like a bright thing to do; to stay seemed mighty dim
So we cut the line and double-timed to the shore across the bay
And thanked the gods that we would live to see another day
To feast on roasted caiman tail and broiled pike fillet

In the winter of 1903
A prospector froze, named Sam McGee
The very same year, a steamship so large
Named the Olive May froze –up on Lake Labarge
They cremated Samuel in Olive’s hot hole
And shitcanned his ashes and scattered this soul
Way south of Whitehorse and clear up to Nome
Ol’ Sam was made famous by Service’s poem
And Skip and I sit on this warm gravel beach
Speaking of nothing, the silence of speech
Know it, enjoy it, and never ask why
A diamond filled lake fed by sun filled sky

The Canuck down at Whitehorse warned us of Labarge
He told us when the wind comes up, that nature is in charge
A month ago she took the lives of two oblivious Danes
They paid their dues and took a chance; the reaper gave on change
Today we sat upon the bank and watched a so’west gale
We saw two ‘noes in trouble; Skip raised a flag to hail
But north they went; we watch them try to make it clear across
We tracked then through the binocs; we thought one boat was lost
The second ‘noe limped out of sight; some good luck they could borrow
A cold wet grave or warm camp fire; we’ll know their fate tomorrow
Artic terns are hunting as the clouds dance in the sky

The Terns, the clouds, nor Lake Labarge could care less if we did(We passed the spot this morning; they’re not there, dead or alive
The way we got it figured, all must ‘ave survived)

I hate these sing-song rhymin’ poems, there’s nothin’ could be worse
But Robert Service made a fortune peddlin’ this verse
So we could go on rhymin’ into word of harmony
And wrestle with those suffixes, put ‘em where they shouldn’t be
The bleached bones of the steamships and the ghosts of miner’s dreams
Sounds of lupine, cottonwood and further more it seems
That the crimson of the fireweed amid the blackened spruce
Rhymes with loons upon the lake, and glodeneye and moose
Robert Service wrote down what he heard and made it real
Us, we’ll just be poets and write down what we feel
We fished for artic grayling and we panned for Klondike gold
But our rhymin’ days are over; Mr. Service step aside
We’re here because we are and we’re on a wild ride
So Skipper in your darkest hour, when you know there is no more
Put on the ol’ cross country skies and ski to that untouched shore
For me there’ll be no ending, I’ll never cease to be
But certainly, what I’ll be will certainly not be me
Richard Brautigan said it and he said it with much class
When he ended one of his poems with the question: “how’s your ass”?