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Rimes of an Ancient Ski Teacher - Heinsian Skiboy Poetry by Gary Heinz - HTML preview

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my old English Professors

at Montana State University


Ski-boys & Ski-girls



Special Thanks

to the earlier "frontier justice"

Jackson Hole Ski School



You've heard of cowboy poetry, written by everybody and their dog who's supposedly a real working cowboy; well, there's one poet parallel who makes his living horse-back during the summer, ski-back during the winter, 'packing snow for summer irrigation.' This man has created the first-n-only brand of ski-boy poetry . . . to enthuse the thousands of well-educated skiers he skis with, to divert their attention, and to show them how a working ski-boy's life really is on the winter range. Few English professors make expert skiers, and few expert skiers appreciate classic poetry: . . . let's bridge the gap between the intellectual and the physical--

why not take the classics of Poe, Frost, Service, Coleridge, and more, and rewrite them for skiers? One good poem deserves another--in this collection:

Rossignol Ski

The Craven

Powder and Ice

A Chair Ride Before Christmas

The Turn Not Taken

The Cremation of Pamela McGee

How Do I Ski Thee?

A Turn Beneath a Turn


The Rime of the Ancient Schi Lehrer

Skiing is poetry in powder--get some rhythmic versed tracks light-n-dry with seasoned ski instructor GARY HEINS, our first-n-only maverick ski-boy poet parallel, straight from the Heins-Quarters of the SWINGIN' G WINTER RANGE. Finally, some steep-n-deep poetry, . . . poetry you can plant your face in.



"For all we ever earn or just yearn. . . is but a turn . . . beneath a turn."


















Published by:


PO Box 784

Saint Johns, Arizona 85936

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without written permission from the author, except for the inclusion of brief quotations in critical reviews.

Copyright © 1979-95 Gary Lee Heins LCCN
















Good ski-boy poetry can be dangerous stuff, as it tends to be far more physical, mental, . . . and emotional . . . than other kinds of poetry. It can be more dangerous than a dad watching and cheer-ing his son at a wrestling meet. You might want to do some warm-up stretching exercises before reading some of these poems. The author and publisher cannot be held responsible for injuries suffered, by a reader . . . or from a reader, . . .

whether physical, mental, or emotional, while reading these poems.


"All Writes Reversed."






Introduction--What is Ski-boy Poetry? . . . . . . . .11

Rossignol Ski . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15

The Craven . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .21

Powder & Ice . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27

A Chair Ride Before Christmas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31

The Turn Not Taken . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .37

The Cremation of Pamela McGee . . . . . . . . . . . . 41

How Do I Ski Thee? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .49

A Turn Beneath a Turn . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53

The Rime of the Ancient Schi Lehrer . . . . . . . . . 57


10 -- Heinsian SKI-BOY POETRY

What Is Ski-boy Poetry? -- 11

What Is

Ski-boy Poetry?

And who is this man who writes it?--

Gary Heins is a diverse character, who lives in the Rocky Mountain West, wrangling horses in the summer, teaching skiers in the winter. As a working ski-boy, he herds skiers to the snow the same way ranchers have to manage their grass--

"Water can get real scarce in the summer months out west," Heins says, "so we work real hard all winter long packing the snow to see if we can't get it to last a little longer for summer irrigation and watering of the stock." Finding skiing and riding to be very much like each other both biomechani-cally and psychologically, he uses his firm and gentle horsemanship skills not only to keep in harmony with his skis, but also to help others find balance on their own. Part of Heins's mission in spreading the good turns means waxing philoso-phic . . . and creating ski-boy poetry, to enthuse the thousands of well-educated skiers he skis with, to divert their attention the same way you would a broncy colt's, and ultimately to show

12 -- Heinsian SKI-BOY POETRY

them how a working ski-boy's life really is on the Swingin' G Winter Range.

While everybody and their dog is still just writing cowboy poetry, Heins re-does for skiers the old, practically worn-out classics of Poe, Frost, Service, Coleridge, and more. And re-writing these classics, usually in true parody form, is not as easy as getting first tracks in virgin powder; it is more like being the second ski-boy on a powder-eights team in fierce wind-pack. Much more busy writing his Heinsian how-to manuals on Downhill

Skiing, Western Riding, and Western Swing

dancing, he averaged less than one poem per year in writing for this collection. "I wanted real bad to do a Keats poem, 'Ode On a Grecian Turn,' but, after a few years, 'Skiing is truth, truth skiing' was about as far as I got," says Heins. "I always had trouble understanding poetry as an English Lit major at college; rewriting the stuff helps me better understand the originals--and maybe I can help a few more sedentary English professors understand downhill skiing. . . . Hey, wasn't it Edgar Allan Poe who said 'One good poem deserves another'?"

The more you know about downhill skiing, the more you may understand and appreciate Heins-

ian SKI-BOY POETRY, which may have started out as a teaching ploy: during a ski lesson, there may be some down time, times when a true teacher may not want to expound more nuts-n-bolts information--a student taking a turn for the

What Is Ski-boy Poetry? -- 13

verse, the class waiting for someone picking up debris, a power-outage on the chair-lift--the per-fect excuse for a teacher to entertain with say some ski-boy poetry that will enthuse, divert, and show.

Beyond that, it was always a big hit at raucous ski-school parties; but now it is available to all who wish to read or hear it--this collection is long overdue. --One time, before many knew this stuff even existed, Gary thought he would recite some at a regular cowboy poetry gathering in the Mil-lion Dollar Cowboy Bar--after all, it was Jackson Hole, Wyoming, premier ski-town, USA: when he got almost zero applause for reciting "The Craven," his then-most-requested poem, he just smiled, "Now I know how Elvis felt when he made his first appearance on the Grand Ole Opry." . . .

While there have been several poets laureate in our literary history, as well as "poets lariat," Gary Heins is thee first-n-only . . . "poet parallel"; he's the original light-n-dry ski-boy poet, writing thousands of vertical feet of steep-n-deep and rhythmic poetry--poetry you can really plant your face in.

--Jane Dantz

14 -- Heinsian SKI-BOY POETRY

Rossignol Ski -- 15

A parody of Edgar Allan Poe's "Annabel Lee,"

"Rossignol Ski" is Heins's first poem, conceived in Red Lodge Montana, in 1979, his first year teaching skiing, when he was up late "once upon a mid-night dreary" trying to rewrite "The Raven" and got stuck. Appropriately first, it simply describes his love for the sport; and, although he realizes it's not his best poem, it got him started and ensured he would write the rest that follow. (Heins was skiing on K2 skis at the time, and currently he uses Harts; but it gives him an excuse to frequent the cozy low-lit ambience of the ski-lodge bar in the evenings.) Rossignol Ski

It was many and many a snow ago,

In a ski shop by the steep,

That a long board there lived

whom you may know

By the name of

Rossignol Ski;

16 -- Heinsian SKI-BOY POETRY

And this long board--she lived

with no other thought

Than to ski

and be skied by me.

She was a child, and I was a child,

In this ski shop

by the steep;

But we loved a love that was more than love

--I and my Rossignol Ski--

With a love that the wing-ed seraphs of Heaven Coveted her

and me.

And this was the reason that, long ago, Above the ski shop,

on the steep,

A rock came out of the slope by white, Gouging my Rossignol Ski;

So that some high-born businessman came And bore her away from me,

To nail her up

in a ski-lodge bar

Near the ski shop

by the steep.

The Angels,

not half so happy in Heaven,

When envying her and me:

Rossignol Ski -- 17

--Yes! that was the reason

(as all men know

In this ski shop

by the steep)

That the rock came out of the slope, gouging and breaking

And killing!

my Rossignol Ski.

But our love--

it was stronger by far

than the love

Of those who were older than we,

Of many far slower than we,--

And neither the Angles in Heaven above Nor the demons down under the steep

Can ever dissever

my sole from the soul

Of the Beautiful

Rossignol Ski:--

For the snow never seems to cease

bringing me dreams

Of the Beautiful Rossignol Ski;

And I show such sad eyes since

the tips will not rise

On my Beautiful

Rossignol Ski;

And so, all the night-slide,

18 -- Heinsian SKI-BOY POETRY

I sit down

by the side

Of my Darling, my Darling,

my Life, and my Ride,

In our Ski-Lodge Bar

here by the steep--

Where I weep . . .

by the side of the steep.


Rossignol Ski -- 19

20 -- Heinsian SKI-BOY POETRY

The Craven -- 21

Heins had wanted to rewrite "The Raven" for over two years now when he finally suffered a badly broken upper-arm in late 1981 just before Christmas. It was a real eggbeater ski accident at Bridger Bowl between teaching college students.

One of his English professors in Bozeman right then commented, "I told you skiing is dangerous, Heins--that's why I don't ski"; Heins immediately looked up the word "coward" in his thesaurus and found his answer to rewriting this classic. And, being laid-up over the holidays, he had the much needed-time to write--he tells of this one poem taking over forty hours.

The Craven

Once above a steep run scary,

while I readied, strong and cheery,

Over many a light-n-luscious

vol-yume of fro-zen va-por--

While I nodded, nearly lunging,

suddenly I heard a crying,

As of some fool craven crowing

crowing from the valley floor.

22 -- Heinsian SKI-BOY POETRY

"'Tis some craven," I muttered,

"cringing on the valley floor--

Only this and

nothing more."

Deeep into the powder plunging,

fast I skied, decambering, turning,

Whooping, having dreams no craven

ever dared to dream before;

But, as I floated, brightly beaming, suddenly I felt a feeling,

As of something rudely grabbing,

grabbing from 'neath plush pow-dor.

"Is some snow-snake," I wondered,

"making my binding un-secure?"

Then methought

"But why for?"

Presently my boot grew lighter;

hesitating then no longer,

"Ski," said I, "or, Binding (truly your forgiveness I implore;

But), the fact is I am skiing,

and so faintly I felt a pre-releasing As of snow-snakes rudely gripping

ripping you Binding un-secure,

And I am scarce sure I feel you"

--here came fast

the flat packed floor;

The Craven -- 23

--Haardness here and

nothing more.

Startled by my lungs not breathing,

low I laid here writhing, squirming, Cursing, screaming screams no brave one ever cared to scream before. . . .

Then, finding my upper-arm broken

(surely this was no good token),

I noticed coming the valley spokesman, who spoke the words: "You ski--what for?"

This he uttered; and, as no craven,

I echoed back "'What for?'!

Skieth a brave one


. . . Now with hos-pi-tall nurse tending and arm bone beside me mending,

To me came a-nother craven,

who called himself

thee Doc Tor.

"Surely," said he, "surely this is all it takes to teach you lesson;

Surely, after this unfortunate

accident on valley floor,

You won't be planning

with such a score,

to be going

back up for more--

24 -- Heinsian SKI-BOY POETRY

Beeth a brave one


Humored by my humerus broken,

so the Doc had illy spoken.

The rage by now within me ragin',

I felt I should set straight Doc Tor:

"When I was on the hard floor writhing (because of my pre-released binding), I had come not close to dying,

only being on valley floor;

It's not as though I'll ski no more--

in just weeks,

I'll be off the floor,

Skiing as a brave one,

ah, once more.

Just one moment

--there is more:

"When I am on a steep face skiing, both my soles under me turning,

All my soul inside me singing--

I see you down on valley floor

Not knowing a-tall the feeling

of what it's like to be free skiing--

A Craven Croaking

'He skis--what for?'

--i-tis because I am no bore!

The Craven -- 25

Now take thy fear from out thy heart!

and get thy butt up off the floor!--

Beeth a Craven


But the Craven, never flitting,

still is staying,

still . . . is staying . . .

On the valley floor below me,

just the same as seen before;

And his eyes have not the beaming

of a brave one's

who's been skiing;

And the mountain o'er him towering

. . . invites the soul

who fears the floor,

But en-frights the soul

who knows no more

--the Craven soul

stays . . . down-on-the-floor;

Skieth the Craven



26 -- Heinsian SKI-BOY POETRY

Powder & Ice -- 27

Robert Frost came from the icy part of the country, and Heins comes from the powdery part of the country--interesting. "Powder & Ice," written in 1984, simply mentions the two extreme, or oppo-site, snow conditions: a lot of mediocre recreational skiers claim to be better on ice than they really are, and these same skiers fear deep snow to be more trouble than it really is. This poem is not about mediocrity. . . .

Powder & Ice

Some say they would ski in Powder,

Some say on Ice.

28 -- Heinsian SKI-BOY POETRY

From what I've tasted of desire,

I hold with those who favor Powder;

But, if I get to ski it twice,

I think I know enough of skate

To say that, for recreation, Ice

Is also great

And would suffice.


Powder & Ice -- 29

30 -- Heinsian SKI-BOY POETRY

A Chair Ride Before Christmas -- 31

No collection of ski-boy poetry would be whole without a parody of Clement C. Moore's classic.

Heins wrote this one during his two years of teaching in Park City, Utahhh, the night before Christmas 1983. They say this is extreme skier and powder-eights champion Jeff Zell's favorite poem--

like Heins and a few other outlaw ski-boys like Doug Coombs, he's often wished for . . . to be granted . . . More Clemency.

A Chair Ride

Before Christmas

'Twas a chair ride before Christmas

When, down from a cloud,

Big snow-flakes came falling,

And branches were bowed.

32 -- Heinsian SKI-BOY POETRY

My long boards were waxed

by the mantle with care,

In hopes that deep powder

soon would be here;

The ski bums were nestled

all snug in their beds

While visions of face-shots

danced in their heads;

And I, in my ski boots

for a novel nightcap,

Had just settled too,

for a long winter's nap.

When, deep in a dream,

there arose such a virgin,

I mounted a chair-lift

to satisfy my urgin':

Way up on the mount,

I rose like an eagle

Through the forest so white

'cause of snow, oh, so regal;

When, what to my wi-

dening eyes should appear?--

--But a wide-open bowl, and--

I emo-ted a tear.

Soon there I found myself

reaching the summit,

A Chair Ride Before Christmas -- 33

With goggles and snorkel

all set now to plummet;

Adrenalin flowing as I

jumped off the cornice,

I knew that, with Heaven,

this must be the Nexus;

And, boy, let me tell you:

in this pow-der-filled bowl,

I knew, in a pole-plant,

I had just found my soul.

But, during these first turns,

though I had not a care,

The snow here got so deep,

I got gasping for air;

For, when you've found new love

in blazing that cold smoke,

You get gasping so hard--

it can make a man so-choke.

More rapid than reindeer,

on long boards I came--

As I rode them, I shouted

and called them by name:

"Now, Fischer! Now, Volkl!

Now, Spalding! and Hanson!

On, Rossi! On, K2!