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About the Birch Clump Samplers These are selections from Joshua Seidl’s books. About Snakes in the Outhouse I have two versions of this poem. This is the original version. It will be in the 2nd BC Village Reader. The second version appears in my first novel, Hawk Dancer. Seeing as I attributed the poem to one of my fictional characters in or around 1936, I changed a few items found in the modern poetic setting. They did not have Frisbees in the 1930s. I found a large number of garter snakes in the pit of an outhouse at some point in the 1980s. I did not write on that until the mid 1990s. The revision came a couple or so years latter when I felt the poem fit a brief scene in the novel. Copyright 2000 Do not copy for sale or mass distribution. You are free to embed or share the link for this magazine for non-commercial use.

Snakes In The Outhouse


rossing a week's growth of cool grass, barefoot, lacing sleek tender blades to a slanting, fading outhouse for duty to God and Country; Jerking a wedged, plank-boarded door to meet the sharp edged acid stench of dietary waste and more; my feet massage the soft worn floor. Rasping spring squeaks, wedging the door, narrowing the path of sunlight and the eyes must adjust to less before one spits into the pit. I look into the hole and behold slender movement, not far below, of a hundred gray hissing snakes, their hideous heads lifted high. "Snakes in the outhouse!" I cry out to myself in a muffled shout. Sun rushes in, rasping spring squeaks, I run over the lush green grass. Here in the land of the living, on meadows of sleeping shadows, hallowed voices long forgotten call to me.

Shades of those set upon this land, through the voice of my uncle speak, of this terrain before the rain, isolation and ghastly shame. Treaty for a wagon's width path with those the First Nation did meet made in good faith, but with much haste sent them packing and on their way. Thriving the heap of human waste, wisdom frosted of snakes now loss counsel shadows, whom until late, were buried 'neath a blinding hate.

Waves of greed dressed in silk thread hats, their mustaches twisted in wax, paid two bits and claimed the green land which turned to sand and blew away. Their great-grandchildren sat in bars, -- peeling fibers cover the walls -clutched yellowed deeds of faded days, dare recall names long since buried. Dreams and town, forgotten with a frown, and old toiled farms raising dark tailored by the "C's" became a park planting trees over the shadows.

Crossing meadow into the wood a flood of voices heard today, their Frisbees, grills and picnic goods, the heap of human waste this day. Assimilate and relocate, but late, the shadows of warriors, 'thriving the heaps of human waste, bless the old ward, the moistening ground. The Spirits thought lost still remain their domain is fixed forever. They walk the way of salvation; shun not their talk or their way.

Snakes in the OutHouse  

A poem that is not quite as horrid as the title might suggest. This is found in my novel "Hawk Dancer." It will also be in an upcomming BC V...

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