Hawk Dancer


Snakes in the Outhouse
a poem

Joshua Seidl is the author of "Snakes in the Out House."
Poem written around 1998. Photo is from around 1983/85.
    Age of author in picture would be about 32-34
Snakes in the Out House

Crossing 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 lost
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 fizbees, 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.

This was written for a college advance creative writing course in the late 1990s or early 2000's. I haven't pinned down a year. As I age, the years blend.
The photo was taken at Liberty State Park in Indiana. I was camping while visiting near by freinds who moved to Ft. Wayne IN from Michigan.
My thoughts were on an actual sighting of snakes in an outhouse at Wells State Park in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. That park was built by the CCC's during the Great Depression.
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