2 Poems – Tyler Gillespie

Gas Station Gator Head

Gators farmed    to buyer’s specific size    
(watch band small hides, tight pattern  

couch makers want seat covers). People
eat the meat  but head:    spare part  

a biological waste.   “We take something     

that was garbage” said a man  “& turn it
into    a highly desirable souvenir”:

replace eyes with marbles  (own everything
he’s’ seen).      But Florida Fish & Wildlife

Commission forbids taxidermied baby gators
that depict an unnatural position:   stands like
a boy    or gives a wave to the crowd.  

Severed heads, though, are fine.    Authentic:

soaked  in formaldehyde fresh swamp look    
polyurethane coat. In Kissimmee   $25 for large   

$12 gets cute size to hold & look alive   look  
alive look alive. Rows & rows of heads – babies   

adults – line gas stations  gift shops in FL:  wild
thing trapped   & sold   for tourist imagination.


Alligator Mississippiensis

Formal  like when mom calls   your full
name  & you know   she  means business  

or father  b/c   dad seems  too familiar
for a man who left  when you were two.

Alligators don’t have vocal chords:

suck air  in lungs    blow out deep  roars  
to both  attract mates & warn  off other males

& that’s why you  haven’t answered his calls

can’t tell  the difference in this sound.
A charming man will  skin you alive

& you’ll smile when  you  buy  the hide  

back from him.   & by this I mean  my father   
gave me  my  first  hard drink.    I was 15
in Kentucky Elks Lodge   his second  

wedding.  Later   he moved back  to FL
& I’d pick   him up  from nearby trailer park   

drive him to buy  high school liquor. 
He should have known  better  we have   

same cold blood.  But I can only be so mad
at a man whose nature  is to bite.  Predators  —  

adult males included — destroy  abt a third
of gator nests.   Average clutch: of 38 eggs   

24 hatchlings  emerge.  Only 10 will live  
1 yr   & of these  yearlings  8  become  

subadults  (4 ft in length).   Approximately
5  reach maturity. & I’m no good  at math  but

at 5 yrs sober I call that  at least  a fighting chance.



Author Bio: Tyler Gillespie is a pale Floridian. His poems appear in Apogee Journal, Columbia Poetry Review, PANK, Juked, Exposition Review, and Prelude, among other places. He’s currently working on the manuscript Florida Man: Poems

The author: zlis@iastate.edu