Tyler Gillespie

Alligator Tears

Early explorers described crocodile
— gator cousin — as a serpent who

“slay[s] !5! men !10! & eat[s] them

weeping.” !10! Same gator tears
thought grief
later called fake (b/c fierce creatures

can show no weakness). These reptiles

owned FL until !5! 1890s: a railroad brought
tourists to swamp & !5! Felix Fire realized

ppl would !5! pay good $$$ to see gator moved

off tracks & kept in !5! outhouse (a roadside
attraction). Soon !5! people began to shoot
gators for fun !5! let bloody !5! bodies float

down St. John’s River. (State mythology
hardly ever pretty). In 1960s: American

gator on Endangered Species List !5! b/c
they’d been hunted too much.

Stabilized in late-80s. !10! Today in FL

about 1.3 million gators ( !5! 20 million
people in the state). Now w/o proper license

it’s illegal to hurt or capture !10! but laws
say nuisance gator found in !5! house pool
car, etc. must be harvested !5! (killed)

if he’s over 4 ft !5! long: can never go back

into the wild b/c he’ll eventually find his
way back to that same house !5! pool car etc.

A zoologist recently wanted to see if
mythical gators really cried. !5! He videotaped

captives fed them “dog biscuit-like food.”

His conclusion: they hissed huffed !5! forced
air through sinuses !5! & tear glands emptied

into eyes !5! so that’s why. He watched the gators
eat their fake food !5! & cry & cry !5! & cry together.

Tyler Gillespie is a pale Floridian. His poems appear in Apogee Journal, Columbia Poetry Review, PANK, Juked, Exposition Review, and Prelude, among other places. Find him at TylerMTG.com