Tuesday Jul 17

Hemmert Poetry Andrew Hemmert’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Hunger Mountain, Canary, Jersey Devil Press, and Cumberland River Review. He is an MFA candidate at Southern Illinois University.
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Sportsman

On May 8, 2015, a butchered alligator was found hanging from an I-10 overpass. The animal was discovered when a trucker ran into it in the dark, shattering his windshield. According to a FWC spokeswoman, the animal hadn’t been dead long. No suspects have been named.

                                                                                                                                —Miami Herald


Say someone snuck up
on the stars.

Say someone cut the Big Dipper
from the shin of a great bear.

Say it wasn’t a spoon,
but a boat.

Say someone set out
for darker waters.

         *                   

No one hears the outboard
kicking to life

like an animal
with a throat full of moths.

Pond cypresses reach up
from the shallows

like half-drowned scarecrows,
but no one sees the young man

scanning the surface
with a maglite,

looking for eyes like insects
trapped in amber.

         *

He kills the engine,
and the johnboat slows

until it’s just a piece of driftwood
thrown into the lake,
riding the waves
of its impact.

He saws three frozen mullet in half
with a dull knife,

threads their chunked bodies
onto a corroded hook.

His fingers, covered in scales,
shine faintly

in the beam of the headlamp
as he opens the bale

and casts out a line.

         *

The sound of the gaff
slamming into the gator's side.

The panicked hiss
deep in the gator’s mouth.

The sound of the rifle’s muzzle knocking
against the door

of the thrashing gator's skull.
One shot. Another.

A few nameless birds
rising from the oaks

on the far shore.      

         *

On a tarp on the muddy bank,
he cuts the tail away from the body,

hacks off the head.
He places these pieces

in the empty cooler
and buries them in what’s left
of the ice,
opens another can of beer.

In the first sip,
he tastes the gator's blood.

He almost likes it. He knows it
better than most.

He looks at the butchered animal
sprawled out on the tarp

like an discarded suit.
He knows what he is

going to do next.

         *

Night walks under a bridge
with a pocket full of names.

The names are lockless keys.
The names are faded coins.

From the rail of the overpass,
night swings

on a chain
like a pendulum

in a grandfather’s grandfather
clock.