top of page

Welcome to Petropolis

by Charles Gillispie

Inside the pet shop,

that stink by the door could be ferrets

or another school shooting.


Either  way

the whole mood of this city

is trapped in a wire cage


rolled up in cedar chips 

and newspapers 

soaked in urine.


I’m in line to buy grubs for a turtle 

who disappeared eighteen months ago---


he’s back from exile 

with a new crack in his shell

which I read over and over again

like a headline


but never learn anything .


The boy beside me learns how to hold his first snake.

He is quiet as a glass of water

as the python wraps around his arm.


The clerk who teaches him is pink 

and round as the frozen mice he’ll feed the snake.


Her voice clicks through channels like a television, 

including commercials,

which the boy ignores


but not the snake squeezing his arm

and not her cleavage,  just at eye level.

About the Author

Charles Gillispie is a counselor who lives in Tucson, AZ. His first book of poems, _The Way We Go On_ was published by the Backwaters Press in 2010. He has recently published poems in _December_, Journal of Poetry Therapy_, and _Presence_.

bottom of page