Hear a derrick fall on oilfields ablaze!
Witness evil born in whom the hero saves,
all in the prelude to the end
of these my verses, this my maze.
Phil Brown looks down from the Monkey Board:
Not a good idea. He squats on it
for hours a day, wrapping chain
around the pipe to connect it
to the cat's head drum -- the pulley
that rotates the pipe and the bit
at its end (which does the real drilling) --
then lets himself be lowered, real slow,
seventy-five feet to the ground.
Today he glides most of the way,
eyes shut, making monkey noises
like all roustabouts make as
the driller works the traveler
that brings them back to earth;
only slowly, and under his breath.
He vows, halfway down, to descend
with opened eyes next time, so he won't
look half scared to death, as he does
on this "swing tower" (four to midnight shift).
Brown never thought he might spend this shift
actually swinging from the tower,
but, all of a sudden, he is.
The rigger has deserted his post!
Phil tries to unharness himself
from his Johnson Safety Harness,
but the thing does its job too well.
He can't free-fall, so he just hangs there,
limp. He won't be left like that for long.
Decades hence, his awed grandchildren
will ask: An angel, was it, with wings?
He will tell them, and their young friends,
"No." Not an angel, was it, who angled him
in mid-air out of the harness
while all he could see was the darkness.
Not an angel, but a man who flew,
who lifted and revived him miles off
at the workers' camp, where the whole crew
had been brought -- by him; all of them --
for their own safety when something blew
and the shock-wave toppled the tower.
That's how he'll tell it, and he won't be
far off, with one vital exception.
One man was rescued only after Brown,
and that was a disaster. Here's how it went down:
On the rail-track that has supplied
the men, a container car lies,
broken open and ablaze.
Try to put out the like of that;
you can't by human agency,
not even this one, which is empty
of oil. Fortunately for the man
trapped inside, Clark Kent isn't human.
There are some others near the scene.
They flee. Let the costumed one (first
time suited in daylight, though the thick smoke
makes it black as night) take the risk;
let him get Lex Luthor out before he chokes,
or, what's worse, they both burn to a crisp.
Clark scans the car's interior with his x-ray eyes.
Its walls are of inferior quality;
he won't try to salvage the property
while saving the life.
Through its walls he flies,
impacting steel with fists
more formidable still,
wrapping the man in his cape
and falling back through the gaping
hole he makes and its slivers
of metal (all in milliseconds),
then rolling with his charge to safety
as the car at last explodes.
The tower topples. Shock waves
ripple back to the crews
in their safe harbor, their huts
of quonset metal and tinder
on the old Kent farm, just ahead
of the burdened hero.
He pirouettes down to the men
out of his swim through air
and stops a helmeted foreman.
Poor Lex Luthor
is blackened to the third degree.
"You," Clark commands the foreman,
"Keep pouring water on his tongue,
and sponge down these wounds.
He needs first aid, and soon.
I've something to attend to,
first, so... excuse me."
He is awkward as he departs,
but Clark needs no words to lead.
The foreman, dazed, has Phil Brown
rifle the radiator
of a dynamite truck
for the water. They will care
for Mr. Martin Luther's injured son
until the flying man returns.
Until the flying man returns.
In blue tights? Try not
to think on it. Just do.
Phil Brown did what he was told,
then watched the flying man.
He saw precious little
of what actually transpired.
Still, decades later, when he's old
and gray, he will tell of the time,
of the day he saw Superman
rising, sans cape, into red skies,
and of how it seemed that the great fire
was vanquished almost in an instant
after that Man of Steel,
in the days before his fame,
vanished into the peeling, loud
and crimson heart of a cloud of flame.