Ode to Floyd Collins

hung in
the dark bowels
of kentucky earth
floyd collins
lay in his
own waste
while above him
men labored
to set him free
from the grip
of cavern rock
holding his legs

like a
carnival they gathered
under spotlights
vendors sold
sandwiches and people
came from
miles around
to be there when
they pulled
floyd free
or when
they brought
his body up

his brothers
were among those
crawling down
part of
the narrow slot
to take him
words of comfort
a small reporter
from louisville
named skeets
made many a trip
because skeets
was small and
could traverse
the rock tube
like an
earth beatle

in desperation
they tied
a rope
to his body to
winch him out
floyd told them
pull me out boys
even if it
rips my legs off
but when
he began screaming
they lost heart
and quit

they worked
for days
as floyd weakened
hung there
with his
head jammed
to one side
one arm above
and one arm
below him
and when
they were
close to cutting
an oblique hole
the tube
caved in
and cutting off
access  and
burying floyd

many hours later
when they bore
through the last
foot and found floyd
he was dead
locked there
in cold
dirt and rock
among the
few to
spend his time
in pure hell
before the
last breath left
his lips
two weeks
of it

some say the
ghost of
floyd collins still
screams out of
that hillside hole
on nights when
clouds shade
the full moon and
owls screech in
beech trees

some shiver
and remember that
cold hole
figure the
fire of hell
would be

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