A cloud of black, a cloud of white,
pillar orange, then ruby bright:
What thoughts are appropriate
when fighting the insubstantial?
Clark (Kal?) has none, can't concentrate.
The whole horizon around him
burning, and he just keeps turning,
turning like a moth in a room
full of candles, slow like you'd walk
over the beach in your sandals.
It is really only seconds,
but time enough to reassess
his own horizons. This noon
he had heaped praise on the Comp'ny,
like a loyal employee should.
After all, it did save the town;
the good it had done would inure
to everyone. "But at what price?,"
Lana had asked and he dismissed.
At what price? Was this the price?
Something in the scene's not right
to him, but what? Insuring
worker safety at the work site,
creating proper conditions --
He knows these are private duties
and the Comp'ny made assurances.
Then, what was that man doing
in a container car full
of oil fumes and residues?
It was poor supervision
at least, and not the sole
impropriety: Past Comp'ny
policy made Clark fix the books
for tax purposes. So who looks,
anyway? On the other hand,
what kind of entity commands
such practices? A high price
for its perpetual largesse,
and whose price was it? Who the men,
the absentee lords of the land,
for whom Clark (Kal?) jumped when they said.
Who are these men who pump
a mix of mud from a dug trench
back into the ground through the pipe
with diamond-end pinchers that clench
the Earth's throat and bits that puncture
her, just to see what comes back out?
To sample the local strata
until, dozens of shifts later
and a hundred more meters down,
they hit a big methane bubble
and pop it so it gushes up
the black gold they would all drown in?
What kind of men? What kind of men
want to make the land vomit?
How come he hasn't thought on it,
in all its ugliness, before?
Suddenly, Clark's mind is bigger
than it's ever been. What kind of men
want to watch oil spit up the rig,
then plug it fast with concrete, gag
the Earth before she opens wide
and engulfs them all? What kind?
And, should he be on their side?
On the other hand, shouldn't he?
After all, they did save the town.
And they're about to burn it down.
Quick as he is, Clark has had
plenty of time just to think
as this crisis has progressed,
but all he has time to do now
is address himself this pledge:
He will find these company men,
find them where they roost and dredge
to the bottoms of their hearts
until he comprehends them
as well as he does John Ross' ken
and their more apparent evil.
The conflagration has grown,
albeit just a little.
No more time to contemplate
in slow fall now. Concentrate!
There is a foe to quell,
a fire that crackles and roars,
its cackle seeming to exhort
his prompt surrender. Do the flames
really talk? All an illusion,
he decides. He sees no chalk-white
face of his alien father
in the billowing plumes of smoke.
He hears no haunting voice poke
through the crackle like that which
once from a pond offered to teach
Krypton's ancient ways to him.
All such hearing is delusion --
there is no god upon the earth
who would extort Kal-El's loyalty,
who rode in the Dust Bowl winds
that he banished into space
only to return and peer
into his mind at the face,
the new face, by black tress framed
that has come to haunt his dreams.
"No!," demands Clark as he forces
back the face and those forces that would
manipulate its soft presence
in his head for their own ill ends.
"No!" He forces them all back,
back into the depths of torn soul
whence they came. There's a foe to quell,
a fire that crackles and roars,
and that is all! No more
shall he be frozen as a moth
before a colony of flame,
not while the foe yet lives,
no! All the all of him he'll give
to the cause of its destruction.
When men dig an oil well,
they dig past the water table
but leave the drill pipe in
to be a pump and to see
that the water stays still.
Clark will disturb it.
By tensing every muscle,
by holding his back so tight
it's a wonder he can move,
he makes of his flesh a drill
harder than any diamond
and punches holes in the ground,
spinning, spinning, soaring up
and coming down, down, down;
down like a needle pulling thread
around a round piece of fabric's
perimeter. He pierces earth
a hundred times to the same depth
(that whence water is welled),
then up they spurt with him,
near a thousand water spouts,
columns like the billion geysers
that must have heralded the birth
of water and life on the earth.
And Clark steps back, lets the shower
rain down all its healing power
and the secondary fires
put out. The burning oil itself
water alone can't heal. He'll stifle
that himself, thrust his body at
its source. He aims himself, rifle-
like, where the proud tower once was.
The workers, the men, have returned.
As one, they've walked over the hill
to watch Clark make the final kill.
How could they resist the draw
of this foreign spectacle?
Who gapes not in awe
at the far off and powerful?
Clark's body is a jackhammer.
It pummels the wreckage,
the piles of metal he's jammed
the oil-spout with from all around
the devastated acreage,
now all agleam with the steam
from cool water streaming down.
He beats it to a pulp of steel
and plugs the well with it, feeling
the fire subsiding like wheels
slowing that have been spinning long
and fast and furious. Hissing
like a locomotive stopping,
the fire dies, the crisis ends.
Clark can hardly stop pushing;
it's become a reflex.
He is hot and soaking wet
and finally feeling it
once he does stop forcing the plug.
He sinks to his knees, sits behind
the barricades he must have dug
into trenches all wrapped and wound
into concentric circles around
the plugged hole where the derrick stood.
He must have manned them all, but when?
It doesn't matter. The job's done
and he hears no voice like Rao's
mocking him inside him now.
What, then, is that sound, like the sound
he hears from as far away as Cleveland
when bacon's frying on Ma's grill?
It's applause. He jumps onto the wall
of metal that shields the hole
from which the oil would have been spat.
All the men, seeing him emerge,
cheer him from distant hills, their hats
waving. "SU-PER-MAN," they all chant,
and he drinks in the sound of it.
He hears nothing but them. The men
and their gratitude are alone,
the old gods are dead and gone.
The men clap. He is one of them.
He stands, content to be a man.
He is... SUPERMAN.