Winter/Spring 2002


by Floyd Collins

The Colonel had found an old fiddle somewhere, and
he would challenge McGregor to get out his bagpipes
to see who could make the most noise

Walter Lord, A Time to Stand

The coonskin cap some purists say he never wore
Bristles in firelight as he carves out
On his fiddle a Celtic air, and the little
Ring-tailed scrapper gone blind with rage
Of gazing inward emblazons the span
Above his brow. In the shadow of the slab-
Sided chapel, a spitted ox bastes and seethes,
Cornbread crackles in an iron skillet. Crockett
Surrendered, they now say, and Santa Anna’s
Gleaming entourage cut him down as tailors
Would a legend grown to large. The steel
Was still smoking when they resheathed
The swords with basket-hilts of inlaid silver.
Mrs. Dickinson would later remember
His corpse amid the other carnage
In the courtyard, how the “peculiar cap”
Lay by Crockett’s side. Whether or not
Its glossy nap yet stirred with the deathless
Saga of the Canebrake Congressman is unknown—
But conjure him once, his face stained
With the low-banked fires of the Alamo plaza,
The fiddle braced under his chin, the slender
Arm dancing out and in, while McGregor’s pipes
Bleat like newborn kids on a swollen udder.

Floyd Collins, Wabash visiting assistant professor of English, wrote a series of poems memorializing the Battle of the Alamo. “Crockett” first appeared in Shenandoah.

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