The Wreck of the Federal Express by Andre Peltier and Fred Shrum

Old #173 on the Pennsylvania Railroad

Boston to New York City to Washington DC

Left its origination 11:00PM

Winter 1953

At Penn Station they picked up both riders and mail

And the poor Pullman Porters they hadn’t a clue

Of chaos creeping down the line

As that lonesome whistle blew

In Landover Mr. Brower, he really did try

To apply screeching brakes but to no avail.

No dice just three cars would slow 

With sparks shooting down the rail.

The Federal was flying, the smoke was persistent

The Federal she hit a full steam 45

She flew below Florida, and passengers knew

They were lucky to still be alive.

The engine was just inches from a waiting room

All souls left with their lives

Passengers, crew, and staff

All left with nervous sighs.

There was not time for a complete cleanup 

Before that biggest of days

Crews worked nonstop for forty-eight hours 

And carried those train cars away 

The faithful station stayed open, alert

Pouring the temporary pavement 

Crowds arrived for Eisenhower’s inauguration

The Express engine hidden in the basement 

In hindsight, a tragedy narrowly missed,

In hindsight, there’s no guarantee

We won’t repeat that chaotic day of

January ’53.

Andre F. Peltier (he/him) is a Lecturer III at Eastern Michigan University where he teaches literature and writing. He lives in Ypsilanti, MI, with his wife and children. His poetry has recently appeared in various publications like CP Quarterly, Lothlorien Poetry Journal, Provenance Journal, About Place, Novus Review, Wingless Dreamer, and Fahmidan Journal, and most recently he has had a poem accepted by Lavender and Lime Literary. In his free time, he obsesses over soccer and comic books.

Twitter: @aandrefpeltier


Fred Shrum, III was born near Washington, D.C. and grew up in Florida. He earned a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of South Florida at Tampa. He enjoys the beach, tacos, music , baseball and all things crime.

Twitter: @fshrum



3 thoughts on “The Wreck of the Federal Express by Andre Peltier and Fred Shrum

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s