Old #173 on the Pennsylvania Railroad
Boston to New York City to Washington DC
Left its origination 11:00PM
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
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.
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.