Love Poem Using a 19C Report of a Rail Yard Accident ~ Scott Withiam


I believe in love, the sleepy engineer,

and not in the headline describing one of love’s accidents:
Crushed Between Two Empty Box Cars Hooking Up.

It is what happened. But I believe

love, the accused engineer, couldn’t completely take his own life,
if his whole life he refused demands to move up
to a dead desk job in order to continue his childhood wish
to sound an extra whistle through every town.

Love needs travel, is how he put it.
I believe it,

though never the reporter, who never had room for romantic notions,
only a nose for sensationalism. Really, though,

sensationalism is nothing more than misguided romantic notions,
otherwise, why would the reporter ride the murder train the next day and get off
in a town poorly built too close to the same tracks,

and why else would a prostitute greet him this sensationally? “Nightly, I slept through
every engine slamming through. Last night, when it didn’t shake and shove my house,
I woke, dragged outside to see lamps lit in nearby homes
and more lamps lighting – at points down the line everyone waking
in the same way. Oh, I’m awake. And blessed. And I want it.” But speaking of love,

why else say, “Of course it never left,” and then run out? Our poor reporter, of course,

thought she meant the train that never left the day before,
because of the accident. But I believe that before he muttered ghost train
what woke her—

he heard the lonely whistle of his departed train as the departed engineer’s extra
whistle and then himself moved on
to write the romantic Mysteries of Course and Blessed Is How He Put It,

both briefly recognized.