Bill Abbott

Three Trains Passing in the Night
(Famous Train Wrecks of Ohio, Amherst Edition)

When children play with trains,
going off the tracks is high entertainment.

In 1916, two trains from Chicago to Pittsburgh,
in the middle-of-the-night heavy fog
of Amherst, Ohio, collided when the first
stopped for a faulty signal.

When the 50-miles-per-hour train hit the
stopped one, their wreckage spread to the next track
where the 20th Century Limited, also doing 50
ran into it from the other direction. 

28 people were killed, and train passenger and
the biggest silent film star of her time, 
Mary Pickford, and her understudy,
Ella Hall, joined local volunteers in
giving on-the-spot medical care to
the victims of the crash.

After every tragedy, we clean up. It takes
time and effort, but eventually people
can’t even tell where the pieces fell,
where the bodies bled into the ground,
where their world changed. 

Bill Abbott is the author of Let Them Eat MoonPie, the history of poetry slam in the Southeast. He has been published in Ray's Road Review, Radius, The November 3rd Club, Flypaper Magazine, and The Sow's Ear. Mr. Abbott lives in Ohio and teaches creative writing at Central State University.