"Escaped Patients Killed by Train" by Samantha Prust

I used to collect weird newspaper headlines and stories. One of them inspired the poem below.


"Escaped Patients Killed by Train"

was the headline

that would have everyone believe

in irony as flesh:

hot-blooded and glamorous,

gorgeous and deadly;

always poised perfectly

to strike.


On the other hand,

may I point out

that the story itself

tells a different tale:

how the two women

"had walked out of the mental health unit


even though the two-story facility was locked,

and lay down

in front of a freight train

that struck and killed them."



in this case,

not hot-blooded at all,

but actually a bit clammy

and somewhat annoyed

at having to crouch patiently

under bridges

and wait for victims.


The Train,

in this particular case,

entirely free

from any real guilt,

just in the wrong place at the wrong timeβ€”

yet, to the women,

wholeheartedly right

on schedule.


8 Responses to “"Escaped Patients Killed by Train" by Samantha Prust”

  1. Fay Ulanoff says:

    I get it. I am also guilty of clipping out strange stories from the newspaper, then months later I might take a fleeting thought to one of my own pieces.

  2. Samantha says:

    Those weird newspaper stories are good writing prompts, aren't they, Fay! πŸ™‚ This article is interesting to me because the headline is so sensational, as if the escaped patients were making their getaway and fell off a train or something. The actual story is that the women committed suicide by laying on the train tracks. Also, it's weird to me that there's nothing in the article about questioning the staff on how the women got out of the "locked" facility "unnoticed." Weird and tragic. Makes for a suitable poetry topic! πŸ˜‰

  3. helen says:

    escape from a locked facility...
    train on a schedule...
    dual suicide pact...
    wow! nicely worked piece...

  4. Samantha says:

    Thank you, Helen! I appreciate your summary--it sounds like a blockbuster movie! πŸ™‚

  5. Headlines as prompts is indeed a tried and true method. I belonged to a writers' critique group that required we each bring a headline clipping to the meeting and then each person had to draw one out of the basket and do a timed writing prompt. Yikes - had some really weird ones, which comes as no surprise to any of us who know - reality IS stranger than fiction. πŸ™‚
    Good job, Sam!

  6. Samantha says:

    Thanks, Maryjo!

  7. Samantha says:

    I appreciate your comment, Shelley!

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