Helena, Montana

Train Explosion: A poem by Ed Noonan

HELENA – The train explosion of 1989 wasn’t the only heartbreaking event Carroll College faced in the coming years.

Around the time of the explosion the wife of a faculty member was almost kidnapped and left up in the mountains. In 1990, two women workers at the college were gunned down by a drunk man that walked onto campus.

Helena City commissioner Ed Noonan was a resident assistant for Carroll College at the time and wrote a poem reflecting the mood of the campus.

A Poem by Ed Noonan

People of faith,

being the way they are,

did not see the February blast

as a measurable human failure to set brakes,

allowing a train to roll down the side of the Divide

impacting another train,

exploding outside the windows of the College,

shaking Bishop Carroll’s old foundations

in ways soon to be explained

in insurance ledgers of hours and costs.

No, people of faith,

analyzing facts the way they do,

saw an act of God,

who knows the force and direction of the Arctic winds

and the smallest measurements of the continental slope

and the hour of Helena’s awakening,

to make our reawakening

to that special God place,

and those same people,

looking at reality in the way they do,

saw the black cloud

burning some unknown mixture

suspended over the College

on that frigid February day,

as a burning of everything old,

old sins, mistakes, misunderstanding,

all that had been misplaced,

allowing those waiting on the perimeter of the campus

to return to a restored

and well loved God place,

a fresh beginning,

a new start

to those people of faith,

who see new creation

as their God’s art.

John Riley

John Riley

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