Tonight the boys swaying in the northbound train car
wear old-logo Bulls hats and France IV
stitched into their puffy jackets—
I don’t get the reference, though I am old enough
to remember the winding ramps of old Chicago Stadium,
old enough for old logos to be cool again, for home
to be a place I visit, and names I once heard called
for classroom attendance
now etched in a grave-head’s formal letters.
The passengers keep their heads down
as one boy hefts his weight until his chin trembles
just above the bar near the train’s dim ceiling,
and I root for him to hold on
as his friends count down the seconds
for the whole car to hear,
his feet just inches from the floor.
There’s that prayer that asks
who will die before his time
and how many will be created; who will rest
and who will wander, who will enjoy tranquility
in the coming year, and who will suffer.
I have lived in three cities
and Chicago, you are still
my little Lebanon, white winter spider,
gold and sleepless. I will come back home
until there are no faces left
for me to recognize—and then
for the tunnels, the stone stadium ramps
that I remember, and the passing stations
whose names I know.
Grady Chambers was born and raised in Chicago. Poems of his have appeared in or are forthcoming from The Adroit Journal, Ninth Letter, Diode Poetry Journal, Barrow Street, Midwestern Gothic, and elsewhere. He lives in Oakland, and is a 2015-2017 Stegner Fellow at Stanford.