Between Stations in a Chicago Train Car, I Think of Home

By GRADY CHAMBERS

Chicago Train

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.

Between Stations in a Chicago Train Car, I Think of Home

Related Posts

Tree

Nights of a Thousand Candles

EMMA AYLOR
There are probably more candles than that, in fact, / but only half glow; the rest float dumbly, arranged / in their circular pools, rain specked inside the glass. / An unlit candle at night smacks of abandon.

Image of hill, river, and houses.

Joss

PATRICIA LIU
Paper is thin. In the beginning, still billows in the wind, still petal-like, still grounded in this world / of living. The incense is the only material that translates the viscera to mist. Early, the fog has not yet / lifted, and we move through the white drip as if through total darkness. Fish lost in the deep under- / water.

Farm

Sam’s Super Burger

SIEW DAVID HII
As desegregation began in the ’60s and ’70s, many white residents of Mobile (previously living in downtown and midtown) migrated several miles to the west. Eventually, so many moved—in a futile attempt to escape the city’s growing racial diversity—they created a distinct sub-section of the city, West Mobile.