Thoughts from a Train

Target ad flashes past. Blue line map. Clark/Lake stop.

“Grand and Milwaukee is next,” a generic masculine voice says over the speaker system.

Why do I feel the urge to record this, I wonder to myself. I feel terrified and exhilarated. The train jerks. Long stretch of tunnel-y blackness. It’s amazing how fast these things go. Graffitied lights flash past.

“This is a blue line train to O’Hare,” the omniscient voice says.

Can’t wait for these donuts we’re about to get. Wow, it is so quiet. Probably because the train is so loud.

“This is Chicago and Milwaukee.”

Doors open. Doors close. We shoot forward again. One man is jamming to whatever’s streaming through his headphones on the front of the train. Rock on. The train jerks three times in row, but it’s almost kind of comforting. Granted, I’m the type who likes the feeling of ascending and descending in an airplane, something I’ve come to find many people dislike. Why wouldn’t I like the feeling of flying, though? Even if it regularly comes with a death-defying risk, we might as well enjoy the feeling of it all while it lasts. Come to think of it, that’s much like how I feel on this train.

“Our stop is the next one,” my friend Mariel says to me softly, as if not to startle the quiet, or more likely my early morning writing as she says to me later on.

“This is Damen.”

“No its not,” Mariel says with a laugh to herself. It’s not like I would know.

“Damen is next,” the voice corrects as if it heard Mariel.

We are above ground now. Weird. Snowy. Sunny. Mildly warm. Another train jerk.

“This is Damen.” And it really is this time.


A Poem a Month: She Said No

She said no

He said yes

He’s well aware that’s not consent


She screamed help

He covered her mouth

Not a man but a bully, was he now


She cried

He laughed

But they’re not the only ones


The sad truth of the world is

So often he’s won

An Open Letter to Mizzou

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

Dear Mizzou,

When I decided to get with you two years ago, the word that convinced me we could be a match was “opportunity”. You don’t know how hard I’ve held on to that hope that maybe the opportunities you boast of would come to some fruition. But every day I spend with you, it becomes harder and harder to have anything to do with you. I was never in love with, and now I don’t think I ever could be. You’re toxic; I keep fighting for you and I keep losing. Maybe what they’ve been saying is right: maybe I do need to leave you, for my safety and what remains of my education and passion. Despite what they say I keep holding on to the idea that one day this might get better, that one day you’ll become the university I believed you could be and the university I need you to be. But it gets harder and harder to believe in you. Regardless, I keep fighting for you. The trouble is I can’t figure out if I’m fighting for you or for me. Am I fighting because I just don’t want to deal with the baggage and difficulty of leaving you or am I fighting because I actually want to continue whatever it is we have? I hate trying to defend you to my parents when they say, “there’s Mizzou’s good old pride again, fucking shit up as usual” and awkwardly laughing it off, or saying that you’re just misunderstood or misguided. I’m starting to wonder if it’s you who’s misguided or me for continuing to believe we could make this work. I think I just said it; I shouldn’t have to make this work. I’m just about over it Mizzou. I see other options and they all sound better than you, and every time I see or hear of another one, they all sound better than this. I don’t know if this is it yet or not Mizzou because I still have it in me to believe in you, even if that tears me apart inside. I don’t know what’s best for me at this point, my tiger, but I don’t want you to be shocked if at some point I decide that it might not be you.

With all due respect,