“I was … wondering whether I would just be jumping in front of a train that was headed to where it was headed anyway, and that I would just be personally annihilated.”
— Dr. Christine Blasey Ford
“The train is very, very urgent. It is moving a man’s career forward. It is very difficult to get the train to stop. … We must not ask why.”
— Alexandra Petri
The train will continue, and you will be crushed:
a scream on the tracks, the talk of the town
for a time, an event, inevitably hushed,
for the train must go on. It has always gone on.
To try to stop it, you must throw yourself:
your name, your face, your reputation,
your family, your safety, your private hell
onto the altar of a ravenous nation,
your horrors laid bare in the public eye—
irreversible, gut-wrenching endeavor—
to be eyed, handled, objectified
by men you do not know and never
wanted to. Still, you jump. Though the price
is too high, though men smother you still—quiet,
your courage cuts like rivers, cries
out like blood from a field soaked silent.
But the train does not stop. They say it intends
you no ill will; it does not hate you.
It even slows to show its concern at the end
before it goes on to annihilate you.
I hate this train. I cringe at the screams
I cannot unhear since I learned that the sound
has never been some benign machine’s
bright whistle, but women’s lives pinned down
beneath this terrifying engine.
I sit inside, study my son,
think of my daughters with a father’s affection,
and know—we know—what must be done:
this train must stop. I look to the men
who have stood to defy the reign of such currents
and wonder: What can I do? And when
will I find the courage to do it? Courage
Michael Stalcup is a Thai-American poet born and raised in California. He currently lives in Thailand with his wife and three young children. His poetry has been published in Inheritance Magazine and Faithfully Magazine.