Jim Trainer


In Uncategorized on February 20, 2020 at 11:00 am

The literal meaning of life is whatever you’re doing that prevents you from killing yourself.
-Albert Camus

Activism is healthier than avoidance.
Amy Siskind

Listen to the dissidents. They will not appear on television. They will be smeared and treated as lunatics. But you need them if you are going to be able to resist the absolute barrage of misinformation, or to hear yourself think over the pounding war drums. Times of War Fever can be wearying, because there is just so much aggression against dissent that your resistance wears down.
Nathan J. Robinson

Those poems are the most authentic way I can deal with what it means to be alive.
Eliza Griswold

What poetry is asking us to accept can be difficult. Our proximity to our mortality, the fragility of our existence, how close we live in every moment to nameless abysses, and the way language itself is beautifully, tragically, thrillingly insufficient… these are some of the engines that drive the poem. It’s natural to want to turn away from these things. But we have to face them, as best we can, at least sometimes. Poetry can help us do that nearly impossible work.

It’s just a breath away.
Angie Knight

I’m sick and have been since I flew the coop and left a steady check in September 2017.  I’ve been rattled and tortured but at times proud too.  I know it’s been a climb which makes the torture tenable I guess–going against is better than going nowhere but really what’s the difference?  Know what I mean Good Reader?  High time should’ve been any number of times really, that we slid down and lowered the bar on our standard of living.  We took comfort over a thorny truth and then simply bent the truth to fit a politic of convenience.  We fight on social media.  We grandstand.  We do all the great things you can do when you’re published and you have a voice.  But I don’t think we’ve changed a damn thing and we’re living out the end days of this final Rome with our heads buried and our hands in.  The worst is the weather, the air is warm and fetid in February and summers are hot and bleak and reek of gasoline.  Riots would be nice, or they would’ve been.  Same with healthcare and a living wage and not dropping heavy bombs on countries smaller than Texas for non-reasons in a forever war.  I suppose it’s a terrible corollary that it might be too late for me except that I’m aware now, even when I’m choosing not to be.  The world wide web has left us no excuse and personally I can’t enjoy anything these days without knowing that it comes with a price.  This country is steeped in blood but I don’t hear any complaint or protest living in one of the fastest growing destinations in the Land of the Free.  If you’re crying or bellyaching, chances are you’ve got it pretty good because the poor eat shit quietly and get sick and die and you won’t come off as anything other than privileged no matter who you’re voting for.


Ten years ago Andrew Stack flew a single engine-plane into the Echelon I office building at 9420 Research Boulevard in Austin TX.  He posted his manifesto, a bitter rail against the IRS, the night before.  Nine months later I started this blog.

There’s no point here but was there ever?  I only wanted to prove Professor Macaluso wrong–for failing me twice in English Comp while working the phones for 30 hours a week sophomore year in Community College.  Those couple years set me up I guess but it used to be pretty ok to move furniture 60 hours a week and smoke Drum tobacco, live in a $400 1 bedroom with a P-bass and a Remington manual.  The 90s were some great fun, Good Reader, the early oughts weren’t too bad neither.  By 2004 the screw was in and besides being at war for the rest of our lives, the crash of ’08 was all she wrote.  No matter the ACA or legal hemp and same sex marriage.  You could go back to ’88 and rue the fact we failed to act on what James Hansen had to say.  Or you can quit yer bitchin’ on the whole rig ’cause the chipper blades are whirring closely now.  I only wanted to write.  Subvert essay writing and write poetry hot and quick like lightning.  I only wanted to forget and hide myself from the madding world.  I only wanted to be in love.  Now I’m sick and the simple things that used to bring me joy are betrayed.  The sun on my neck is a liar.  The rain.  Every subtle and nuanced exchange.  The end of the Anthropocene has twisted me up inside and too the politic of the strong man stripping away our standard of living and the outrage of the citizen yelling into an unfeeling void.  I suppose I’m scared to die but I’m more terrified of all that I haven’t done.  I’ll be 45 in 2&1/2 weeks.  I’m glad of all I’ve shorn.  Everything I’ll have no more use for.  I hate that I gave in to a disease, that I hid for decades in booze and lust and worse–that I couldn’t deal so I didn’t and wasted the prime of my life hid out and sulking when God knows I could’ve been making miles.  So, I guess I’ll try and get better and if I can, get back up to weight and give it all another go.  I’ve no recourse or better idea.  I’m sick but I need to get better and live like I’ve always done, in service to Art and this world of letters.  It’s a topsy, slipshod world, one where brute force is trumped by a weightlessness of joy and laughter wedges a tiny valiant crack enough to get some breath, double back and foist the fucker over.

2031 thumbnail


Shrieks of Paradise, Correspondence&Rails#54: Dear Gioconda

In Uncategorized on February 17, 2020 at 1:26 pm

Hewitt Lake Club
125 Hewitt Road
Minerva, NY

Gioconda Parker
Hippie Town, USA

7/27/17, 4:15PM


Warmest Greetings form the Hewitt Lake Club.  I’ve think I’ve written you every year I was here.  I was reminded of it by our friends the gingkoes. Remember them?  This is kind of emotional for me. It’s my last trip with Blair, as I’m quitting and done with him October 1.  There is a soft snap in the air, everything magic, everything September, if you know what I mean–a pale and shimmering spell, lush and wet, much like what you spoke of the last time we were together.  If you are hearing the call to it then I say ‘Go’. The living green in the hills, up mountains and by lakes is intoxicating, and now I’ve moved out into the magic sun and made do of a bright yellow patio chair for a desk.  I can hear Pony going for the ball out in the field beside me and Jill talking to her son at Luke’s pod across a field filled with sticky, yellow wildflowers and the petals of other ebullient growths, their petals ringing like White and Blue Bells in the wind.  It’s enough to make a grown man cry.

We are leaving tomorrow and heading down to Asheville town.  Blair’s got us booked there until Tuesday. I’d just as soon leave Asheville as soon as we can but who knows maybe I’ll fall in love.  It just sucks to have to spend your days off in a 15-seat, lunatic yellow Ford Econoline, doing 500 a day and burning ass. I don’t really feel like complaining to you about getting old.  The drawbacks are many but the boons are huge. Ain’t that right Sister. I experience sublime and ordinary phenomena–blue dusks for example, it is like the sun sets in my head now, just by being there.  I still fantasize about The Life, and maybe I always will. I’m loathe to make comparisons but it seems that experiencing something purely is more profound than the other way. The jury’s out but being sober can be a kind of high–you’ve just got to hang on through the weather, if you know what I mean, and it can get gnarly out there on the fringes of your psyche.  I don’t expect many to understand and my charge is to accept when people come together, however limited and off mark. You know me, this is not Pollyanna, just an observation. I judge others inability to be truly intimate and withdraw, therefore not being intimate myself. One of the many lessons I’ve learned up here in the living green and under the wild mountain sun but especially around the dinner table at the end of the day with the Fox Family.

I’m going to miss Jill, Blair’s mother.  She’s 86 and out here cutting the brush back, but slinging cold vod and smoking Camel straights around the fire at night (there I go again).  Who knows why she gets to be 86 and virile and I have arthritis and have to deal with the niggling bullshit of a 42-year old alcoholic ex-Pat punkrocker.  All I know is she gets it and she’s twice my age. I’ll just say it–she’s like you, Gia. You magic woman. I hope to be writing you at her age, God willing, and still be making my bitter petition to the Gods.  The answer of course is Yoga and not being bitter. I’m learning. The rub is how you suffer others ain’t it though. I’m twice-fucked when it comes to intolerance. Tangibly, I’ve got some old-world karma to work through.  You can’t go through life punching people in the face but the trick is where does the punch in the mind go? Right? Enclosed you’ll find M Train because you must read it and I know you will.  Also, I owe you for Mary Oliver’s Long Life which I hope to finish and return by the end of the summer.  I also read Carrie Brownstein’s Hunger Makes Me A Modern Girl while up here, which reminded me of the 90s, when going to a show was everything–religion and pathos, lust and release, all while drinking beer and rocking out.  Fuck. We’re old. But, back to my earlier point about sobriety, things like Art affect me profoundly now. I’m really feeling it and remember when Art was the fantasy and we put our all in to those venues because we were young and sober and the combined IQ of our hometown was equal to piss.  Basically, because we had no choice.  Now, here’s one of the boon’s of old age I mentioned. It is wisdom. We suffered the life and now have the wisdom to know–back when we had no choice we were making a choice. That oughta right us and rear nostalgia right out of our heads–help us get this show on the fucking road. I’m ready. Are you?

Thank you so much for our one on one in June.  I’m still realizing a lot of what we discussed and may touch back very soon.  How you can I keep you as my torch bearer? A selfish question but our time put me to rights, Gia.  You always light me up. Thank you for you.

Ab irato,
Jim Trainer


HOW TO LIVE, A Lecture

In Uncategorized on February 13, 2020 at 10:30 am

The following lecture was given at the Cheatham Street Wareouse last night in San Marcos TX, put on by the Cheatham Street Music Foundation and hosted by the Good Reverend Jason S. Woolery.  Also on the panel was local fiction author Jennifer Kabay, and longtime publisher of poetry and journalism, Denise Bartlett.

I’ll never forget the first time I saw a copy of One From None by Henry Rollins.  I was sitting on my buddy J’s stoop in Upper Darby PA–transfixed on the black cover with a black and white photo of the man performing.  There, on the cover, it said “ONE FROM NONE Rollins”, and, when you turned it over it said “2.13.61”, his book company.  That’s when I knew I’d be published. Not only that but in one fell swoop Uncle Hank gave me self-publishing, journaling and poetry–and through these he showed me how to live.


In the mid 80s Henry’s band broke up and he knew he’d have to parlay his notoriety and infamy in the underground or he’d be right back in the minimum wage world he was up to his neck in when he joined the mighty Black Flag.  So he started his own book company.  This was in L.A., in the early 80s.  Besides being part of what was the most important socio-political movement of our time, Uncle Hank was neighbors with people like Charles Bukowski and Hubert Selby Jr.  His friends included people like Lydia Lunch, Jello Biafra and Don Bajema. The country was enjoying a thriving middle class we would never enjoy again.

His first books were no frills, black and white affairs on plain construction paper without image.  Big blocky letters that portended of an austere aesthetic that wasn’t just by design.  D.I.Y. but, as is the case with great art, the medium was the message.

Love me hate me, it’s all the same
I am weak
Looking to get stronger
When I open my eyes all the way
It’s all there is for me
Kindness is strength
It’s easier to close a door, than to keep it open
Hatred is easy
Frustration is life on pause
These are truths that are hard for me to deal with
I learned a lot this year
I think I am stronger than last year
Self-creation is painful
Trying to take my parent’s blood out of mine
Trying to stand on my own two feet
Without leaning on someone else
Looking to myself for total strength
To be

Not only did I know I’d be published when I saw that copy of One From None, I was introduced to poetry at the street level.  Poetry that I could write. I’d always been a fan of poetry.  Samuel Taylor Coleridge (thanks to Iron Maiden) and Shel Silverstein.  I loved poetry but this was different.  I wrote as a kid–fake school newspapers and short fantasy stories, but this was different.  Uncle Hank introduced me to journaling.  That is, journaling in earnest. The way he journaled. It was uneventful, maybe, nothing worth writing about, maybe, but the chronicling of the event was the event.  He was making an event out of his life and these mundane and a lot of times anxiety-filled moments.  He was trying to get his arms around things.  He was trying to compartmentalize. By putting himself in the center of the action he was creating his mythology.  It was like a spell. He was telling a story by documenting reality and placing himself in the center of the world he observed.  Observing and writing it down makes a story, but, at it’s most basic Henry showed me that all a story needs is a beginning and an end.  The medium was the message, punk rock had razed the 4th wall.  The performer and the audience were one.  Hank gave the reader access and took that ideal to the page.

Journaling was some kind of beautification magic.  Life became an event of endurance for him and by writing it down and placing himself in the middle of the action he was cast as protagonist. Journaling was a chronicling of his endurance, which cast him as the hero or, at the very least, the person to which things occurred to and/or around.  Rollins wrote about his own blues and he made a world.  He put things into terms he could relate to. I was first visited by depression at age 15.  Uncle Hank showed me how to deal with it and I was on my way.  

I write to get a grip on things and “frame the agony” as Bukowski put it.  Get my arms around things, hold on to something because everything is just passing through and into you.  Like I told my Jenny at the 2031 book release in December, often all that stands between me and a roaring chaos is a column of words.  If you’re a writer and an artist you should have no boundaries.  Great artists should have no boundaries.  The same is true for horrible people. Writing is your scepter, your talisman, your cypher.  

Things begin to take a poetic shape when you start noticing and writing it down.  Eventually you have to write it down and you’re hooked.  Mostly what I’m speaking to is having to write. I have to write, however I’m not a fan of the oft-repeated I’m an artist because I have to be.  Even if I am an artist because I have to be, I’m not a fan this maxim because I don’t want to exclude anyone.  I don’t want to exclude anybody who wants to be a writer, anyone who wants to write, but doesn’t. It seems like there are people who want to write and they do and people who want to write but they don’t.  I want to reach them. If you don’t want to write my best advice to you, until I can find a way to reach you, is–don’t write. The End. Because if you don’t derive pleasure from it, first of all why would you do it but, ultimately, it’s going to be almost impossible to maintain.

I love to write but before I broke through it was pure pain. Breaking through was the result of the conflation of new media such as the internet and blogging and new forms of journalism and literature such as Creative Nonfiction.  The result of breaking through is that I will never have writer’s block again.  Though it still is painful a lot of times. The very act of sitting down is in itself hard for me. I just lucked out that pain and discomfort are my main motivation as a writer.  Angst is my source material and my angst is endless. Dis-ease, maladjustment, anxiety, anger.  Smoking/not smoking.  Some people call it passion. I’m reaching out to folks who want to write and do and I’m reaching out to folks who want to write but don’t, and from both these groups I’d like to reach the folks who want to self-publish but aren’t. If you want to self-publish and you are, well–have at it, there is no greater feeling.  Be sure to invite me to your binding circle and we’ll do work.  

4 2016-12-04 12.24.00

The importance of self-publishing is many-headed, not the least of which is that it is extremely political.  The creation of Art is a political act.  Most importantly self-publishing is the final act of letting go of your work.  To evaluate your work you must let it go. At every step of the process you are letting go but you really need to let go, Jim Trainer.  Someone else has to read it to complete it.  To paraphrase Guy Clark, a song isn’t done until it’s heard.  Even if you don’t want someone else to read it and you want to self-publish, I don’t’ see why you can’t derive some of the same thrills I get holding a collection of my own work in my hand.  No one has to read it but you’re still letting it go.  Your making an ephemeral world of idea into a physical thing.  You’re giving it voice and you’re birthing a physical thing that exists outside of you.  

5 Letterpress

Every step of my process is a succession of successes.  Like Uncle Hank, I write my way through.  There’s this interview with Richard Hell where he says that being a writer is the best job, the only job, because no matter what happens, no matter where you are or why–being a writer gives you reason to be there.  You have a reason to go through any boon or bane and that’s to write it down.  Writing is a reason to be which speaks back to what I was saying about Rollins showing me how to live.  If I make it through the moment, the oft-barbed and rife moment–success.  If I write about it–success. If I write a couple poems–success. If I lay them out, collect them.  Print them out, have a cover designed by Snakes Will Eat You and bind them–success. When you buy a book from me (you should buy a book from me), it’s like you’re saying Congratulations.  You’re shaking my hand in congratulations and saying Congratulations, you are a writer. Being a writer is all I ever wanted to be–success.  Because a writer writes books and I have a book and you are buying it from me, I am a writer–success.   Uncle Hank and Richard Hell showed me that being a writer is the only thing to be anyway and that writing is the counselor, the friend, the talisman, the reason for being here and going through anything and the only real magic.  It can be the power of self-realization. And manifestation. Manifestation is why we self-publish.

Ultimately self-publishing is the final act of letting go of your work. You must let go of your work for it to grow. I’m not talking about the specific collection that you’ve bound and released into the world.  I’m talking about the Work ongoing, the act of creating.  Writing is putting words to paper and writing is letting it go.  

6 All in the wind copy

I think that confidence and doubt go a long way in creating art.  Being an artist takes some real stones, especially in this country.  The arbiters of confidence, i.e. publishers though, they base their tastes on marketing.  They are certainly skewed toward intellectual writers which, let’s face it–college is just more marketing. It’s about money.  I think doubt can keep you striving, keep you hungry, keep you lean.  But some writers and would-be writers are only paralyzed by doubt.  They don’t write! If you write you are a writer.  If you want to be a writer, I have a lecture on How To Be A Writer and the 3 things that everyone has you need to be a writer.  You’re not going to believe you’re a writer though, until you hold a collection of your own work in your hands.  Which I think is what’s so implicit in what I’ll call the publishing game.  You’ve made it, they say, You’re one of us and worst of all, You’re welcome.  Then you’re supposed to go out and sell three thousand of them on your own dime.  Quit your job and fly around the country.  This is what I think people, I certainly did, mistake publishing for–distribution.  

8 Get Lit 4:2:17

What I discovered about having a book published is that all that the publisher does is manufacture the book.  My publisher didn’t have enough of my books and never had enough of them–from their release in Philadelphia well into their final run.  I figured if all they were doing was manufacturing my book (and doing a lousy job), I could do that. I wouldn’t have the accolade, I wouldn’t be able to pride myself on being a published author or–or, I could simply rely on the fact that I was published by them and I am a published author.  If having a book published is only it’s manufacture, and being published by someone else is what it means to be published, then I can publish your collection and you can publish mine and–congratulations we are published.  The people who say self-publishing isn’t really publishing and use terms like “vanity press” have a vested interest in saying that.  They’re the same people who say the internet isn’t published and they are wrong.  The internet is published.  If you don’t believe the internet is published I’ve 2 words for you–Arab Spring.

I don’t find fault in this reasoning, it’s real.  I still feel real.  I feel like a writer because I write.   It’s a trick of the mind and it works well for me.  I’m a published writer when someone else publishes my work and I’m a published writer when I publish my work.  That’s what this discussion is about. It harkens back to seeing Uncle Hank’s One From None for the first time.  On my buddy’s stoop in the middle of winter in 1992. I was 17 and I was drinking beer and smoking Marlboro Reds!  Not just knowing I could do it. Knowing I would. 

Also, I love the way text looks on paper.  I love ink and columns of words. I’ve been publishing at Going For The Throat, 600 words every Thursday for the last 10 years, and it all started because I loved the way my black words looked on this white page.  It’s their WaPo theme you’re looking at right now and it looks real and I love it.  It looks like a newspaper.  It’s another trick of the mind.  Holding a collection of your own work in your hands, self-publishing, posting to a site that looks like a newspaper makes me feel like I am writing for a newspaper, which is something I’ve pretended to do since the age of 10.  It’s this elemental, mind-trick magic. Is a blog published? Is it a newspaper?   Let’s just say it looked like one and that was enough for me to keep coming back to the well and posting here for 10 years.  I’m a writer because I write and I’ve been writing here for a decade–success.


A byproduct of putting out a collection of poetry every year is I get to see, to physically see, how much I am in fact writing every year.  The diabolical and necessary contradiction of confidence and doubt I mentioned, a contradiction that Bruce Springsteen urged us to keep alive, inside our minds, at all times–if it doesn’t drive you crazy it will make you strong.  I never think I write enough.   This drives me, it’s another trick of the mind, though not a kind one–the fear of not being a writer is what drives me, puts me in a chair, forces me to write.  It puts me on deadline which is one of the 3 things I mentioned that all of us have in order to be a writer–a deadline.  A deadline is accountability, you need a deadline to be a writer. You need to be accountable and I don’t know about you but I am horrible at being accountable to myself.  I need to be accountable to another.  So I announce it on social media, I’m publishing a collection of poetry every year for 10 years and you bet I’ll do it.  I’ve projected my fear of failure and with yet another trick of the mind I use “your” disappointment as my inspiration.
The thing that makes me a writer is, first of all that I write, and I write because I am terrified that I won’t be a writer!   I could go into all the reasons why–I never wanted to be like my Father, a closet poet and a company man.  I never wanted to be anything like him and these are the things that drive me.  Can you find some some weird dark combination of motivation and worthlessness and guilt in your brain?  If you can then you’re golden pony boy.  I never feel like I write enough.  But thanks to this crazy fucking deadline I’ve imposed on myself, I make sure I do!  

10 2019-10-31 at 12.18.27 PM

When I turned 40 I decided to put out a collection of poetry every year for 10 years.  When I turn 50 I don’t know what the fuck I’ll do, but thanks to this deadline I know I’m a writer.  I publish 100 books and I sell 100 books–success.  Last year I published another poet, in addition to myself, and at his urging we did editions of 225 and I’m gonna sell every single one of them because my self worth depends on it.

11 Yellow Lark






2031 thumbnail