Jim Trainer

Archive for 2018|Yearly archive page


In Austin, Jim Trainer, self-publishing, Uncategorized, Writing on May 24, 2018 at 2:24 pm

It starts like this.  One word after another.  I snag you from out the ether and I pull you in.  Now you’re three sentences deep–we’ll need no introduction, but you’re gonna need a payoff.   The risks can be steep for this author, working in the creative nonfiction business, but wasting your time is never an option.  Time wasted is incremental murder.  Time is as serious as death itself and that’s because it’s the only thing standing in her way.  Time is the frontier on which she advances.  I clap my hands around a chigger and it has no more time.  I’m a pacifist but I kill.  I’ve a big heart but people are horrible.  I write 600 words every day sipping sweet espresso and I never have enough time to become who I am.  The risks of working in the creative nonfiction business can be greater than its boons.  You’ve total access and I never wanted to hide but now I’m weary and the enemy has won the round.

Just remember you are also a person, she writes, in response to my declaration that people are horrible.
I am horrible!  I respond, which is no revelation.
We are all horrible, she writes finally and almost sage-like if not for being utterly passive-aggressive and horrible.

There is so much I wish I could tell you that I’ll only regret later if this post should fall into the wrong hands.  The need to stay undercover is strong and could trump my resolution to bring you 600 words of the Real, from the life of a Writer, weekly annals mired both in the daily and dirty of it.  I need to rethink it and I’ll need some time away.  For every horrible person I’ve transacted with in the last 3 weeks there is one of you out there who is golden–a guru of friendship and compassion that can hold Lady Death at bay, for a spat of hard laughter from the gut and a gleaming look in your eye worth more to me than a diamond.  You know who you are and I love you.  I just need to get away to get this rig unwound.  I go live in the truest sense this Autumn and I’ll need to lay low and recharge.  You should have more than enough to go on next Friday, when I unleash Take To The Territory unto the world like a map into the wilds of my unction heart.

I’ll still be here, you know I will, but I’m going deeper–hiding out until you find me, and from what I build, you can bet they won’t be able to get to us there, we’ll be free and in love, in the thrall of real work, across the borderline tilling the hungry land. When I come down from the mountain you won’t be alone. They will be cast aside. The enemy will join us at the table or learn to gnash on themselves.

Calling out to hungry hearts
everywhere through endless time
You who wander, you who thirst,
I offer you this heart of mine.
Calling out to hungry spirits
everywhere through endless time,
Calling out to hungry hearts
all the lost and the left behind.
Gather round and share this meal
your joy and your sorrow
I make them mine.
–Zen Buddhist Invocation

Join Jim Trainer next Friday June 1, at Malvern Books, in celebrating the release of Take To The Territory, his fourth full-length collection of poetry, through Yellow Lark Press.  Featuring Brown Thought and Christine Schiele.  7PM



In Uncategorized on May 17, 2018 at 5:15 pm

Punk’s not dead, it just sucks now.
–Grafitti in the Men’s Room at the Black Cat Lounge

I smashed my heel falling off a makeshift ladder in my bathroom.  Handsome Dan caught me but it was too late.  The hard tiles crushed the bones of my ankle together and now I can’t rest my foot anywhere–not up or down–for longer than a few minutes before I have to move it again.  My IBS is flaring up, probably from the half&half I’ve been adding to my coffee and I think a filling is loose which is probably from all the high fructose corn syrup in the non-dairy creamer I’ve been drinking to curb my IBS.  My joints are sore, and practically arthritic because I haven’t been taking my Glucosamine.  Anxiety bleeds the corners at the edge of my day and goes full roar at night.  Who knew I had too much energy, and that all those gallons of bourbon I’d been drinking were only a stopgap for the cackling and torrential madness within me?  I did, for one thing.  I always knew, ever since my “straight edge” days in High School–without a band I’d have no way to kill it my head.  It was only a matter of time before I was set to self destruct and bourbon was only the beginning.  I’d drink until I slurred, snort coke until I was good, and then crush a Xanax and lick it to come down.  Mornings were hard then, Good Reader, but I assuaged the hangover with a cocktail.  Then I got old and mornings got dark as midnight.  It got bad before it got better and now I’ve uncovered the Beast.  Too much energy is the worst reason not to get anything done and Sister Kim was right–I’ve got all the tools to work it out, and Sister Maureen–I’ve all the reason to.

I was offered $50 last night to act like I was into the band.  They were a punk band.  I didn’t realize until just then how important it is to me.  We both know the scene got so jaded wth itself, violent and worst of all the music suffered.  I dropped off right before Greenday hit, but, for reference and to assure you I am not cooler than you, when Greenday hit I was into them.  They were a return to form for me.  They weren’t anything as dumb as something called metalcore and better than anything on the radio at the time–bands like Korn and Disturbed and this kind of shit.  It was, or seemed to be, pure punk rock.  These days I wouldn’t listen to Greenday if you payed me but I might act like I was into them if you offered me $50 on a rainy Tuesday night in Bro Country.

“It is pretentious, isn’t it?”

Lance turned away from where we sat on oversized lawn recliners in the rain.  Lance lives across the street from Joey Ramone’s parents in North Jersey and was more punkrock than the band on stage and lot of us getting paid to be in the crowd.  When the band started I was in the bathroom but made my way to the stage beside a white dude in dreads who smelled like dreads.  He annoyed me but when he stepped away I felt vulnerable and exposed.  A phony among phonies.  There wasn’t one fan there who wasn’t offered money to be.  It felt like work.  They did Pretty Vacant and it was alright, but, let me tell you something–if you’re a punk band and you’ve no attitude–you’re doing it wrong.  You didn’t get the memo that you’re not supposed to be up there.  It doesn’t matter what you play as long as you’re playing it as important as death itself.  The 10 minutes I spent talking with Lance were as real as it got for me.  A “punk” band playing to a canned crowd in the most insincere city deep in the heart of Bro Country.  I wore my Eulogy shirt, though.  At least I repped my friends.

The best news I got for you is I’m getting my voice back.  I’ve been seeing a specialist which hasn’t been cheap but worth every penny.  My vocal chords were out of sync with my breath.  I leave the Doc’s office ringing and resonant, and I try to carry it over at home on my sessions with the Guild.  This hair-brained and willy-nilly post is what you can expect from me after I’ve been in the thrall of anxiety too long.  It takes me away from The Work which is no bueno.  Every morning I pray nothing takes me away from my art.  Not the maddening search for subletters, not explosive bowel movements, not getting up at 4 to drive a 16′ stake bed or any number of niggling ailments and conditions that can bore through our workaday lives and rattle us fuckall trying to make a living in the America.  Besides a bit of recon in the territory and seeing how the other half live, I’ll be keeping the blades sharp and getting 600 on wax before noon every day.  It’s the least I can do and it’s what’s expected of me.  I’m a journalist now.

See you on the internet, motherfucker.

John Crow Blues

In Uncategorized on May 10, 2018 at 8:10 am

My youth was nothing but a lowering storm, occasionally lanced by sudden suns…
–Charles Baudelaire, The Enemy

This may sound dire.  Because it is.  If I don’t make it now I might never, but–if you take the theatrics out and the drama away I’ll adjust, and adapt, and find a way for my Art to survive.  This is the struggle.  Ain’t it though.  I been cut free from the slog.  My mornings are quietly constructing columns of words on writing, the ruling class, the America, travel plans, and the nighttime is for poems and letters.  Unemployment’s been good to me, it’s the anxiety that’s been unkind.  I’m faced with the most impossible and fuckall obstacle of all–getting everything I want.  It makes me anxious, like I’ll lose it somehow and not just be back where I started but nowhere, Pal.

As if I could.  I’m not 20 anymore.  Not thirty or forty either and that’s ok with me.  What I remember about striking out into the city are freezing, November morning rides crossing the South Street bridge in workboots.  It wasn’t long till I was in the know, though, living in converted warehouses and steeped in trysts with rockettes and independent film stars.  Philly was savage, the frontier, with plenty of places and people to get lost in.  I fell in love enough times to be considered terribly lucky or desperately low.  I can’t compare my roaring youth to what’s happening now.  I don’t even know why I’m writing about the end of the century, to be honest, except to say that there really is no way I could ever go back but if I could, would that be so bad?  I live like a monk compared to that fast and sleazy decade but I’m on point and I started this writing you to let you know I’m struggling.

I’m fighting the good fight but I’m losing.  I’m confronting the Self and this battle is making the case to start smoking again.  I stared the 10 pages of the CORE app blind.  I did what I could, I’m here today.  I’m working for cash and booking the Fall.  Playing every Sunday night at the Saturn.  I might have to take work out of country and while I might be writing a hell of a lot less than anything else I’m doing with my time these days, it’s a hell of a lot more than it used to be in those sanguine end days of the 20th Century, living with a mattress and a Remington manual.  Those were mad jungle nights compared to these evenings of copacetic cardboard.  The difference is if it makes it to the page and if I get it on wax ain’t it though.  That’s all that matters now and I suppose it’s a great way to sublimate all that anxiety–that perches on my shoulder like a grey turkey vulture, egging me on with rue and failure, reaffirming the worst parts of my story…and wooing me back to an oblivion of the past…the clacking of keys, it’s a good remedy…it’s worked before, and I’ma keep at it, too.

The days go creaking by.  The road is clear.  The worst fears I’ve suffered, and the story that I won’t live my dreams have given way, yielded to a great fear that I’ll be happy and get what I want.


In poem, Uncategorized on May 3, 2018 at 2:29 pm

Celebration is the way I walk
legs scissoring through
downtown stares on the avenue
pull heavy on the door
and posit, here, behind the glass
decaf appears like a familiar, like
a black unblinking seer’s eye
it’s steam caught, mid-air
in present tense
the gay bike messenger boy
leans to, his posture a question?
and his eyes so I’m sure
fuck outta here
I’m between cities like Jesus on the
weekend and the platinum out the window
is heaps more my speed
she’s the kind you get lost
with and never found
towers reaching up around her
like they could poke the somnabulant
sky and make it rain
I leave him in there
and the steam in the air
catch my betty’s eye
and hold it like a prism
I walk, North, into my city
holding the rain in its clouds
arms out like a scarecrow at a yellow
the wind on a florist’s awning
makes it flap to
and ripples through the rows of blooms
like all the flowers are laughing


In Uncategorized on April 29, 2018 at 10:30 pm

traffic still streams out on the highway
and where they’re going’s still magic
if they’re headed out of town
bands still play on a 4’ high stage
you can still get up close, you want to
feel it
the young still think it’s hopeless
don’t realize till it’s too late
they’re the only hope we got
they don’t assume the role, don’t mask it
then they’ll learn
there is no love without fear
the eastern hemlock still burst, red oak
and sweet birch still reach
over the dirty river slowly flowing
wide-mouthed and wretched
the lights of the plant are still draped like
deadly jewelry
up on a black nape of Jersey sky
the worst of man is still being birthed
evil still takes its turn
and the triumph of him spun up against it
these arms can still do good if I’ve
a tomorrow then I’ve a love
but there’s something in your way
that’s not you anymore, this smile
of yours that’s not your face
and everything and all the days
we had we won’t have anymore
the wind’s picked up where you stood
and our grappling’s tight and doubled
we’ll have to fight that much harder
now, without you among us on this side
of the veil
your death will have to make us strong
in your way our love will have to stand

#mitchmason #mitchmasoniii

A post shared by Jim Trainer (@goingforthethroat) on


In Uncategorized on April 26, 2018 at 11:00 am

sun came up it was another day
sun went down and you were blown away
Drunken Angel

I booked it sometime before midnight. The AUS-PHL leg was $56 and I used all my points for my return except I was almost 8,000 short. To buy more points I had to log on and remember the password for an account I never use. I was asked 2 questions: What is the middle name of your first child? and Who is your favorite sports team? I got on the horn and waited. Doris came on, sweet old bird, and walked me through the entire booking process until she finally heard me say that I already had a flight. “I just need my password.” She sent me the link and I logged on. Then I bought 8,000 Rapid Rewards points for $150. All told my flight to Philly cost $166. Except that the third party who sells you points on Southwest charged me three times–a difference between $150 and $450 that brought my checking account down to $15. On the way to the airport at 3:30 this morning I realized that the too-good-to-be-true rate of $56 to Philly was exactly that because the leg I booked was for tomorrow. With Brown Thought riding shotgun I worked it out with them on the hands free. She refunded the mistakenly booked leg for tomorrow and reserved a flight out for me this morning. It was $409 but, no bueno, if you recall–I had $15 in my account from the third party’s negligent overcharge and their customer service wouldn’t be open for another 4 hours Central Time. I hopped out the Element, holla’d at my boy and leaned my iPad to a cylinder on the baggage pavilion. I transferred my savings to my checking and hoped for the best. At check in I was told to go to Sales and at Sales 3 employees stood round a computer monitor staring intently without a sound. Beth from checkin came round. I told her I had a flight reserved. She asked if I paid for it, a bad sign. I gave her my card. It’s one of the new cards the bank sent me, with the numbers printed instead of embossed on the card, and completely rubbed off anyway. Luckily I remembered my credit card number. Sometimes I don’t. My card didn’t go through. She asked me for the number again and I couldn’t remember. The 3 sales reps from the monitor came round. I sent out the fuck off vibes. Without so much as a look in their direction they backed off slowly. No bueno, card denied. I explained to Beth that their third party points sales had charged me 3 times what they should’ve, that my checking was tapped and my savings, too, except it probably hasn’t cleared since I’d just transferred the funds right out the very doors I came in 10 minutes prior. She switched my rez to today at no charge. I flew to Philly for free and now I’m sitting here waiting to board as Lucinda Williams sings her paen to Blaze, then Earle kicks in with the harp to take the whole thing home.

Now Brennen Leigh is singing to me and I realize, sitting here, that my quality of life has improved concurrently with the quality of music in my life. That’s not a shot on Philly, but a shot at Philly radio, and the close-mindedness of my favorite bluecollar hardnocks burg with more attitude than the 5 boroughs combined. They play Classic Rock up there, and jocks like Pierre Robert stink up the airwaves with a pseudo hippy flare and play the same tired songs that were old when you first heard them over thirty years ago. It’s not much better over the bridge in Jersey, but you can get away with more. My band, the Workingman’s Blues Band, played a place called Leanna’s in Deep Water for a couple years. It was a 4-hour set for $150. There were 4 of us and we were happy to, more than happy to. They were the juke joint band I had always dreamed of. A band of frontmen, and women, actually. Some nights playing with them were the most joyful and communal times I’ve ever had playing music, and I’m including my time in hardcore bands, which, as it turns out, wasn’t as communal as advertised. When I looked around and every single one of us was grooving, doing our own thang, together, and I sang my fucking heart out. Cash and Waits and Solomon Burke. We played all the good songs. You bet and my buddy Mitch booked us. It was his idea. He got us the gig and got them out to see us, too. He even made fliers. I was stone cold sober those years. Crossing into Deep Water, the dark of Jersey, over the bridge off 295, it was rock and roll and it was everything man, something I can’t live down and I’m reckoning with, ever since the Southern-Steele wedding right on through my tour with Pslamships this Spring to, sadly, now—with the news of Brother Mitch’s passing. It’s where I come from, how I cut my teeth and something I have’t quite found in the live music capital of the world. My Texas band is stellar. Billy Brent is one of the finest ax grinders I’ve ever shared a stage with and singing with him is a dream. Ray Kainz. Eroq. Kyle Clayton is the best upright bass player I’ve ever played with and Justin Kolb, besides being on point on the doghouse, is a consumate sideman–he backed me enough to move me down here in the first place ain’t it though.

Life’s too short Good Reader. It’s too short not to play good music and call your friend to have lunch and hang out with for some odd number of hours. I’m going home to bury Mitch. He was a sweet Brother. I can think of a lot of other people I’d rather see gone but I wouldn’t be flying cross country to see them off. I’ll spare you the cliches, only the good die young and all that–this post was jiggy from the gate anyway. There’s no way to make death ok. There’s only life and it’s running out every day. I abandoned work on CORE funding and I’ll be pushing for the Community Initiative grant. It’s just in my scope and the application isn’t layered in the business rubric of the CORE grant. I was over my head. It took me a couple weeks to admit it to myself. I had to hang it up, for a spell. Head back to the hometown and say goodbye. Love your ones, good Reader, and don’t waste any time on heathen scum. Live your life how you wanna because someday we will die. The clock is ticking and your life time is winding down, so if you’re thinking you should then you oughta. See you on the street motherfucker. We can get lunch.



In Uncategorized on April 24, 2018 at 8:05 pm

with so much death around us
I’m reminded
that the departed have given us
a heavy gift, they’ve
shifted the focus, put
our eyes back to the road
and back on your beautiful face
taken our hands from the plow
and opened them to the hands
of the Friend
when they’d gone
there came a forgiveness
and an opening
I knew how precious you were
and how missed any
of you would be
if you left me, here, today
with only your memory
Death has softened me sweet Brother
opened my arms wide for
the next time we take
each other in and we
won’t have to let go

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Precious Heart

In Uncategorized on April 23, 2018 at 8:20 pm

lights above the diner, hanging from the plant, bare bulbs burning yellow, on the rust of a toothless dusk

we’d cross over to the Philly side, sometimes, smoking 27s the whole way, with the windows down as The Attic Tapes played, and the night coming in cold and black
Philly wasn’t much bigger then, for our foil and thrust, just like those shows weren’t much, cross the bridge and watch, kids rage against what did them in, in the end
why do I get to live, in this rock&roll paradise, with little to no consequence, while you got pulled down and hemmed in by everything we were up against?

lights above the diner, on the way home, side by side with the railroad tracks, laughter falling out the window and the night coming in cold and black

Slipshod Life

In Uncategorized on April 18, 2018 at 11:56 am

Sharpen your machetes.  It’s time to kill your neighbors.
Rwandan Public Radio

Hullo. ‘Tis I, your undying and bristly artist, typing with the timer on as the traffic blows past on 35 out my window, and death crouches close to whisper in the rolling earth’s ear, Come home.  Indeed.  I been put out for a year or thirty, but what’s it matter when you’re trying to molt it all and become who you are anyway? I remember all my belongings, around me and on my back, on a bristling cold day in January at the Landsdowne train station. I had no money and no home. I don’t know how I found out about those rooms in Darby, but they were $70 a week and I was on my way there. I had a hot dog and a pack of Marlboros and too much pride for anyone in this world. I had to make my way through the long cold winter any way I could until I found the Tao or enrolled in night school.  They were some hard days and if I know me, they were way harder than they had to be.  I paid the price and it wasn’t just my struggle with the cold.  The trauma of homelessness informs more of my life decisions than I’d ever thought or wanted.    Capitalism reels me in every time I spin out on a dream.  Incidentally, the columns of text I wrote about it already are gone.  I maxed out my storage on WordPress so it’ll do things like ask me to buy more continuously, or fail to save 700 hard-earned words about roaming the parks and cemeteries of Delaware County in the late 90s with a sleeping bag and a copy of The Fountainhead.  I bring up the fact that what I wrote about it is gone because it could inform the reading of this piece–maybe I seem more angry or jaded or resigned, as if I could ain’t it though.

As mentioned, I found the Tao while homeless.  Fighting the elements is useless when you’re out-of-doors, your defenses are down so you got surrender working for you.  I can remember it clear as day–some muddy flowing creek, from a bridge above in Sharon Hill, on a Saturday off from pulling carpet and whatever else I was doing to get by, I understood moving while standing still.  I felt like the moving water below, in the same place but everywhere, flowing on but here forever, the Way.  I haven’t felt much of that since, to be honest, though I’ve come close while practicing Yoga.  I haven’t felt much of what I’d call peace since I gave up the smoke and drink either, but my best thinking is that it’s different now.  It’s just not the same.  I feel like a lunatic most of the time which is fine when you consider that most of the world thinks it’s moving on a straight line–people do some insane things because they were taught to or because the System’s got them crazy, providing for loved ones and family.  It’s true I’ve the luxury of being a hermit.  I can wake up on a Wednesday and type my lunatic screed on a MacBook Pro while the world rushes by on the highway outside.  You made your choices and I made mine.  I’d never raise a kid in this country and I’m not a hundred on the world at large.  Point is I’m out of my mind and glad to be, most of the time.

The trouble comes when I strike out and attempt to do something other than daywork, shuck-and-jive work, blue collar and food service, daylabor work.  I get buggy.  Don’t seem to get anything done.  Masturbate.  Sleep.  If the fear was talking it would tell me to wait until the money’s gone–in a holding pattern that keeps anxiety and desperation neck and neck, in race to give me hypertension and agita.  Oh and the fear is talking.  Loudly, good Reader.  It’s almost drowning the whole thing out.  I could forget how lucky I am and that this is an opportunity.  Lucky I’ve got Greta Jee’s puja every morning and that I’ve taken Brother Jacob’s advice to get down on my knees every night before life puts me there.  As far as being homeless and addiction, well…every time I try and bring it back it recedes.  It slips through my fingers and it ain’t all WordPress’ fault either.  I’ve written a lot about my recovery, as per Brother Bean’s request, but I can’t ever seem to bring it home.  It’s some hard history good Reader, jagged information that’s hard to bring back without disassociating, spinning out and away from the keys and into some useless activity to make the mind numb, social media.

What can I say?  My 20s were a rough time and it’s made me crazy.  I go in for 55-hour work weeks because of it.  Get up at 4AM and punch a clock in the dirty, hated world because of it–I’m scared of being out there again.  What’s worse is when I have the opportunity to do something else my time and energy are usurped by it.  The Fear.  Motherfucker in my head woos me to sleep in the middle of the day, fucks me off at night watching internet TV and leaves me wasted in the thrall of lust–sexually annihilated, bowled and rolled over as the days and weeks go by until I’ve a tank of gas left, my savings are gone, and I have to crawl into a painfully lit office and say Yes, sir.  Jim Trainer, reporting for duty.  Sorry for dreaming.  What was I ever thinking, trying to be an Artist and do the work I was born to, that I love?



In Uncategorized on April 16, 2018 at 7:16 pm

most of adventure is doleful
you sink within
until you’re in the good place
hold on to what you’ve got
and go with that
don’t get sold on promise and prize,
or a dream of the future
the day that never arrives
this isn’t to say it’s simple
or easy or black and white
the truth is, another day is victory
and how you spend it is on you
I’ve worked for them enough, though
choked whole days off, for their profit
at their worry—it’s a troublesome lot
to be beyond small minds but
still under the thumb of the masters
ain’t it though
I always found my work deserting theirs
made this language safe-cracking
and white-hot, ran past the guard
into the sky
and the world and all it knew
fell away like loose change
till I was drunk on the high air
broken, spinning, terribly free.

Please visit jimtrainer.net for 1 of 4 full length collections of poetry and prose.