Jim Trainer

Archive for April, 2018|Monthly archive page


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

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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 haven’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.

…from a great love and in to death’s thrall…

In Uncategorized on April 12, 2018 at 6:10 pm

You goin’ for my throat next, baby?
Laurie Gallardo

Well. I got the best and the worst news always. Ain’t it though. Been up north traveling, playing music and making friends. My new place has no oven and no fridge. I’m writing this in my blue plaid Ugz bottoms, with the door open to some of the best weather in what feels like forever. The courier job fired me and I ain’t even mad. I should head down to the Personnel store in my serving blacks–get in line to run that racket for $12 an hour. Deadline for the CORE grant is May 1. I got 2 checks coming to me still, a bunch of loot saved and a couple-two-three sidehustles to help get me by. I should be shacked up and throwing my hat in the ring just as soon’s I shake these unemployment blues. It’s not lost on me that if it were a horrible job I’d be up and at it by 4. Instead I lay around and fuck about, asking What’s wrong with me? enough times for it to become a masochistic mantra. It’s time to get on with it which includes the backlog of this blog. I’m writing this one live, good Reader, and I’ll do my best to break through the block and catch up with you. My charge with Going For The Throat was that I’d never have writer’s block again, and it’s mostly true, I just been trigger shy and dolefully terrible with sloth. Guess I been feeling sorry for myself and couldn’t admit it until now, with you here and on this page.

Could be I’m recovering, because, how fucking horrible was the winter, eh good Reader? The Fall wasn’t much better even if it was what it took for me to get free, find myself in the territory and one step closer to living my dreams. ‘Cause I still got them. They’re not going away. I wanna be: multi media, piqued and primed and rocking out in full regalia. The airwaves and pages, up under the hot lights and singing ’em out into the crowd. The crowd at Ox was the gig I’d been working toward in Philly for years. I left Hostile City and when I came back, there they were, gathered round me at the counter where I sung out and played. Josh and I got some in the can–Pauper’s Blues, Halloway and Slipshod Life. Kevin Aurer and I had coffee Saturday, talking plans for my latest book (2017’s Take To The Territory), and if it ain’t out before I leave town in June then I ought to be ashamed. It’s tough getting back into the swing, I mean–even while working brutal hours at A.E.D. I was able to come up with at least 600 for you. There’s been some bumps in the road, kinks in production that I’m trying my best to rectify by writing this with you now. It’s true I don’t have writer’s block anymore but I wonder what it is I have to say.

My new charge is to maintain the work no matter what’s going on around or within, no matter the lack of furniture or appliances, 55-hour North Texas grinds or this groovy copacetic place I’m in now–the presses have got to keep rolling. I still got a deadline and travel plans. I’ve got poetry to write and publish, songs to play and sing, a grant to apply for and 600 words to come through with, for you and me and my slipshod sanity. I’ve got to write this column to keep grips and clear the chamber. I’ve got to write it, even if it’s only to keep us together and to say: I’ve nothing to say but I love you and I’m gonna keep on pushing til the light of day. I’m done feeling sorry for myself, and now I’ve got to hit it and hard. Death’s not getting any farther away.

Momento mori. Welcome back motherfucker.


In Uncategorized on April 5, 2018 at 8:42 pm

Jim Trainer reads from Take To The Territory, his 4th full length collection of poetry and prose, out next month through Yellow Lark Press.