Jim Trainer

Archive for December, 2018|Monthly archive page


In Uncategorized on December 27, 2018 at 11:58 am

…everything that once seemed slightly fake now has the power and presence of the real.
-Max Read

We’re no longer the suckers, folks, and people aren’t looking at us as suckers and I love you…
-President Donald J. Trump

Even a blind pig finds an acorn now and then.
-Hunter S. Thompson

The enemy is a very good teacher.
The Dalai Lama

Look at this place.  Totes overturned with guts of electronics spilled out beneath a cockeyed ironing board and black oxford draped over it sulking.  A pathetic hill of business cards, fliers and receipts piled up on a throw rug and in the shadow of the Tacoma Guild in its Wolfpak case.  My poetry and prose collections have taken over the Yoga trunk and coffee table.  The dresser is covered in clothes and candles with 2 of its drawers dead open and gaping.  The bathroom is a waste and an embarassment to describe—beard clippings and dirty tees and the toilet like a bomb site due to too many months of gastro trouble.  To think at this time last week I was beneath the soft blue sky in the Land of Eternal Spring, where nobody knows my name but out on the street everybody says Buenas!  I’m at a loss for today’s post, which is exactly how I like it. The speed of the news and acceleration of our decline is dizzying, ain’t it though, and our acclimation to death and war is just as alarming. There’s no place I’d rather be than down here at the Office, in the maelstrom of my own mess, recovering from thirty-two hundred miles, two book releases and 4 shows in 11 days.  This blog was invented for this.  Down at the Office we fly by our seat, without time to think because premeditated writing comes off as fake and essay writing is a bore.

I include you because I need you, truth be told, so these posts are meant to be an embrace.  I write poetry to get a hit off reality and spin it out beyond compunction and bleed the bone-dry moments on an IBM Selectric II.  I send my work out to pubs like El Informe, The Adroit and Sybil Journals because that’s what writers do and I need to get the work away from me before I fall in love with it or it’s destroyed and otherwise buried beneath a mountain of time and typewritten pages.  The news isn’t bothering me much this week.  Living in the Land of the Free my problems are few.  I’m generally perturbed by the vestiges of a clinching world though, it seems that every year I’ll need some clearing off and what could be a more fitting end to the Year of the Cock than a hatchet?  We should shake the dust, good Reader, rid ourselves of deadweight, lift each other or pry their grubby fingers off and what better way to do it than in writing?  I know you get the same charge I do reading these posts and I know we couldn’t make it otherwise.  You know this is my life.  You affirm it every time you read.  I love writing, it should be plain, and the way traffic on the highway washes past and my ears get filled with the almost painfull quiet of solitide.  I relish in these couple hours alone each week.  You tune in and read and we’ve got each other and isn’t that nice?

All bluster and filigree aside and beneath the flowerings of that anger, what I’m trying to say is my life is good, it’s taken some fortuitous and enjoyable turns as of late and in 2019 I’ll be carving out some real time for us together.  You bet.  The haters and imitators will draw ever more concentric circles around us but our love will have only grown.  Next year I’ll have even less time for that and if my psychological growth is any indication, my quickenings will double and hate will bounce off me because at my root I’ll be a repulsing pole for:  jealousy, mocking, small-mindedness, insanity, inclusiveness, bad writing and fake poetry.  This is the new stuff.  I go dancing in.  May the Year of the Brown Pig bring us great fortune and happiness.  Hugs will be rationed and I’ll guard my time with my life but you know I’ve always got time for you, good Reader.  I owe it all to you and am marvelled by you—you’ve kept your heart’s beacon ablaze and out on the frontier and wasteland of my own blues I can always see you burning.

Run like a river, glow like a beacon fire…

Vox populi, vox dei.



In Uncategorized on December 20, 2018 at 12:39 pm

Our greivances matter more than our vulnerabilities.
Steve Almond

Hello Staff,
This past Friday we all worked an event for Grifted Ponce Catering. The client at the end of the night couldn’t find his pair of black pants and shirt. The pants did have a wallet inside.  If anyone by accident took it, if you could please let me know so we can return it to the client.
Pair O’Hands Staffing

You take whatever takes you back…
Cory Branan


I’m over 1,500 miles from home.  I’m between continents, in another country but I can still hear Christmas music from here.  My legs are asleep from having them up and trying to write from the daybed.  I had to come in from the terrace because it started to rain.  I’ve had allergies since before I got here and of course my digestive system is jacked and has been since November 2016.  On the john earlier today I was reaching for the baby wipes when I felt another sneezing fit come on.  A sneeze lingered and left me hanging between reaching to wipe and blowing my nose—I couldn’t do either so I just stood there, over the toilet waiting with my pants around my ankles like a jerkoff.  And hark the herald angels sing, I hear the carolers getting closer, it feels like vicegrips on the bridge of my nose, I can hardly breathe and I’m writing from a place neither supine nor upright which ain’t the half because between the weak WiFi and Apple’s planned obsolescence of my iPad, and using WordPress through Safari on a mini keyboard straight up blows.  I’m not looking for a break because I’ve had plenty and recently.  My physical woes will cede, at least I hope they will, and I should be in better shape for Saturday’s much anticipated reading at Dyslexia Libros.

My host couldn’t be more gracious and he is in fact the reason and impetus for this trip happening at all.  Brother Julian will be moving to the Velvet Rut come Febuary so the window of time for me visiting was shrinking.  Bartending and catering tapered off, just after I was hired on and made some great money working for a new company.  Which reminds me, all my slagging and shit talking about caterers last week was in no way directed toward my new place of employ.  It was aimed straight at a particular company and temp agency that staffs me with him and anyway the backlog of 3 months being a body in the food service business—shit on and talked down to but still broke.

As you may have surmised, there isn’t any main thrust or theme for this week’s post.  I continue to deliberately obliterate the mores of essay writing, as I have done, ever since a Tuesday morning ENG COMP II class in the hometown over twenty years ago.  I write to clear the chamber, to keep my chops and otherwise blow off steam.  This missive is in no way, shape or form a slag of my host and Friend—just that I’m taking a turn and everything is wrong at the moment but it will pass.  The carolers have passed, maybe they could see the black cloud over 34 A and sensed a 6’2” menace on the other side of the door banging out these words and contorted like a corpse.  Truth is, as ridden and fucked as it’s been it is heaps better than being kept and at another’s bidding which is exactly where I was around this time last year.  I’m a victim of circumstance and, like I said, I’m taking a turn—but I ain’t nobody’s darling nor at anyone’s beck and call.

You bet my days being kept on the caregiving circuit are through.  No more either the tired devotionals I’ve made to narcissistic bitches and colossal timesucks.  There is no silver lining, good Reader.  If there was I’d only suspect it anyway.  It’s my life now, even when it’s hairy and uncomfortable and freezing in the airport and the furniture in my living quarters was made for men and women at least a foot smaller and Christmas carols waft and bound off the volcano like contagion and I can’t stop sneezing or shitting—my worst day out in the territory is a pleasure compared to the trappings of the small minds and paltry passions in whose idiotic thrall I was for most of my adult life.  These annoyances and peccadilloes?  Potholes on the savage road to living my dreams.  I am getting free, good Reader, reaching for the petals and pulling myself up by the thorns.

See you in America motherfucker.

The Work

In Uncategorized on December 13, 2018 at 9:33 am

I waited too long and I got sick of it.  It was the longest I’d ever lived anywhere, and the longest job I ever had, but the place was swarming with people I didn’t care for.  Priscilla, for one–she was always trying to crack smiles over dumb jokes.  She can get fucked.  I don’t suffer fools and I sure as shit don’t fake laugh to get along with phony bitches who pretend to be someone they’re not until it’s time to leave you high and fucking dry.  Living there, and dealing with that collection of mentally unwell n’er do wells, oddballs, screwballs, dopefiends, waterheads and runaways had made me bitter.  It reconditioned my nerves.  The clowns who beat that dopesmoke scene had 2 things in common: how great they were in their own minds and the fact that none of them worked there, like I did.  Most of them didn’t work at all so they were there all the time.  There was no option but to move.  Buy a car.  Split.  Never talk to any of those people again.  But I had to bide my time.  Save my money and plot my next move.  It was contrary to every impulse of survival I had.  I was trapped behind a wall of my own hatred.  Paralyzed by a venom toward people I’d suffered too long.  It was fucked.  The book was a losing proposition.  If I told all I’d be kicked out when it hit the stands.  I had to keep it all in until I was ready to go.  I needed to get a grip and pull it together.  Find a quiet place to write it all down and eviscerate the lot of  them.
When The House Burned Down

Well.  I’ve moved the laptop to the window side of the desk.  I’m looking out and all I see is gray.  Cold out there.  It’s warm in here though, on cup 3 of Espresso Roast–coarsely ground and honey sweet.  I’ve been working for this afternoon, and others like it, for my whole life.  I had to be available–for night and dawn shifts at hotels and airports and conventions, and I had to put in long weekends in the sticks of Texas, decked out in all black and dripping sweat and doing everything in my power not to choke the pissbrained&shitmouthed excuses for human beings working in the food service industry.  Put it to you this way, when you’re making $15/hr serving a $20 million dollar dinner, the LAST thing you want is a graying ponce with a nanny belly in designer glasses raising his voice at you and otherwise talking to you in a way that in some circles could get you got or stabbed.  If it sounds like I’m bitter it’s because I am but the boons of flying your jolly roger are glorious and unfettered afternoons like this one, when the traffic rushes by on the highway outside but in here it’s quiet as a tomb.  I get to write, good Reader.  It’s all I’ve ever wanted and I’ve already touched on one of the reasons why.  Not only do I get to divine my own Gods in here, and talisman my pain, I can eviscerate shitheeled and hairy-tongued bosses who don’t know they’re walking around an inch from their life and that their death stalks them obsequiously in supermarkets and coffee shops and anywhere anyone has to put on an apron to take shit and smile.  Come the revolution, these bosses will be the first to go, then temp services and all other agencies of this capitalism and wreck of empire.  The boot will be on the other neck, good Reader–but until then we’ve got this column and isn’t that nice?

Yesterday, at the Austin Book Arts Center, me and my crew glued the spines of 127 book blocks and attached the covers to Love&Wages.  I’ll be picking them up in a couple hours, and mailing out pre-orders tomorrow.  This work we do–it’s got to mean something to the folks down home.  It’s got to be born of the street and come up and live there.  The horrible hours as a dayworker and factotum have made me lean.  I know what work is and letter pressing 320 sides, Warm Red then Black, doesn’t feel like work at all–but if it does I’d like to sign on for overtime.  There’s a line that runs from a high-ceilinged 1-bedroom above 45th&Locust streets in West Philly, all the way to the ABAC on MLK and just around the corner from Real&Alexander.  There was an urgency to those radio nights, in my first apartment, back then.  I felt plugged in to something and my anger was holy.  If I’d held on to those magic machines they’d still have their power–my Remington manual, that fucking Brother word processor, the President XII Tower and lastly the Selectric II just to the left of me where I write this, stanchioned like a red tank, cocked and ready to roll.  This is just to testify, good Reader.  You can live your dreams.  There will be monsters though, challenging and attempting to stifle you in a mythological way.  They dreamed but never gambled and they lost.  I can’t speak to why anyone is the way they are but if you don’t listen to your Gods they will stop talking.  When that happens you’ll probably find work as a caterer but mostly, to me, on the way of my hero’s quest you’ll be reduced to a pile of salt and a washed up, middle-class sack of shit besides.

You can smoke them all, good Reader.  There is no cure all and no guarantee of break or luck but if you don’t put the time in then you’ll be at the mercy of a dreamless and love-rationed world.  Work your job.  Get that paper.  And when you get home crank the heat on, sit down and get to work.  You will not be disappointed.  The real work will take you places man.  Wild and glass-bright places, hoary and hairy corners begging you always to evolve and rise to the occasion.  Writing has always been like performing to me and the stage lights are always hot and bright.  I’m sitting on 5 collections of my work–published, letter pressed and perfectly bound.  I’m flying out on Monday to sell 25 copies of Love&Wages, read there and perform.  I almost can’t believe it sitting here and I certainly never would have back in my West Philly days, living with a mattress and a manual and listening to WPPR.  Back then I only knew life had to be triumphant and that for this beautiful machine to roll, all the parts have to move.  Mostly though, I had to get it out and, in the most wonderful turn and kind of magic, the drive to overcome my blues is what put me in the chair to begin with–ultimately what will fly me across the border and over continents is The Work.

You show up, you sit down and you get to work.  And guess what?  You get to enjoy yourself.  Your heart can sing it’s song.  At the very least you can saw your enemies off at the knee, like I have, and reign over them, on the page and canvas and in the frame and hung on the fucking wall.  This work is for us, good Reader.  They’ll only be cast aside.



Love&Wages, Jim Trainer’s 5th full-length collection of poetry and prose, will be released through Yellow Lark Press at Malvern Books on December 16. Hosted by The Poetic Butcher and featuring poet Christia Madsci Hoffman (INTENT, Hedgehog & Fox 2017), singer-songwriter Nathan Hamilton and poet Nicole Brissette (Sybil Journal).  Pre-order your copy at jimtrainer.net and receive a coupon for 15% off September and All in the wind.  Thank you!




In Uncategorized on December 6, 2018 at 9:27 am

My first job was washing dishes at Martinichio’s Italian Restaurant, at the Bazaar of All Nations in Clifton Heights, PA.  I had a paper route too, so, my first job was 2 jobs.  I was 12. I remember distinctly, one of those rageful, slate-grey Fall days on the east coast when the smell of snow hangs in the air like wet stone, looking at my hands–at all the new creases and crinkles to my pink, young skin, dents and callouses and wrinkles put there from wrapping and throwing 8o Philadelphia Inquirers.  I knew acutely it was a loss of innocence and it was with that loss that my life began.  My first full-time job was for Hercules Movers, at the end of the American Century, in the city of Philadelphia—well, outside Philly in Devon and King of Prussia when the boss moved the yard.  It took us the same amount of time to get there even though King of Prussia was 6 miles and another exit out.  I guess it’s the way you can warp physics when you’re burning up the shoulder of 76W in a late model Honda Accord like an angry, silver bullet.  I took the sub in from my first apartment at 45th&Locust. It was the biggest 1-bedroom I could find for $400, and 5 big blocks from the el.  At the end of the line Mike Isajiw would whip around and scoop me at 69th.  We’d bomb up the highway to make it to the yard by 7:30.

It was hard then and it should’ve been.  Felt like me versus the universe which is wildly inaccurate.  Not only was I given this life and handed a destiny, I could choose not to fulfill it, walk sideways, slum it and fuck off.  Which is exactly what I did.  I lowered my rent with each successive move for the next 10 years til I was paying $125 a month to share a 2-bedroom house with 3 other people.  I wrote on a Brother word processor, and I hated that machine.  But I got a lot of work done.  I worked demo, converting a candy factory at 10th&Master to what they called “loft living”.  The smell of butterscotch was steeped into the beams and rafters.  A confectionary sweetness hung in the air and got mixed in with the welding gas and sawdust, metal shavings and pitch.  It was sickeningly caustic and sweet–death that paid and I took a check.

I was the crew chief of the demo crew.  Me, my blood brother Nick, and a crew of men from North Philly, almost twice my age and making half as much.  Pitch is the dust kicked up when you shovel asphalt, so named for its deathly-black color.  Pitch is why you shouldn’t shovel asphalt.  We shoveled asphalt off the roof and down to the top floor, wheelbarrowed it over and dumped it down the elevator shaft.  From the ground floor we’d wheelbarrow it to the dumpster in the alley behind Master.  When the shit hit the ground floor it would fill the place with pitch.  I mean it covered the windows and blocked out the sun so you couldn’t even see.  Now, I’m white.  My Brother Nick is Samoan.  The Crew was either black or Puerto Rican but–black, white, Puerto Rican or Samoan, we were all covered in the stuff and pitch-black from head to toe, except for where the straps fell on your face from your respirator if you chose to wear one. A lot of those men didn’t.

Me and Nick were making $11 an hour.  Not a bad come up from 3 years earlier, making $7.50/hr for Hercules (and $20 a man for pianos, $50 for a safe and cash on Saturdays).  The men on the Crew were making $20 and $30 a day.  They didn’t have to show up but if they did they had to play the role.  This was painfully apparent when Woody the Foreman left.  His replacement Gabe was an archetype of patriarchy and a gross little caricature of the Man.  Gabe was a walking testament to ineptitude, powerful despite his stature and old white authority incarnate.  He was grandfatherly, like a slave owner, with Coke bottle glasses and a big fat belly that hung over blue jeans he folded up at the cuff over his blocky black steel-toed, and held up by big red suspenders.  We called him Big Fat Gabe.  To his face.  He was pompous with power, odious and obnoxious.  He had those men kiss the ring.  Sometimes Daryl would float a broom all day long behind Big Fat Gabe’s desk.  They worked as hard as any of us and they fucked around and sometimes walked floor to floor fucking off the clock but who could blame them at $20 a day?  I didn’t expect this to sound so patronizing.  But why shouldn’t it?  I fought for those guys, for the Crew–especially at the bank when we couldn’t cash our checks without ID.  I broke us off for 15s, lunch and squares–a Kool mentholated pulled from the bottom of a soft pack.  At best we would fill a dumpster and go home (the dump closed at 4 so you could push it or lag, and time it so you’re only working 6 hours shoveling pitch and doing demo on a brutally humid summer day in the city).

I left that job and went on an 8-city spoken word tour by train.  Nick stayed on until he got a bike messenger job and left all my tools behind to be pilfered and stolen and sold.  No one knows what happened to the crew.  Rico, Charlie and Daryl, Playa Hata, Hata Playa and Virgil.  Of course it’d be tragic for any of them to die on the street–violently or otherwise, like–if one of Rico’s long weekends turned into a debilitating addiction or disease.  Truth is the tragedy would be if they went on living in North Philly, a notoriously tough neighborhood in a decidedly hostile city, without healthcare or any skillset how to raise a family or cope, on a high school and not even a high school education.  The tragedy of these mens’ lives is familiar, summed up in Post Office when Henry Chinaski admonishes the county hospital for letting his drunk girlfriend die, asking–“What’s the sin in being poor?

When I got back from tour I got a job at Sam’s Place, a West Philly bodega that sold coffee and American Spirits and Nat Shermans to entitled pricks like me, living in the hood and spending rent on gourmet cigarettes at $7.50 a pack.  Philly was under 2 feet of snow.  The tour was in support of August, my third chapbook and second collection with my first love and girlfriend at the time.  We had a rough go of it, me and Cecira.  She dyed her hair platinum while I was on tour and on a payphone in San Francisco she told me she fucking some Doctor.  Of course that only estranged me.  We went walking in the snow, and headed to Sam’s, and all I could smell was the bleach in her hair, a chemical smell that made me ill that I just shrugged off pretending I cared and didn’t care by blowing long plumes of brown smoke into the cold and drawn from a thin cigarillo.  I wouldn’t work labor again for another 8 years.  This was before the crash and Bush II, before 9/11 and the fucked dance we’ve been doing in death’s maw ever since.  It was a time of surplus, a time of falling in and out of love, when you could make it slinging coffee, so you played in 2 bands and DJ’d for 2 stations.  I was back in the food service business and they ran you a tab.  Coffee, bagels and cigarettes–what else?   3-9:30 on the weekdays.  It was the last time you could make it here or anywhere.  It was the end of the century.

Love&Wages, Jim Trainer’s 5th full-length collection of poetry and prose, will be released through Yellow Lark Press at Malvern Books on December 16. Hosted by The Poetic Butcher and featuring poet Christia Madsci Hoffman (INTENT, Hedgehog & Fox 2017), singer-songwriter Nathan Hamilton and poet Nicole Brissette (Sybil Journal).  Pre-order your copy at jimtrainer.net and receive a coupon for a discount other titles.  Thank you!