Jim Trainer

Shrieks of Paradise#21, Dear Greta Jee

In Uncategorized on January 25, 2019 at 4:58 pm

The Office of Jim Trainer
New Orleans Division
c/o CC’s Mid-City
New Orleans, LA

G.J.
16 Welting Avenue
New Paltz, NY 

6/3/18, 3:37PM

Dearest Greta-

Shameful, it took took this long, but the timing is perfect so it must’ve took the right amount of time.  March in New Paltz was another life. I’m writing you side straddled at a child’s desk in Mid City with a deflated balloon slowly twisting and fish tank gurgling behind.  I refused the “Princess bed” and took instead to the bottom half of this bunk in a gorgeous and airy, high ceilinged house on Dumaine Street. I just did your puja, and perhaps now we can call it ours—and I’m struck with the idea of writing about it and submitting it to the Elephant Journal.  The beauty of it is its simplicity and I thought, sitting prostrate, that I should continue my Yogic education and do so diligently, as if it were a job which I suppose I always wanted it to be.  

The sun in Louisiana is different.  It’s white. I first noticed that many moons ago on a spoken word tour of the U.S.  I did the whole thing by train and Bernard, who I’m staying with, was there to receive me at my first stop and gig–the Rinky Dink in Lafayette, Louisiana.  That story could practically be about someone else but it’s coming home to roost in ways I can’t even perceive or imagine—but just know. Ok, now I’ve moved to the bed and propped my iPad up on my suitcase but this won’t do either…ok, back at the desk and attacking this letter from the front of it with the iPad propped up on My Big Animal Book.  What was I saying?  I will connect the dots in writing, like you do.  When I struck out in 1998 (99?!) I had something to prove.  I hit 5 cities heading east and the same 5 heading back. Last stop was Wilmington, DE where my old man picked me up in a black Tundra.  We smoked Marlboro reds all the way back to Middletown and everything was covered in 2’ of snow. Talk about proving something—I never wanted to be like him and now he’s gone.  The saddest part wasn’t not getting what I needed but being unable to give him what he did. He was hard to love and whatever I lack from not having a solid Father figure pales in comparison to the regret I feel at having not been able to show him love.  This hurts me now, even after the pain of his passing is gone, it’s a bruise and it stirs up the defenses. I suddenly have butterflies but the house is silent, save for the fish tank and the giant fan above me.

Bernard and Alexi have gone into “town”.  I’m on my own here and trying to work out my nerves.  Our sprawling dialogue of phone calls and texts and prayers sent out–could be summed up as Everything is gonna be alright.  It matters to say it, it matters to hear.  It is a soothing acquiescence to what is and that way to what we are.  Spirituality is only acceptance and we pray for the grace that can come from it.  We accept and are changed. We are undoubtedly fucked and mired here, on earth behind our eyes, with a roaring heart in a roaring world, but the only thing that will save us is admitting that.  Then, hopefully the grace comes.

This city lost itself and this country didn’t really lead the search for it or help to bring it back home.  Help was bureaucratic, a lot of poor people died, but I can still feel a spirit here. Much like I did, twenty years ago now, getting off the train, geeked on a gel tab and jars of instant coffee with my Italian afro raging and workboots kicking clods.  I had my cards read that night. It was auspicious, I remember the card reader telling me she was a Pisces, too, and I believed her. The whole trip was one of belief…in youth and beauty, and poetry—in America, wide orange groves that soothed and assured me, all was not conquered, there was still uninhabited rolling green and jagged monoliths of rock stoic as a God’s mask.  You don’t forget Utah, or Idaho Falls or the Tenderloin at Christmas, impossibly feeling like it might snow, unwrapping handout PB&J’s in wax paper and heading underground before dark.  These things are still with me and I’m still on that tour. The magic of creation is the same magic of our dreaming heart. I didn’t realize that San Francisco, circa 1998, was still with me and I wonder how much that I’ve lost I just haven’t brought to mind lately, that all my loves and friends and even fractured selves are still stalking the psychic veldt beyond these folds of flesh and deep within canyons of bone.  

I’ve no trouble and I’ve all the trouble in the world but I will make something of this page.  A tower of black, brick words and a column leaning to in the static white storm of this page. I’ve made document, a testament and will send it forth, have it rage and roil and yawn awake like a blind baby bird.  It began at the wet corners of my blues, went back to my youth and brought me back into myself, at the school desk propped up by The Giving Tree, in the white sun coming in through a curtain of tea green.  I’ve taken all these and festooned, and set sail, a letter, a gift.

If you are holding this letter then we are together.  All I‘ve given was received.

Yours,
Jim on Dumaine
New Orleans, LA

  1. Gorgeous letter writing — I find myself getting very emotional over your incredible epistolary art! Thank you.Keep roaring.

  2. Beautiful, just beautiful! Somehow, a different feeling from past posts. More optimistic, perhaps? Softer around the edges, despite the fight within? Not sure, but it made me feel kind of warm and gooey inside.

    • Thank you, Donna! It’s because it’s a letter. I’m relaunching #LetterDay and writing 2 letters every Friday. PM me your address if you’d like one. Thank you for reading and your kind words. Looking forward to that handsome boy of yours’ relocation to the ATX!

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