Jim Trainer

Archive for February, 2020|Monthly archive page


In Uncategorized on February 27, 2020 at 11:27 am

Here all things scream silently,
and, baring my head,
slowly I feel myself
turning grey.
Yevgeny Yevtushenko

Nothing may be found, but surely, something has been lost.
Clint Margrave

I’ve been publishing at Going For The Throat for almost 10 years, and every Thursday since 2016.  Some weeks are bound to be fallow.  Creative Nonfiction has been crucial and formative.  It gave me backstory and character and the character is me.  I’m still carrying the torch for Personal Journalism with varying success.  The Coarse Grind is testament, I think, to staying on brand but not just writing about myself.  At least I hope it is.  I missed a Thursday, during the holiday catering season, and it baffled me as much as it made me mad.  The day got away, all the way away, which was slightly easier to deal with than if I had just blew it off.  I missed a Grind, too, around the same time, but I think that was because those go up first Sundays which is harder to keep track of than every Thursday.  I don’t think these are excuses and you know I’d never settle for one anyway.  As hard as I am on people and this life, I’m harder on myself.  You know this though, don’t you Good Reader—the pressure I put on myself, the way Capitalism squeezes our souls through a tube, anger and malaise and an overwrought libido coupled with egomania are what put me in the chair to begin with.  I don’t think the blues will ever say goodbye and in the meantime I put my demons to good use ain’t it.  “What’s wrong with me” has been my biggest inspiration even if it’s done nothing to halt or stop my end-date, adamantly and steadfastly approaching.  Though I suppose death inspires me too.

I’ll be 45 next week.  The way my life looks at this late date and in total is devastating.  The day to day is little better and I know that ultimately they are the same.  What happens today is what happens for the rest of your life.  I don’t get blamey or technical.  The only slack I can afford is knowing I was suffering from a disease.  The fact that it took me so long to get help is hard to swallow but the fact that I’m not getting any help now is unconscionable.  I’m still living like I’m in a war.  Still rationing my time out in their world.  Still getting high on my own supply of resentment, then coming down hard later for hours that equal days in recovery and more like a cancer patient.  That comparison isn’t meant to be insensitve.  Both depression and cancer are a disease so I think it’s apt though those I know suffering from the latter and worse should probably have some wisdom for me that ought to put my woe to rights and at least get me back to living and back to life.  I hit 6 years sober on Tuesday and I’m glad I am though the anniversary is empty and doesn’t help me with the way I feel about myself and my life.  It’s been 6 years raw, Bubba.  6 years in the hothouse.  Those first 3 were real, white-knuckling, a thrill.  I thrive on opposition and in this war, being against is better than being for.  What ensues is the holding on, the holding out and the nagging question of What now?  When I tell you I’ve been sick I mean it.  I have been and still am.  It just so happens I’ve found a way to make things better, for awhile anyway, afternoons and mornings like this one when I can quietly stanchion a column of words between me and my blues.

These posts carry me through the week, too, Good Reader.  It’s no accident that you’re here and your readership is better than love because I feel seen here.  I unfurl here, and unkink.  Get through the burrs and snarls and, perhaps better than finding a cure, I’m able to say that I am afflicted.  That I’m old and sick and running on nothing but fumes of hatred and sorrow most days.  It ain’t a victory being able to admit this, Good Reader, but it’s heaps better than pretending it ain’t so.

See you in the by and by, motherfucker.  May we all heal and stand up and start kicking again.  Seems to me we were born for more than this and even if I can’t find much faith in my self, you are a marvel to me.  You’re keeping me alive.

Screen Shot 2020-02-27 at 11.17.50 AM






2031 thumbnail


Shrieks of Paradise, Correspondence&Rails#55

In Uncategorized on February 26, 2020 at 8:12 am

17 February 1903

My dear sir,

Your letter reached me just a few days ago. I want to thank you for the deep and loving trust it revealed. I can do no more. I cannot comment on the style of your verses; critical intent is too far removed from my nature. There is nothing that manages to influence a work of art less than critical words. They always result in more or less unfortunate misunderstandings. Things are not as easily understood nor as expressible as people usually would like us to believe. Most happenings are beyond expression; they exist where a word has never intruded. Even more inexpressible are works of art; mysterious entities they are, whose lives, compared to our fleeting ones, endure.

Having said these things at the outset, I now dare tell you only this: that your verses do not as yet have an individual style. Yet they possess a quiet and hidden inclination to reveal something personal. I felt that very thing most notably in the last poem, “My Soul.” There, something of your inner self wants to rise to expression. And in the beautiful poem “To Leopardi” something akin to greatness and bordering on uniqueness is sprouting out toward fulfillment. However, the poems cannot yet stand on their own merit, are not yet independent, not even the last one to Leopardi, not yet. In your kind letter accompanying them, you do not fail to admit to and to analyze some shortcomings, which I could sense while reading your verses, but could not directly put into words.

You ask whether your poems are good. You send them to publishers; you compare them with other poems; you are disturbed when certain publishers reject your attempts. Well now, since you have given me permission to advise you, I suggest that you give all that up. You are looking outward and, above all else, that you must not do now. No one can advise and help you, no one.

There is only one way: Go within. Search for the cause, find the impetus that bids you write. Put it to this test: Does it stretch out its roots in the deepest place of your heart? Can you avow that you would die if you were forbidden to write? Above all, in the most silent hour of your night, ask yourself this: Must I write? Dig deep into yourself for a true answer. And if it should ring its assent, if you can confidently meet this serious question with a simple, “I must,” then build your life upon it. It has become your necessity. Your life, in even the most mundane and least significant hour, must become a sign, a testimony to this urge.

Then draw near to nature. Pretend you are the very first man and then write what you see and experience, what you love and lose. Do not write love poems, at least at first; they present the greatest challenge. It requires great, fully ripened power to produce something personal, something unique, when there are so many good and sometimes even brilliant renditions in great numbers. Beware of general themes. Cling to those that your every- day life offers you. Write about your sorrows, your wishes, your passing thoughts, your belief in anything beautiful. Describe all that with fervent, quiet, and humble sincerity. In order to express yourself, use things in your surroundings, the scenes of your dreams, and the subjects of your memory.

If your everyday life appears to be unworthy subject matter, do not complain to life. Complain to yourself. Lament that you are not poet enough to call up its wealth. For the creative artist there is no poverty—nothing is insignificant or unimportant. Even if you were in a prison whose walls would shut out from your senses the sounds of the outer world, would you not then still have your childhood, this precious wealth, this treasure house of memories? Direct your attention to that. Attempt to resurrect these sunken sensations of a distant past. You will gain assuredness. Your aloneness will expand and will become your home, greeting you like the quiet dawn. Outer tumult will pass it by from afar.

If, as a result of this turning inward, of this sinking into your own world, poetry should emerge, you will not think to ask someone whether it is good poetry. And you will not try to interest publishers of magazines in these works. For you will hear in them your own voice; you will see in them a piece of your life, a natural possession of yours. A piece of art is good if it is born of necessity. This, its source, is its criterion; there is no other.

Therefore, my dear friend, I know of no other advice than this: Go within and scale the depths of your being from which your very life springs forth. At its source you will find the answer to the question, whether you must write. Accept it, however it sounds to you, without analyzing. Perhaps it will become apparent to you that you are indeed called to be a writer. Then accept that fate; bear its burden, and its grandeur, without asking for the reward, which might possibly come from without. For the creative artist must be a world of his own and must find everything within himself and in nature, to which he has betrothed himself.

It is possible that, even after your descent into your inner self and into your secret place of solitude, you might find that you must give up becoming a poet. As I have said, to feel that one could live without writing is enough indication that, in fact, one should not. Even then this process of turning inward, upon which I beg you to embark, will not have been in vain. Your life will no doubt from then on find its own paths. That they will be good ones and rich and expansive—that I wish for you more than I can say.

What else shall I tell you? It seems to me everything has been said, with just the right emphasis. I wanted only to advise you to progress quietly and seriously in your evolvement. You could greatly interfere with that process if you look outward and expect to obtain answers from the outside—answers which only your innermost feeling in your quietest hour can perhaps give you.

I was very happy to find in your writing the name of Professor Horaˇcek. I harbor the highest regard for this kindest of scholars and owe him lasting gratitude. Would you please pass my sentiments on to him. It is very kind of him to think of me still, and I appreciate it.

I am returning the verses with which you entrusted me. I thank you again for your unconditional and sincere trust. I am overwhelmed with it, and therefore have tried, to the best of my ability, to make myself a little more worthy than I, as a stranger to you, really am.

With my sincerest interest and devotion,

Rainer Marie Rilke


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


Shrieks of Paradise, Correspondence&Rails#53: Dear B.K.

In Uncategorized on February 8, 2020 at 1:24 pm

The Offices of Jim Trainer
Fox Den
Hippie Town, USA

The Township
Drexel Hill PA



Glad to hear everything went ok and that you will soon be back in the fight.  A great warrior and friend of mine beat cancer recently and great and grave travails such as these may give us perspective.  Yea–all the petty snares and cheap dealings may be par for the course but ultimately they mean nothing in the grand and majestic arena of life.  I ruefully reflect on all the bullshit that just falls out of their mouths and the murdering of all our years playing this rigged game but then I look out my window and there he is, the grackle bird.

The grackle is loud and angry.  He has a bent look in his eye and is the only bird that yells instead of sings.  He made it.  By some miracle of spit and dirt and blood and evolution he sits on the bough, yelling into the morning, embarrassing all the other pretty, get-along, singsong birds.  This morning he is winning in this small way and that is good enough for me.

We just pulled off a 21-day rig across the U.S. and spent 10 days up on a mountain in Minerva NY.  It took me 6 days of heavy drinking etc. to get used to the fact that there was no phone, no internet and no women within 30 miles of the cabin.  But by day 7 I was up at 6 and cranking it out in fine gear.  CD reviews and diatribes til 10.  Letters AND fiction til 12.  Then the lake.  Ah, the lake.  I’d nap HARD between 2&3:30 and get up for cocktails and poetry on the sun porch, typing on an old Olympia I picked up in St.Louis.  Without distraction, and in a beautiful setting replete with the necessary swimming accoutrements, a man get some work done.

So, I got new orders now.  I should like to get some land and continue the work of the sit-down matador.  We must wrest our demons, Blackbird.  There are no better devils than the ones beneath our feet.

I still don’t get out enough but thankfully Hostile City has sent another of its bitter transplants my way.  Mr. Justin Southern is a fine partner and a perfect wingman for me and all my hapless and desperate pursuits.  We went to the Driskill to catch Brennen Leigh last week.  While we were sitting there listening, this thick broad in high heels made her way to the grand piano and sat down.  I saw great temples crumble when she sat.  I saw many great men fall.  And I was hard.  When she blew me off with a wave I set my sights on this ghastly Cougar at the bar.  She was dumb as dogshit though, and when I realized I would be more pleased to slap her than stick it in her, I knew it was time to go.

I fumbled around in my room later that night, trying to cover my windows with a sheet so I could jerkoff and go to bed.  I knocked down and chipped the corner off the statue of prosperity I bought outside the Mayan Ruins in June on Yoga retreat.  I am what you call a fucking idiot at times like these, when I drunkenly stumble through the cold midnight in the ruined rooms of the high life.

It’s no mistake either.  I’ve kicked, screamed, raged and fucked my way to the top of this vista, Sister.  Now I’m a tired old soldier, looking for home and a quiet place to work. Weekends in her birdcage in Houston don’t interest me any more.  24 more years and 800 words by 10AM.  What else?  Victory is survival.

Glad yr ok.

En la Victoria.
Jim Trainer

grackle jpeg



In Uncategorized on February 6, 2020 at 11:00 am

Even mindless violence is boring today.
Vyvyan, The Young Ones

This country that self-identified so smugly as stable, tolerant and moderate, with a crown to symbolise traditions honed down the centuries, is revealed as fissile, fragile and ferociously divided.
Polly Toynbee

Summer moths collect still at the windows.
Then leaves & winter ice.
Paul Mariani

So our response is the same as always. We will continue to cover this administration like any other: fairly, aggressively and fearlessly, wherever the facts lead.
-The New York Times

But today, as a cam girl, all you need is a hundred men who give you fifty dollars a month — a hundred men in the whole world! And trust me, there are definitely a hundred men in the world who love the fact that your left breast is a bit bigger than your right one, or that you’ve dyed your hair green.
Nina Hartley

The air in Eastbourne … is melancholy with the sweet memories of childhood, and the promises it breathes are prayerful and lenitive: all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.
Howard Jacobson

You lose your purport, losing me.
Rainer Maria Rilke

The worst trouble is no trouble at all.  The only lasting and final danger is this contentment.  I fought long and hard to be in the mess I’m in.  It’s quiet here.  For once the twat next door isn’t banging club hits through the paper walls to the rhythm of the ignorance of her own death.  The world has a full faith in it’s beauty but I wait the decay of time to see what new petals will spill their joy from the cut earth.  It’ll be gasoline and harvesting the bones of dead things that made this Rome the last.  Though I don’t know why I will get after this and spool out my every overwrought thought, do divining with hot tea and a word count.  Asking why I write is pissing in the wind.  But if I try and get to the bottom of why I do anything it rattles my skull and sullies the gut.  The day in and the day out have got me, the irons of Babylon and a healthy reptile fear of being outdoors and never getting back in.  I ain’t much for this though I might have been but it’s taking so long to cut out in the get lost.  The Big Night.  Drinking the milky way, tumbling with black carbon and getting blown out in streams of white phosphorus and sulfite.  I’m waiting for my love, when her evening class gets out we’ll go night swimming and dip into the fissile forever among stars the color of salt and semen.  Things I remember coming at me as we spiral, mirrors cut to scimitars, pieces of me cutting me to pieces.  Things I forget are forgotten, maybe stuck and caught in Gitane smoke and shook with throaty laughter rumbling out the ardors of every strife.  I think we will be free but we’ll need to get free to be there.  Use our finger bones like literal skeleton keys to get to where the endless bottles of booze are in the next room.  

What it counts for is all that hasn’t gone missing.  What dogs ain’t tore through the barely moored posts and whatever can still be read in ink on the pages of our skin.  Boats in the harbor are buildings.  Politics are guns for the dead, newspapers money you can’t even spend.  All for naught laugh the madmen and though they’re merry with pain we only turn in our wings, a weight of dried teeth and nails.  The poets, dead right but not proud to be.  The days finally sideways with sunlight leaking upwards and flowers emptying, spilling out and cops and priests pulled by coffers and nailed to the bottom of the world like roaches stuck in a hot glue box.  I’d like to think I’ll be standing, some cosmic 2nd&Market 95-exit that goes from blue to black, great flue to lack.  I want to hold on to that summer can I, can we scotch the deepest Autumn lover, can I plead your Irish freckles over me like a net?  Are these words and all the others I have spilt and been outlived and outshined by, a janky pile of these firelog words, pillar words, words longer than a wait for a trolley in the suburbs and words shorter than the penis shaft on the David–can these words, these black coffee with white sugar words, dive-bomb starling, folded up at the cuff words be festooned and maybe piled up to foist her both hands that ass, up and over and soon follow myself and climb up and hoist with all that world-class spite I been sharpening and sucking on and hoist me, too, up and over the great divide, this filching life and get out to where the living’s easy, wide skies as blue as blank checks, and we’ll tumble there my Ciara and me drinking long glasses of sun-wine brandishing long taffy smiles and only singing a roaring song, only there forever being in love.  Out of these rooms of verse into a chorus of streets.

2031 thumbnail