Jim Trainer


In Uncategorized on March 25, 2021 at 10:31 am

According to the department’s collective bargaining agreement, disciplined officers’ names cannot be released to the public unless they are fired, Transit Police Chief Tom Nestel has said. SEPTA declined to release a copy of the investigation report or the precise wording of the social media posts.
—The Philadelphia Inquirer, March 17, 2021

Too many voices, they’ve made me mute
Minor Threat

I’m up before dawn most days. It’s the bad result of ill health and a resolution of middle age. At 40 I stopped playing around with a lifelong fear of death and just accepted it. Of course by that point I had a lifetime denying that inconvenient fact behind me, and the attitude and habits that kept the game afoot caught up with me. Colitis found me, though the real trouble is anxiety and that’s what gets me out of bed. I drink tea and water, and smoke. I mostly eliminated caffeine from my diet a month ago, and it’s a wonder I lasted as long as I did drinking coffee. Caffeine doesn’t give you energy as much as trigger your fight-or-flight. When I met with a gut-health guy he told me my habits and diet had conditioned my body into thinking it was living in a war. No surprise there, Doc but I’m backing off from living this way. My anger was out of control and I was a prisoner to it. It helped me get things done but burned me out and made me unwell. Like caffeine, anger was a cheap substitute for energy but worse was a deficit of self-worth. Fear of failure cleverly masked the fact that if I failed as a writer I’d only be me. I could never deal with just being me so failing was not an option. I was driven by these bad humors and performed at exhaustive levels until the work was done and I’d shut down and hideaway til I could nurse myself back from burnout. I don’t want to live that way anymore. There’s too much downtime. Relying on a schedule of scattershot brilliance, cultivated by the life of a shift-worker made my writing high-reaching but falling short. It fell short in scope and with its integration. I did work and it was done. That’s about how integrated it got for me, though it’s true that only after a book has been out for awhile am I able to see it for what it is—if at all. Point is I’ve so much left to do and I could be doing more but I’ve been running and gunning, posting here and printing titles and on to the next before they even sell out. That’s not a bad problem to have, artistically, if unhealthy. But I’ve got over 100 copies of 2031 left and they’ve been sitting in a box since the winter of ’19/20 when I put it (and Will Stenberg’s No Comebacks) out while working 3 jobs and writing columns and blogs and sending out the Poem Of The Week.

I’m glad of the work I’ve done. It kept me from feeling like a failure and having to live down what I’d wretchedly become at the age of 40. Now it’s time to see it through though, Good Reader. It’s fine and well the 6 collections I put out since 2012. The Coarse Grind falls short and soars consistently. Some of those columns fill me with pride and a terror of the other kind with their looming deadline. Going For the Throat‘s been a bear though I always forget that it’s fail-safe and I’ll always feel better after writing and posting one of these. So you see I’ve used this work, I wrote my way through, and I’m through, but using Art to cope has only kept me above ground. I fall out in the dusk. Though I’ve gone from feeling undead in the dark morning to treasuring dawn as the only free time I have, I still dawdle. I hem and haw. It’s the writer’s way, sure, but performing this way is at my expense. I set deadlines and I meet them but a vale of opportunity has opened before me. I’m called to re-devote my energies to a life in the Arts. There’s so much more I could be doing that only gets sunk in a dream as the days get whittled away. I’m at a loss as to how to inspire myself as I’m not at war anymore and I still feel depression pulling at me and winning the day. Outside it’s America, sliding down into fascism nice and sleazy, and at our door constantly now is this beast of predatory capitalism, ushering in destitution and ecological collapse. It’s a heady mix, the sick world spinning out there and me in here cloistered with my own dysfunction and fear. I’m not living my best life. I’m up before the sun. I’m inspired by the new collections of the poets and piecework of Pete Hamill and Michael Tallon. I write and send the letters out, address them Good Reader and crank out a missive like it’s the only proof I was ever here. The sun’s risen. It’s likely depression will win another of these brilliant cold-spring days and I’ll survive. I’ll get up in the dark, because I’m going to die someday, and live with the disappointment. I’ll continue foraging into the canyon between me and my love. Somewhere down here darkly flowing between unforgiving shafts of stone is a river of stars.

10 Years At Going For The Throat






  1. […] With time I can refine and I might even strike gold. In a way, posts like UNDER THE WEATHER and LIKE A SOLDIER are a victory for plain-spoken and what I call unmiraculous prose. The reporting reveals over time. […]

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