Jim Trainer

Archive for the ‘published poet’ Category

Betting On The Muse

In alcoholism, anger, anxiety, art, Austin, austin music scene, Being A Poet, Being A Writer, Being An Artist, blogging, blues, day job, depression, employment, getting old, getting sober, mental health, mid life, middle age, Performance, Philadelphia, Poetry, published poet, publishing, publishing poetry, punk rock, recovery, self-help, self-publishing, singer songwriter, singer-songwriter, sober, sobriety, songwriting, Spoken Word, straight edge, Writing, writing about writing, WRITING PROCESS on September 21, 2017 at 4:40 pm

I quit my job of 5 years and worked my last shift Tuesday night.  When I got this gig I was scared straight.  My Unemployment Compensation had run out and I’d been overpaid.  I owed (owe) $1,645 to the state.  I was doing promotions work and hospice care.  Shit went from blue to black.  On the other hand, the months of extended leave from shift work and days of liquid gambol gave my writing some swagger.  It was out front and walking around.  My poetry, always bold, gained confidence.  My prose, too-from weeks of forcing myself to sit here and post, and sending out long and angry letters to the world.  What I found, driving drunk and falling through the Night Kitchen, was the vast and rolling fields of my psyche.  By devoting to the muse above all she gave me continuous inspiration.  She still does and will.  All’s I’ve got to give her is time.

There’s been talk of going straight, parlaying the longest work history I’ve ever had into a note, or loan, and get a condo while I can.  Luckily I have a friend who told me that ain’t me, and she was right.  Riding around town today, down South Congress and Nathan Hamilton came on shuffle…sooner or later, we all hit the wall.  I haven’t been in a good mood in way too fucking long.  Driving down South Congress Avenue in the warm sun, with the rockabilly skyline giving rise is often what my good mood looks like.  I won’t say I fell in love with Austin again, because the Austin I fell in love with is gone (Bro), but I let it all go and just took her for what she is–a cool town in the middle of nowhere.  Some of the best roots music is still being written and performed down here.  There are still sawdust joints like the Continental Club and the White Horse that remind me why I came.  I pulled in on a heartbroke blue morning in May of 2009.  That night I played Evangeline Cafe and I been runnin’ and gunnin’ ever since.  I got tripped up here, though, at the mansion–I needed a home and gainful employment never existed in my world.  It was always cash and carry, flying my jolly roger to the next hitch, room and situation.  Not much has changed but everything’s different now.

I got my certification to teach Yoga.  I put out 3 collections of poetry and prose (and wrapping work on my 4th).  I’m taking to the territory, with only vague leads on employment.  I’m not worried, maybe I should be, but what I know beyond a doubt is 2 years ago I realized it was too late for me.  Too late to become who I always wanted to be.  That I never rose to the occasion and fear got the best of me.  I was being kept–by my Boss, this house and my situation.  I was 40 and next thing I knew I was 42.  I had to get out.  There’s a whole lot of other shit I could say, to slag and distance myself from where I worked and where I was at for the last 5 fucking years of my life.  I’ve somehow confused my life with the last 5 years, and hanging on by a thread when I  look back, thinking–how could I have blown it so bad?

I still get excited about the creation of Art.  I’m still writing songs that I must live up to, and can still prophesy and actualize with rock and roll on a Martin DR-S1.  Poetry’s as necessary to me as self esteem.  If I don’t squeeze one out every week or so, the bolts tighten in my mind and the world starts slanting down and there’s too much confusion and I can’t tell love from the blower man on the landscaping crew, and everybody’s high and no one cares, and everyone thinks we should go to War, and punk rockers die young at the age of 56, which is, I mean–it gets bad and poetry is necessary then.  Which is far from ideal.  Necessary.

Necessary sounds like those old scrapping days, playing it safe with no love or gamble.  Necessary sounds like 50-hour weeks moving safes and pianos for $7.50/hr.  Necessary is every job I’ve ever had, all the way back to 1987 when I was a 12-year old dishwasher at Martinichio’s Restaurant and delivered the Philadelphia Inquirer.  A lot of things are necessary.  I’ve removed most of them from my life.  The creation of Art was thee necessary salve and in a lot of ways it still is–but there’s a bottom I won’t go to anymore.  It’s very safe and sad.  I’m not sure if I’ll need those blues or that abyss.  I’m 42.  I write poetry and I play music.  Performing is one of the only places I feel completely me.  Those hot lights are a prism.  They burn doubt out of you and send out the good word of love.  They let the people know.  Survival isn’t celebrated enough.  Then again, at almost 3 years sober, I don’t know how to celebrate anything anymore.  I’m sure I’ll be floating a broom and glowering over some this is fucked wisdom again before too long, but–maybe not.  Good reader maybe not.  With no prospects and no real direction I know I’ve got to go this way.  Take to the territory.  It just feels right, and I’m gonna go with that.  Time to GTFO.

See you out in the territory motherfucker.

 

 

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Take to the Territory

In alcoholism, anxiety, art, austin music scene, beat writer, Being A Poet, Being A Writer, Being An Artist, Charles Bukowski, day job, getting old, getting sober, Jim Trainer, mental health, mid life, middle age, Poetry, poetry submission, published poet, publishing, publishing poetry, self-help, self-publishing, singer songwriter, singer-songwriter, sober, sobriety, solitude, Spoken Word, straight edge, Submitting, submitting poetry, suicide, the muse, TYPEWRITERS, working class, Writing, writing about writing, WRITING PROCESS on September 14, 2017 at 7:04 pm

Since I started so late, I owe it to myself to continue.
Charles Bukowski’s letter to John Martin

After fourteen years delivering and sorting the U.S. Mail, and at the age of 50 Henry Charles Bukowski began his first novel. John Martin (Black Sparrow Press) saw something in “Hank”, and offered him $100 a month to quit the Post Office and write full time.  Hank started writing at the same exact time every day.  It wasn’t an arbitrary time, but when he would’ve had to clock in to the Post Office–every day for over a decade working a job that was killing him. He finished the aptly titled Post Office in a month.

For many tragic and dull reasons, I don’t have any clear signposts in my life.  No one took me under their wing and no one showed me the way. My Father wasn’t exactly a company man, which I admired, but he worked all the time, which I didn’t.  My relationship with my elders was often toxic–I loathed what they’d become, or they were Christian, and I abhorred my hometown.  I’ve no real world examples of how to live. I got some heroes, though, 3 to be exact.  Of course Hank is one of them, the holy ghost of the trinity.  Bukowski showed me the way.

Life happens to you.  It’ll rattle you senseless.  I don’t consider myself a great writer, but I’m happy with my work.  I’m happy to work, above all, and that simplifies things.  All people like me need is rent and a desk.  We don’t seek more from life.  We whittle our needs down.  We need less and less and therefore have to work less and less hours at the job–until we don’t need anything.  With a lack of social climb and without the flash of material wealth, the world will leave you be.  We work the bare minimum at shit jobs that take the least from us.  We’re not paid to think or feel or consider someone else’s dollar anywhere in the simple hierarchy of walls, food and art.  It’s that simple, and beautiful, if impossible to explain to virtually anybody else.

What’s the sin in being poor?  Chinaski asks in Post Office, when it’s clear all the county can do for his alcoholic girlfriend is let her die.  Being poor can be devastating.  For years I lived one gas bill or dental procedure from total poverty, but it wasn’t that bad.  I probably could’ve called home if it really hit the fan, but–young and dumb and for years, the bar of sustainable catastrophe was constantly raised.  I’ve had months in rooms 5×10 wide.  I’ve lived without a phone or bathroom.  I’ve lived in places that would make family and friends from back home blanch–for $150 a month in an unbeknownst health hazard.  I lowered my rent every year for 5 years living in Philly, only ponying up to $500/month for a huge 1br on Buckingham Place because I came in to some money when my Father died–Life Insurance he had promptly paid all those years working.  God bless him.  After that place I got back to lowering my rent, and did so every year until I finally left Philly (and paying $135 a month for a room at 10th&McKean) for good on New Year’s  Eve 07.

My next move is counter to the artist’s imperative to live way below my means.  Moving across town, taking a roommate and paying $850ABP/month isn’t the same as being an artist full time.  But what the fuck is?  The rent’s steep, if Austin affordable, but it’s a sublet and I’m not locked in to the criminal contract you have to sign to get an apartment in Texas.  I’m quitting my job of the last 5 years with no parlay, as of today I’ve nothing imminent, other than almost through applying for Uber and Instacart.  I’ve some gigs booked, starting tomorrow, which isn’t nothing.  My roster might not be robust but a couple to three hundred dollars is nothing to sneeze at while unemployed, even if all that can be sapped with one phone bill and a car insurance payment.  It could be worse.  It could always be worse.  I could be banging 50 signs into the hard ground on the median of William Cannon for $50.

That was one of my first jobs in Austin, before I resigned to be a writer.  The search for a day gig became a full time enterprise.  I would sometimes work around the clock, get off graveyard and sleep until the afternoon when I’d head out for a promotions or catering gig.  Nothing was guaranteed.  I had to take everything that came my way because of course the money was shit and none of it was steady.  Which was ridiculous, and not what I’d come over 1,600 miles for.  It drove me to drink and write.

The shit hit the fan for this country in the financial crisis of 08, and by the time I came down in May of 09, competition was steeper than it should’ve been for the shit jobs I was applying for. It felt like a whole other level, especially considering I hadn’t worked in almost a year living with Laura.  Looking back, 2-3 months really isn’t that long to be looking for a job and shit eventually turned.  My 7.50/hr job filling book orders at the University COOP parlayed into a full time position at their warehouse on Real&Alexander.  From there I got hired on at the Whip In, and when they laid me off I lived off unemployment compensation for a year after that–until I landed this gig.  Five fucking years later and I’m heading back out into the America.    This morning I started writing this at 8, which is when I’d have to get the old man out of bed.  Something in me knows that as much as I hate the grind, I’ve got to love the real work that much more.  Sleeping in is bullshit.  Perks and the good life.  I’m up against it now, the anxiety is dizzying and I’m immobilized with dread.  I got up anyway, sat down here and got started like I’ve done thousands of times before, 497 times at Going For The Throat alone.  I sat down and got to work.  Like Hank.  What else?

The Medium Is My Message

In Activism, art, Being A Writer, Being An Artist, blogging, blues, Buddhism, Charles Bukowski, depression, Fugazi, getting old, getting sober, going for the throat, Henry Rollins, Jim McShea, mental health, mid life, middle age, Music, new journalism, news media, Poetry, published poet, publishing poetry, punk rock, RADIO, recovery, self-help, self-publishing, singer songwriter, singer-songwriter, sober, sobriety, solitude, songwriting, Spoken Word, straight edge, suicide, working class, Writing, writing about writing, WRITING PROCESS on August 24, 2017 at 1:11 pm

Proud and excited to announce this week’s post is featured on Medium!  Please go there and show me some applause (icon of hands clapping at the bottom of, or just beside, the piece).  Feel free to leave a comment, too, so they know we have arrived.

Thanks motherfucker!

 

The Area of Pause

In alcoholism, Austin, austin music scene, Being A Poet, Being A Writer, Boredom, day job, depression, getting old, media, mental health, mid life, middle age, music performance, Performance, published poet, publishing, publishing poetry, punk rock, recovery, self-help, self-publishing, singer songwriter, singer-songwriter, Spoken Word, suicide, Writing, writing about writing, WRITING PROCESS on July 6, 2017 at 3:01 pm

There is nothing more tragic for a parent than to lose a child in the prime of life.
President Trump

In general, “The president has tweeted X.” is an overblown story.
Rachel Maddow

They think we’re stupid. And maybe they’re right.
Jonny Coleman

Attacks on established knowledge have a long pedigree, and the Internet is only the most recent tool in a recurring problem that in the past misused television, radio, the printing press, and other innovations the same way.
Thomas M. Nichols

People don’t choose the President anyway.  America is not a democracy. America is a Republic. 

Dr. Umar Johnson


Learning to kill
is a matter of habit

The more you have done it,
the better you’re at it.

Izhar Ashdot

July 6, 2017, 1:01PM
Hippie Town, USA

Quiet as a tomb up here in the high rooms.  Not even a blower on Judge’s Hill.  I’ve just consumed a week’s worth of media over a cold cup of Italian Roast.  Last night, Doc&I went out to Cold Town for the return of Austin’s No Shame Theatre.  We both told stories about The America, as Uncle Hank calls it, this young frontier of bounty and bloodlust.  Nothing has changed since last week, although some of you might’ve lost your shit a little.  The President said or tweeted some things, I’m sure, and North Korea had its own fireworks display as the world turned darkly on.

This War Room has everything I ever wanted.  A MacBook, replete with its NAS, plugged in and humming beside, an extra monitor, a pair of Nearfields on the floor and a Lexmark copier/scanner/printer on standby.   I feel better than I’ve felt in weeks.  I should be out this shitshow by late September and I’ll need to start compiling the poetry and prose for this year’s collection, due out through Yellow Lark Press December 1.  We’re heading out in a couple weeks, and doing roughly 3,000 miles up to New York and back.  It should be a thankless slog, rivaled only by the grisly heat of Texas summer if we stayed.

I’m apartment, or room, or house hunting-looking for something equally comfortable and private in which to plot and amass and roll out the grand machinations of this dream.  To play every night and write every day has been my goal and charge for as long as I can remember.  I’ve been maintaining both at dayjob levels and even sacrificing a little of my artistic life for this gig.  That was a mistake but nothing compared to the last 5 years of my life, which is a dangerous way to think-a dark focus that could shame every thought and endeavor I’ve had since dropping out of music school and going homeless in the hometown at the dawning of the New Century.  Brother K.O. has offered me a place on tour with the Dropkick Murphys, tenting every show and working for the Claddagh Fund.  The road is always calling, like it did then and it does any time the present moment catches up with me and hangs itself around my neck.

This terribly blasé post could be summed up in a few different ways.  We could frame it as duty and say that even without anything to report, I’m reporting-the medium is the message.  It could be psychological-a check in and my way of keeping us connected.  It could be even more personal than that.  You either hang yourself or hang it on the wall, right Brother, and week after week we’ve been thankfully and sometimes begrudgingly doing the latter.  To the chagrin of a cold world we’ve been holding on to each other, and isn’t that nice?  The truth is that this is a pause, and, I’ll even offer, a moment of gratitude.  I’m going to need my strength and you, too, very soon.  You can bet I’ll be coming for you in these coming months.  We all need someone to bleed on, and in these grim, outrageous and diabolically narcissistic times, in this cultural freefall and with the death of our Mother, a little bit of peace and quiet can feel like Heaven.  It’s a good chance for us to remember the others out there, ease back into it, this lull in the terrible summer and suffer some contentment for a change.  The worst kind of trouble is no trouble at all, right Sister?

Is fear rith maith ná drochsheasamh.  

Peace and love to you, motherfucker.

New Century Blues

In Being A Poet, Being A Writer, Being An Artist, Buddhism, buddhist, christianity, employment, hometown, mental health, mid life, middle age, Music, new journalism, Poetry, poetry reading, published poet, publishing, publishing poetry, punk rock, self-publishing, singer songwriter, singer-songwriter, Spoken Word, working class, WRITER'S BLOCK, Writing, writing about writing, WRITING PROCESS, yoga on June 29, 2017 at 12:30 pm

Greetings from the wasteland and hello from the high rooms.  I’m writing this from the War Room, a kitchen in an apartment of the last Confederate Governor of the U.S.’ old place, in sweltering downtown Austin.  I’m writing it on a Monday so I can get the world off my neck.  The afternoons are best for poetry but I blew it out yesterday with a poem so bitter I won’t be able to share it with anyone, except maybe the Devil himself.  Although, when it comes to offending folks, the creation of Art usually wins out.  As it does over:  sentimentality, decency and even privacy-yep, all of these and especially privacy are rolled over in favor of getting product out.  Be it a poem, blog post, Youtube clip or article-content trumps everything.  Which isn’t to say I wanted to hurt you.  That’s not true.  There are some of you I was trying to hurt.  At least I’m not trying to offend.  Whoops.  That’s not true either.  What do you want from me?  I’m a digital garbage man so stick out your can.  If I don’t put out at least 600 words a week, black detritus piles up in my mind and I start weighing heavier and less savory options, if you know what I mean.

I started this blog 7 years ago, emulating Dr. Thompson and all but killing for his place on the pulse, his connectivity and prescience, his wit and high drama and even his gloomy war drum tone.  His predictions always came home to roost, leading Frank Mankiewicz to dub him the “least factual but most accurate” reporter on the Campaign Trail in ’72-and we all know what’s happened since then.  Trust me on this, Brother, if it got too weird for Hunter Thompson then you know we are in for one hell of a ride.  Nutter’s Rule.  I’ve written on it before.  A future on the order of raining frogs and swarming clouds of locusts is all but imminent-because that is the power of dreaming and it’s all those Nutter’s could hope for.  The music they play in mass alone should hip you to the sad imagination of folks who don’t have premarital sex and are afraid to die.  In their defense, we’re all afraid to die-it’s just that some of us have the sense to understand the Wisdom that living their way is just like dying, so we may as well get on with it, which is probably what Dr. Thompson was thinking on that black day in Febuary 2005.

That’s what is wrong with my generation but don’t get me started on my generation.  Or, do.  It’s only Monday.  My next 600 ain’t due up until sometime Thursday, and that’s plenty of time for me to examine my place in this culture and where I fit in to my Generation-because I certainly didn’t know it or fit in at the time.  Shaving your head and donning braces and boots wasn’t popular where I come from.  Neither was skateboarding, or doing anyting except getting your 12 year old girlfriend pregnant and drinking a case of Bush big boys at the trestle on a Friday night.  Playing in a band wasn’t either, believe it or no, at least not the type of music we were playing-but we did it anyway.  Of course I’d want to go back there, like the song says, but if I can’t then I’ll settle for the attitude we had back then.  Because goddamnit, the Buddhists were right, attitude is everything.  We did shit back then, that no one else was doing.  Because we were bored and our parents didn’t care.  We smoked and drank post-Nevermind, and we wrote.  Those journals are gone, or burned, or on a shelf in a cold garage in Middletown, Delaware at my father’s house.  It’s a shame what happened to those journals and the young idea is gone.  We’re all alone in the New Century but connected somehow in the hall of mirrors of social media.

It’s all fucked and I guess it always was.  The real kick in the balls is that never stopped me before.  I haven’t been breathing right for the last year and a half.  It’s been a long time that I should be far from here.  I got a Monk’s Robe Orange 2009 Honda Element with 53,000 miles and some hail damage on it that bothers me way more than it should.  I’ve got 64 copies of All in the wind’s pressing of 150 left, and orders are still coming in.  I’ve got clips of me reading and telling stories that I shouldn’t post if I cared about certain poets in my commnuity’s feelings, which I don’t, so I will.  In 23 minutes I’ll have to report back to my boss, smoke him out and make a dinner run.  5 years ago I walked out of the food service industry for good.  I threw out my serving blacks and began the search for meaningful work.  I’ll let you fill in the blanks as per if I’ve ever found it, and offer that the only meaningful work there is is for yourself.  You can be a slave in the service of another but you’re still a slave.  You can draw your own conclusions, of course, but I should’ve been gone 2 years ago, when I looked back at my life in horror and knew that if I stayed any longer I’d only be dying.

See you coming out the grave, motherfucker.

The Unrequited Sologamist

In Austin, Being A Poet, Being A Writer, Being An Artist, blogging, blues, depression, employment, getting old, getting sober, Jim Trainer, magic, mental health, mid life, middle age, Poetry, poetry submission, published poet, publishing, publishing poetry, punk rock, self-help, self-publishing, sober, sobriety, solitude, submitting poetry, suicide, therapy, Writing, writing about writing, WRITING PROCESS on June 1, 2017 at 2:43 pm

It’s actually kind of brilliant and dumb at the same time.
Sologamy

That is that other snake’s super ultra lottery lucky day.
Christopher Reynolds

I’m just not going to do it.
Matthew Malespina

We couldn’t… we had no control over anything, and it’s just taken us a while to—it sounds weird to say—organize our emotions. Otherwise you just can’t live, really.
Nick Cave

Beyond talent lie all the usual words: discipline, love, luck, but most of all, endurance.
James Baldwin

So I didn’t get in my 600 last week and I’m feeling it.  How fortunate I can pen 600 words, neat and fine, like I’m regurgitating a live snake, and get back to the grind and on with my life.  I didn’t realize what a service we do for each other down here at Going For The Throat.  I was up to my neck writing my resume and buying a car, and I thought it pertinent to soliloquize and do something in remembrance-offer something eternal up to the fading and ephemeral parade.  God knows Chris Cornell hadn’t been dead for 48 hours before some of my friends were judging me for suffering from depression.  Which is also a great way to segue into the grim admission-it happened again, I got depressed.

Now normally this would mean whisky and cigarettes, maybe a lost weekend with a loud and crass Betty who only cares enough to kiss me on the cheek before leaving me in a sad and soggy torpor.  In the new age, depression can look like too many days indoors, Brother, and nights of shoddy and sore sleep.  You heard me, not only am I depressed, it’s manifested.  I threw out my left shoulder and my head is raw and pulsating.  It’s all enough to make a fella fall off the wagon because-what’s the difference, right Sister?  I don’t know what this is, this phase, but I’m burning new pathways down the middle of my brain the hardway.  I’m thirsty and miserable but a dry drunk at least.  Allow me the bold alacrity to say, other than the fact that depression is a medical condition and a disease, the thing that brought it on this time was the Lie.  Or, the many lies that came tumbling down covering my ass living here and working this job and this situation I am in.

Fact is, no one’s to blame.  Folks love me in their own way.  It’s never enough but besides the fact that I ain’t ever satisfied, people are who they are.  My situation has stagnated but it’s all so strange.  What I am trying to say is while walking through old Austin this morning I could’ve cried thinking about the last 5 years of my life.  But see, I was also out there, in the territory, walking under the tall oaks and staring out into expanses that don’t exist on Judge’s Hill.  I was way out on Burnet, walking from my mechanic’s to a car2go on Allendale, smelling the fresh morning air and getting philosophical texts from a sexy blonde in Dallas.  My sadness was there, it was palpable, but so was the magic.  Something I can’t and would never explain.  The best way to describe it would be the strangeness of mortality, the impossibility of you, the uncanny and profound nature of survival.

This is the longest I’ve ever lived anywhere, worked anywhere-you name it.  The fact that I was 37 once, way back when, when I first interviewed for this gig in a pompadour and black pencil tie, makes me incredibly sad.  The fact that I got my shit together, published three collections of poetry and prose and wrote at least 600 words and a letter to the post every week can’t and should not ever be taken lightly.  If I were to pull away from the writer’s desk and step into my living room, I can pick up a copy of each of my books and hold them in my fucking hand.  That’s not nothing, as my lovely Sister Sarah says.  It’s something.  And the fact that we’re here, you’re reading me, we’re not hanging ourselves but hanging it on the fucking wall week after fucking week, is not nothing and more than something.

It’s everything.

See you in Paradise motherfucker.

“We are not the dreamers of dreams. We are the word become manifest.”

In alcoholism, Austin, Being A Poet, Being A Writer, Being An Artist, Charles Bukowski, depression, getting sober, going for the throat, hometown, mental health, mid life, middle age, new journalism, Performance, Philadelphia, poem, Poetry, poetry reading, poetry submission, Portland, published poet, publishing, publishing poetry, punk rock, recovery, self-publishing, sober, sobriety, solitude, Spoken Word, straight edge, submitting poetry, working class, Writing, writing about writing on March 16, 2017 at 2:25 pm

 

In Nine Hundred and Three Words

In anxiety, Being A Poet, Being A Writer, blogging, depression, getting sober, hometown, Jim Trainer, mental health, mid life, middle age, new journalism, Performance, Philadelphia, Poetry, poetry reading, published poet, publishing, publishing poetry, punk rock, RADIO, recovery, self-publishing, sober, sobriety, solitude, Spoken Word, straight edge, therapy, Writing, writing about writing, WRITING PROCESS on March 9, 2017 at 12:07 pm

…it is in the shelter of each other that the people live…
Pádraig Ó Tuama

Let’s keep hustlin’.
Brian Grosz

…without you my address would be the wind…
-from All in the wind

…you’re going to have to accept that a lesbian chainsaw dominatrix or two might be involved.
broliloquy

My name is Jim Trainer and I wish I was somebody else. I mean, there’s something in the way. I mean, I took the last 2 days off work, for my birthday and to “get some stuff done” and the result was only epic laziness. Lunch and gift swapping with a friend. Driving into dusk to see musicians perform in plays. Eating water ice and falling in love with Austin again. Before I chalk up the last 2 days to “not living my dreams” or being lazy, allow me to invoke the wisdom and language of psychotherapy, and ask-what am I getting out of it? The answer is dumb-I had a peaceful couple days with no torture, no monkey, no blues. Basically I was hiding. This doesn’t bode well. Psychologically speaking, I’ve set it up so I will have to live my dreams. Using the alchemy of inner dialogue I told my Self, “If you live your dreams I won’t come down on you for being a piece of shit.” There are so many ways to deconstruct this deal I have with my Self, and none of them are good! Ah, but don’t too wise, for writing is my rabbit in a hat, and this blog my weapon of choice-and this is how. By the end of this graph I have had some insight, a revelation that there within the dialogue with my Self is the kernel of it-the micro and the blueprint. My life has been always being 2 steps ahead of the whip.  What a fucked up way to live, let alone think and react.  Out of fear, like a slave or Catholic.  For shame.

Not to mention I feel great.  I mean, today I woke up at 7:45AM, like always, but I went back to bed after I put the coffee on.  I dreamt that my boss had wiped his hands on my tux shirt and when I went to confront him about it, his door was closed and his room was dark with a note on the door (and it was my Mother’s bedroom door wtf).  Tangential but relevant.  It’s a circus in my mind.  Fear is the carnival barker and the crowd has lined the tent 2 times round, clutching their dirty children and tickets in hand.  I’m sitting here typing this in the bright light of day with my Hugh Hefner robe over the clothes I wore to bed last night.  I feel rested, which is necessary.  Hell I even refused sex a couple weeks ago because the call came in after I was already in PJs.  Do you have any idea how baffling it is for the male mind to refuse sex?  It can short out the man-wires.  I woke up the next day confused and ashamed, like I had done something wrong-but I was so rested I forgot about it and got on with the day.  My point is I feel rested today, after 2 days of  hiding from the whip, instead of hustling 2 steps ahead of it, and somehow not being a “piece of shit”, according to myself anyway, the Mind.  In body I couldn’t feel better.  I just wish I was somebody else and here’s why.

It’s been a long time that I should be far from here. I know that my desire for the artist’s life is how I got this far. It’s not what I thought it would be and I know I could do so much more. Knowing you could be more is strange. Well, not strange-it’s evolution, it’s growth. It’s savage, amoral and bloody. Birth comes from death. Knowing you could do more is heaps more manageable, if slippery. I can’t say I’m not accountable to myself. I can’t say that there isn’t a chasm between who I am and what I’m doing and who I think I am and what I’m doing. It’s all so very twisted and fucked and I can’t see the bottom. All I can do is live my best today, try harder this time.  (Do you know how exhausting that is?).     It’s just so fucked because I know I’ll find myself here again. Dissatisfied. I need a life coach who’ll tell me that everything’s gonna be ok before she fucks my brains out and kicks my ass out the door.  Sorry.  If I’ve lost you it’s because I lost myself.

What I am trying to describe here is what has gotten me this far.  Dissatisfaction is why I dropped out of college, left the hometown, found work as a DJ, singer songwriter, orator and spoken word poet.  Dissatisfaction is why I spent weeks on the road, sleeping and driving for as many as 7 weeks a stretch, across Canada and the midwest, along the Gulf and up the West and East coast.  Dissatisfaction is why I’ve had 3 books of poetry published in the last 5 years and dissatisfaction is the sole reason that 2 of them were published by my own press.  Dissatisfaction is why I left Philly, and tried my hand hawking wares and doing everything from handing out lunchmeat to donating plasma to walking around campus dressed like a Hershey Kiss.  I’ve lost you.  I’ve lost me.  Is seeking and forging the life I want born of dissatisfaction?  Or is it something else?  Is knowing I could do and be more the same as hating myself?  That’s certainly how it feels.  And as far as how it feels, this, we know, is my remedy.  These 903 words.  This post.  This time at the knives, hacking and working it out.  We do it ’cause we have to.  As far as pace and productivity, goals and the ability to relax and unkink without fear that the whip will come down but yet still pushing on?  You know if I had the answer, good reader, I would give it to you.  Right before I fly out the door and hit the streets after the heart of this dream.  A lonely hunter indeed.

It goes on.

 

Won’t You Celebrate With Me?

In activism, alcoholism, anger, ANTI-WAR, anxiety, Austin, austin music scene, Being A Poet, Being A Writer, Being An Artist, birthdays, blogging, blues, day job, depression, getting old, getting sober, hometown, Jim Trainer, media, mental health, mid life, middle age, Music, music performance, new journalism, Performance, Philadelphia, Poetry, published poet, publishing, publishing poetry, punk rock, recovery, self-help, self-publishing, singer songwriter, singer-songwriter, sober, sobriety, solitude, songwriting, Spoken Word, straight edge, therapy, working class, Writing, writing about writing, WRITING PROCESS, yoga, youth on March 2, 2017 at 4:12 pm

…this way or no way, you know I’ll be free…
-David Bowie

In 92 hours I’ll be 42 years old. That sounds heaps better than I could’ve ever imagined in the angry, useless days of my youth. I’d been pushing it hard until 30. I didn’t think I’d make it, which was a perfectly dumb and tragic thing for a young punkrocker like me to say. The reality was I didn’t want to make it, but to say I wasn’t afraid of dying is only half true. I was obsessed with it, caught up in its vicious thrall, and those were the days. With a profound and fortunate bit of sorcery I had somehow sublimated my utter fear of death with growing up to be anything like my old man.  So on my 25th birthday I began celebrating my birthday properly-I celebrated myself. If I wasn’t doing anything to get closer to my artistic ideals for 364 days of the year, then I would deliberately do something to further that end on March 6, every year until I died.
On my 25th birthday I strung up my old bass.  It was a small gesture that eventually brought music back to the fore, as I’d been concentrating all my efforts on spoken word ever since I failed my audition for the University of the Arts in the Fall of ’94. I couldn’t have known the importance of planting that seed but many birthdays to come were celebrated by playing a show. I bought myself a 1969 Gretsch Single Anniversary Archtop, and switched from playing upright bass to being at the front of the stage, singing and belting ’em out for years in Philly, until I pulled stakes and followed that high, lonesome sound to Texas. The pendulum swung back to poetry and spoken word with the publication of Farewell to Armor, but the healthier I get the more I feel the need to get back up under the hot lights and scream my fucking head off in a post-punk or junkrock outfit. Getting healthy took me out the birthday game.  My 40th only found me circling the chimneya outback with a young redhead in knee highs, smoking all my Marlboros ’cause I didn’t want to wake up a smoker.

I’m back in the birthday game, mon ami, and I’m going full throttle into the Arts and doing what I love. I’ve got the resources and, after years of going without, I know what I need to get by. As much as I loathed another day on the planet, let alone aging another year back on the too-small, working class streets of Philadelphia, I couldn’t be more excited about being 50, and that’s because it’s 8 years from now-8 years tightening the screw and devoting more and more of my life to Art. It’s incredibly strange and ironic that I’m swinging upward as the world begins to really roil and spin, darkly and further out from our beautiful potential. Far be it from me to ignore what’s going on out there on the street, I must be steady and find a way to affect and interact with the people that I love. We both know it’s fucked out there. My point is, it’s been fucked in here, for as long as I can remember, but now I can feel something resurrect, and I ain’t stopping but considering my health and sanity and what I can give to those in need. There’s a war raging out there that never had anything to do with me. I know that these days it’s probably acceptable to fault me for that attitude. But concentrating on my community is the only way I know to get higher. The rest, it seems, is just furor and hyperbole, diverting us from the heart of the matter. For my 42nd birthday I’ll be doing me and I is another.

It’s never been more important to be punk rock then now, Brothers and Sisters. We are all we have. Let us do work.

won’t you celebrate with me
what i have shaped into
a kind of life? i had no model.
born in babylon
both nonwhite and woman
what did i see to be except myself?
i made it up
here on this bridge between
starshine and clay,
my one hand holding tight
my other hand; come celebrate
with me that everyday
something has tried to kill me
and has failed.

by Lucille Clifton

The Coarse Grind, A Tale of Two Hanks

In Being A Poet, Being A Writer, Being An Artist, Charles Bukowski, Henry Rollins, new journalism, published poet, publishing, publishing poetry, self-publishing, Writing, writing about writing, WRITING PROCESS on February 2, 2017 at 9:21 pm

Fuck.  Well, here’s part 2.  SIC SEMPER TYRANNIS.

I always wanted to be a writer.  That’s not to say that I always knew I wanted to be a writer.  It is to say that for the last 22 years I have wanted to be a writer, but only actualized it and felt like one for the last 2 or 3.  Depending on who’s counting and if it’s the inner critic I don’t want to know.  That bastard.  Too many times he’s shut me down.  Told me I ain’t shit and that I needed to get drunk if I wanted to be like Papa (Bukowski) or lift weights if I wanted to be like Henry Rollins.  The truth is I always wanted to be a writer but I didn’t know how.  I mean I always journaled, but-did that count?  Hopefully any writer reading this has felt the power of it, the magic of writing.  In 20,000 Days On Earth, Nick Cave discovers that he can control the weather with his moods simply by writing about it.
“Now if I could only control my moods.”  He sullenly adds.
Today’s installment of The Coarse Grind is a very Zen offering, so bear with me and don’t let me off the hook.  Too often lofty advice is given for the reader to pore or fawn over while the writer’s slipped out to the alleyway to get paid and hail a cab.  Same goes for Spirituality.  The truth about spirituality is the same as the truth about writing.  Both seem equally impossible, utterly unglamorous and something entirely different than our ideas about them.  But both also are redeemed when  you consider that their road is the only road and that’s the one we are on, good reader.  That if you want to be a writer you must write.  Simple, right?  Perhaps.  Do consider what can keep you from writing.  Or worse-what can take the inspiration out of it until distractions become disasters that can physically keep you from writing.
I don’t need to tell you.  You know your weaknesses.  And I know mine.  But the only thing that will keep you going back, sitting down and spending more long hours on the sinking throne is if you like what you’re doing.  Old Hank B. said it must come shooting out of your fingertips, that if it’s difficult then don’t try.  But old Hank R. would probably say the opposite:  it must be hard, it must be painful, because you are a no-talent nobody who must get up hours before everybody else to be on par.  Now here comes the Zen so hold on to your seat.  Today’s Zen of writing moment is brought to you by The Boss:
“Be able to keep two completely contradictory ideas alive and well inside of your heart and head at all times. If it doesn’t drive you crazy, it will make you strong.”
There you have it, your religion.  What about dogma?  Because who among us wouldn’t rather have written than actually write?
Those 19 years when I wanted to be a writer?  I knew I would be published when I first saw a copy of Rollins’ One From None.  I knew it ’cause he knew it and ol Hank Rollins showed us how.  Also (and here is why Bukowski is my Papa and his contribution to literature can never be underestimated) Papa told me that I could be a poet.  I could write from where I was at.  Which is right here, in my chair, in my house and from within the circus of my mind.  19 years after first seeing a copy of Rollins’ book and 15 after reading Papa for the first time, I started a blog.  Then I knew it.  I was a writer.