Jim Trainer

Archive for the ‘published poet’ Category

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.

The Coarse Grind, New Journalism

In Austin, Being A Poet, Being A Writer, day job, getting old, Jim Trainer, journalism, media, music journalism, new journalism, news media, published poet, publishing, publishing poetry, punk rock, RADIO, Submitting, submitting poetry, TYPEWRITERS, Writing, writing about writing, WRITING PROCESS on January 26, 2017 at 3:17 pm

What follows is the first installment of The Coarse Grind, my column that was never published.  A local zine and arts collective had asked me to write 3 drafts under 600 words.  I ended up writing 5 of them and sent the first 3 to the editor.  We had a correspondence then, that included the phrase “curating for millennials”, but ended with me accusing her of being “disingenuous” and “silly”.  I can see her point now, almost 3 years later, while reading these over.  I don’t know who could be expected to read anything as long as 600 words as even major news outlets race to publish first, and edit and redact later.  Besides the horror in realizing how long ago this was, I’m emboldened reading these, in full faith that you, good reader, will read 600 words every week, even if it’s the same old story.  That’s the boon and bane of the blogging business-you’ll never run out of material as long as you keep writing about yourself.  Christ.
Stay tuned for the next 2 installments of The Coarse Grind.  

New Journalism

Christmas Eve ’95 I slept in Cromwell Park. I’d been thrown out of my mom’s house for not having health insurance. It needed to happen. And the rest…I suppose. What happened was I fell through about 5 years of daylabor and shitjobs, another 5 as a mad Boehme, 3 on the getting-sober circuit and shit about 3 years working down here, in the Pearl of the South.  What also happened is I decided to be a writer.  I had to be, as clichéd as that might sound.  I was working a string of jobs that were boring the life out of me.  I dealt with it the only way I knew how-with a typewriter and booze.

One of the first things I did when I got here was get a library card. Checked out Locked in the Arms of a Crazy Life, a biography of Charles Bukowski by Howard Sounes. It was profound for me to discover the great poet had started writing poetry at the age of 35. I was 34.  Another thing I did when I got down here was pitch to Verbicide Magazine and write blues legend Steve James a letter, to say hello and ask for an interview. Those first months in Austin were a fertile time, days and months planting seeds and business cards. It was like I landed, dropped my bags and said,
“In 3 years I will be a writer.”

Then I got a job.  Then I got laid off.   I stayed on unemployment way past any reasonable amount of time, and fell sadly short of my goal of becoming a writer in 3 years. I had to go back to work.   It was one of many crises of doubt I had experienced, going all the way back to being homeless in my hometown in 1995.  I wanted to be a writer.
I landed a live in gig, in a big yellow mansion inconveniently located off west 6th.  A perfectly annoying backdrop and foil for this phase of my life which I can proudly announce to you is “being a writer”. This is the being a writer period, the being a writer time. Now it always was, I guess, but I didn’t know it then. Neither do you. But I appreciate you reading. It completes me. I feel received. Like radio-a magic jolt to it, an urgent zing to these words coming at you-can’t you feel it?  Right? Wow.
What do I do now that I am a writer? That I’ve cleaned my guns enough to crank out 8-1,200 words, neat and fine, on a whim or otherwise?  That of anything and everything that ever happens I not only have a ticket out of but a ticket into? That’s right, good reader.  I got an inroad to the best game in town and the players? Well shit the players are me&you darling and isn’t that nice?
Now that I’m a writer think I’ll bring it back for you. Tell you how I got here and that I’d like you to join me. In the late night or in the bright morning, I’d like you to join me on the savage road-this is the new stuff-join me in this new media, this new age-this moment. Let’s do some shit. Send out our signal into the hungry land. Let’s send out a song of love or better let’s send ‘em some anger. Let us burn.

…a question of Fuel…

In anxiety, Being A Poet, Being A Writer, Being An Artist, blogging, Charles Bukowski, depression, employment, getting old, getting sober, hometown, media, mental health, mid life, middle age, music performance, new journalism, new orleans, observation, on tour, PDX, Performance, Philadelphia, Poetry, poetry reading, Portland, published poet, publishing, publishing poetry, punk rock, recovery, self-help, self-publishing, singer songwriter, singer-songwriter, sober, sobriety, solitude, TOUR, truth, Uncategorized, Writing, writing about writing, yoga on December 22, 2016 at 10:10 pm

Introjective depression – the autonomous kind, on the other hand, is characterized by intense self-criticism and there is frequently, then, an intense drive for achievement to offset the internalized sense of inferiority and self-scrutiny.  These individuals can be extremely critical of others as well as themselves and can be intensely competitive, often achieving a great deal, but with little sense of satisfaction – no amount of external validation seems to satisfy the harsh and demanding person that they can be in relationship to themselves.
-Karl Stukenberg on Sydney Blatt’s Developmental Theory of Depression

it seems we lose the game,
before we even start to play
Everything Is Everything

Got my walking papers.  Guess this means the gloves are off.  5 years can feel like a lifetime or it can go by way too fast on shift, on the clock and working for the man.  If it sounds like I’m complaining it’s because that’s my voice, I’m charged with it-fiery and riled and launching these missives through the barrel of a gun.  It’s because the last thing I want to do is tell you a lie or waste your time.  It’s this voice I honed and came to grips with, working for Mr. Fox.  The job gave me a bedtime, gave me the morning, still hated but doable, forced me to eat meals and sleep and watch movies and be lazy.  Above all it taught me what I need to be high functioning, and it’s hardly what I thought it would be.

I’ve published 3 books in the last 5 years, written hundreds of blogs and letters, and played more than 120 gigs, not counting spoken word and storytelling gigs, since I was hired on.  I’m glad to put it this way, and catch a rare reprieve from the inner critic.  The first sentence of this paragraph riddles the inner critic with buckshot, stuffs its mouth with gauze and sends it 6 feet closer to Heaven.  I might not be Henry Rollins but I’m gaining on him.  The pace is fucked.  I’ll never be happy with how long these things take and that’s probably because I’ll never be happy with myself.  I feel like I’m behind before I even wake up in the morning and wonder of the wisdom, sung by Lauryn Hill, in that song from days past.  But there’s so much more to it than that.

Up against it as we are, fucked and doomed to play their game should be enough to motivate, and it does.  The specter of death, terribly advancing on us from the day we’re born should be enough, and it is.  Never being Henry Rollins, never being good enough, has been fine motivation these slipshod and lean years-I know where it’s gotten me but I draw a blank when I think about what’s next.  It’s because you can’t build on a negative.  Anybody who’s ever quit anything knows that not doing it is only the beginning.  You must substitute it with something you are doing.  Quitting smoking, for example.  Of course, I had to first stop doing it.  Once I did the space opened up for something else.  Saying FUCK FUCK FUCK in my head seems to work, until I rupture a blood vessel, but certainly got me through terrible and troubling hours at the IPRC a few weeks ago.  At every step of All in the wind‘s production I was struck with the anxiety of never living my dreams-a great dread that neatly incorporates my fear of death and incredible lack of self esteem into a thorny and torrid cocktail called WHY I WORK ALONE.

Fear of dying will get you out of bed in the morning.  You bet.  A voice in your head telling you you’ll never be anything, never were anything, your parents were right and just because you left your hometown doesn’t mean you got away can also be great motivation, but not in the long run.  I’m 41 and I feel like I am just getting started.  Yogic wisdom tells me that all we are ever doing is getting started, and completing tasks with the quickness of Shiva’s wheeling hands.  The twisted cocktail of death and low self esteem, and the example of great men like meteors burning across the small town sky of my psyche can be potent, virile and all the ingredients needed for a bomb-but I feel like I’m gonna need a fire and for a fire you need fuel.

Work in media suits me.  It’s probably the only kind of work besides performing in which I feel like I am making a change.  I’m struck, sitting here, that it was just over 5 years ago when I decided to do something meaningful with my life and said goodbye to the bars with a few answered ads for Caregivers on craigslist.  In the last 5 years I was able to produce consistently as an artist by going to sleep at a certain time every night, and getting up at the same time every morning.  I had to make enough money to fund the first pressings of All in the wind and September , and have enough spare cash to fly out to the many unpaid (if not thankless) gigs in Philly and Louisiana.  HAAM paid my healthcare premiums but I was only able to get behind the trouble in my mouth with a begrudging loan against an inheritance from my mother, who sent me a check made out to the dentist.   Which is nothing I want to get into now.  It should be noted that I’m sitting on a lengthy backlog of posts, inspired by the prospect of being on RawPaw’s payroll in the Fall of ’14 and a request from Bean Maguire to recount my savage road to sobriety.  The point, now mangled and drug down this winding graph, is I only did it with a whole lot of gumption, even more bitterness and a little bit of luck.

I discovered what I need these last 5 years.  What I want has never been in question, but the crossroads of dread and inspiration at the hated age of 41 has me asking other questions.  Like, how will I hit 20 major cities a year and maintain my bedtime?  How can I possibly create without seeming to be in control of what happens within my own 4 walls?  Simply, maybe I’m not Rollins.  It’s not exactly in the cards to be on the road for over 200 days a year.  Knowing what I need is a start, knowing that it’s fuel is even better, and how I can be at my strongest and even ease the grip of this dream, live a little and breathe is healthy, and necessary.  the area of pause, as Papa put it.

Bukowski, as close to an example and road as I have, lived most of his life at War, but the man knew how to rest, too, and the author’s photos on his later works showcase the hard earned, worn and warm smile of Hank-a man aware of his limitations and therefore resting fully in his own power, if not in love then at peace.

…outside is America…

In austin music scene, Being A Poet, Being A Writer, Being An Artist, christianity, day job, journalism, new journalism, news media, PDX, Poetry, politics, Portland, PROTEST, published poet, publishing, publishing poetry, self-publishing, singer songwriter, singer-songwriter, War, working class, Writing, writing about writing on December 15, 2016 at 5:49 pm

Hello darkness my old friend.  I’ve got a kink in my neck.  It’s a few twists away from being a real fucking problem.  There’s a leak coming from my kitchen ceiling.  I went up and talked to the Kid, but we couldn’t figure out where it was coming from.  I came home from Portland on Sunday, after being snowed in for 2 days, with three-hundred Letterpressed covers for All in the wind, but no books.  I’m scheduled for a binding session at Minuteman Press on Monday.  We hope to have 150 copies done by end of day Tuesday.  I’m playing House Wine tonight, beneath the palms for 3 hours in 50 degree weather . There are far worse ways to make a dollar.  I oughta know.  I missed deadline filing my income tax for 2015 so there’ll be a gap in my healthcare coverage.  The Boss tells me the plumber will be by at 9:30 tomorrow morning, and I go back on shift at 5.  I’ve been fighting with one of my homies, and it all seems stupid and trite, and that’s because it always is.

These are my problems on a warm winter afternoon in Hippie Town.  Everything happens at once or nothing happens at all.  That’s this life I’ve bought into.  These years I’ve traveled down, trying to be anything other than a company man, a factory man.  Never wanting to be anything like my old Man.  The years slide past, nice and sleazy, while I crank out poetry on the dayshift, and play rock and roll music in wine bars, to women and friends and have an unbelievably sober and fine time.

Things are different in the other hemisphere.  Folks are dealing with a whole other hierarchy of problems-shit that could relegate 90% of what’s wrong in America to an entitled and candy ass complaint.  Which isn’t to say there aren’t dark corners right here at home.  Somewhere someone is paying and you always do-unless you’ve got healthcare and your country isn’t being bombed and you’re white, and you can afford security to stand down the high walls of your gated community.  To watch Vice’s A House Divided is to be lividly reminded that what split this country between hateful racist yahoos and the rest of us was Universal Healthcare.  Which is what we deal with over here-each other and pitted so by an oligarchy with a Christian hardon.  As hard as it is and as undignified is the slough we feed from in the end days of Empire–it’s probably better than anywhere else in the world.  Except maybe the Netherlands.

See you in Amsterdam motherfucker.