Jim Trainer

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UNTITLED DOCUMENT

In Uncategorized on April 2, 2020 at 4:41 pm

wasn’t anything the prophets said
changing their stories to accommodate the end
not the people
with their 
politics of convenience
it was James Hansen on the Senate floor
punk rock and Cornell West
though any bearers
of truth or prescience
died with it or told
to sit down so they did
whoever it was
knew this Century would be the last
we’ve lost them
their message sunk
by rank rallies for a system
kept our eyes on towers while beneath us
the floor open-mouthed, wide
no comfort anyhow
to have known then or know now
fate’s circling it won’t land
everything’s moving there’s no skin
left on the monolith
the old gods turned over and
tumbling
my
backyard’s overgrown
the charming blue petals
strangling
in root and tacky vine
overrun
with lizards
red-necked and blue on their spine
looking at me sideways with
their lizard eyes
through the window
through the glass door
standing at my desk
I must be
like a meteor to them
an event
they splay stuck against
planks of the wood fence
between my little rented square
of briny moss and tall grass
and all that’s out there
beyond
the tree-line
across the roofs
and the vast sky
giving me their darting
unblinking
side eye
waiting.


 

Shrieks of Paradise, Correspondence&Rails#60, Dear Myra

In Uncategorized on March 27, 2020 at 6:03 pm

The Office of Jim Trainer
1500 Crestwood Road, Garage
Austin TX 78722

Myra Reichel
Media, PA

4/16/18, 3:32PM

Dear Myra-

I can’t thank you enough for your gift. It helped make the nut of tour and certainly eased my transition back.  It was a shot in the arm too, and it felt like the universe was trying to tell me to go for it.  I love when that happens.  I got fired when I got back, which isn’t really a bad thing considering that job was killing me.  It was taking over my life.  Now, thanks to you and some other things coming my way, I’ll be spending this week getting a proposal for the CORE grant together.  I feel like the universe was telling me to do that, too.

I put the timer on and gave myself an hour to write.  Then I’ll get back to the application and tighten it up for them and for when I bring it in to open office hours tomorrow.  The new place is good, it’s private-ish and all mine.  I have the carport to myself and I like to open the front door and get some writing done on the loveseat, away from the desk.  The arts are still giving, Myra, and I only expect it to get better.  Like life.  We live to create and pretty soon it’s creation that will keep us alive.  I’m working this weekend, Friday and Saturday—old hustles that I can do in my sleep even if they’ll wear me out.  I’ve got 2 checks coming to me from the old job and I might even qualify for unemployment.  If I do, it’ll be, to quote Hunter Thompson, like falling down an elevator shaft and landing in a pool full of mermaids.

I’m finding for the life, taking to the territory.  It’s what I’ve always wanted but came to find it especially lacking while caring for Blair, the quadriplegic man I cared for, for the last 5 years.  I turned 40 working for him and that’s when a great and terrible dread seized me  I had a visit then, in 2015, from my muse, my Dean Moriarty–Bernard Pearce. He had some choice words for me.  Token words I won’t forget.  He planted a seed and now we’re going to be on the road together.  Everywhere from New Orleans to Bulgaria and we’ll be singing and writing and speaking the whole way.  It’s a good life.  I expect it to get even better, too.  Wider in scope and greater in acquisition.

I’ve been set free and it’s terrifying.  I’ve stripped myself of intoxicants, except coffee which I drink copiously, and I’ve a new confidence.  I may be terrified but I’m not as scared as I used to be, if that makes any sense.  Makes me think of Lao Tsu…Small fears eat away at man’s happiness.  Giant fears swallow him whole. I’m not victim to the small fears anymore, Myra, at least—I can see beyond them.  I’m taking to the territory and inspired by the giant fear, which is probably death but more likely death in life of which I am terrified.  I’m hoping it will fuel me on.  With all this time on my hands it’s easy to get distracted.  I must constantly stimulate myself and remember that this is it.  The young time is over and it won’t be coming back.  This is the old time, the seasoned years, the greys sprouting through the black and the mornings breaking harder from the shallow nights.  If I forget, or get sidelined or distracted all I have to remember is that I earned this.  Every last bit of it.  It wasn’t free and it’s mine  I wouldn’t have made it if I didn’t put it on the line and I’ll never make it without the love and kindness of people like you.

I feel your and Lou’s support of me always.  You guys are part of my life in wonderful ways.  Your son got married and had 2 incredible children.  And I’m still out here on the road, trying to make it and the greatest thing to happen to me is knowing that I will.

Best to Lou.

Much love Always,
Your Other Son

DRUNK ON SOUR GRAPES

In Uncategorized on March 26, 2020 at 10:10 am

Fuck it, if the world’s ending, I wanna make a crazy piece of art!
Scott Gorsuch

Almost everything that could have gone wrong with the speech did go wrong.
Dan Balz

So this year I decided to delete all the apps and just start fingering my own ass.

Deprivation is for me what daffodils were for Wordsworth.
-Philip Larkin

We’re living in a post end-of-the-world world.  I’ve been social distancing since 1991.  It was Black Sabbath and Coors Lite back then and Yummy Tummy mint tea in the lamplight now.  I always cross the street when I see them coming and all I was and even who I thought I’d become are extinct.  These are strange days now, as I go on ebbing out into fissiparous and peculiar atmospheres of solitude, needing less of them than I did even last year.  My health is a literal pain in the ass.  I can’t shit or have to immediately and repeatedly.  Cecily worked out whatever voodoo they been running down on me, and managed to move what felt like a wood stake driven up through my my shoulder blade and coming out through my heart.  Everything I just wrote is what they call creative nonfiction, what I aspire to be personal journalism and anyway closer to being real than the truth.  The truth on newscasts and social media feeds, “the truth”.  I can’t piss on everybody’s hot takes seeing as how the internet is how I made my bones.  Besides, I can’t enjoy a moment myself without contextualizing it for the Crowd and that’s ’cause I’m a fame whore who can’t wait to get home from his walkabout blasting August and Everything After…to quote it somehow, cute and pithily and it makes me want to vomit.  Maybe I should do like Lesley Ann and just fuck it.  Go dark.  I saw her announcement and then she was as gone as the California grizzly, not even in my inbox anymore, like a good witch somewhere and not here but betwixt.

I don’t know how to express to you that I don’t care.  Probably because I’m not sure I really don’t or if it’s actually a defense mechanism but I do know that of the world’s end, pandemics and world wars I am not worried.  I am not overly concerned.  I worried myself sick putting out 2 books this winter, and trying to hold a job doing 15 and 18 hours shifts in the Texas heat, serving pomegranate mules to dickhead rich cowboys and betties in law firm break rooms.  The thing about shit work is you know what you get so you don’t complain.  You get your hourly.  Go home.  Turn off your phone and drink a six pack with your coworker and have young and angry sex together.  Whoops.  Got off track there.  How can I impress upon you that I don’t care that it’s all over baby blue?  How weird have I got, am I really out here spinning and living my life in service to hours spent at a typewriter, sipping tea and watching the world slip darkly down, beard and backyard overgrown, the former in grey and rusty Irish-red and the latter with charming blue flowers?  Yes, Good Reader.  Yes.  The last party I went to I spent the whole night wondering why I was there.  The hostess invited me but it didn’t seem like she wanted me there, which I can relate to–I hardly want to be anywhere.  I’ve got problems and I’m not normal Good Reader.  I should’ve worked this out years ago and anyway learned how to be alone.  Instead, what I did to get through those slipshod years only comes back to haunt me.  I’m either regretful I did or that I didn’t but blue either way.  Sore and angry and incontinent.  I’m not great Hell I’m not even good most of the time but I’m above ground, walking around, taking what they’re giving and spending too much time reading your reactions to the disruption of your entitled life and mine.

Don’t get me wrong.  I know you’ve suffered.  We all have.  I just wish I suffered for the right reasons and that I could stand myself even just a little bit.  I’m probably like a whiskey or a wine, or water boiling to dark coffee and firing through coarse grinds.  I’ll be good enough to drink someday.  Maybe I’ll give you a call.  On second thought maybe not.

I ain’t got a halo, don’t claim to be a saint
just killing myself for what I’ve become and all the shit I ain’t…

 

PART 25 OF THE COARSE GRIND IS COMING SOON TO INTO THE VOID.
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SEND ME YOUR ADDRESS AND I’LL WRITE YOU A LETTER!
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Shrieks of Paradise, Correspondence&Rails#59: Dear Carlos

In Uncategorized on March 25, 2020 at 8:30 am

The Office of Jim Trainer
4610 Avenue D, #A
Bro Country, TX

Carlos Figueroa

11/24/17, 11:40PM

Los

Warmest Greetings from the War Room.  I’m on the small couch in a white terrycloth robe with blue UGZ bottoms.  At a glance it either looks like I sold out or never left our middle class beginnings, which would be criminal either way considering what I’ve been through to get here.  I was granted a reaudition to the University of Arts for jazz bass in 1995 but I never went back.  Instead I fell through the decades trying to be Bukowski and on the outside and never really getting back in. I fell in love—hard.  She was 15 years my senior and taught me everything I needed to know to get me here, on the short sofa down in Paradise—the Live Music Capitol of the World.  It is what it is Brother.  Climb a mountain or scale the depths of alcoholism but ultimately what you’re left with is what you lost and the wisdom that came from losing it—if you’re lucky, like I am.  I was born in the Year of the Woodcat.  Rabbits are hard workers and aren’t so much afraid of confrontation as deathly shrewd with their time.  I wouldn’t corner a rabbit and I wouldn’t try to catch one either.  All that matters to me in these paling years is all that ever did and that is the work.  The real work, which is why I’m typing this letter to you, just before midnight on Black Friday after working assembly on the temp job for 11 hours.

I write 600-1,000 words for the blog every Thursday and about that much within 2 letters every Friday.  I know my mind. Without deadlines I wouldn’t do much except worry about the strange drift my life took ever since that cold day waiting on the R3 with a fire engine-red P bass strapped to my back.  I know  I’m going to write every week and thus can continue with the savage quest to be a writer.  Another deadline is to publish a book of poetry every year until 2025.  I don’t know what will happen then.  I can’t even see next month to be honest and these Nuclear Winters do nothing for my Armageddon Blues.  I need to ween off the social media and stop writing about myself.  Now we begin the practice of Yoga.  That’s the first Yoga sutra and that says it all.  We begin where we are and we begin now.  Fugazi sang it just as well and my practice is just as well served off the mat and in the painful maw of the waiting world.  Which is the long way around saying that only now am I a writer, when I put down the filter, stop being myopic, broaden and take to universal topic.  It’s a hard bullet to bite but when you consider that my last blog was about being so bored and inured with the end of the world my arms were sore from jerking off—it’s kind of poetic, kind of apolitical and jaded but mostly just sad.

Music’s going well.  Just need to get my full voice back.  I play gigs for money and I’ve enough original material to save for the good set, when my people have arrived and I can turn the mic stand toward ‘em and look ‘em in the eye.  Getting my voice back will be a journey through the bureaucracies of the square world.  In the meantime I can still belt ‘em out, in my own way and am constantly developing as full a sound as I can on a Tacoma Guild and a $20 harp.  The songs will come, as great or terrible as they’ve always been, but certainly and decidedly better than anything Side Effect ever wrote.  I’m lucky man.  Lucky to have a dream.  Lucky to sit here, labor-sore, smack dab in the middle of my middle class life with the heat on and a full stomach.  The only way out is through and the way through is gratitude.  The Beasties knew and the Dalai Lama, too.

December is going to rule it—gigs and a book coming out, temp jobs and poetry banged out on a President XII Tower or IBM Selectric II if I’m lucky—which, as mentioned, I certainly am.  I feel like luck and trouble are my gods and goddesses, and I’ve kneeled to and been raised up by both.  I don’t ask for favoritism but to take my turn as I am able and have a warm, quiet place to work.  Our work will save us and why not?  Work is why I fell through a couple decades and work is how I made sense of it all, the roar and sway of an unreasonable heart, a tender heart, a vengeful and a knowing heart.  Best to you, old Brother.  Keep loving and you will be loved.

As strong as we are,

Jim Trainer
Austin TX

1.5 TRILLION REASONS NOT TO CARE ABOUT CORONAVIRUS

In Uncategorized on March 19, 2020 at 7:42 am

It’s a self swab.  You do it yourself.
-DJT

I write it myself, edit it myself, censor it myself, publish it myself, distribute it myself and spend time in prison for it myself.
Vladimir Bukovsky

It also needs you to leave it the eff alone. 
Anslee Connell

Monday I shit myself.  I went home at lunch, washed my legs and put on a new pair of pants.  Put the shit pants in the tub.  When I came home from work the second time maintenance unclogged the kitchen sink.  When I turned the spigot the head snapped off.  Water everywhere.  I put the dishes in the tub and the now rinsed-shit pants on the toilet.  Tuesday was.  When I came home Wednesday they’d fixed the spigot.  When I went to put the dirty dishes back in the kitchen sink I had to shit real bad but the now rinsed-shit pants were on the toilet.  So I bent over to get them and pain shot through from under my shoulder like a shiv.  It’s excruciating and I can’t move my arm.  I’m writing this with a Yoga block wedged into my armpit to keep my writing arm propped up on the keys.  It only feels alright when all the blood drains out of it.  The kitchen sink is filled with dishes.  The now rinsed-shit pants are back in the tub.  I write this because I said I would, 4 years ago and on the heels of a frustrating and mostly dumb sexual negotiation.  I’ve kept my word and at least 600 of them up here every Thursday.  I missed a week, working last holiday season, which is probably when I blew it all out anyway.  My bowels and my arm and recalcitrant blood vessels in my brain.  I overdid it then.  I move through the world, malfunctioning.  I’m in horrible pain and limping along, exploding in my jeans walking ghetto streets but unable to move anything soon’s I get on the bowl.  Oh yeah and I’m full of poetry.

The stuff comes out first thing in the morning.  Before anything terrible gets a footing and before I remember my enemy.  When I’m not yet sore or weary.  And I get it down.  Writing poetry satisfies me in a way that nothing else does.  I make petition there.  Blaze through the desert blind.  Crash Cuban weddings and laugh at the end of the world in shopping mall parking lots with a girl in a black leather and Jimmy Carter pin.  The days are bright and filled with pain.  Nights I’m concussed.  Non-plussed.  Incredulous I survived but dumbfounded what for.  I get it down in the morning and it’s a hard proof.  In a slipshod world.  That I was here and that my pain made purchase, that there’s wisdom in the marrow of suffering but truth only in blood.  Triumph is Eminence Front with the windows down doing 50 in a 30 on 11th Street and smoking those jerkoffs sitting too long at the red before crossing over 35.  Victory is strange, mostly because it wasn’t planned.  Survival is watching them all crack, sink down to what’s basic and what matters.  Freedom is knowing that nothing much does.  Pain and fear are the tests.  The arena.  And so are our days now.  My right arm’s gone to sleep writing this.  It’s always raining here.  Who will read these words in only 10 years?  What can we glean from capitalism and isolation and putting anything above the human but misery?  Who’s to say all this suffering was for no fucking reason, that we went on bellyaching and blathering for nothing?  I am.  Everything that was beautiful still is.  It just had to leave this world to stay that way.

My neighbor the school teacher’s home all the time now.  He’s out there in the dark morning when I leave.  Everyday there’s a new amalgamation of houseplants and day chairs like a fresh obstacle course on the way to my car.

“Just keeping busy,” he says.

Bet you are Pal.

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Shrieks of Paradise, Correspondence&Rails#58: Dear Reb

In Uncategorized on March 15, 2020 at 7:45 am
hewitt
President XII Tower at the Hewitt Lake Club, 2013

Hewitt Lake Club
Minerva, NY

Guru
Between Effort&Ease
Hippie Town, USA

7/21/13

Dear Reb-

After 3 18-hour days, we arrived in Minerva NY.  My heart was filled with something not unlike hatred, but more like self-preservation.  Being at the beck&call of another being for 18 hours a day (including 8 in the small quarters of a 15-seat Ford Econoline), has left me none for me and on my dayoff, peppered by the client’s jokes & too many beers, I disengage any way I can.  It is a shame and it is sad.  My sleep is broken by nightmare-dreams, it seems that all my loves are still with me.  And alcoholism, too.

But My brothers to the left, they are telling me things and I am listening.  There are 3 of them, and the wind through their tops is a good enough reason to go on with this version of death we call life.  I poked 3 holes in the screenporch where I now sit writing this.  It involved Vodka and spiritual discussion and the aforementioned hatred/self-preservation.  

That was last night.  Now, Jill ( Blair’s mother, 83) and Dakota (good dog) are with us.  We drink cold Yuengling Lagers and listen to the wind through the trees.  I find my mantra; the blues is with us.  You are too.  2 Marlboro Reds and 10 days before I head back into it, this War I call my life.

Fondly,
Jim
Minerva, NY

bigtrouble

 

 

I’M A LIAR AND A ROMANTIC AND I’M LOST AT THE END OF THE WORLD

In Uncategorized on March 12, 2020 at 11:00 am

We were liars in love and we danced…
The Hooters

Now I woke me up with a cardinal bird
and when I wanna talk he hangs on every word…
-Tom Waits

Too smart to ask for more
this is all I’ve waited for
Nothing hidden and nothing wasted
nothing past the love I’ve tasted…
SEBADOH

Spring has sprung but things might feel a little different now.  Austin won’t be the center of the Rock&Roll universe this year and, despite woes to the local economy, a break from the madness that SX brings is welcome in my camp.  Truth is my life will be as crazy and slipshod as ever, I just won’t have to be strategic or gridlocked and anyway ride my bike everywhere to avoid getting mired in the throng.  I’m not jaded about SX.  I love it.  I never had a problem getting around and made some great friends during the festival.  I’m not sad it’s cancelled though and anyway probably glad I don’t work in the food service industry full-time anymore.  We’ve all got our row to hoe and, tell you the truth, my struggles go mercilessly on and without quarter.  I need to get seen and start living right.  Life is passing me by and perhaps that’s what’s so sad about the city cancelling SX.  I’ll be stuck in my own orbit, as usual, fighting this beast of depression that’s really gained momentum in these later years. It’s a bugger and a bear and I don’t know if shit was easier when I got fucked up or that my symptoms were only masked.  Either way I am looking forward to getting healthy and engaging fully in the world of letters and Art and anyway re-devoting myself to this path I stepped foot to almost thirty years ago.

To think on that old life and the suburbs, when my Father was alive and Jesus Jones was on the radio, is a mindfuck.  In fact that old life is so removed I could glean some comfort knowing that this, like all things, shall pass.  If I’m living right I won’t recognize myself in only 5 years, except that my poetry will be better and hopefully column writing for fuck sake.  I suppose things are winding down on the Personal Journalism front though I’ll probably always need the anchor that these posts have become.  Truth be told, I’ve come to rely on you Good Reader and I’ve outsmarted inspiration and in fact lived down writer’s block by sublimating the bad blues and my ennui living as a prisoner of capitalism and at the behest of dull minds and weak hearts.  I know you know what I am talking about.  We’ve lived here, ain’t it, on these pages.  We yelled, beat down, ran cold and tore hot away from the masses.  We found for own own private madness, we rattled our chains and roared.  We soared mountains of solitude together, hoisting each other, one by one and rung by rung and looked, from on high of a column of 600 words at their world below.  In fact as recently as minutes ago, when I slid the sliding glass open and turned on the overhead fan, lit a stick of Nag Champa and started writing this–I was a different man.  I was spent and soiled.  Wearing my workshirt, unwashed, sleep and sloth all over me and hopelessness nagging at the seams of the afternoon.

Now I’ve put this down and shook out whatever death was corroding the corners of my mind.  I’ve come to focus, stantioned a column of words, 542 and counting, and whatever was bothering me is, literally and completely, gone.  This is where we’re at, Good Reader, which is where we always were.  I could bemoan the fact that my own mind is a tarantula, that I have to heave off black torrents of dread to get through even the moment a lot of the time–or I could rejoice that as a writer I’ve got the juice and the stones to shake it, really put the blues in its place on the page and get on with it, living and life and anyway the survival of a major depressive disorder.  As usual, for a Pisces like me, I’ll go with both–the dim and the glory but I won’t leave you here without the reminder that I either got to hang up this blogging gig or else go whole hog into Personal Journalism.  I can’t stomach any more blogs like this one–non-events that become events. Don’t get me wrong, like I said it’s a miraculous thing.  I think what I’m trying to say is I want to be a better writer.  If that’s the case then I don’t suppose I should hang it up but instead delve deeper.  Instead of posting 600 words here every week I should do it every day, whether or not it’s shareable and makes it to the pages of Going For the Throat.  Why not?  All you’ve been hearing me say is that it’s time to get better.  Let’s take it all the way across the board shall we?  See you at the drawing board mothefucker and otherwise the writer’s desk God help me.  I’m sure me and my writing will be a worthy adversary and like any great enemy, I’ll learn from the rivaling, and cast off this old karma until I’m standing in the light of day.

May you find fuel in the dark that you can burn on for a long time.

Trainer
AUSTIN TX

PUNCH A NAZI

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In Uncategorized on March 8, 2020 at 5:12 pm

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Shrieks of Paradise, Correspondence&Rails#57: Good Morning Beautiful

In Uncategorized on March 8, 2020 at 1:59 pm

The Office of Jim Trainer
1500 Crestwood Road, Garage
Austin TX 

Ms. Dean
600 Piedweltzer Road
Charleston SC

5/17/18, 6:01PM

Good Morning

The hot spring nights here are only good for killing chiggers.  I’ve moved since I started writing this but they only doubled at the writing desk.  I’m annoyed and outnumbered.  Christ now there’s one in my ear where I sit on the love seat. Gnats can make or break the case for divine intelligence.  So can politicians. I’ve no idea what you’re up to your neck with in Charleston but I imagine there isn’t much of a wide berth for liberal thought there.  I’m sure there are plenty of fine people, or else why would you be, and I’m only basing my assumption on South Carolina’s voting record. South Carolina voted in every presidential election except for the race of 1864 when it seceded from the Union.  They’ve voted Republican since 1964, except for 1976 when the state went blue for Jimmy Carter. I can’t tell anyone anything but I do know that the passivity and snide technocrats in Austin can get to me as bad as any chigger or Republican anyway. It’s all f-d, Miss Dean.  The die has been cast.  The greatest country in the world has fallen and I’d rather not spend the last eighty years this planet’s got left working twelve months a year without healthcare.

Of course I’m a HAAM member and of course my premiums are affordable for the first time in my life thanks to the vision and diligence of President Obama.  I can’t really live down feeling like we were winning those 8 years ain’t it.   I moved to Austin just after he was sworn in. The market crashed and nobody knew what it meant.  4 years later I was living in the last Confederate governor of the U.S.’ old place when I got the news that they’d buried Bin Laden at sea. It made me think of Hunter Thompson and what he purportedly and dolefully said, in front of a hotel TV when he found out Nixon died.  “This changes nothing.” Obama ran on change and he brought it but it only brought out the yahoos.  And politics, despite what Obama or Bret Easton Ellis say, doesn’t happen in a vacuum.  The fuck do I know?  My desires are many but my needs are few.  I’d just like enough time to develop and work on a set of ideas.  Not this catch-as-catch-can poetry on the weekends shit. The hustle stopped being the hustle right around when the bubble burst and the market crashed, or it was that hot Autumn day in New York City when the planes hit and 3,000 people died, or M.L.K. in Memphis or J.F.K. in Dallas and any number of regressive and dark turns of the screw the oligarchy put to us since.  Welcome to the Chinese Century.  

I need to get my affairs in order.  It’s been almost three hundred days since I’ve saved anything on my disc station.  I’ll need a mirrorless where I’m going and a UPN. I think it’s time to get excited about the road and where it will take me but I’ve got to keep an eye out for Work.  This isn’t holiday. I’ll be back in Bro Country before you know it and have to sweat out the many tiered nuance of contractural speak when I apply for the Community Initiatives grant.  Think about being on the Roll Call, Dean. I’ve heard it said an artist only needs one thousand die hard fans to sustain him. I’d like you to be one but if you’re not already.  What can you do? Keep a lamp lit for me in Charlotte. Share a post. Buy a book and, mostly, tell others about me. Of course, you can just be my friend and of course you already are. Especially if you’re not the biggest fan.  I’ve never appealed to anyone like this, in letter form, before. Letter writing was always supposed to be for your enjoyment and mine.

I write when I can’t do anything else.  When anxiety has choked out the night or I’m distracted by my many black furies or fantastical wild dreams.  I write letters when I can’t write anything else, and so, for this I thank you. It’s been nice being with you in this way, especially as the chiggers have ceded.  Maybe they’ve found their mates, dead in a pile on the sheet of yellow legal paper on my desk. Maybe they too have laid down to die. Now all we need is for the politicians to do the same.

Stay beautiful.

Yours,
Jim Trainer

BAD NIGHT FOR PERSONAL JOURNALISM

In Uncategorized on March 5, 2020 at 11:00 am

The smile has faded from our faces
our youthful, hopeful faces hid away

…there was this time when he lived in West Philly. There was this car with some kind of machine gun and Afro emblem on it, and he said it was one of them violent people. It was always parked in front of his house. So first he shot out some of the windows with a BB gun, and the car would still come and park there. Then he would pour sugar down the gas tank. But the car just kept driving. And he put more in, and it still ran. He put like 20 pounds of sugar in, and the car never stopped running. It drove him nuts. He was always crazy, but I thought he was a garden-variety Kensington kind of crazy. But then after his wife left, he started getting paranoid. This was I guess in the mid-’80s.
John Cassidy

I stayed clean, but I still had to pay for my misdeeds.
Rob Kaniuk

Poverty begets mental illness. Trauma begets mental illness. Mental illness begets more poverty. It’s an utter downward cycle.
Patrisse Cullors

THE FOLLOWING POST WAS WRITTEN ON SUPER TUESDAY, MARCH 3 2020, AT NIGHT.

Night writing.  It’s not for the weak.  I don’t like writing when I’m not fresh but I’m white collar.  I’ve got a day gig now and even though I’m tired I’m not beat down, which is what blue-collar labor always did to me.  I almost had to wait for a day off to write while working those jobs.  It’d be good to get up early and do this, it works for Brother James, but sleep is elusive for me.  I’ve seen too much Good Reader.  Or else I’ve got some screws loose.  Whatever it is, coming up in the Township and living like a POW for twenty years hasn’t been kind to my nervous system.  Being drunk helped with sleeping.  So did sex.  The two seemed to go hand in hand, in fact–so much so that now, at 45, I’m beginning to realize there’s more to dating than drinking and getting fucked.  It’s a crying shame where I’ve ended up in life but I’ve got this column and I’ve got you and we’ve got each other–and isn’t that nice?

The state’s standing by.  We wanna know who got the nom.  Will it be the most reasonable and democratically-sound statesman of our time, or just another corporate shill?  I don’t suppose I could get any more jaded so I won’t need to brace myself for the disapointment.  Truth is, it’s all dog and pony.  I’m making $3 less an hour than I was 17 years ago.  I’ve got healthcare now though and as mentioned, I’m not bleeding the hours humping and hoisting like I was at the beginning of the Final Century.  I was younger then and just as mad but had the time of my life with an unending succession of lovely young ladies to soothe my black Irish salt and cur.  I had an X tell me I’m like a fuse looking to ground when I finally give in to sleep and I guess she’s right, wherever she is and whatever fresh Hell midlife is for her now.

It’s a bad night for Personal Journalism which could mean I’m enjoying myself.  This is the kind of post that will reveal my choice to remain apolitical was only born of cowardice.  I mean, if I truly wanted to subvert essay writing then I guess this is a victory I can glean.  But I ain’t made any real change, writing here, 600 words every Thursday since 2016 and letters, poems and police reports, songs and lyrics and travelogues since the beginning of the terrible 10s.  I moved here right before that shitty decade and then I lived through it.  I fucked a lot which is another victory I can claim.  I got sober too, and now sex is weirder than it’s ever been, at least that I remember and I don’t remember everything.  Though a lot of dark nights are coming into focus tell you the truth Good Reader.  I haven’t been well and what’s on my mind is worse.  I’m still here, and you are too, and maybe the best thing to happen in the arena of Presidential politics in our lifetime will be real and actualized tonight.  Maybe it’ll all begin to change.

The strangest byproduct of sobriety and growing the fuck up is owning this uncanny and not-at-all easy to hold hope.  Hope?  What is it?  I’ve been down too long.  Maybe it’s hope that’s causing the vessel to rupture, it’s hope shaking the girders, maybe this peculiar and thorny cargo of hope is violent.  Everything I’m going through is a change coming and it won’t be easy.  I don’t mind.  Nothing’s been easy.  The bizarre thing though, Good Reader, is feeling this weird rise.  I’d call it positivity as long as we’re understood–I’ve nothing to do with this.  It’s a sun in my chest, tonight, a certainty.  I know things are bound to change.  Turning and turning in the widening gyre and whatever is on its way is bound to wreck and tear down this bad karma and shroud I been carrying too long.  Couldn’t come sooner either.  It’s been a long night.

EPILOGUE  Looks like Biden turned it out, eh Good Reader?  It’s probably too soon to tell but certainly looking like the DNC is up to its old tricks.  The kind of chicanery that could turn a well-meaning citizen like myself, make him give up on writing home for a change of address on my voter registration and let 63 million zombies vote in a would be plutocratic ponce who’s good qualities are racism and a lack of ethics.  That’s what 2016 was like, Good Reader, even if no one under 40 votes in this country.  I was shell-shocked, freshly sober and back from the West Coast with 150 book blocks and a deadline.  Upon reflection things are never as bad as we remember.  Maybe though, sometimes worse but anyway this journalistic itch hasn’t gone away.  I’ll be 45 tomorrow and have to reconsider living and that maybe my old man was right, Goddamn him–you’ve got to do more than just get by.  See you at the polls, motherfucker.  

Screen Shot 2020-03-05 at 7.53.04 AM

Rodney Lynn Cook was arrested on a state jail felony charge of criminal mischief for setting fire to “Ganador” (“winner” in Spanish).

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