Jim Trainer

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Shrieks from Paradise#20, Dear Charlie O’Hay

In Uncategorized on January 18, 2019 at 11:53 pm

The Office of Jim Trainer
Eastern European Division
c/o Eco Initiative
Varzulitsa, BG

Charlie O’Hay
Hostile City, USA

7/14/18, 1:16PM

Brother Charlie

Ahoy from the territory.  My partner and I pulled in the day before yesterday, making the nut on 5,800 miles—2 flights, 1 bus, 1 train, 1 metro, 1 cab and 118 miles in a white Citreon 4-door.  The last leg we caravanned in, from the Bulgarian capital of Sofia, taking up the rear behind the Blues Bus—6 roadworn folkies from the Big Easy in a Volkswagen with no AC and a big bull fiddle.  They stopped twice on the way—once to “frolic” in the endless fields of sunflowers here, and once for Raki (pronounced “rock yeah”), a whisky made from grapes that smells like West Philly corn liquor to me.  It was time wasted but they’re young.

I don’t know about you but the most important thing in my life is a good night’s sleep—no matter the country or continent.  Hell, I didn’t even mind the Old House in Obedinenie, as long’s I got some solid hours horizontal, and that place was gross!  The bathrooms stunk of sewage and the shower was a hole in the floor full of grease and hair.  My partner lumbered in at daybreak and woke me with his horrible drowning bear-like snoring.  I put in my earbuds and let him have it.  He’d had a rough night drinking Bulgarian whisky and I don’t like confrontation.  Sadly this tendency has resulted in days of me biting my tongue in the close quarters of taxi cabs and commuter trains, buses and airplanes.

All’s well now, I suppose.  My room at the Eco Initiative has the Internet and stereo, though.  He’s in the garden and outdoor kitchen making Jambalaya but steps in occasionally to check his phone for real estate offers.  He found one for 25k, a 3-bedroom place with a barn and freshly renovated.  Last night, at the “shop” doing Kareoke, I overheard him discussing a place with Clive (UK) for 3 grand about 3 hours from where we’re staying.  Whatever, I’m only here to write about it, sitting on the fold up bed drinking instant coffee and listening to Cory Branan.   I’ve snapped a bunch of photos in the hills—got shots of sunflowers, plum trees, still brown lakes and rolling green hills on a $900 Nokia mirrorless.  He says he’ll pay me for the shots, he says he’ll foot the bill for the trip, but—he’s a good talker, it’s why we’re here.

He wants somewhere in EUR that’s cheap enough for him to post up, ideally get some grant money and import culture and talent from around the world who are seeking residencies and time to work on their craft.  (Our flights from Brussels were $88!). Bulgaria came to him by chance, in conversation working sound at DBA on Frenchmen Street in New Orleans.  Then he met Boyanna, of Blato Zlato—touring Europe in July.  That’s why we traveled all this way, touching down just after noon and sipping iced Coca Cola in the U.S. Ambassador’s garden by 7.  We spent a few days in the city before making the trek out here to the village.  I did A Long Way To The Top If You Wanna Rock&Roll at Kareoke last night, and Daniel by Elton John (by request).  Life is simple here, and dirty, but the only hard sell for me is the plumbing.  Read:  toilet.  I guess I’ll have to keep stakes in the America if only to have a clean, peaceful place to shit.  A half block up from “the store” (bar, convenience store and general hangout here) was a connex, a stall behind a metal door, with no light inside and smelling direly of the business you do in there.  No thanks.  I waited til we got back to the Eco Village but even the toilet here isn’t bolted down and leaks some.

I wanted to write you back properly (off Facebook) because your distress dignifies a response and I opt to let whomever reads my gmail to read this, and not Zuckerberg and the whores at Facebook Inc.  Take your time getting me something.  When I’m blocked, I can always write a letter, and if you find yourself doing that I’ll print it.  I don’t know if you’ve read any of The Coarse Grind (link below), but, politics are making their slow way into my work.  It’s mostly about creation and most specifically, How will I write?  It started when I was hauling freight for a buck forty a day in Austin, brutal work, di riguer of the New Century and dangerously keeping me from the writing desk.  It’s morphed into something else but the thread winds through it.  Now, of course, the question is How will I write while I blow all my savings in a country with no toilets on a 3g?  Point is I can relate—it’s getting harder and harder to make it in the America.  My answer was to temporarily expatriate and see how they do over here.  Writing a letter is only a suggestion.  I can always write a letter and often do it just to get the juices flowing.  Of course I’d love it and love to print it, especially if that would be your intention with it, but—whatever and whenever you can.  I appreciate the letter and I love the poem.  I will find a place for it, if not the column, and soon.  I made the call for writers and artists I admire (basically you and Don) because I wasn’t sure how below the radar I would have to fly.

I’m a purveyor of creative nonfiction and personal journalism, I only write from where it’s at.  At this point I feel like my readers rely on me for it.  The state took my Unemployment Compensation away weeks before I left the mainland so there’s no longer a need to keep my location under wraps is there?  Not that I’m not working out here.  Writing all day has got to be the hardest gig, even if the most pleasurable.  I’ll be flying in to Newark late July, hope to do a reading and would love to have you, of course.  I’ll have a book for you, too.  Write something, if you can, but only because it will make you feel better.  (You know it will.) I’m learning that lesson out here.  As hard and haggard as it is on the road if I don’t devote an hour to the Work every day then my Father was right and I should’ve stayed in school.  That’s the script although I’m going to have to reason that out—a benefit of this trip I is that I can’t go on hating myself for not being the Artist I already am. That’s a great revelation to have and information I can use to steel myself working labor when I get back to Texas.  It’s also good to know that I shouldn’t live in New Orleans, but for months at a time and probably not June.  I’m thinking October but I should have a lady with me and be shacked up in an AirB&B on Elysian with plenty of money gigs booked.

Anything you need, you let me know, and I mean that.  You’ll also find my phone number below, but I’ll be out of pocket until July 25.  Have heart braving the America and thank your lucky toilet.  Freedom isn’t free.

Your Friend,

The Coarse Grind



In Uncategorized on January 17, 2019 at 8:36 am

by Charlie O’Hay

Imagine a thunderstorm
that went from one day
into the next. And on
day after day after that.

At first you’d try to function
normally. Maybe
buy an extra umbrella,
or at night leave the radio playing low.

But after a month
you’d find yourself naked
seated before your open oven
and crying at videos of the sun.

Then it would all become routine:
the swim to work
the snorkel resting on the bedside table.
You’d adapt until numb.

And if at last the sun returned
you’d greet it with rage.



Charlie’s poems have appeared in over 100 journals, including Mudfish, West Branch, Painted Bride Quarterly, Cortland Review, Gargoyle and The New York Quarterly.  He is the recipient of a 1995 Fellowship in Poetry from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.  Far from Luck (2011, Lucky Bat Books) is his first collection of poems and photographs. His second book, Smoking In Elevators was published by Lucky Bat in December 2014.  Since 2010, Charlie’s ongoing photo series Everyone Has a Name has shared images and stories of the homeless in Center City Philadelphia to promote understanding, dignity, and an end to homelessness in America.


Grim Jim Rides Again

In Uncategorized on January 10, 2019 at 10:04 am

If you are eating, stop; if you are having a drink, stop; if you are sleeping, wake up. Wake up your neighbors, in all the provinces, all the cities, all the villages — rise up as one and take control of the street.
Lt. Kelly Ondo Obiang

If the abolition of slave-manacles
began as a vision of hands without manacles, then this is the year
if the shutdown of extermination camps
began as imagination of a land
without barbed wire or the crematorium,
then this is the year…
-Martín Espada

…How’d we ever stay together love?
-Lou Barlow

When anger coexists with compassion, truth unfolds.
-Jenny Hughes Eaton

Welcome.  This is the life you always wanted, or settled for and anyway the life you have.  The fact you have one at all could glean you some gratitude, depending on where you are on the misery wheel, so let me just say I’m glad and leave that thought for later, if at all.  I’m a dreamer.  The usefulness of my dreams is in their intention.  When I was young I dreamt as a way of being.  I was innocent until I wasn’t.  Then I started dreaming to escape.  I’m probably about halfway between these two, I mean, you can’t ever go back, at least not all the way, but if you dream long enough and shake the dust you’ll find your dreams are not that far off and you can shape your life and your reality with their manifestation.  Or not.  The other end is that we’re just coping, white-knuckling it through the bare minimum until we can make it back to the cocoon, the liquor, the pill and porn.  Like I said I’m about halfway back to innocent, but would hate to find out I’m deluded.  I’d rather live in truth than with comfort and I know that hasn’t made me easy to be around.  I’ve had a hard enough time hanging with myself so I can only imagine.  I hated myself for decades and I hated you even more.  I was insufferable and not fun and I smoked and drank and raged obtusely and bit the wind down the bright avenues of youth until I hit a dead end.  Christ I’ve gone off the rails already, 283 words in–oh well, I like to circle before I land, and I throw these words down from the heart which means write first and understand later, if at all.

I’ll do any number of things before I write.  Without walls I wouldn’t write at all so I’ve at least bought in that much.  I live in a garage.  My rent is all bills.  It’s quiet as a tomb here in the afternoon and in the daytime there’s a wash of traffic out there always streaming by.  I find both to be conducive and necessary.  My fight against American comfort is well documented.  As is my impulse toward sloth due to the emotional drain of a world I seek refuge from.  It’s between these poles, Good Reader, I strive to maintain by writing every day, but hope to break out of, get off day labor or at least get out there more.  I just ended a months-long relationship with an enchanted woman.  She sees me as unparalleled, or, actualized and anyway–everything I dream up for myself is real, in her eyes.  She knows I should be breaking through and out there and part of the world as a performer and speaker, storyteller and troubadour, self-publisher, personal journalist and actor–and you know what?  She’s absolutely right.  I spent too much time hiding from the world when we were together, which sadly meant, at times, I was hiding from her.  Such is the blues and much is the damage.  Of course it’s a balance and all the other pithy adages I’d do wise as a columnist to use and wrap this awful screed on writing and depression.  But I’m not going to.  I hate being cute and if you’re like me you hate being told, so–what the Hell?

I’ve seen the light, Good Reader, and me and Lindsey are never going back again.  I don’t know how to succinctly explain it–it’s the difference between seeing and having vision.  Know what I mean?  For years my heroes have shown me that depression could be like a channel on the TV of the mind.  I’m not saying that depression is a choice.  I’m saying I am better able to discern now and at least more willing.  Simply feeling tired on Friday can result in a cheap and slovenly fast forward to Tuesday, if I give in.  That’s how it goes living under the spell and sway of darkness.  I’m inspired by my dreams now though, like never before.  My dreams have flown me down below the Tropic of Cancer, to sell books and perform.  My dreams will put me under the hot lights this month, doing a piece called Love&Wages for Frontera Fest.  It’s great work if you can find it.  For the fallow times, well, I don’t have to be militant against comfort but I know that feeling tired is a feeling, dig me?  The more naps I take, the longer I’ll be punching a clock and I won’t be getting out there, in the territory, or at least seeing about getting out there–with emails and letters, grant apps and gigs.  This is it.  The life I always dreamed of.  It’s here.  I must resist the life I’ve settled for and had to, at times–let’s be honest.  It behooved me being a jerkoff and the village idiot for a while, but I’m too old for the usual nonsense that comes from feeble minds and shitheeled bosses who settled and gave up, themselves.  You’ve spoken, you called out and you need me out there, in the hungry land with a valise full of volumes and a wild mouth full of reverie and woe.  ’19 is it, Jack.  Send me your address and I’ll write you and come to your town and see you on your street, motherfucker.

Ab irato,

Jim Trainer
P.O. Box 49921
Austin TX 78765



What the Arab World Needs Most is Free Expression by Jamal Khashoggi

In Uncategorized on January 3, 2019 at 3:01 pm

I received this column from Jamal Khashoggi’s translator and assistant the day after Jamal was reported missing in Istanbul. The Post held off publishing it because we hoped Jamal would come back to us so that he and I could edit it together. Now I have to accept: That is not going to happen. This is the last piece of his I will edit for The Post. This column perfectly captures his commitment and passion for freedom in the Arab world. A freedom he apparently gave his life for. I will be forever grateful he chose The Post as his final journalistic home one year ago and gave us the chance to work together.
Karen Attiah, Global Opinions editor, Washington Post

I was recently online looking at the 2018 “Freedom in the World” report published by Freedom House and came to a grave realization. There is only one country in the Arab world that has been classified as “free.” That nation is Tunisia. Jordan, Morocco and Kuwait come second, with a classification of “partly free.” The rest of the countries in the Arab world are classified as “not free.”

As a result, Arabs living in these countries are either uninformed or misinformed. They are unable to adequately address, much less publicly discuss, matters that affect the region and their day-to-day lives. A state-run narrative dominates the public psyche, and while many do not believe it, a large majority of the population falls victim to this false narrative. Sadly, this situation is unlikely to change.

The Arab world was ripe with hope during the spring of 2011. Journalists, academics and the general population were brimming with expectations of a bright and free Arab society within their respective countries. They expected to be emancipated from the hegemony of their governments and the consistent interventions and censorship of information. These expectations were quickly shattered; these societies either fell back to the old status quo or faced even harsher conditions than before.

My dear friend, the prominent Saudi writer Saleh al-Shehi, wrote one of the most famous columns ever published in the Saudi press. He unfortunately is now serving an unwarranted five-year prison sentence for supposed comments contrary to the Saudi establishment. The Egyptian government’s seizure of the entire print run of a newspaper, al-Masry al Youm, did not enrage or provoke a reaction from colleagues. These actions no longer carry the consequence of a backlash from the international community. Instead, these actions may trigger condemnation quickly followed by silence.

As a result, Arab governments have been given free rein to continue silencing the media at an increasing rate. There was a time when journalists believed the Internet would liberate information from the censorship and control associated with print media. But these governments, whose very existence relies on the control of information, have aggressively blocked the Internet. They have also arrested local reporters and pressured advertisers to harm the revenue of specific publications.

There are a few oases that continue to embody the spirit of the Arab Spring. Qatar’s government continues to support international news coverage, in contrast to its neighbors’ efforts to uphold the control of information to support the “old Arab order.” Even in Tunisia and Kuwait, where the press is considered at least “partly free,” the media focuses on domestic issues but not issues faced by the greater Arab world. They are hesitant to provide a platform for journalists from Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Yemen. Even Lebanon, the Arab world’s crown jewel when it comes to press freedom, has fallen victim to the polarization and influence of pro-Iran Hezbollah.

The Arab world is facing its own version of an Iron Curtain, imposed not by external actors but through domestic forces vying for power. During the Cold War, Radio Free Europe, which grew over the years into a critical institution, played an important role in fostering and sustaining the hope of freedom. Arabs need something similar. In 1967, the New York Times and The Post took joint ownership of the International Herald Tribune newspaper, which went on to become a platform for voices from around the world.

My publication, The Post, has taken the initiative to translate many of my pieces and publish them in Arabic. For that, I am grateful. Arabs need to read in their own language so they can understand and discuss the various aspects and complications of democracy in the United States and the West. If an Egyptian reads an article exposing the actual cost of a construction project in Washington, then he or she would be able to better understand the implications of similar projects in his or her community.

The Arab world needs a modern version of the old transnational media so citizens can be informed about global events. More important, we need to provide a platform for Arab voices. We suffer from poverty, mismanagement and poor education. Through the creation of an independent international forum, isolated from the influence of nationalist governments spreading hate through propaganda, ordinary people in the Arab world would be able to address the structural problems their societies face.


In Uncategorized on December 27, 2018 at 11:58 am

…everything that once seemed slightly fake now has the power and presence of the real.
-Max Read

We’re no longer the suckers, folks, and people aren’t looking at us as suckers and I love you…
-President Donald J. Trump

Even a blind pig finds an acorn now and then.
-Hunter S. Thompson

The enemy is a very good teacher.
The Dalai Lama

Look at this place.  Totes overturned with guts of electronics spilled out beneath a cockeyed ironing board and black oxford draped over it sulking.  A pathetic hill of business cards, fliers and receipts piled up on a throw rug and in the shadow of the Tacoma Guild in its Wolfpak case.  My poetry and prose collections have taken over the Yoga trunk and coffee table.  The dresser is covered in clothes and candles with 2 of its drawers dead open and gaping.  The bathroom is a waste and an embarassment to describe—beard clippings and dirty tees and the toilet like a bomb site due to too many months of gastro trouble.  To think at this time last week I was beneath the soft blue sky in the Land of Eternal Spring, where nobody knows my name but out on the street everybody says Buenas!  I’m at a loss for today’s post, which is exactly how I like it. The speed of the news and acceleration of our decline is dizzying, ain’t it though, and our acclimation to death and war is just as alarming. There’s no place I’d rather be than down here at the Office, in the maelstrom of my own mess, recovering from thirty-two hundred miles, two book releases and 4 shows in 11 days.  This blog was invented for this.  Down at the Office we fly by our seat, without time to think because premeditated writing comes off as fake and essay writing is a bore.

I include you because I need you, truth be told, so these posts are meant to be an embrace.  I write poetry to get a hit off reality and spin it out beyond compunction and bleed the bone-dry moments on an IBM Selectric II.  I send my work out to pubs like El Informe, The Adroit and Sybil Journals because that’s what writers do and I need to get the work away from me before I fall in love with it or it’s destroyed and otherwise buried beneath a mountain of time and typewritten pages.  The news isn’t bothering me much this week.  Living in the Land of the Free my problems are few.  I’m generally perturbed by the vestiges of a clinching world though, it seems that every year I’ll need some clearing off and what could be a more fitting end to the Year of the Cock than a hatchet?  We should shake the dust, good Reader, rid ourselves of deadweight, lift each other or pry their grubby fingers off and what better way to do it than in writing?  I know you get the same charge I do reading these posts and I know we couldn’t make it otherwise.  You know this is my life.  You affirm it every time you read.  I love writing, it should be plain, and the way traffic on the highway washes past and my ears get filled with the almost painfull quiet of solitide.  I relish in these couple hours alone each week.  You tune in and read and we’ve got each other and isn’t that nice?

All bluster and filigree aside and beneath the flowerings of that anger, what I’m trying to say is my life is good, it’s taken some fortuitous and enjoyable turns as of late and in 2019 I’ll be carving out some real time for us together.  You bet.  The haters and imitators will draw ever more concentric circles around us but our love will have only grown.  Next year I’ll have even less time for that and if my psychological growth is any indication, my quickenings will double and hate will bounce off me because at my root I’ll be a repulsing pole for:  jealousy, mocking, small-mindedness, insanity, inclusiveness, bad writing and fake poetry.  This is the new stuff.  I go dancing in.  May the Year of the Brown Pig bring us great fortune and happiness.  Hugs will be rationed and I’ll guard my time with my life but you know I’ve always got time for you, good Reader.  I owe it all to you and am marvelled by you—you’ve kept your heart’s beacon ablaze and out on the frontier and wasteland of my own blues I can always see you burning.

Run like a river, glow like a beacon fire…

Vox populi, vox dei.



In Uncategorized on December 20, 2018 at 12:39 pm

Our greivances matter more than our vulnerabilities.
Steve Almond

Hello Staff,
This past Friday we all worked an event for Grifted Ponce Catering. The client at the end of the night couldn’t find his pair of black pants and shirt. The pants did have a wallet inside.  If anyone by accident took it, if you could please let me know so we can return it to the client.
Pair O’Hands Staffing

You take whatever takes you back…
Cory Branan


I’m over 1,500 miles from home.  I’m between continents, in another country but I can still hear Christmas music from here.  My legs are asleep from having them up and trying to write from the daybed.  I had to come in from the terrace because it started to rain.  I’ve had allergies since before I got here and of course my digestive system is jacked and has been since November 2016.  On the john earlier today I was reaching for the baby wipes when I felt another sneezing fit come on.  A sneeze lingered and left me hanging between reaching to wipe and blowing my nose—I couldn’t do either so I just stood there, over the toilet waiting with my pants around my ankles like a jerkoff.  And hark the herald angels sing, I hear the carolers getting closer, it feels like vicegrips on the bridge of my nose, I can hardly breathe and I’m writing from a place neither supine nor upright which ain’t the half because between the weak WiFi and Apple’s planned obsolescence of my iPad, and using WordPress through Safari on a mini keyboard straight up blows.  I’m not looking for a break because I’ve had plenty and recently.  My physical woes will cede, at least I hope they will, and I should be in better shape for Saturday’s much anticipated reading at Dyslexia Libros.

My host couldn’t be more gracious and he is in fact the reason and impetus for this trip happening at all.  Brother Julian will be moving to the Velvet Rut come Febuary so the window of time for me visiting was shrinking.  Bartending and catering tapered off, just after I was hired on and made some great money working for a new company.  Which reminds me, all my slagging and shit talking about caterers last week was in no way directed toward my new place of employ.  It was aimed straight at a particular company and temp agency that staffs me with him and anyway the backlog of 3 months being a body in the food service business—shit on and talked down to but still broke.

As you may have surmised, there isn’t any main thrust or theme for this week’s post.  I continue to deliberately obliterate the mores of essay writing, as I have done, ever since a Tuesday morning ENG COMP II class in the hometown over twenty years ago.  I write to clear the chamber, to keep my chops and otherwise blow off steam.  This missive is in no way, shape or form a slag of my host and Friend—just that I’m taking a turn and everything is wrong at the moment but it will pass.  The carolers have passed, maybe they could see the black cloud over 34 A and sensed a 6’2” menace on the other side of the door banging out these words and contorted like a corpse.  Truth is, as ridden and fucked as it’s been it is heaps better than being kept and at another’s bidding which is exactly where I was around this time last year.  I’m a victim of circumstance and, like I said, I’m taking a turn—but I ain’t nobody’s darling nor at anyone’s beck and call.

You bet my days being kept on the caregiving circuit are through.  No more either the tired devotionals I’ve made to narcissistic bitches and colossal timesucks.  There is no silver lining, good Reader.  If there was I’d only suspect it anyway.  It’s my life now, even when it’s hairy and uncomfortable and freezing in the airport and the furniture in my living quarters was made for men and women at least a foot smaller and Christmas carols waft and bound off the volcano like contagion and I can’t stop sneezing or shitting—my worst day out in the territory is a pleasure compared to the trappings of the small minds and paltry passions in whose idiotic thrall I was for most of my adult life.  These annoyances and peccadilloes?  Potholes on the savage road to living my dreams.  I am getting free, good Reader, reaching for the petals and pulling myself up by the thorns.

See you in America motherfucker.

The Work

In Uncategorized on December 13, 2018 at 9:33 am

I waited too long and I got sick of it.  It was the longest I’d ever lived anywhere, and the longest job I ever had, but the place was swarming with people I didn’t care for.  Priscilla, for one–she was always trying to crack smiles over dumb jokes.  She can get fucked.  I don’t suffer fools and I sure as shit don’t fake laugh to get along with phony bitches who pretend to be someone they’re not until it’s time to leave you high and fucking dry.  Living there, and dealing with that collection of mentally unwell n’er do wells, oddballs, screwballs, dopefiends, waterheads and runaways had made me bitter.  It reconditioned my nerves.  The clowns who beat that dopesmoke scene had 2 things in common: how great they were in their own minds and the fact that none of them worked there, like I did.  Most of them didn’t work at all so they were there all the time.  There was no option but to move.  Buy a car.  Split.  Never talk to any of those people again.  But I had to bide my time.  Save my money and plot my next move.  It was contrary to every impulse of survival I had.  I was trapped behind a wall of my own hatred.  Paralyzed by a venom toward people I’d suffered too long.  It was fucked.  The book was a losing proposition.  If I told all I’d be kicked out when it hit the stands.  I had to keep it all in until I was ready to go.  I needed to get a grip and pull it together.  Find a quiet place to write it all down and eviscerate the lot of  them.
When The House Burned Down

Well.  I’ve moved the laptop to the window side of the desk.  I’m looking out and all I see is gray.  Cold out there.  It’s warm in here though, on cup 3 of Espresso Roast–coarsely ground and honey sweet.  I’ve been working for this afternoon, and others like it, for my whole life.  I had to be available–for night and dawn shifts at hotels and airports and conventions, and I had to put in long weekends in the sticks of Texas, decked out in all black and dripping sweat and doing everything in my power not to choke the pissbrained&shitmouthed excuses for human beings working in the food service industry.  Put it to you this way, when you’re making $15/hr serving a $20 million dollar dinner, the LAST thing you want is a graying ponce with a nanny belly in designer glasses raising his voice at you and otherwise talking to you in a way that in some circles could get you got or stabbed.  If it sounds like I’m bitter it’s because I am but the boons of flying your jolly roger are glorious and unfettered afternoons like this one, when the traffic rushes by on the highway outside but in here it’s quiet as a tomb.  I get to write, good Reader.  It’s all I’ve ever wanted and I’ve already touched on one of the reasons why.  Not only do I get to divine my own Gods in here, and talisman my pain, I can eviscerate shitheeled and hairy-tongued bosses who don’t know they’re walking around an inch from their life and that their death stalks them obsequiously in supermarkets and coffee shops and anywhere anyone has to put on an apron to take shit and smile.  Come the revolution, these bosses will be the first to go, then temp services and all other agencies of this capitalism and wreck of empire.  The boot will be on the other neck, good Reader–but until then we’ve got this column and isn’t that nice?

Yesterday, at the Austin Book Arts Center, me and my crew glued the spines of 127 book blocks and attached the covers to Love&Wages.  I’ll be picking them up in a couple hours, and mailing out pre-orders tomorrow.  This work we do–it’s got to mean something to the folks down home.  It’s got to be born of the street and come up and live there.  The horrible hours as a dayworker and factotum have made me lean.  I know what work is and letter pressing 320 sides, Warm Red then Black, doesn’t feel like work at all–but if it does I’d like to sign on for overtime.  There’s a line that runs from a high-ceilinged 1-bedroom above 45th&Locust streets in West Philly, all the way to the ABAC on MLK and just around the corner from Real&Alexander.  There was an urgency to those radio nights, in my first apartment, back then.  I felt plugged in to something and my anger was holy.  If I’d held on to those magic machines they’d still have their power–my Remington manual, that fucking Brother word processor, the President XII Tower and lastly the Selectric II just to the left of me where I write this, stanchioned like a red tank, cocked and ready to roll.  This is just to testify, good Reader.  You can live your dreams.  There will be monsters though, challenging and attempting to stifle you in a mythological way.  They dreamed but never gambled and they lost.  I can’t speak to why anyone is the way they are but if you don’t listen to your Gods they will stop talking.  When that happens you’ll probably find work as a caterer but mostly, to me, on the way of my hero’s quest you’ll be reduced to a pile of salt and a washed up, middle-class sack of shit besides.

You can smoke them all, good Reader.  There is no cure all and no guarantee of break or luck but if you don’t put the time in then you’ll be at the mercy of a dreamless and love-rationed world.  Work your job.  Get that paper.  And when you get home crank the heat on, sit down and get to work.  You will not be disappointed.  The real work will take you places man.  Wild and glass-bright places, hoary and hairy corners begging you always to evolve and rise to the occasion.  Writing has always been like performing to me and the stage lights are always hot and bright.  I’m sitting on 5 collections of my work–published, letter pressed and perfectly bound.  I’m flying out on Monday to sell 25 copies of Love&Wages, read there and perform.  I almost can’t believe it sitting here and I certainly never would have back in my West Philly days, living with a mattress and a manual and listening to WPPR.  Back then I only knew life had to be triumphant and that for this beautiful machine to roll, all the parts have to move.  Mostly though, I had to get it out and, in the most wonderful turn and kind of magic, the drive to overcome my blues is what put me in the chair to begin with–ultimately what will fly me across the border and over continents is The Work.

You show up, you sit down and you get to work.  And guess what?  You get to enjoy yourself.  Your heart can sing it’s song.  At the very least you can saw your enemies off at the knee, like I have, and reign over them, on the page and canvas and in the frame and hung on the fucking wall.  This work is for us, good Reader.  They’ll only be cast aside.



Love&Wages, Jim Trainer’s 5th full-length collection of poetry and prose, will be released through Yellow Lark Press at Malvern Books on December 16. Hosted by The Poetic Butcher and featuring poet Christia Madsci Hoffman (INTENT, Hedgehog & Fox 2017), singer-songwriter Nathan Hamilton and poet Nicole Brissette (Sybil Journal).  Pre-order your copy at jimtrainer.net and receive a coupon for 15% off September and All in the wind.  Thank you!




In Uncategorized on December 6, 2018 at 9:27 am

My first job was washing dishes at Martinichio’s Italian Restaurant, at the Bazaar of All Nations in Clifton Heights, PA.  I had a paper route too, so, my first job was 2 jobs.  I was 12. I remember distinctly, one of those rageful, slate-grey Fall days on the east coast when the smell of snow hangs in the air like wet stone, looking at my hands–at all the new creases and crinkles to my pink, young skin, dents and callouses and wrinkles put there from wrapping and throwing 8o Philadelphia Inquirers.  I knew acutely it was a loss of innocence and it was with that loss that my life began.  My first full-time job was for Hercules Movers, at the end of the American Century, in the city of Philadelphia—well, outside Philly in Devon and King of Prussia when the boss moved the yard.  It took us the same amount of time to get there even though King of Prussia was 6 miles and another exit out.  I guess it’s the way you can warp physics when you’re burning up the shoulder of 76W in a late model Honda Accord like an angry, silver bullet.  I took the sub in from my first apartment at 45th&Locust. It was the biggest 1-bedroom I could find for $400, and 5 big blocks from the el.  At the end of the line Mike Isajiw would whip around and scoop me at 69th.  We’d bomb up the highway to make it to the yard by 7:30.

It was hard then and it should’ve been.  Felt like me versus the universe which is wildly inaccurate.  Not only was I given this life and handed a destiny, I could choose not to fulfill it, walk sideways, slum it and fuck off.  Which is exactly what I did.  I lowered my rent with each successive move for the next 10 years til I was paying $125 a month to share a 2-bedroom house with 3 other people.  I wrote on a Brother word processor, and I hated that machine.  But I got a lot of work done.  I worked demo, converting a candy factory at 10th&Master to what they called “loft living”.  The smell of butterscotch was steeped into the beams and rafters.  A confectionary sweetness hung in the air and got mixed in with the welding gas and sawdust, metal shavings and pitch.  It was sickeningly caustic and sweet–death that paid and I took a check.

I was the crew chief of the demo crew.  Me, my blood brother Nick, and a crew of men from North Philly, almost twice my age and making half as much.  Pitch is the dust kicked up when you shovel asphalt, so named for its deathly-black color.  Pitch is why you shouldn’t shovel asphalt.  We shoveled asphalt off the roof and down to the top floor, wheelbarrowed it over and dumped it down the elevator shaft.  From the ground floor we’d wheelbarrow it to the dumpster in the alley behind Master.  When the shit hit the ground floor it would fill the place with pitch.  I mean it covered the windows and blocked out the sun so you couldn’t even see.  Now, I’m white.  My Brother Nick is Samoan.  The Crew was either black or Puerto Rican but–black, white, Puerto Rican or Samoan, we were all covered in the stuff and pitch-black from head to toe, except for where the straps fell on your face from your respirator if you chose to wear one. A lot of those men didn’t.

Me and Nick were making $11 an hour.  Not a bad come up from 3 years earlier, making $7.50/hr for Hercules (and $20 a man for pianos, $50 for a safe and cash on Saturdays).  The men on the Crew were making $20 and $30 a day.  They didn’t have to show up but if they did they had to play the role.  This was painfully apparent when Woody the Foreman left.  His replacement Gabe was an archetype of patriarchy and a gross little caricature of the Man.  Gabe was a walking testament to ineptitude, powerful despite his stature and old white authority incarnate.  He was grandfatherly, like a slave owner, with Coke bottle glasses and a big fat belly that hung over blue jeans he folded up at the cuff over his blocky black steel-toed, and held up by big red suspenders.  We called him Big Fat Gabe.  To his face.  He was pompous with power, odious and obnoxious.  He had those men kiss the ring.  Sometimes Daryl would float a broom all day long behind Big Fat Gabe’s desk.  They worked as hard as any of us and they fucked around and sometimes walked floor to floor fucking off the clock but who could blame them at $20 a day?  I didn’t expect this to sound so patronizing.  But why shouldn’t it?  I fought for those guys, for the Crew–especially at the bank when we couldn’t cash our checks without ID.  I broke us off for 15s, lunch and squares–a Kool mentholated pulled from the bottom of a soft pack.  At best we would fill a dumpster and go home (the dump closed at 4 so you could push it or lag, and time it so you’re only working 6 hours shoveling pitch and doing demo on a brutally humid summer day in the city).

I left that job and went on an 8-city spoken word tour by train.  Nick stayed on until he got a bike messenger job and left all my tools behind to be pilfered and stolen and sold.  No one knows what happened to the crew.  Rico, Charlie and Daryl, Playa Hata, Hata Playa and Virgil.  Of course it’d be tragic for any of them to die on the street–violently or otherwise, like–if one of Rico’s long weekends turned into a debilitating addiction or disease.  Truth is the tragedy would be if they went on living in North Philly, a notoriously tough neighborhood in a decidedly hostile city, without healthcare or any skillset how to raise a family or cope, on a high school and not even a high school education.  The tragedy of these mens’ lives is familiar, summed up in Post Office when Henry Chinaski admonishes the county hospital for letting his drunk girlfriend die, asking–“What’s the sin in being poor?

When I got back from tour I got a job at Sam’s Place, a West Philly bodega that sold coffee and American Spirits and Nat Shermans to entitled pricks like me, living in the hood and spending rent on gourmet cigarettes at $7.50 a pack.  Philly was under 2 feet of snow.  The tour was in support of August, my third chapbook and second collection with my first love and girlfriend at the time.  We had a rough go of it, me and Cecira.  She dyed her hair platinum while I was on tour and on a payphone in San Francisco she told me she fucking some Doctor.  Of course that only estranged me.  We went walking in the snow, and headed to Sam’s, and all I could smell was the bleach in her hair, a chemical smell that made me ill that I just shrugged off pretending I cared and didn’t care by blowing long plumes of brown smoke into the cold and drawn from a thin cigarillo.  I wouldn’t work labor again for another 8 years.  This was before the crash and Bush II, before 9/11 and the fucked dance we’ve been doing in death’s maw ever since.  It was a time of surplus, a time of falling in and out of love, when you could make it slinging coffee, so you played in 2 bands and DJ’d for 2 stations.  I was back in the food service business and they ran you a tab.  Coffee, bagels and cigarettes–what else?   3-9:30 on the weekdays.  It was the last time you could make it here or anywhere.  It was the end of the century.

Love&Wages, Jim Trainer’s 5th full-length collection of poetry and prose, will be released through Yellow Lark Press at Malvern Books on December 16. Hosted by The Poetic Butcher and featuring poet Christia Madsci Hoffman (INTENT, Hedgehog & Fox 2017), singer-songwriter Nathan Hamilton and poet Nicole Brissette (Sybil Journal).  Pre-order your copy at jimtrainer.net and receive a coupon for a discount other titles.  Thank you!


In Uncategorized on November 29, 2018 at 10:40 am


All 5 of the neighbor’s dogs won’t stop barking.  This is not a metaphor.  I called the cops and am waiting for them to come.  This is not a metaphor.  My espresso’s cold and honey-sweet.  The door is open and a cold wind blows.  This is not a metaphor.  I posted about armageddon last week and a reader’s complained.  He didn’t like the upside down American flag, it should only be used when the nation’s in distress.  I wrote about the end of the fucking world and he complained about a flag and this is not a metaphor.  I’m not big on repetition.  Playing a song more than once is practice and the fuck are you anyway, I should have to repeat myself?  You’re either too dumb or self-righteous but really what’s the difference?  You keep gays out and Bibles in and soon the sun will be here.  The air or water will go first, a Bradbury story or dinosaur extinction in reverse.  Oh, and also, I guess Congress will reflect the ability and ways in which we receive and impart harm are not equitable.  Every color and creed, orientation and sect will have a seat at the table, while outside the skies burn cerise then blood red, blood black then back to phosphorescent eelskin-blue.  The sun will go out but it will win first and the first thing to go will be your politic.  This is just to say your politics won’t matter when skyscrapers queer in and your lover’s skin gets grafted and burn-fitted to her jaunty bones within.

The end of the world shouldn’t be so horrible considering how things’ve been.  Still, there are folks who will say things have never been better.  The more I operate from the phony nexus of social media, the more I feel trapped and inured and distracted and vain.  Nothing good has come of it, save our connection and the fact that most of you come here straight from Facebook.  I’m a year behind on my goal of being offline, so to speak, and doing it all from jimtrainer.net.  I haven’t worked in weeks, I’m blowing through my savings and the world won’t stop being on fire.  It’s not lost on me my complaint on the bane of selfishness and fly in the ointment curating our doom in real time has morphed into my own personal and petty triumphs and worry.  The dogs are still barking and this is not a metaphor.

A cop came and I don’t mind her.  Officer Rast is a nice lady.  I woke up in anger last night and couldn’t take my rest.  I turned on to hear the last minutes of the BBC before the creeping, obsequious voices of Morning Edition came pandering.  I don’t want to be trapped in anger or a prisoner of hate.  I work as always to lower my defenses and be vulnerable, open and even sometimes raw.  I’m far from a saint–I wake in anger today, and will go down tonight in waste.  The case was never for outcome.  It never was their world we were talking about conquering.  I thought we could go on gliding, middle-class or lower, holler our blues and make Art beyond the poverty line.  I thought the media was free now, a world-wide Arab Spring, but business and clannishness have ruled the day.  I believe I’ll become the media in my own way and I know you’ll be there supporting me.  I’ll work on me and we’ll work on we even if the end of times is only 12 summers away.

As self-invested as I’ve been, prone to rage and resentment and stoked mad by egomania or self-loathing, as much as I put my Art on the line above everything, kept writing and kept moving on to the next street, block, town and venture, for every idol smashed and every good and precious thing I’ve ruined and as much as I rose to be on top of it all, hating you, despising your world, hating everything and assailing all you stood on or for–my heart breaks for you and what you had to do to survive, all the dark strokes you’ve swung against and for your loves to be standing in the falling sun and breathing as the light of day goes from amber to rust, you’re breathing and you’ve made it and we’re here, alive but not for long. I love you and as much as my black heart clinches admitting it I am you and your struggles are mine and this is not a metaphor.

See you soon motherfuckers.

Please join Jim Trainer tonight at Testify, Austin’s premier story telling event.  Love&Wages, Trainer’s 5th full-length collection of poetry and prose will be released through Yellow Lark Press at Malvern Books on December 16.  Hosted by The Poetic Butcher and featuring poet Christia Madsci Hoffman (INTENT, Hedgehog & Fox 2017).  

“Ringleaders, followers and dipshits.”

In Uncategorized on November 22, 2018 at 9:46 am

I’m neither left or right‬
‪I’m just staying home tonight‬…
Leonard Cohen

By 2030, the cumulative rise in global temperatures will cause ecological collapse.  A profound degradation of modern society will follow for the 10 to 20 years after, but my gut take is the 2% won’t be terribly affected.  They’ll go on living comfortably, perhaps in bio-domes and sheltered from these dystopian turns.  The Kardashians of 2050 will have more than a private fire department at their disposal to meet the steep demands of hostile and unlivable conditions.  Staying alive may be a full-time gig in the future but the aristocracy won’t have to lift a finger.  That’s where you and I come in.  We’ll be serving then, too–at the poverty line or taken by the poisoned wind outside. Crazy talk, you would’ve said only 6 years ago.  Pessimist you’ll call me even now in an attempt to reduce scientific research to a paranoiac world view.  I don’t really care what you say or to what party you belong.  The news is entertainment now and I don’t feel like being entertained.  The leaders of the free world have more in common with the filthy rich despots they defend than you or me or the children of a dismembered American resident.  Point is say goodnight, Children.  Show’s over, kiss it goodbye.  You’re playing identity politics but I’m talking about the end of the world.

Sorry to over personalize but it’s been the end of the world since I was born.   Mine is the gas-mask generation.  We knew it was over and we said so.  We sang it and we wrote about it and anyway it comes as no surprise.  Whether or not there’s a window, I’m not sure–ask Noam Chomsky or Neil DeGrasse Tyson.  Whether or not the human race can turn it around in time is worthless conjecture that only tries the jaded belief system of anyone born after 1964.  I’ve complained plenty as a GenXer, but it was never a petition for inclusion.  I didn’t bemoan not getting invited to the party–I showed up anyway.  I was there–in 1991 and 2000 and 2003, but I left early.  The America always was a shitshow so I made my money and went home, choosing instead to spend my late nights typing on a machine that didn’t even plug into the wall.  Y’all rallied while I drank alone and you went off to war, and you sang vapid pap while I picked on a Tacoma Guild and strummed lonesome and low, somewhere way below, decidedly under and off the pop charts.  It’s your world and now it’s over.  I could’ve done so much more for you Brothers&Sisters, but I never threw in to the great debate, and I ain’t about to start.  Quibbling, bickering–news as entertainment.  Gnashing, backbiting and heading into town for murder.  It’s all a wash and it’s all the same–senselessly tragic and ending very soon.

Then what do you propose, we all just slit our wrists?
I don’t care what you do, Citizen, especially and as long as you don’t include me in ‘we‘.  This is your world, Jack.  You rah-rah-rah’d and you cried your clown tears.  You went in for comfort and now it’s got you here.  You’re trapped and inured and so am I.  You used to just say you’re depressed again and you were probably right.  I’ve been on the wrong side of whatever side there was since 1975 and I was probably a cynic in the womb.  My issues are legion and we know this.  Archiving this site will take me 3 months at least, it’s on average of 250,000 words and THEY’RE ALL ABOUT THE TROUBLE WITH JIMBO.  Grim Jim.  8 years I been on here, searching for inspiration and instigating drama, so you KNOW it can get pretty dark in my cubby but–not this time.  When I say it’s the end it’s the end and it’s way worse than anything the Lizard King could’ve imagined in the sanguine, post-Camelot days at the edge of Western Civilization in the American Century.

My cause is Life.  It it ain’t been or ain’t been apparent, it is now.  If you engage me in debate about Life the conversation is over.  If you pull me into an argument about whether people should live or die then laters.  The cause of Life INCLUDES police brutality and INCLUDES military intervention and INCLUDES health care and the victimization or disenfranchising of any color, stripe or variance.  Y’all talking about a blue wave can drown in it because that’s what will happen when these caps finally melt.  You swarthy fundamentalist Christian jihadists can keep tweeting, and choke on the bone your God’ll be shoving down your throat as the skies crack wide and part for fire and black rain.  I don’t care.  What you do.  Unless you’re trying to stop the end of the world you can fuck right off.  Get back to the rally and stump, aggrandize and ego stroke, fetishize and be right until most of the air is gone and everything is on fire.  I’ll die at my desk, where’s the coffee, punching out screeds and misanthropic-love poems on the machine, what else?  My world ended a long time ago but there’s still hope for yours.  Come on now, People.  Shut the fuck up and let’s go back to work.