Joe Gardner is a military gent and a stand-up Poet who shares the truth he sees.
Catch him live at: Working Class Poetry
Read an Interview with Joe, here:
Joe Gardner, "2nd Generation American Drifter"
Lakewood, CA; High School
Bless your feast with new thought
the radio sang soothing discordance; even sober it was very sublime,
so our bodies went with the flow
Presidential campaign across a troubled nation...
desert war death
I came home from school to watch the war on TV
I was 16; so very naive, so very bold and daring
my patriotism was a hard dick of imagined glory
never knowing what a terrible price I would pay
Fort Sill, OK; Basic training and Advanced Individual training
Formation...the cold bugle shatters the glass morning
as I am broken and remade
over and over again...
Fort Benning, GA; Airborne Training
Today I get ready to enter the belly of a great bird
Carried high through the sky; the earth so small and delicate below
beckoning me to return to her dirty breast
I stood in a door opened to the passing blue sky
one step from the womb
embraced by the deep rapture of the Slow Eternity
from the belly of this bird
like Jonah from the whale
Lazarus from the grave
Fort Bragg, NC;
Solider sweating in the sun
clutching desperately to his rifle and his rosary
strangled by the conflict of faith and honor
so tired always tired
Contrived morality on the line
soul for sale, body for rent
deep rot of loss in the eyes
BLOOD RUSHING ROAR
march to the next field of fire
my dog tags clenched tightly in my fist
talisman and medals of my decision made
I think of home.
Summer humid heat in the North Carolina forests
artillery cannon roaring like thunder
FIRE MISSION ONE ROUND H.E. VARIABLE TIME FUZE
SET CHECK LOAD FIRE
war paint running with sweat streaks my face with weariness
we prepare for war
I think of home
Bloodshot whiskey eyes I sit alone at the bar
while the topless dancers with pretty acid glazed eyes
and practiced plastic smiles
seduce dollars from lonely hard dick soldiers
I think of home
Drunken laughter fills the hallways
loud, full of brass and bravado
as the beer flows freely...
throughout time; only the flags change...
Dancing devils on broken angels
do you hear the bells; here comes the carnival
body bag parade dressed in flags, honors, medals
and gun salutes
Walking through the paths breathing deeply of the still quiet air
where nothing grows
blanketed by wreaths and thousands of little plastic flags
whispering in the wind thousands of names
all chiseled with great care by sorrow in this garden of stone
Honorable Discharge; completion of service
Music drifts like smoke from the radio
hot summer rains falling in this forested land
Boots polished to reflect like mirrors
muddied by the wet grass.
This is the last time I will wear this proud uniform
I take a journey across the country
to leave behind my life,
to go to the real world
to return a stranger to my family, my friends,
I clutch my dog tags and think of home.
- Joe Gardner (c)2013
AN OPEN LETTER TO ANY WHO WILL LISTEN
See there is a whole other AMERICA that lies beneath the surface.
Everybody likes to talk about it, act as if they know about it;
they like to say what’s wrong with it, they like to breed dissent within it;
keep us fighting amongst ourselves never looking at what’s going on behind the curtain;
blind-sided with knee-jerk emotional appeals disguised as legislation
that only furthers their own robber Barron agenda of social enslavement
keeping the people hungry tired angry poor distracted
all the while contently vomiting Orwell nightmares
thru the eyes and into the head, keeping the brain numb and immersed in shit,
tamed and complainant with constant streaming live feed media input;
immediate gratification buy now consumerism learned stupidity disguised as entertainment...
and we have failed.
Poets and Bards had been the front-line troops for every revolution of social reform...
Always there spreading the word; sharing the reality the degradations the experience;
We have failed our calling.
We have failed the poets before us
We have failed our heritage of DEFIANCE.
We have failed ourselves...
Used to be it was dangerous to be a Poet; to express new and undisguised ideas;
road weary voices that called for change endured the loneliness, the ridicule and disdain,
the beatings and jailing’s for violation of murky and obscene laws;
the hunger the addictions the drunkenness the madness
the brawls the sex the suicides the LONELY dying... and the FEAR… always the FEAR gnawing at your mind
like hunger crazed rats...
Where are our Bukowski's? Who will be our Blake,
our Rimbaud, Baudelaire; Verlaine where the fuck is our Kerouac, our Ginsberg, and our Whitman?
Where is our Poe?
Where is our Fear? Where is our VOICE? Where is the defiance
Where is the GODDAMNED DEFIANCE! RAISE UP
embrace that motherfucking god-head defiance that makes Poets,
that drives us to madness and addictions and every other experience
that we can possibly suffer to flood our minds with;
that defiance that makes us say to the masters
No. NO MORE! I WILL NOT GO QUIETLY! I WILL NOT SUBMIT!
To raise our voices to wash away the stench
of all the dddd-double talk fine print political head spin doctors weaving
honeyed nightmares of mind killing nonsense
Are we so lost...? Have we no star to guide us; no witches or shamans,
has the mount become insurmountable...?
Or do we come together as a guild a union; a legion of voices.
Do we catch the fear? Ride it; feed from it, grow from it learn from it
teaching each other to become it
Do we sing our defiance while birthing challenging thoughts of change,
or do we lower our heads, and bleat with the other sheep
awaiting the sheers and then the butcher?
- Joe Gardner (c)2013
A SIMPLE TRUTH
I ended up getting published
in the Modern Drunkard Magazine
I was stone drunk at my normal chair
at the Streets of London Pub
I was coming off
one of them good breakups…
where you hate each other
but still end up drunk
and back in bed alone with each other
after the bars close down
and everyone else has gone home…
So anyways; I’m trying to make a go
for the bartender, Christa,
I figured I’d be clever
And throw down some drunk poems
right on the spot…
I knew I scored
when she read them.
My feelings were mixed
when she told me her fiancé,
Mr. Frank Kelly Rich,
former Army Combat Ranger
and father of
Modern Drunkard Magazine
would probably publish me.
that’s how my first poems
came across your bar top.
- Joe Gardner (c)2013