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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"

Joe Gardner





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

so obscene...

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

I jump

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

confusion fear


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



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





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;

until now.

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


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


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




I ended up getting published

in the Modern Drunkard Magazine
by accident.

I was stone drunk at my normal chair
at the Streets of London Pub
in Denver
I was coming off
one of them good breakups…
You know
the one
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.

So Frank…
that’s how my first poems
came across your bar top.

-  Joe Gardner (c)2013




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