Zombie Logic Press Comes Through Again With Unbreakable Book

The crew at Zombie Logic Press once again showed why they are some of the baddest-assed outlaws in the publishing world this Friday at Rockford City Market as they unveiled The Koa Tree,  a book with a tempered glass cover, leather binding, and a mahogony wood back cover stamped with a gold-leaf Koa Tree.

It was a thing of beauty and a triumph of craftswork which almost 5,000 cheap beer-guzzling low-class dullards from Rockford, often cited as the nation’s 300th worst city, made sure to ignore for fear of actually encountering something that isn’t third-rate and vulgar.

Glass Cover

An enormous of amount of work went into the book, and all associated should be proud of themselves. The client was overjoyed, and expectations were once again overshot by what NPR called “America’s most dangerous small press.”

If you can pay, and have an idea for a book with an unusual design, or made with unique components, we’re your team, but you have to pay. If you can imagine it, we can do it, except sell it to dimwits. That’s your problem.

Buy a paperback version of The Koa Tree



All Work and No Play Makes Jack an Outlaw Poet

One of the problems with having one of the best artists in America as your partner is you want all the paintings. Jenny has done eight paintings with the theme of one of my favorite movies, The Shining, for an upcoming show titled The Come and Go Motel Show. Several artists will be showing at the Rockford Motel in different rooms. My paintings are going to be in the bathroom.


All Work and No Play by Jenny Mathews

I’m trying to find exactly the right leisure suit for the show, which goes down June 29 in Rockford. Last year at this time we were at the Rockford Art Museum installing an art show. It’s interesting how things change year to year. Wonder what we’ll be working on next year at this time.

Chicken wings are done. Talk later. Oh, like Zombie Logic Press on Facebook. It helps a lot.

L Is For Liver

While Jenny was away in Rhinelander searching for the Hodag I downloaded all the panels from our new book to my laptop so I could blog about each one individually. The files were huge, and I had to download paint.net to open them. L Is For Liver.

If you don’t think children hate liver, consider this: my father began a lifelong fued with his older sister over being forced to eat liver as a boy. They never fully reconciliated, and the mere mention of liver was forbidden in our household. But not in our new book Atrocious Poems A To Z.

I understand the nutritional benefits of liver. and have made many attempts to embrace it as an adult, but it’s still… liver. Nothing anyone does to it can change that.

In a book about things that kids hate liver almost had to make an appearance. And Jenny came up with an ingenious illustration for my poem.


It’s one of my favorite pieces from the book, which is now available at Amazon and at the gift shop of the Rockford Art Museum, where all twenty-six poems from the book have been written on the wall by me next to the illustrations by Jenny Mathews. The show is called Bittersweet Observations, and will run until October 1st.

Eye Rhyme


Outlaw Poet Writes Second Children’s Book

Outlaw Poet Writes Second Children’s Book

Outlaw Poet Thomas L. Vaultonburg has written his second children’s book, Atrocious Poems A To Z, to be released at a book party at Rockford Art Museum June 9th.


True to his nature, Vaultonburg has cunningly written a book about mean, nasty things, and sold it off as a children’s book. It’s a true feat of termite insurgence. Infiltrate, inculcate, and educate.

Indeed educating people has become an act of trickery in trump’s paleolithic America. But then again, so has accepting the discordance for what it is: an act of self-defense by the planet.

Pro forma I am required to try and sell you this book. I will not be able to do so, but I will check it off my list and go get tacos, which is a win, also.

Even as the book is at the printers I realize a million ways I would have wanted to make this a better book. Even as I struggle to remember how to use words like inculcate in proper context I realize marshalling the creative verve to even finish another book may not be in my ken, I simply offer it as is. If I said it, I meant it.

My partner, Jenny Mathews’ illustrations are so good that all 26 are going to be on exhibit at the Rockford Art Museum this summer. I have to find something to wear for that. I’m teetering between wearing something zany and pretending to be this goofy eccentric and just wearing a black tshirt and blue jeans, which is what I’ve decided to do all summer to eliminate having to think about that anymore. I’m sure Jenny will weigh in as the show gets closer.

I’m left starting to panic over the questions I know they might ask me. “What did you mean by this poem?” “How did you get this idea?” Twenty years ago I would have had answers. I actually thought about such things. Now there are no real answers. I don’t mean anything by any of this anymore. The Universe has gone mad, and all creative endeavor is pointless now. Just ways to pass moments. Just distress signals sent nowhere particular.

I anticipate we’ll see the book back from the printer some time this coming week. That I am legitimately excited about. Creating is the only part of the process I have any influence over, and I accomplished my mission. The crushing feeling of defeat almost all artists and creators know when their creations do not inspire others to act is known to us all.

What a beautiful May day to be wracked by such needlessly torturous thoughts. I have a container of sparkly water, it is a nice May day, and the children will be home from their grandparent’s soon. I have fulfilled my obligation here to ask you to support this book. That alone is a testament to Schopenhaur’s thesis that we do all the things we do merely to avoid pain, not achieve any sort of pleasure.

Buy Atrocious Poems A To Z  a lovely and light-hearted children’s book that helps children cope with the anxieties of childhood and teaches some literary lessons, too.


DIY Punk and Outlaw Poetry In Rockford, Illinois

I have never been a social creature. I certainly was not very social when I returned from the Marine Corps and started attending community college right about the time grunge rock was hitting. The people of the city I live in are famous for grumbling that there is nothing to do, but I don’t find that has ever been the case. In the 1980’s it seemed every major band in the world was coming to our Metro Centre, including the Rolling Stones.

But what also was always happening was there was a smaller, less organized music, art, and cultural scene that has always been unique and energetic. Former Rockford citizen David Ensminger writes about a particular era in that scene in his forthcoming book Out of the Basement: From Cheap Trick To DIY Punk In Rockford, Illinois, 1973-2005.

I collaborated with David on a couple of zines, and he is a very talented person who went on to make his mark in Houston. He researches and writes about the punk scene like no one else. I have never considered myself a punk, or even really a fellow traveler, which is probably why he refers to me as a surrealist in this interview for a French blog.

I’d say right about the time his examination of Rockford’s cultural scene ends, 2005, is when I really started becoming a more social and involved person, mostly because I was General Manager of a bar named Castaways, where I booked the bands and special events, including Zombie Night, and was also the publisher of Zombie Logic Press. I’m not sure if I made it into the book the way I did in the interview, but it was nice to think I was remembered for making a contribution, even during a time when I just wasn’t interacting with other people very much.

At nearly fifty, I find myself far more likely to find my way into a basement punk show on Saturday night than I ever would have 25 years ago. The days when I would self-described myself as a Surrealist are long gone, but I would never go so far as to describe myself as an Outlaw, either. I feel comfortable being an Outsider, even if I do tend to see someone I know and have probably worked with at every stop now. The music scene in Rockford is far less punk now, and even less metal, and probably more roots/Americana as it seems to be everywhere now, but there are surprises like King of the Demons, and their iconic frontman/shaman Jesus Correa. With Rick Zillhart on guitar and Mickey Rosenquist on drums, they had a great couple year run recently and were/are my favorite Rockford band.

Zombie Logic Press has several books in the pipeline, all from Rockford writers, and I have to admit some will be the furthest thing from Outlaw or punk, but this is a city represented by many different points of view. I sometimes wonder if in the future when books like this are written if Zombie Logic Press will be remembered. It’s not much of a factor in why I do what I do, but it’s nice to see your name once in a while.

Rockford Outlaw Poet Nominated For Pushcart Prize

Zombie Logic Press poet Dennis Gulling was nominated for a Pushcart Prize by the editor of Cultural Weekly. It came as a nice surprise to hear a book I edited, and feel very proud of, was thought so highly of by so many people. The Blood Dark Sea is a fantastic book of outlaw poetry, and an omnibus collection of one of the finest poets in Illinois.

It is fascinating that before I published the book I used to see Dennis at almost every cultural event I would attend. I even attended a New Year’s Eve party one year and talked to him and his wife for quite some time without knowing who he was. The Blood Dark Sea was the only book Zombie Logic Press published in 2016, and the cover was designed by Rockford artist Jenny Mathews.

Editing and publishing poetry seems like it might become more of a dicey venture under the new political atmosphere. Maybe that will make it all the more valuable culturally, or maybe the atmosphere will chill creative types from saying anything daring or controversial. There’s certainly not much political about Dennis Gulling’s work, but he’s not afraid to broach controversial topics like violence and crime. I dare say many of the characters in his poems might very well be potential trump voters.

I’m not sure any of the books I have published, or will publish in the future have much political content. Mostly I just like to publish stories about real life. We’ll see how current events change any of this, if at all.

What Bob Dylan Has Meant To Outlaw Poetry

Early yesterday morning it was announced that Bob Dylan had been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Many people who had been fans of his celebrated. But some others were perplexed. They generally fit into two categories: 1) Those who just never liked or got Bob Dylan 2) Snobs.

Let’s talk about the second group because it is always a pointless exercise to question another person’s aesthetics. If one doesn’t like something, one doesn’t like it. No explanation is required, and many people just don’t care for Bob Dylan. I can easily accept that.

The second group annoys me.

I started to notice their Tweets and Facebook posts at midday. I interact with a lot of different kinds of people, and some are very, very accomplished writers, professors, editors etc. Many of these people opined that the awarding of the Nobel Prize to Bob Dylan cheapened the esteem of the prize and dumbed it down to the point where it meant less than it had before.

Horse shit.

These are the same people that tend to whine that their students and the American public don’t appreciate poetry, read it, or buy books.

Of course they don’t, because you treat them like dullards who are incapable of understanding it. You write indecipherable poetry only you and a few others seem to appreciate, then scoff at the rest of us for not wanting to join in. You pay your bills from the public trough and don’t have to create anything other people actually want to be considered successful, then you mock anyone who does.

I have written here that I actually enjoy the poetry of Rod McKuen.

I edit two publications: Outsider Poetry and Zombie Logic Review, where my editorial policy is generally if a poet has expressed themself clearly and with some sort of originality and energy, they get published.

Back to Bob Dylan. He has inspired me as a poet from an early age. This is probably my favorite example of his lyrics as poetry…

“It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)”

Darkness at the break of noon
Shadows even the silver spoon
The handmade blade, the child’s balloon
Eclipses both the sun and moon
To understand you know too soon
There is no sense in trying.

Pointed threats, they bluff with scorn
Suicide remarks are torn
From the fools gold mouthpiece
The hollow horn plays wasted words
Proved to warn
That he not busy being born
Is busy dying.

Temptation’s page flies out the door
You follow, find yourself at war
Watch waterfalls of pity roar
You feel to moan but unlike before
You discover
That you’d just be
One more person crying.

So don’t fear if you hear
A foreign sound to you ear
It’s alright, Ma, I’m only sighing.

As some warn victory, some downfall
Private reasons great or small
Can be seen in the eyes of those that call
To make all that should be killed to crawl
While others say don’t hate nothing at all
Except hatred.

Disillusioned words like bullets bark
As human gods aim for their marks
Made everything from toy guns that sparks
To flesh-colored Christs that glow in the dark
It’s easy to see without looking too far
That not much
Is really sacred.

While preachers preach of evil fates
Teachers teach that knowledge waits
Can lead to hundred-dollar plates
Goodness hides behind its gates
But even the President of the United States
Sometimes must have
To stand naked.

An’ though the rules of the road have been lodged
It’s only people’s games that you got to dodge
And it’s alright, Ma, I can make it.

Advertising signs that con you
Into thinking you’re the one
That can do what’s never been done
That can win what’s never been won
Meantime life outside goes on
All around you.

You loose yourself, you reappear
You suddenly find you got nothing to fear
Alone you stand without nobody near
When a trembling distant voice, unclear
Startles your sleeping ears to hear
That somebody thinks
They really found you.

A question in your nerves is lit
Yet you know there is no answer fit to satisfy
Insure you not to quit
To keep it in your mind and not forget
That it is not he or she or them or it
That you belong to.

Although the masters make the rules
For the wise men and the fools
I got nothing, Ma, to live up to.

For them that must obey authority
That they do not respect in any degree
Who despite their jobs, their destinies
Speak jealously of them that are free
Cultivate their flowers to be
Nothing more than something
They invest in.

While some on principles baptized
To strict party platforms ties
Social clubs in drag disguise
Outsiders they can freely criticize
Tell nothing except who to idolize
And then say God Bless him.

While one who sings with his tongue on fire
Gargles in the rat race choir
Bent out of shape from society’s pliers
Cares not to come up any higher
But rather get you down in the hole
That he’s in.

But I mean no harm nor put fault
On anyone that lives in a vault
But it’s alright, Ma, if I can’t please him.

Old lady judges, watch people in pairs
Limited in sex, they dare
To push fake morals, insult and stare
While money doesn’t talk, it swears
Obscenity, who really cares
Propaganda, all is phony.

While them that defend what they cannot see
With a killer’s pride, security
It blows the minds most bitterly
For them that think death’s honesty
Won’t fall upon them naturally
Life sometimes
Must get lonely.

My eyes collide head-on with stuffed graveyards
False gods, I scuff
At pettiness which plays so rough
Walk upside-down inside handcuffs
Kick my legs to crash it off
Say okay, I have had enough
What else can you show me ?

And if my thought-dreams could been seen
They’d probably put my head in a guillotine
But it’s alright, Ma, it’s life, and life only.

-Bob Dylan
I think Bob Dylan is an excellent choice for the Nobel Prize in Literature, and his choice has been a great representation of America to a world audience that now considers Americans backwards, violent dimwits.