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.



Is Anyone Interested In Outlaw Poetry?

I was toying with the idea of converting this blog into an actual literary review featuring Outlaw Poetry. I am already the editor of Zombie Logic Review, and the co-editor of Outsider Poetry, but those reviews don’t receive a lot of outlaw poetry, per se. I’m not even sure I know what it is when I see it. I suppose the most real indicator is if one self-identifies as an outlaw poet.

If anyone who sees this is interested in submitting their poetry, and if it conforms to the standards of Outlaw Poetry, send me your work at vaultonburg@gmail.com. I don’t make any promises yet, but I think I’d be willing to post it here if it had quality. Please make a note in your subject heading that this is poetry intended for the blog.

The Cubs played a real humdinger last night. I was completely prepared as the ninth inning started to wait until Thursday, then possibly lose to Johnny Cueto, who the Cubs have not hit at all. That 9th inning comeback was one of the most thrilling moments I can remember in forty years of being a Cub fan. I’m concerned now what happens after Lester and Hendricks pitch, and the bats are strangely quiet, but eight more wins and the Cubs will be World Series champions.

I have the window open and nice, cool breeze is coming in. Earlier I was pleasantly surprised when the ATT service tech was able to get my internet going in a 125 year old building where Zombie Logic Press resides. Nobody has probably had a phone line in here in over ten years, but he found a wire and made the connection.

All the building around Zombie Logic Press have been bought over the past two years and are being turned into antique shops, olive oil stores, rooftop bars, barber shops, and art studios. Soon unless I buy the building I’ll be forced out, and as much as I love this building it’s a real dump and worthless.


The Holmes Block building has been here since 1888, and I was surprised to learn when I researched it that it has always been residential. The two bottom units seem perfect for storefronts, possible even a gallery for Jenny’s work. An automobile museum has been moved in next door. The whole building is in the process of slouching into the middle. I can even see book cases sitting at a slant.

Eight years here now. At the heart of what the FBI now says is the most dangerous city in America with a population under 200,000. The gentrification process has begun. Soon I’ll want to go somewhere else even though I really do enjoy this place. I wouldn’t even know what to do with a building this big.

Anyway, if anyone wants me to read their outlaw poetry there are no guarantees I will publish it, but send it to me in an email and I’ll take a look. Please send a 3rd person biography and a picture if you don’t mind as Google seems to like that.


True Stories By Outlaw Poet Thomas L. Vaultonburg

I don’t feel like a bad ass. But when I read my own poetry it is clear to me that I am. Not the kind of faux bad ass I have seen posting poems that are Bukowski rip-offs for decades now, but the kind of a bad ass who just did it. I think of this today as I am attempting to give up my three cups of tea I drink daily, and debating if I should have chicken wings later. I don’t long for the days when I was out of control at all, nor do I romanticize or glorify them. I just feel as if I’ve never been cheated. I don’t look back and wonder what it would have been like had I been braver or more insistent on myself. I did. And it was great. My poems are never wish fulfillment. If anything, I’ve toned it down out of respect for my family now.

A True Story

You ruined my marriage
You son-of-a-bitch

She wrote in an electronic
Mail that appeared
From nowhere

You had drinks with
My husband at
Some dive bar and
Now he thinks he’s
A poet.

What’s wrong with that?
I replied.

He left for Canada two
Days ago to cut timber
And be a poet.

Does this mean
You’re single?
I inquired

She wasn’t.


Her Last Few Fucks Were Wasted

I just had a sudden urge to write a poem titled
“Her Last Few Fucks Were Wasted,”
and even ten years ago
I would have too,
but instead I walked
to the bathroom,
trimmed my nosehair,
and decided this poem need not exist.
You’re welcome.


Suicide By Poet

She drove me to
The highest point in Illinois
And demanded I throw
Her off.

Suicide by poet.

Failing to incite my
Altruistic instinct to
Make the world a better place,
She regaled me with stories
Of infidelity all the way down,
Then we ate at Denny’s.

I drove past there again
Last week and the
Illinois Department of Transportation
Had torn the tower down.

Maybe some poor bastard
Finally took her up
On her offer.


The Old Neighborhood

You fucked my sister,
Didn’t you, she said
Brandishing a spatula

You don’t have a sister,
I said,
Suddenly desiring flapjacks.

You created an imaginary
Sister with big tits
And fucked her in
Your dreams,
Didn’t you, you bastard?

Yes, I was forced to confess,
I fucked your big-titted
Sister in a dream,
And she had red hair.

Tuesdays were always
Strange around there.

-Thomas L. Vaultonburg


I voted for Hillary Clinton today.



Outlaw Poets From Rockford Breaking the Law In New Orleans

New Orleans vacation in the books. After the initial annoyance of the constant smell of garbage and urine wears off, one tends to find places that are less fake and touristy than some others. I enjoyed the cemeteries one didn’t have to pay to get into more in general. Something about paying to get in there to see dead people was upsetting. I found that many, if not most of the people you asked bout anything involving the city were telling the same lie. Either they didn’t know, or were making a profit telling the lie, or just didn’t see you as a tourist as someone worthy of getting a real answer. I didn’t give one damn or another about Marie Laveaux before I went to New Orleans, and I don’t now, but it seems every question I asked activated a rote response about her. I didn’t ask.


Doorway on Peter Street in New Orleans by artist Jenny Mathews.

Here in Rockford a decade or so ago the mayor and civic leaders took a disliking to graffiti art, and went so far as to toss a couple of taggers in jail. It worked. Nobody does it anymore. Now the city holds a couple of summer festivals and invites those same artists to do graffiti art in the park while kids watch. In New Orleans they don’t seem to handle it that way. The artist Jenny painted into this piece, Achoo, is infamous in New Orleans. But after doing some research I discovered that doesn’t make him loved. There are videos of politicians and business owners offering a bounty for his/her arrest. I wonder if anyone has ever collected on that bounty.


Outlaw Poet Thomas L. Vaultonburg pointing to a Zombie Logic Press sticker in New Orleans. I wonder who put it there?

The vacation was entirely enjoyable. One can be lulled into an easy assessment that the city is all piss and garbage if one remains in the French Quarter, but even there we saw world class art and antiques in the same building we had to step over a homeless man to get into. I also found a magic shop I thought was interesting. I bought a potion there called Fiery Blast of Will. I intend to dab some on my pulse points this evening and light my Creativity candle the kids got me for Christmas and write a haiku about the full moon.

Rockford Poet Thomas L. Vaultonburg Reading At JR Kortman Gallery


Zombie Logic Press editor Thomas L. Vaultonburg reading June 11th, 2016 at JR Kortman Gallery in Rockford, Illinois, at the book release party for The Blood Dark Sea by Dennis Gulling.

Frank Schier, editor of the Rock River Times, described Dennis Gulling’s book, The Blood Dark Sea, as the “best book of Outlaw Poetry I have read in a long, long time.” The book release party was attended by the creme of the Rockford literary and cultural scene, minus outsider poet Jesus Correa, who, being true to his credo that he is “the best dishwasher in the world,” was washing dishes Downtown. But as is his habit, editor Thomas L. Vaultonburg stood in for his writer, and delivered a set dressed as Correa.

Guest bartender Tim Stotz concocted a special beverage for the occasion called The Blood Dark Sea, and many patrons were seeing imbibing more than one.

As music from a block party featuring a band of white men imitating Black rappers pulsed outside, no doubt to a full crowd of white douchebags, the three readers for the evening all delivered admirable sets, despite the sound system wavering in the heat. But the poets soldiered on, much to the delight of the small but attentive audience.

Later many more beverages were ingested at Octane by several of Rockford’s best and brightest. Plans were made for many future creative endeavors that will no doubt come to fruition and be lauded by the general public with accolades and lavish praise. Meanwhile, Zombie Logic Press has several projects by Rockford poets and writers in the pipeline, but will be taking a short vacation to work of other projects and generally relax.

13344643_10209864923682482_7597770684840278763_n (1)

Perhaps with a Stella Artois as a surly looking Frank Schier looks on.

a man telling his son he is going to die

“Your daddy is going to die Joey.

Your daddy is going to die and you are not going to have a daddy anymore Joey.” I said to my son whose name was Joey. “Good,” he said, “I am very excited. That sounds great to me.” He began marching around our living room, mimicking the act of playing a trombone.

“After your mother killed herself, I began slowly poisoning myself by putting a tiny amount of arsenic in my tea each morning. From what I understand about arsenic, I am in the beginning throes of death my boy. Yes, dear Joey, your daddy is not long for this world.” I said to my four year old son who stood there in his pajamas, clapping his hands enthusiastically, chanting: “No more daddy.”


“No more daddy.”


“That’s right Joey, no more daddy, you’re going to be an orphan buddy, you’re going to have to learn to fend for yourself, and that is going to be very hard for you, because you are dimwitted and repulsive to look at. You are probably going to end up with a terrible, crippling drug habit if you don’t starve to death first. Your daddy is going to die, and I’m afraid, my son, that there is no hope for you. I said to my son as he jumped up and down on the couch, joyously soaring and cackling saying things like… “I cannot wait to not have a daddy.” “I cannot wait until you die.” “No more daddies forever.”

He was pissing his pants, and he was pleased as punch, and frankly so was I. Today was the greatest day that I have ever known. Thank you, Jesus.

and thank you, Jesus Correa

When Mars Is In the House of Atreides The Outlaw Poetry Will Flow

As this title might indicate, I’m absolutely out of things to say about Outlaw Poetry. The last book I published was about a guy with cerebral palsy traveling with a evangelical stage show. I understood that topic about as well as Outlaw Poetry, which I do not write or normally receive very much of at Zombie Logic Press.

Tonight Mars is the brightest it has been in ten years. I’d go outside and look, but I’m in the 3rd most dangerous neighborhood in America, so maybe I’ll just look at it online.

Last night Jenny and I went to The Worst Prom Ever, then went to see a friend of ours dance in a drag show. I managed to only have three drinks, which is why at midnight tonight I still feel relatively good. It’s the start of the new week, and although I have several medical appointments, I’m light on other entries on my to do list next week.

The Yellow River


Disoriented by Vietnamese beer,

I enter the hot zone

Approximately four inches

South of my intended

Insertion point,

And am repelled

By an aggressive

Guerilla resistance.


War is hell.

-Thomas L. Vaultonburg

That is a poem about hitting the wrong hole. There’s this French/Vietnamese place on 7th Street that has a menu with over a 100 items on it. (Gunshots. Yay Rockford). When I go there I like to have a Tsing Tao, then a Heineken. And sirens. Geez, guys, it’s Sunday night, take a fucking break.

Nice cool breeze coming in through the window. Only halfways to my goal of 500 words, so maybe I’ll go look for another poem from my next book.

Olfactory Fatigue


Most of us

Have been living

In the shit

So long

We’re suffering


Olfactory fatigue.

-Thomas L. Vaultonburg

Well, that was good for about eighteen words. Saw William Peter Blatty on the Johnny Carson Show from 1974 earlier tonight saying that up until he wrote the book The Exorcist there had been only three official exorcisms performed in America in that century. I found that interesting. I think I’m going to call this blog off early and not even categorize it, maybe watch something on Jenny’s computer, which sits at the desk in front of mine, then go upstairs to bed.



There Is No More Outlaw Poetry Left

There is no Outlaw Poetry in the coffers. It’s a shame I named this blog Outlaw Poetry, but mostly I did so in deference to the latest poet in our Rock River Literary Series, Dennis Gulling, who is one of the great small press Outlaw Poets in America. My intent was to serialize the 100 poems in his book The Blood Dark Sea over the seven blogs I write for or edit, and all the poems are gone. I suppose you could buy the book, but I know from my experience there is no chance you’re going to do that, so I hope you have enjoyed The Outlaw Poetry blog. I suppose there are other places you can find Outlaw Poetry on the internet if it’s really your bag, which I’m sure it isn’t.

It’s possible I could repurpose this blog as boner pill blog or one of the other thousands of useless applications I see the internet being used for. The Cubs are on the west coast beating the hell out of the Giants tonight, and I have only a few more chores to finish before I can sleep, so my day is almost over.

How about this? I’ll reprint my Ed McMahon poem titled “Whiskey Spills, Bad Lovers, and Celebrity Deaths Come In Threes,” from Zombie Logic.

Whiskey Spills, Bad Lovers, and Celebrity 
Deaths Come In Threes

“You know Johnny fucked
Farrah Fawcett when she
Was still on Charlies’ Angels,”
Says celebrity sidekick Ed
McMahon from behind a Scotch
Too cheap for an ex Marine
To a second rate bartender/actor
Paying too little attention.
“And he always said that Michael
Jackson was a fucking child molester,”
Says McMahon, pretending not to notice
The celebrtity tabloid show
Flickering in the corner.
As late night sidekick Ed McMahon’s
Shaky hand spills a third trickle
Of rot gut onto the bar he knows
Back home his trophy wife
And the three Pekignese are already
Staring at the couch like
They’re seeing a ghost.
Ex Marine Ed McMahon beckons
The two-bit bartender closer
And offers: “I can only tell you
One thing kid: Whiskey spills,
Bad lovers, and celebrity
Deaths come in threes.” – See more at: http://www.zombielogic.org/search?q=Ed+Mcmahon#sthash.MTwhGYiD.dpuf

Tomorrow night we have Bad Prom. It will be the first prom I have ever attended. I suspect many of the cool kids in town will be there. I’d like to drink just enough to have a good time, but not enough to wreck my entire weekend the way I did last Saturday when I got a call at the last minute and had to stand in for a feature poet who had called in sick. Mostly now I’m just trying to get to 500 words, wait for clothes in the dryer to dry, brush my teeth, and crawl into bed. Cubs win! Cubs win! And a tantalizingly small amount of words away from 500 I am out of here like Dennis Miller.