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.


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.

This Post Has Nothing To Do With Outlaw Poetry

I just want to stay up a little longer and watch The Human Duplicators on Mystery Science Theater 3000 and write a couple more blogs. Got my yoga done and took an acetaminophen. If I were more ambitious I’d get up off the psycho couch and put Dawn of the Dead in the VCR.


This is apparently a really big picture of the Thriller Video box for The Human Duplicators. I guess I could even take my shoes off now if I wanted to.

This will be my first time seeing Human Duplicators. I saw a copy of it for the first time on Ebay, but the bidding is already astronomical, so I guess I’ll just watch it on YouTube.

I feel like I’d like to have one more snack and a glass of milk before bed. Today I bought a Dungeon Master’s Screen. I didn’t have one when I had my original Dungeons and Dragons collection in the 1980’s. Now I will. Most likely.

Hugh Beaumont is in this movie! Ward Cleaver. I bet he plays some sensible science type. Or maybe he goes against typecasting and plays a way out Beatnik poet. Jaws from Moonraker is in this movie. The fat guy from Cannon is in this movie.

Now I’m just thinking about that final snack of the night. Had dental work again yesterday. But he didn’t have to do any numbing agents this time, so that was nice. Just pulled the temporary crown off and put the new one on. After a year of procedures I am getting near the end of all the procedures that are needed, and next year maybe we can do some cosmetic things. I wonder if I have maybe a short outlaw poem I can post here to stay consistent with the theme of the blog.

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.

-Thomas L. Vaultonburg

Did I put that one in the last blog? I bet I did. Google is going to whack my peepee but I’m too lazy to look and change it. I just got a reminder from Facebook that I have one event today. Friends of the Library Book Sale. I assist the public library by buying all their books so they can stay open and do puppet shows and let people use the internet.

Also, it’s Fall Art Scene. I’m not in it this year because I didn’t do any art, and I don’t want to go because I stopped drinking carbonated and alcoholic beverages, so I think I’ll stay home. Can we do the final 33 words of this blog on gift certificate?


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.



Thomas L. Vaultonburg Named MVP of Outsider Poetry Slam League of America 2016

As Willa Wonka says, “A little nonsense now and then….” In that spirit I would like to announce, because no one else will, that Zombie Logic Press publisher Thomas L. Vaultonburg has been named MVP of the Outsider Poetry Slam League of America for the 2016 season.

OPSLA Logo 2

Vaultonburg began the season with his hometown Rockford Pages, but was traded to the Chemung Shamans with only a week left in the season. Both teams went winless in their first season in the OPSLA, but that did not deter his fellow outsider poets and poetry slam fans from voting him league MVP. The results of the vote were announced Friday by league commissioner Dr. Millard Rausch.

It is unclear where Vaultonburg will play next season. Commissioner Rausch announced eight new teams will join the league next year, and it is rumored he may travel west to join the league champion Rancho Cucamonga Kookamunga squad, or slightly east to play for runner up Kokomo Oralists.

Rockford poetry may never be the same after Vaultonburg’s departure. Although Zombie Logic Press operations remain in Rockford, as they have been since 1997, making them the longest publisher in constant operation in the city, he has been receiving overtures from Sheboygan, Paducah, Chemung, and even Yakima to relocate the operation.

Blood Mania

I wanted to quit Rockford Poetry many times, go somewhere else where they take it seriously, but I was born in the hospital a block away from the building Zombie Logic Press has now called home for a decade. Where would I even go? And as Don Henley says in his song “Sunset Grill,” besides, all my friends are here.

Too much afternoon, too little to say. The family has gone to yet another birthday party. I have opted out to sit here and do whatever ridiculousness I am doing, and watch Point of Terror again on You Tube. I really need to delve into my Peter Carpenter investigation a little deeper. It’s odd that before the internet people could just die mysteriously, or disappear, and there’s no trace. Even people who had made movies. No one can confirm what happened to this man. Why did he just stop making movies? These are questions for another blog, another time.


This Is Not Outsider Art

I said something today on Facebook about being one of the few people who posts just text, because I had noticed almost all posts are accompanied by a link or a photo. Someone said that was strange because my partner is a world class illustrator. Illustrations aren’t appropriate for a Facebook post, but one of the reasons we met is because I wanted to do a children’s book, and Jenny is the finest drawer in this area. We did finish the book, The Toughskin Rhinoceros Wrangler Company, and seven years later we are still together.


She did this illustration at Halloween. It’s a homage to Alvin Schwartz and his Scary Stories books.

For a couple of years she was posting an illustration almost every day at Tiny Drawings, but now she has so many commissioned works that she rarely has time to just draw for the sake of drawing. I remember I’d come up with one of the whackiest ideas I could think of when we lived in different cities, and fifteen minutes later she’s send me the drawing.


For instance, I’d say, there’s this guy, and he’s a stalk of Celery, but in every way he’s just a normal guy, and not even an exciting guy, just a hum drum guy. That’s how Celery came about. It never really went anywhere because a lot of what we do just amuses us, and for about five years we were working so fast we’d even forget the last thing we worked on.

Bass Mermaid

This is from the Mermaids of North America series she did. She has designed the cover for our last two books in the Rock River Literary Series, and sometimes has two or three shows going on simultaneously. I’m really excited about her bees show. I forgot where it’s going to be, but we made a list of bee names a couple of weeks ago. My favorite ones I came up with were Busby Berkley and Bill Bixby, but I don’t know if she’ll use those.


I’m not sure if this is Bill Bixby, or Busby Berkley, but what a thing it is to get to work with an artist like this. We amuse ourselves by referring to her as the Art Department, but really she’s all the departments. I think she gets flummoxed with me for trying to fit her work into a category like Outsider Art, because she has a lot of training and experience, and isn’t mentally ill.

Also, she’s not responsible for that awful mermaids site I created. I just get a little overzealous sometimes.