William James

working class poetry // punk rock performance

Over the summer, my friends in the band Old Gray had asked me to contribute a poem to their new record, which they were writing & recording at the time. Cameron Boucher mentioned that a lot of the lyrics on the album dealt with themes of depression, addiction, mental illness, suicide, and ultimately recovery; if you've followed my own work over the years, you'll notice some common ground here.

I wrote the majority of this poem while riding a train to Chicago. I finished it a few weeks later, and recorded myself reading it on my phone at 4:30 or so in the morning in a hotel room in Salt Lake City, in a state of complete exhaustion & no small amount of sadness. I texted the entire audio file, mistakes and all, to Cam, figuring he would clean it up in his studio, or at least strip out all of my flubs. Instead, he simply dropped that raw, haggard-sounding clip straight into the mix. In hindsight, I think it sounds better this way.

The new album is streaming as of today. I've had several folks asking if there was anywhere they could read the poem itself (which I titled "deadbeats & gloryhunters") so I decided to host it here. The entire text of the poem is posted below, along with an embedded stream of the track itself. If you click the text, you can download a PDF of this poem for free. Please feel free to share it with anyone you think might get something out of it.

It's been a hell of a year. I hope you are well.


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