(Selected Poems 1994)
Publication Date: June 2012
Trade Paper; 366 pages; 5-1/4″ x 8″
In 1994, the year that the world lost luminaries Charles Bukowski, Bill Hicks, and Kurt Cobain, 22-year-old Greg Gerding sought to find his own voice, his language, as a writer and an intellectual. Gerding set off on a journey of self-exploration, inebriation, social deviation, and intimate relations, and chronicled his experiences with poetry and prose.
Loser Makes Good contains selected works taken from eight handwritten notebooks Gerding filled over that year. A true self-portrait of the artist as a young man, Loser follows Gerding as he questions convention, confronts obligation, and rebels against expectation in an effort to fully realize himself as an artist, and a man.
Loser Makes Good falls in line with the works of great symbolists, modernists, and decadents like Charles Baudelaire, Paul Verlaine, and Arthur Rimbaud. Gerding also cites the writings of Bukowski, Jim Morrison, and Henry Rollins as influential.
“With a serious, playful attitude, Gerding tackles themes of a social nature with a dry and wry wit that he colors with his own gray matter. He talks about things that people generally think about, but are reticent to reveal.” – Susan Cole, Scene Magazine
Selections from Loser Makes Good
Grill Me a Slice of Change and Hold the Onions
My life is changing. And change is strange.
It is strange how the feeling of finally hitting a baseball
over the centerfield fence is now akin to the same feeling
as marveling at my own contribution to the ever-growing
collection of emptyvodka bottles and empty beer cans
and spent cigarette butts in my apartment. It is starting
to resemble a landscape I would feel proud connecting a
Lionel train set through.
Change is strange.
How Budweiser begot Light, and then the two became
Dry. And how, in my mind, this equation suddenly
becomes all-encompassing in illustrating the lifecycle of
a relationship. I’ve even used it in actual conversation, as
if revealing some deeper truth.
“Don’t you see? Budweiser begot Light, and then the
two became Dry. See?”
And how, when I order a sandwich without onions at the
fast-food joint, it suddenly becomes an abbreviation sent
“I would like to order the Grand Ham sandwich with
mustard and no onions.”
It is repeated through a microphone from the order taker
to the maker, so loud that I can hear the amplification of
his voice in the kitchen behind him.
“One Grand H, with an M, and an L, and a T, but hold
And “hold the O” echoes through my mind until it
produces a thought which I didn’t think it could produce
sober, which was, And if you hold that “O” really
straight, I might be able to nail it with my erection.
And then I think about my limp dick.
And then I feel concern for my limp dick which does not
like this whole change thing and has obviously made this
fact known by displaying inactivity. Not even a stirring.
And then I become depressed about my strange change.
And I think about how bland my sandwich tastes without
And then I shrug and think, Well, you asked for it, you
15:45:33 – 15:53:12
(15:45 and 33 seconds.)
I’m sitting in my chair, bored. I’m staring at the cash
register which digitally flashes military time and has this
crappy little feature that torturously ticks off each and
every second of each and every day.
There is no business and nothing left to do but think that
the sandwich I just ate for lunch did not agree with me.
I feel like I ate a small dog. Fur and all. Fur and alive.
Just held that small dog’s head in one fist while the other
clutched its rear end and I took a large bite right into
its side. Through hair, through skin, through meat. And
then, like I was some savage wild beast, I just sat there
and chewed while that small dog bled on my lap. That’s
what feels like is sitting in my stomach right now: a
small, hairy, gross dog.
Then, the strange man who tends after all the plants
walks right up to me, as he does often now, and asks me
if I am bored yet, and I reply that I have been bored for
quite some time.
He says, “Well, I was just in the storage room reading
and taking a nap.”
I say, “I am so jealous.”
He says, “Why? Can’t you take a nap here?”
I survey my kiosk sitting naked in the middle of the mall,
laugh, and say, “No.”
He says, “That’s too bad, I have been taking naps for the
past four weeks.”
Then he shuffles away with his bucket in his hand.
And I am filled with jealousy. And I am left here filled with a small,
hairy, gross dog that is barking in my stomach. And
I am left here feeling trapped in military time, filling each goose-
step with wishes that I never had to eat, or sit here, or
(15:53 and 12 seconds.)
The Old Trout
Women pass by wearing thin, short dresses with sandals
or small sneakers on, and flowers in their hair.
Women pass by wearing short, tight shorts which barely
hold up the bottom of their asses.
And women pass by….
And women pass by….
Reminding me of the coming of Spring and eventually
And then the old man who works beside me covertly
comes up behind me and lurks, and then trails off in
some strange direction as he spins and almost falls over,
but manages to move his feet fast enough to catch up
with his top-heavy body.
And this man scares me.
And this man stresses me out.
Because he is like an old, aimless trout.
Nearly entirely bald, with teeth like he has had
deconstructive surgery done on his skull. These teeth tell
histories of tooth decay and cigarette smoking. And the
skin on his face resembles that of a burn victim.
He comes up to me with a bag of Sun Chips in his hand
and is so proud of his “meal” which he explains only cost
him “69 cents, or 72 cents with tax.” And he also calls
a coffee and a muffin a “meal” at only “$1.25, or $1.31
And… and… and….
Swim away, Old Trout! I don’t care about your trivial
triumphs. You stress me out and I can’t figure out why.
And maybe it’s because I didn’t like the way you stroked
that child’s hair and looked at him with a grin while his
mother’s attention was diverted elsewhere. Or maybe it’s
because you pass out little bookmarks which say “God
Bless You” and “Jesus Loves You” and you explain that,
“For the price of a postage stamp you can have the maker
of these bookmarks send you thousands,” so you can
distribute them to all who need a clue and are in search
of the righteous direction and must have help finding
salvation, so they can be saved.
Swim away, Old Trout! You stress me out. The way
you swim up behind and lurk – or the way you swim
up beside and lurk. And, swim away! because you are
making me look bad as all I want to do is look at dresses
and short shorts and think about Spring and Summer,
not look at your burn-victim face, bald head, and bestial
mouth because it stresses me out.
Conversation with you is painful as all I can do is
think about the possibility of a piece of Sun Chip being
propelled from your mouth and landing anywhere on
my face and… Ewwwww! Swim away, swim away, you
old trout! Now you’re really freaking me out! With your
coffee and your cigarettes and your Sun Chips flavored
sour cream and onion and the extra skin extending from
the bottom of your chin and your trivial triumphs: cheap
cigarettes… cheap food… cheap drink… cheap cheap,
cheap cheap, cheap cheap. And all you have is this –
work and cheap things, and me being a considerate and
polite ear, nodding my head in fear, and I can’t wait to
get the hell out of here! Away from the man who licks his
sour cream and onion “meal” from between his greasy
fingers with a loud “SMACK! SMACK SMACK!
SMACK SMACK!” and then swims over and wants to
shake my hand for some trivial triumph.
Swim away, swim away, Old Trout! Please. You really,
really freak me out.
Not For Sale
I lie in the cold grass, breathing.
Clouds pass quickly before the moon, like a dream.
We stand in line waiting for tickets to pass through the
turnstile and be allowed a room for privacy.
This is a world run by a government that molds societies
into Pavlovian routines.
Like a prisoner, I pass my days awaiting the next time I
will get to see my lover.
Like prisoners, we pass our days at work awaiting the
next time we get to see our lovers.
There is no talking in this dream, just motion and sight.
The day arrives, and with my lover, arm in arm, we move
towards the ticket master, and we move towards the slow
Once through, we feel free, a free not felt until we are
through the turnstile.
We wander, arm in arm, and there is a structure to our
left. It is dug and built into the ground and a window
reveals to us a view from up above. We move a curtain
aside from the outside and look through the window and
down into an emptiness the size of an arena.
The outward appearance of the structure is deceiving. It
appears much smaller than it actually is.
Down below pulse hundreds of lovers in various
positions of disposition. Men savagely working from
behind their women on all fours. Women with their
heads thrown back and their arms thrown back as they
ride their lovers’ cocks. Circles of lovers connected in a
massive display of oral sex. A wave of sexual motion in
the vast well-lit emptiness of the arena.
We watch for a while and soon retreat to the privacy of
a room where upon the floor we carefully lay a canvas
We kiss and dance about naked and soon begin to work
on the canvas. We create beautiful art, swirling colors,
divine figures, and emotions embodied on the lifeless
Hours pass and we soon collapse against a wall and
smoke. We look at our art now propped up against the
opposite wall. We look at each other and both nod.
I pack up some stuff, and our art, and I leave my lover
naked against the wall of our rented room.
I sneak into a gallery across the grounds. I look around
and scope out empty spaces for our love.
I scale a scaffold and sit high above and begin to take
our art out of my pack, but I am discovered by the man
appointed to the care of the gallery and he begs me to
come down. I climb down, upset. He motions me to
show him our love. I show him and his face becomes
serious, and then soft. A tear appears, and he agrees to
show our love in a space high and above.
Words are finally spoken in this dream…
He asks, “What is the price of this painted canvas?”
I reply, “There is no price. It is not for sale.”
I quietly escape out the door alone, with a knowledge
in my brain and a great weight resting on my heart, as I
move back towards routine; thoughts of future days with
my lover make my mind smile.
The gallery keeper places our love high up on the wall.
It is the only piece in the gallery on display without a
price tag. Simply entitled,
“NOT FOR SALE.”