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pre-lyric ramble . . .
Over the past few months several new “followers” have begun following Honey & Quinine. I don’t know why. But I thank  EVERYONE for following this blog. I have tried to learn more about the followers by trying to view their profiles, but this crazy AVATAR business has prevented me from connecting with most of you. I have begun following only one other blog in recent week. It is “Okay, You’re Right” and I can tell you the author is fascinating, clearly a world thinker who knows how to write engagingly. If you can find her, read her. You will be glad you did.  I am; that’s for sure.  :)

I’ve fallen behind posting at H&Q, and I’m wondering if my very (ULTRA, even) minor stroke last December left more of a mark on me than I first thought. I’m a mite hobbled by my belief that yammering about what’s going to happen, including news media analysis of speeches the day before they’re uttered,  isn’t news; it’s cheap cereal filler to insert between real news (HERE’S WHAT HAPPENED and MARK YOUR CALENDERS FOR. . . ), advertising and fund-raising drives for public radio stations. For the past couple of weeks I’ve been wanting to share the news that I would be having operations to vaporize my cataracts in March. There will be two operations, one per eye, spaced a little more than a week apart, but before that I must have a pre-operations physical examination by a physician “or nurse practitioner” (can you BELIEVE that? I sure couldn’t, not that there’s anything wrong with nurse practitioners) March 3 and if I get the green light, surgery follows. While the fact I’m finally “in the stream” for this treatment, which is about two years past due, seem “it’s going to happen” irrelevant to NEWS, my  success in navigating a series of impediments that included my employer being almost criminally negligent in not responding to my repeated requests for information (not money, you understand; just information about what I’ve earned) until he did and my own laxity in expediting after I had what I needed from him IS NEWS to people previously aware of this ongoing distress. The nuttiness is that when I’m disappointed, I’m also depressed. When I’m depressed, I feel there is no point to life, and therefore there is no reason to sustain life by “doing what needs to be done” <– thank you Garrison K.. I’ve not been suicidal. I’ve just been frozen in near-catatonia. This has affected my work all around: the book about a local Springfieldian (John Thornton Walker) I’ve promised and want very much to complete, work at the aviation museum; even activity at home: letting the clutter and disarray build until I straighten up things, put things away. I did today. The point of this ramble is my recent understanding of how even ULTRA minor strokes affect those they visit as I was visited December 4, 2014. A few days ago I read the material given to me by the hospital when I was released. So there is my latest self-serving rationale for doing darn-near nothing with life for almost two frikking months.

On the other hand, it may be just the winter weather.

The poem is one of four I’ve written on occasions where I’ve been invited to play guitar and sing at visual arts gallery receptions. My smartest visual artist friends understood it at first listen. I am confident YOU will understand it at first read . . .

Picassong
by Job Conger

Red pretauge on canvas white,
Streaks of saffron center-right.
From left corner sprouts a plem:
Floral posti quodeum.
Kladar races neck-and-neck
With the banyae bisolek.
Orange discs in motion glurge,
Toward the fading dree converge.

(chorus)
Lift your eyes and voices too
To the mellow illusdrew.
We shall cloy mo talikong:
Celebrate an abstract song.

Hut in shadow on a rise,
Fucia nordank mystifies,
Over deep cerulean blue:
Stolden pax kalam pocue.
Creatures dance hodaigren lape
While the natives flir kanape.
Volpan is the chanter king,
Verdant, wise and breysaling.

(chorus)

Joined in warm melodic hues:
Catholics, Protestants, Jews
Celebrate in sweet delight
Wonders of the Shenegite.
We’ll connect to what we can
Through the palette’s laudigan.
Symbols can be what ye will:
Cat upon the window sill.

(chorus which I sing twice, the second time after inviting the audience to sing along with me. By that time they are with me in this song. It’s incred-amazing!)

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Representative abstract paintings inspired me to write this song. It was my goal to place understandable phrases with those which are not understood at first listen and may not be understood at all. That’s okay. I hope you liked it.

Live long . . . . . and proper.

pre-poem ramble: I visited the local drug store to renew my monthly (slight) stroke medications for the second time. POP QUIZ: How many times have I BOUGHT my prescriptions there? Too many people I know will answer “twice” . . . because they don’t know the difference between buying and buying again. The answer, of course, is three. . . but I digressed.

When I purchased and renewed the first time, I purchased the PRESCRIPTION baby aspirin, noted on the typed label. Today I asked the pharmacist if there was a difference between the baby aspirin he would soon count (30) into a prescription jar from behind the well-secured counter and the baby aspirin I could purchase from the publicly accessible shelf 10 feet behind me. He said “No difference at all. In fact, when we run out of them back here, we refill our supply from the bottles you saw on the shelves. ” I asked if the prescription baby aspirin would cost me more than the over the counter equivalent behind me. He said, “I don’t know. Let’s go see.”

He courteously came out from behind the preparation area to the shelves with me where we found a 120 low dose, safety coated aspirin for $6.49. It was not Bayer; it was the “drug store brand.”

The total for today’s medication was $170.13, including the 120 tab OTC baby aspirin. Total for my first refill January 5 was $169.24, including 30 baby aspirin. For 89 cents more, I took home 90 more aspirin, and the next two prescription-only refills (since I’ll already have the aspirin) will cost $163.58.  There is a reason I twice paid prescription price for a medication I could have purchased OTC if the thought had come to me. The reason is that BIG PHARMA is the health care provider’s FRIEND. My ignorance was BIG PHARMA’s bliss. I’m not mad over this. I’m better informed. I’m healthy, and as they used to sing in the TV comedy “The Jeffersons” theme song . . . “There ain’t nothin’ wrong with that.”  :)

Here is a poem I wrote the morning after. Since that occasion, I published it in my third book of poems Bear’ sKin but have not shared it once, with or without voice, since. What can I say, but THIS IS YOUR LUCKY DAY!  :)

From a Cup of Coffee, Neat
by Job Conger — 7:45 am, January 18, 2001

Panoply of darkly hues
a see of animated anti-freeze
the sweet cacophony of talk
in warm retreat from blustery winter freeze

Embracing choices like a song
behind the counter, temptingly
“My advice is chicken and not the tuna
salad, but you didn’t hear it from me.”

Seen backwards, window sign reads
something like SLEGAB SYBXIB
reflected  reads BIXBYS BAGELS
Take my word, I wouldn’t fib.

Tenuous, ragged telegraphed syllables of words
off high-strung lines: “da dit dada dit-dit-dit”
abandoning rhythms, lost to the sense of time
hurling the dis engagingrag gedflow of it.

Still-in-utero thoughts remembered:
chaos outside; inside merry
Buxby’s Cafe Open Mic Night, seven
teenth of January.

——————————

Live long . . . . . . . and proper.

pre-poem ramble — I continue to wallow in the woe of winter. I seem blessed with the capacity for mature relationships one would expect to find in a four-year old. I can’t remember the last conversation I had with a hummin’ bean that lasted more than five minutes, and I don’t expect that to improve when weather warms. It’s just that I seem entombed in permafrost. Oh blah dee, oh blah dah, life goes UN.
. . . . This doesn’t prevent me from celebrating a poem I read about a month ago at Amanda’s gallery event at Gallina’s Pizza meeting room in lyrical downtown Springfield. Between tunes, I read YEApetite, which I wrote on July 5, 1999 and published in my first poetry book — Minstrel’s Ramble: to Live and Die in Springfield, Illinois — still available for purchase, by the way: $12 including postage. It was well-liked by an audience member, NOT to the extent he was willing to purchase my book, but the fact he well, liked it was good. I hope you like it as well.

YEAHpetite
by Job Conger

When I feel a growing HUNGER
for a juicy piece of
MEAT,
When my tongue begins to TINGLE
for a taste of something
SWEET,
I go looking for the WOMAN
who can make my life com
PLETE:
food HOOKER

When the fire of DESIRE
rants at apathetic
FATE
When answer and fine SUBSTITUTE
converge at restaurant’s
GATE,
Appetite of mine is SERVICEDwith salvation on a
PLATE
food hooker

She sells me what she will not give.
I buy what I don’t
NEED
in distracted sublimation
to appease a moral
CREED
as I search for the connection
that compels my heart to
BLEED
food hooker

With a sated smile and fast goodbye
I leave two bucks’ gra
TUITY
and return to the world to joust with hell
in soulful ambi
GUITY
Wayfaring knight errant reviles
transaction’s incon
GRUITY
food hooker.

– – – – – – – –

Live long . . . . . . and proper.

Keep Them Squirming

—> pre-poem personal
I believe poets get smarter over the years. Maybe everybody do (rim shot! :) ) and that’s why a few words in my original which appeared in my first book Minstrel’s Ramble: to Live and Die in Springfield, Illinois are different here. The poem was intended to be a song, and that’s why I use my “song format” here. Every line begins with  an uppercase  letter. I will still sing it acapella if asked, but since I was never confident with the best I could do when accompanying with my guitar, I recite it mostly. My poems don’t begin each line in uppercase when a thought from the previous line carries over into the next. That’s how YOU know my poems from my songs.
I wrote the song 10 years and one day ago. I was at the height of my “local fame” time and reaching for my “fame beyond central Illinois” time — STILL AM — when I recited it for the first time at a gathering at the local Barnes & Noble bookstore coffee shop. Those were my best years as a poet because I was reaching ears of customers interested in books and coffee in addition to my friends. Over the course of those years, many customers came to my table and thanked me for sharing. Often I responded by giving them printed copies of the poems they liked. Those were the days of wonderment and delight. I miss those days.

My circumstance re dollars is still damnably static. I’ve not touched the upstairs duplex the former renter, Shannon Smith  trashed after reneging on her promise to lease it through winter. The loss of that income is a pain, but I’m not hungry at all, I’ve kept the upstairs plumbing from bursting by keeping it well heated during this terrible cold and light -but-long-lasting snow.  And I’ve not run out of fuel (my absent-minded negligence at its distracted worst) in a few months. I continue to contribute to Springfield Business Journal every month. Also on the positive, I met with some “aid agency saints” last week, and we appear to be maybe a month away from the Lasik cataract surgery on eyes that have cobbled my visual acuity, especially at night. By  late February, I expect to sing “I can see clearly now . . .”
I DO want to write more new poetry/songs . . . . if not for Springfield, then for you! Stay tuned.

Keep Them Squirming
by Job Conger

George and Melissa were a storybook couple
Til Melissa heard a terrible tale
That George’s cousin, long removed
Robbed a bank of her great grandfather’s
And wound up doing time in jail.
Now she thinks that Georgie owes her
For some craven, gross indignity, and so he plays a losing game
Of repaying her for losses that will never make them equal
And will never lift the stultifying shame.

Keep them squirming, keep them squirming
It doesn’t matter who’s wrong or who’s right
When myopia means a good fight
Keep them squirming.

If you behave like the victim, they will always owe you something
For the dignity they stole from sinless cogs
By choosing their crimes carefully, you always will have company:
A chorus of self-righteous underdogs.
If inflated sense of self is what it take to make you happy,
Just go out and grab your demons by the ears
And blame the rest of yourb humanity, entrapped by their banality
Their sense of truth and justice . . . and their fears.

Keep them squirming. Keep them squirming.
The paper tiger of your cause can be real
With teeth of vengeaance and your pompous zeal.
Keep them squirming.

Compromise is uncommon. Give an inch and they’ll get greedy.
Reason is unreasonable today.
Folks with steady moral compasses aren’t all Forrest Gumpasses
And wailing like a banshee will make some of them look your way.
Common sense isn’t common. If it were you’d lose your ticket
To the train where polar differences thrive.
And the truth that’s in the middle wouldn’t be the long-lost riddle
In a world of crazed gorillas  talking jive.

Keep them squirming. Keep them squirming
To atone for the life that you live.
It sure beats learning how to forgive.
Keep them squirming.

written January 17, 1996

_________________________
Live long . . . . . . . . . . . .  and proper.

Intro  Ramble

The recent few inches of snow and persistent cold for more than a week have continued to hamstring my attitude. A lot of progress is mired in the slush of Depression and its companion Procrastination that hobble me in cold winter. As I write this, it’s about 7 degrees outside. I look forward intensely to a break in temperatures  and daily highs in the 20s again. I feel on the verge of slipping,  of crashing or falling if I divert attention from whatever hovers in front of my randomly focused attention and  consciousness. I am being interrupted too many times, not completing too many things I  want to do. Yet I know what needs to be done. I began a load of laundry as I began this post. I’m functioning as a regular fellow. But there is so much to do. Or as Sinatra sang in “Strangers In the Night,” “do-be-do-be-do.” As for me, I follow The Beatles. “Oh bla dee, oh bla dah, life goes on.”

Here’s the third and final song in my trilogy. The melody is not quite as close to what goes with the tune when the words are sung in the classic song “Jingle Bells,” but it’s close. Do what you like with it.

In a One-Horse Open Sleigh
by Job Conger

In a one-horse open sleigh,
As they snuggled to beat the cold air,
They were holding hands as good friends do,
And he hoped before this day was through
She would be his lover fair
In a one-horse open sleigh.

In a one-horse open sleigh.
Gliding under fir trees so green,
They polished off a bottle of Dom Perignon,
A quart of Bacardi Dark Amber Rum
And a pint of Grenadine
In a one-horse open sleigh

In a one-horse open sleigh
Happy hands began to roam.
She was determined to put the brute in his place,
Hearts began to race as he tagged third base,
And she waved him into home
In a one-horse open sleigh.

In a one-horse open sleigh
At least old Dobbin remembered the trail
Back to the horse garage at the mountain lodge
And the knowing smiles that they had to dodge
And the truth that will prevail
In a one-horse open sleigh,
Love can make a special deigh
In a very  special weigh
And that’s all I have to seigh
About a one-horse, a one-horse open sleigh.
————————

Live long . . . . . . and proper.

Oh What Fun It Is To Ride
by Job Conger

Oh what fun it is to ride
In a car with the heat turned on inside.
Whether Lincoln Continental  or a Chevy Nova
A rusty old pickup or a big Land Rova
I’m not inclined — though people say its neat —
To go out hiking in the drizzle and sleet.
You may giggle at the way I show my pride,
But oh what fun it is . . . . to ride.

Oh what fun it is to ride
While pondering pedestrians’ patient stride
In their treks over beautiful, glistening snow
With the perils waiting, hidden, I don’t know
How cross-country skiers can enjoy their sport.
When it’s up to the easily chilled to report
What they do for fun, I”m left tongue-tied,
But oh what  fun it is . . . . to ride.

Oh what fun it is to ride
When the winter panorama ranges far and word
And the after glow of a hearty meal
Fills my heart with a rustic, seasonal zeal.
I will take my cake and coffee in a different way:
With a pretty friend beside me in a one-horse sleigh.
We’ll be truly blessed and satisfied
And oh what fun it is . . . . to ride!

—–
This song was a walk in the park, a winter park. If you begin singing  with note you”d sing with the traditional “Jingle Bells” song you will almost FALL into the intended melody. This lyric was not intended to be another “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening.” If you take it LIGHT,  you’ll take it RIGHT.

Live long . . . . . . and proper.

December 3, 2014

On the night of December 3, I was in high spirits heading home from AeroKnow Museum where I had  welcomed members of the United States Air Force Academy staff who had “dropped in” to Springfield Illinois’ Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport, en route home to Colorado Springs, Colorado. Among the travelers was Lieutenant General (3-star) Superintendent of the Academy Michelle Johnson who visited, donated her challenge coin to AKM and posed for a picture.

Superintendent of the United States Air Force Academy Lieutenant General Michelle Johnson

Superintendent of the United States Air Force Academy Lieutenant General Michelle Johnson

I was hungry, but it was getting late, so I didn’t want much. I stopped at an en-route supermarket and bought a bag of Fritos, and after a relaxing nibble with a glass of wine, took the bag to bed with me and nibbled a few more.

The next day at my employer my  employer drove me to  St. John’s hospital. I had been having  passing periods of faintness, not all the way to loss of consciousness but requiring a lot focus to maintain consiousness, an especially worthy goal when driving 55 on the local beltway. I had told myself that if the symptom became worse, I’d drive myself to the hospital. At about 1:20 December 4, things got worse.  If felt a tingling sensation on the top of my tongue,  like when I’ve been sitting on one position and I feel a foot going to sleep. I called St. John’s hospital, described the symptom and was advised to come to the Emergency Room pretty quick.

My employer (George Jaworski, bless him) drove me to the ER.  The wonderful staff at St. John’s, advised that I had experienced a “small stroke.” It didn’t affect my voice, physical coordination or typing, but it did warrant anti-cholesterol and blood prescription medications.I was admitted to a three-day vacation.  It’s been an easy month  since I checked out. My doctor’s visit three weeks after resulted in green lights for everything. My blood pressure is looking good, all systems are “go.” The only lingering pain occurs when I have to write a check for $169 to pay for a month’s medication at a time.

When I returned home December 6, the bag of Fritos was where I had left it the night of December 3. I left it there.

And there it has remained ever since. I have no intention of moving it again unless my love life takes a turn for the better and she wants me to put it somewhere else. This I would do, gladly.

Yesterday, I took my camera home when I left the airport. Snow was predicted, and I intended to photograph anything interesting. The fluffy white was mercifully less than feared. The only photo-worthy subject was this rather personal view of part of my bed with the Frito’s.

003 (2)

I didn’t touch a thing before taking the picture. I didn’t have matching pillowcases. That’s okay; it’s just me. The other striped one is in the linen closet in the hall. To the right, almost off camera is a radio which I typically keep in or just out of bed in easy reach. The reception for WILL-FM classical music is better when it’s in bed. There’s  plenty of room, and it’s easier to tweak the volume down.

I am in no rush to move the Fritos. Since I’ve been warned against sodium, and I’ve not touched a salt shaker since December 4, I KNOW I have eaten my last Frito. That’s okay. The bag is a historical artifact from an earlier time in my life. A valued mimento and tacit assurance that if I every find myself craving a Frito, they will be there for me.  It reminds me of the last “YOUNGER DAY” of my life, because when I had that stroke (by the grace of God, the least amount of stroke I could have and still have a stroke) I became a grownup. I became a consumer of prescription medications. I know how lucky I am.

Still, I’ll keep the bag where it is. It will remind me of how luicky I was.

—————-

Live long . . . . . and proper.

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