Poem #21

When Your Former Lover’s Getting
by Job Conger

For lovers who lose, who don’t mean to choose
The son of a bee or bee who breaks their heart,
A special kind of pain, a rueful refrain
Can hit you from the moment that you  part.
It comes from the heat that comes from defeat
Of dreams and schemes and all the plans you made.
It eats you inside
When your former lover’s getting laid.

How can she do this to me?
This lunge with a knee?
Why can’t I  just swallow my pride?
There is no reason to cling
And sigh over something
That somehow in retrospect
Was just a nothing.

You laugh among friends, you cry when it ends.
The problem is you have to cry alone.
So why cry at all? The heart makes the call
From darkness where a true love once had grown.
So how to forgive, and learn how to live
Become the battles fought for debts full-paid.
The cost can be high
When your former lover’s getting laid.

There are no ties left to cut.
I’m no freaking nut,
I  don’t want to cause her more grief.
It’s all too clear she was wishin’
To resume freelance fishin’
And God only knows she don’t need my permission.

And so it must be: a blues melody,
A rhythm meant to sooth the savaged soul.
A stiff upper lip, some words that are hip
Restore an incomplete back to a whole.
You grow from an ass to head of the class
When you allow old memories to fade —
The suma cum laude graduate —
When your former lover’s getting laid.

June 17, 1988

I sung the song a few times in the months after I wrote it, but it didn’t seem to register with people as I thought it would. The reason, I’m guessing, is that it was just more frank and revealing  than it should have been. I still like the lyric and the song.

Poem #20

Castaway Consolation
by Job Conger

I want to tell you that my mind’s in a mess.
I’ve almost quit my search for true happiness.
Gone is the dream I thought was mine without a hitch.
Now I’ve become a freaking son of a bee.
A bitter heart is nothing new in this world.
A pig is only pork.
It’s true I’m gloomy.
Life’s getting to me
But it’s better than being a dork.

These are the times a man has got to hang tough.
Being a proper kind of guy’s not enough.
Things would be fine if I could channel my grief.
I think it’s time for me to turn a  new leaf.
We live and love and lose —  it’s  all so routine.
My road’s come to  a fork.
Which  way to go now?
I do not know now,
But it’s better than being a dork.

Something makes me want to point my finger
At a criminal someone who . . .
Who might have stolen my love, that tends to linger
Late at night when I’m feelin’ blue.
The simple fact is that regret still surrounds me
Like a wound where she’s pouring salt.
It’s what I’ve earned: bad love returned,
So I know that it’s not all her fault.

I  played the game and lost.
I still have my pride.
The healing first will have to come from inside.
A new tomorrow soon will beckon my gaze
The sun will burn away the new morning’s haze
And I will chase the dream that’s calling to me
Like Mindy to a Mork.
I’ll keep on pitchin’
‘S more fun than switchin’
And it’s better than being a dork.

June 3, 1988
In my second book of poetry where this lyric is featured on page 34, below the end of the lyric, I added the following post script:
“a fellow
sitting  at a circular, brown formica table
in his kitchen
with his guitar
between his right arm and leg
and a ball-point pen in his hand
writing a novelty song
about a lost love
who lived in the other half of the duplex we rented
one wall away. ”
. . . . and that’s how I wrote this song. With audiences that include youngsters or especially religious people I sang “son of a bee” instead of  “son of a bitch.” Since I don’t know who YOU are, I’m playing it save with this rendition.

Poem #19

You Momma
by Job Conger

When you get a pain, what do ya do
When you’re up and tight and feelin’ blue?
Here’s an answer that’s a dream come true:
All I  do is smile and say

Living is a sing-song paradox
Full of limpy wimps and hard-bod jocks
Folks with shiny boots and dirty socks.
To them all I smile and say


How do I dare to thus profane
People unencumbered by a brain,
Robots with no human sympathy?
It doesn’t apply to . . .
Doesn’t apply to me.

So I pray to one great God on high,
Only force on which I can rely,
When we meet in the  Sweet By and By
That He will not frown and say

— March 25, 1989
My evolving  circle of friends attended church,  sometimes waiting for the others to arrive in the  lobby and then sitting together, sometimes not, often driving down to Top’s Big Boy restaurant for lunch after (I was working regularly by then.) and sometimes getting together for small parties and seasonal dinners where my guitar was always invited as well. Sometimes during our convivial gatherings, phrases would LEAP into my brain COMMANDING me to write songs and poetry. This song was the first to come that way.  I sang it often at coffee houses — It’s just a ditty, but what the hay, it’s FUN. — and at least one of those friends remembers those years fondly. So do I.


Poem #18

The Heartaches Get Harder
by Job Conger

For me, love was never
A silly old game I could play.
I haven’t loved often,
But I’ve had my share, I must say.
It’s no trick to leave before becoming close enough to care.
But when  something good dies, the  pain can be almost too much  to bear.

And the heartaches get harder, the breakups are more of a pain.
When dreamers depart in the later years, it’s more of a drain.
So to eager young sweethearts, don’t give up when love’s on the wane
For the heartaches get harder. You may never find true love again.

Oh, I  had me a  honey who loved me, and I loved her too,
But I took her for granted, as my kind of men often do.
Now she’s found a new friend, and my chances are shot all to hell.
There’s a lesson to learn here, and God knows I’ve learned it very well.


The colds that you have as a kid linger longer with  age,
And the tumble as lovers depart can evolve into  rage.
Being lonesome for love that I lost really cripples my style
So I  write stupid songs, and I try to hang on for awhile.

— November 9, 1987


I wrote more poems and songs through the 80s than I’ve shared here, but they didn’t impress me as I gathered poems/lyrics for my second book which I’m sharing here one at a time. This is the most frequently performed of my early songs, shared along with better creations by Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger, Phil Ochs, Tom Paxton and of course “traditional.” I began taking poems/songs more seriously in the late 80s because I had begun to enlarge my  circle of friends, thanks in part to my participation in the life of First United Methodist Church. Spiritually and creatively those days would carry m to the zenith of my life as a creative writer. Without those days, I would have died sooner than later, and you’ would not be reading these words.

Poem #17

Baby Do You Ache?
by Job Conger

He don’t make a habit of sharing
What’s usually kept bottled up deep inside him
With people so high on themselves that they couldn’t care less,
But he knows that somewhere there is someone
Who will react to this song as he’s hoping,
And he’ll find the perfect answer to his quest for happiness.

Baby, do you ache?
Baby do you ache like me?
Do you need someone,
Someone to make you happy?
Are you on the make,
Lookin’ for a dream come true?
Let me be the one
And I will give my heart to you.

Without a special someone to rely on
A man can feel downright perverted,
Laughing on the outside ’cause he dare not let his tears show.
Though his life has had its moments
When he’s shared some temporary pleasures,
He hasn’t found the lasting love his heart needs to know.


He will not be damned for confessing
The fact that sometimes he feels lonesome.
It isn’t enough to be not alone in a crowd.
The rhythm ins is song
Is the beat of a discontented soul
That’s sharing his dream with a voice that is singing out loud.


—  1984
I wasn’t writing much in 1983 or ’84, or ’85 or ’86.  This song was intensely personal, and I sang it only a few times. In 2016, it seems like a song a lonely woman would write; not a lonely man. A smarter man, probably  would not have shared the lyric with strangers. I’m not ashamed of it. I really like the melody, and my guitar work, while nothing fancy, was enoough to take the song where it needed to go.

Poem #16

It Only Hurts
by Job Conger

Life isn’t easy. There are no guarantees.
He’s almost always on the verge of a sneeze.
Something’s inside that tries so hard to get out
But it’s hardly worth talking about.
It only hurts when you cry.

There are no answers in the places he looks:
Nothing in bottles and there’s nothing in books.
His critics tell him that he ain’t got a chance.
He likes the music, but he don’t like to dance.
It only hurts when you cry.

Soldier of misfortune, a man of his own,
Wayfaring, outward-bound and mystical drone
With dreams a plenty that he cherishes so.
He will not lose them ’cause he will not let go.
It only hurts when you cry.

— 1982
The two 1982 poems seem like breadcrumbs sprinkled on the ground  as I wandered through a jungle of life . . . so that someday I could follow them back home. It’s a crazy notion. Why would I ever want to return, re-trace in reverse, my life as I lived it in 1982? I sang this song maybe once. It confirmed the wisdom of describing my  life in third person. It made the perspective less “woe is me” and made it “woe is he” . . . . . though  everyone knew it was me.

Poem # 15

Whinin’ Blues
by Job Conger

I’m in a rotten mood, and some may call it the blues
I’ve had it up to here with all this “paying my dues”
It may be hard to understand the way that I feel
Unless you spend time wondering when you’ll have a next meal.

Cliche philosophizing  doesn’t help me a bit
An advertising writer in this town ain’t worth shit.
Acknowledging reality, in spite of my charm,
I know my attitude will someday do me some harm.

So I’ll tell you for the record, maybe with my last breath,
It’s hard to make a living when you’re starving to death.

It took me ten long years for me to earn my B.A.
My Masters one year later pleased me all I could say.
I thought the “edyoukayshin” would produce solid bliss.
Instead it taught me only just how much I can miss.

The only true companion that I have is my pet.
She’s a part Husky/Malamute, as nice as they get.
But an animal cannot provide the love that I need,
Though I must admit she is a good deal cheaper to feed.


It isn’t ’cause I’m lonely that I’m singin’ this song.
It’s just because I’m anxious, and I think that it’s wrong
That a fellow with my talent should feel like a dumb germ.
It’s enough to make a person want to go eat a worm.


— June 3, 1982
1982 was a rough year. I was living in a two-story house I rented at 326 S. MacArthur, taking shallow baths by carrying large pots of water heated on the kitchen stove upstairs and pouring them into the bathtub: usually three  pots.  The women in my  life (significant love Penney W whom I had helped relocate to Grnd Haven, Michigan — I drove the rented truck — and my mom who accompanied me as I drove her car to Tuvares, Florida where she spent the rest of her retired life and we never saw each other again though we talked over the phone on birthdays and Christmas) and I was limping along with some part-time writing work and tending the counter at a downtown coffee house where I also played/sang for meals — Positively 5th Street on 5th Street between Adams and Washington. I sang this song a few times, but it really wasn’t “hit material.”   I wrote another song that year and will share the lyric Saturday.