Regular H&Q readers know of my woes as a poet/guitarist and songwriter/performer. I wrote a few posts here about “almost becoming an ‘also-ran.” For years I’ve been bittersweet over these frustrations: without a doubt, I have seen “approval,” and “enjoyment” and “laughter in all the ‘right’ places ” when I’ve played and recited. Recently, I’ve rejoiced in less sweet, and been slowly rotting my insides out, wallowing in more bitter.

I have not seen enough sweet for the past year. There was an event that broke my heart. You will not read about it from me. If I mention it, more people will only hate me more, and I want to avoid that. It zapped me. It sapped me. I hate to share my poems and songs when people would rather talk to each other. The only time I feel this way is when I try to share.

Talk to me about aviation history, and I’m fine. Talk to me about life in general and I’m okay. Stop me before I’ve finished reciting a poem or singing a song, and I’m crushed. So I’ve decided to start closing the doors that deliver me to Crushville.

Last night I burned my most-recently-acquired guitar: an Ibanez I bought a few years ago from a guitar store on west Jefferson.  I bought it for the looks as much as the sound. Sometimes I’d take it along to a performance and display it but not play it. I loved the way it looked.  The owner of the music shop where I bought it had  written  my name on a tag for the month or so he held it until I made the final payment. That tag remained attached to the guitar, just in case people might see it and not know it was mine.

I had considered selling it, but I believed no one would want to buy it for what I’d want for it: say $100. I considered giving it to a stranger after I played it at an open mic performance in town. But I BELIEVE I will never attend another open mic. Early yesterday, I decided to  burn all but one of my then-five guitars. By mid afternoon I had decided to burn them one at a time over a few months and take pictures. The first to go would be my Ibanez because I knew I could lose it and not miss it.

I left the guitar case inside. I’m considering using it as a faux-brief-case when I have things to bring to the airport or take to a meeting. I had a sturdy, metal fire pan in the back yard storage shed. That would keep things tidy.

I had to bring  sections of The State Journal Register with me from my museum office when I left for home about 7 last night. I felt like I was executing a friend, a dream, and that I absolutely had to do it. Maybe it was a pagan sacrifice to the Clapton god or the Jerry  Reed god or the Chet or Tommy Emmanuel gods. I was not happy. I was determined. I felt it had been “written in the stars” that I should do this.

I was alone in my back yard for the duration. I sensed that there were eyes on me, perhaps from Judy next door or the fine residents upstairs. I was so busy with my camera, kindling and fire stoking I didn’t mind. Let them watch. Let them not watch.

And it didn’t take long. There was almost no smoke. After a while, the only recognizable part was the top of the neck with my  name tag almost untouched. I decided to keep it. When there were no flames left, the daughter of my upstairs neighbor came out and we talked as I stirred the last of it. I even tried to light some remnants of  un-burned newspaper and spilled my box of kitchen matches in the effort. I explained I had burned one of my guitars because I didn’t want it anymore and didn’t want to sell it. We had a nice visit. Then I took the upper part of the neck and went inside, had a nice salad for dinner, read some of Volume 1 of Simon Shama’s three volume tome about the history of England and went to bed.
This morning I photographed the upper neck on my dining room table where it had spent the night.

I am having a lot of issues with life. New hearing aid, new dental plate for my lower jaw, major solitude despite being in close proximity to many people every day. It’s like they’re on their planet, and I’m on mine. Lots of doctor bills going back for years. And no relief in sight.
And so it goes.

Thanks for reading this.

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

new haikew

poet’s old age fears
that he’s going to die soon
that he won’t die soon

by Job Conger
written April 22, 2016

live long . . . . . . and proper

I am a single poet/photographer/journalist/songwriter/aviation historian who lives the life of an extreme. . . . . single . . . . . straight man who loves pretty, affectionate, straight women. By “extreme . . . . single” I mean that in the course of living what, in retrospect, seems to have been a “D-minus life” I have accepted compromises in quality of life which I believe would not have taken place if I had found a pretty, affectionate, straight woman with whom to share my life. One of those compromises is lived every time I carry water to the kitchen.  I  believe a woman I loved and married would have driven me to do better than that, if not for my sake, then for hers. And so I carry water to the kitchen.

My home was old when I bought it, built when horses pulled wagons in the streets. One of the early  owner left a wagon yolk in the basement. It’s still where I found it. The indoor plumbing must have arrived about the same time as the owner’s horse, and it, too, wore out its maximum usefulness here. Trouble is, the horse went away, and the plumbing stayed. There are issues with old pipes which  have grown increasingly more unhappily manifest over the past 20 years. And so I carry water to the kitchen.

Over the past five years, I’ve adjusted. For awhile, the bathroom sink took a day to drain after I washed my face and shaved. The bath/shower have always drained just fine.  For awhile, I brushed my teeth and occasionally washed my face at the kitchen sink which drained just fine as well. Last October, my water bills began to rise precipitously. I was using much more water than in the past. I blamed my kitchen sink. Last November, I turned off the water than feeds to the kitchen faucet to see if it would help. It didn’t.

My water bills remained astro-freaking-nomical. Even so, I kept the water turned off in the kitchen. A big league plumber at Mike Williams Plumbing visited and looked at all the water pipes in the basement; said most of them hadn’t been touched since horses lived out back, and to cure the low sink pressure and the lousy draining probems, a MAJOR renovation was needed. — Free  plug here: the fellow was a super-nice gentleman working for a super-nice company in Springfield, Illinois. — I saw and understood what he was talking about. And I believed him. And so I carry water to the kitchen.

Later this year, almost by accident, I discovered a significant water leak in the crawl space next to the laundry room where those pipes work great because a year after I moved in here, (1996, ’97) I had hired a plumber to replace the old ones. The bills from the utility company have begun to come down since a friend fixed that leak. HOORAY!
But still I carry water to the kitchen.

I don’t care about turning the water back on because I know the faucet will still leak drops every minute of the day, and even if it is only pennies a day going down the drain, those are pennies I don’t want to pay, and I have limited dollars in pocket to buy a new sink — which the Mike Williams Plumbing gent said I needed. Since I began carrying water to the kitchen from my bathroom sink in a large, plastic iced tea pitcher and a clean gallon jug, formerly home to Carlo Rossi Burgundy, mostly for water for instant Folgers and Lipton iced tea mix, I’m more conservative with dish usage. As an extreme single straight fellow, my body has built up immunities to household germs and bacterial infestations which could be durn near lethal to normal hummin’ beans. In the course of the last four months, I have used two plates, washed them two or three times with dishwashing detergent and warm water carried into the kitchen. Lately, I’m down to one plate. I eat a lot of Campbell’s Chicken and Rice Gumbo (Chunky Soup) from the pan in which it is heated. Two bowls a week, typically, and I wash it with soap at least once a week. Salads I buy prepared and sold in clear plastic boxes are eaten from a medium sauce pan. I wash it at least twice a month and wipe in out between washings. I  really need to find a salad fork. There is a reason God allowed us to invent salad forks, and three or four times a week I understand that reason. I LIKE prepared Chef Salads sans cherry tomatoes, I truly do. Different dressings keep them interesting.  Lately, I’ve noticed the kitchen sink doesn’t drain as fast as it used to. Who knows? Maybe by summer I’ll be dumping dirty dishwater out the back door too. Don’t want to dump it into the bathtub. I need my shower to drain well. One working drain in this house. That’s not a wish; that’s a requirement. But I’ll still carry water to the kitchen.

Needless to say I have no social life living like this, and that’s okay, I suppose . . . . . I guess . . . . . although I do miss friends. All my arts friends don’t like aviation — DANGfew have visited my aviation museum at the airport — and my many aviation acquaintances and few aviation friends have no room for me in their social lives, and I don’t have time for them anyway.

And you know something? Life goes on. I’m not the happy hick I used to be, and that’s okay. Goodbye hick; hello hemmorhoids. I still write poems occasionally. It’s been too long since my most recent (I hate to say LAST because I might be right.) song. I value every breath, though I would rather share it during heavy petting with a pretty, affectionate, straight woman, and that’s also okay. I’m not mad at anyone — just a gol’ darn second here: I am mad at a few, but they know who they are, and they would rather eat a rotten cherry  tomato that read anything with my name on it.  And as Paul Simon  wrote, “I have my books and my poetry. . . ”

And I carry water to the kitchen.

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

Shorts in my Desk

As the woes of this long winter passing maxed out, creeping closer to that “continental divide” of time that separates the worst of chill from the first hint of denouement down the other side into spring, I decided make some changes that  would never occur to a hummin’ bean with closer ties to civil humanity. The first change was to move my dresser, a six=drawer, attractive, clean, asset to most bedrooms of all who take pride in being members of polite society. Over the last 20 years, it has provided diminishing utility in the role God and previous girl friends would rightfully have sanctioned: the storage of clothes: folded sweaters, seldom worn business attire, well-creased and neatly folded slacks that transit, as needed, to and from the dry cleaners. folded neck ties. socks and of course shorts: Munsingwears, Fruit of the Looms, Jockeys, etc.  As my personal life has rotted into my “nearer my  God to thee” years, I’ve been unburdened from the bother of neckties and sharp trousers, and without the need  for them, most had migrated to hangars in distant closets and the local land fill. In their place came   remnants of memories: cartoons, newspaper clippings, event programs. Those items reposed less than a few years in the dresser and  most transited onward into the trash. I had been holding onto a lot of things because I thought that someday I would be “famous”  and the details would matter. I don’t feel that way anymore.

The dresser was too large for my bedroom for furniture I hardly used. I decided to replace it with something that really mattered: my recliner rocker La-Zee Boy which I call Sominex after the sleeping pill of the same name. (The song in their TV TV commercials of the 60s sang “Take Sominex tonight and sleep/ Safe and restful sleep. . . sleep . . . sleep.” And it’s easier to spell than the brand name of the chair.

I moved the dresser out in January and moved Sominex in. Contents of the three left hand desk drawers of my bedroom desk went into an empty dresser drawer in a corner of my living room where I transit but never stop. Until the weather warms more, and until I find some friends  — I have almost no friends anymore; haven’t had a party at my house for  four years — that’s how it will be.

Into the top left-hand desk drawer went my three pairs of socks which I buy at the Shop’N’Save grocery store. Into the second and third left-hand desk drawers went my shorts. They’re handy there.

Sominex has become a  second bed to me; a real “sleep aid.” Six out of seven days a week and sometimes seven, I eat dinner and nap swaddled in Sominex. That’s were I fall asleep after eating — mostly prepared salads from the supermarket and iced tea or Burgundy. Sometimes I awaken after sleeping from three- or four-hour naps that I find my fork in my lap. Sometimes I rise from Sominex and either spend time on the Internet between midnight and 3:00 or 4:00 or 5:00 am . . . . and then lurch into bed after a last few swallows of Burgundy . . . . . . or I just remain motionless in Sominex and go back to sleep. . . . . . to arise from 4:30 to 7:00 AM, depending on how ambitious I feel.

The  change  in the bedroom has made a difference, but not much of an improvement. I’d rather eat at a table, but my desk is too cluttered all the time, and the living room is too cold. a blanket or sweatshirt are essential when reclining in you-know-what.

On the positive, the arrangement is easier, simpler, and I’m adjusting to being a frustrated straight American poet/songwriter who used to be “almost an ‘also ran'”. It’s unconventional in more ways than I can share in this post, but since I can’t live the life I always THOUGHT I’d be living at this stage of my life, I’ll live “interesting” because “comfortable” is not a card in the hand I’m holding now, which is totally my own. I’m okay with that.  It will do.

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






I’m glad by the recent appearances of additional people following Honey & Quinine. Thanks for your attention. Except for rare rambling and light poems under my Facebook arts presence name of Conger Job, you are my ONLY contact with what I hope are other good heads in the arts community of the world.  I have taken a self-imposed hiatus from the Springfield, Illinois arts and music communities, but I intend to stop steaming over the circumstance here SOMEDAY and some day return to the local scene.   You’re 100% of my
audience now.

Recent weeks-wise I’m doing okay. I posted at Facebook recently the  words of a song sung by Karen Carpenter:  “Nothin is really wrong. Feeling like I don’t belong.” That’s the story of most of my LIFE.  That’s okay, I’ll be almost used to it in another40 years or so.

There was a summer in about 1972, a halcyon time for me. I was working at Lum’s a restaurant in Springfield and a girl, a waitress working summer vacatiion named Sandy and I shared some nice conversations during dinner breaks, coming and going. She would be returning to college in Indiana and I would begin working at the Lum’s in Jacksonville, Illinois where I was attending MacMurray College, majoring in English while also writing poetry, playing guitar and writing songs. We had ONE DATE: a picnic at Lincoln Memorial Gardens on Lake Springfield. It was terrific. I brought my guitar. A few minutes ago as I was working at my aviation museum at the local airport, a wave memories of Sandy and this song swept over me like an un-explainable cool draft that makes one imagine being touched by a ghost and I stopped what I was doing and returned to my office to write and share this post. I had actually written the song thinking about her. I told her so when I sang it.

I’ve not sung the song since the mid-70s, but I have never forgotten it or Sandy. I’ve never published the words in my poetry books either. I just checked; it’s true.  Sandy went back to school at the end of the vacation. We promised to write each  other. She gave me her address. But I didn’t write. I was so wrapped up in life at MacMurray, and felt she was likely  very happy with her dating life at college.  Almost a year later I was talking with one of the managers at the Springfield Lum’s and the subject of Sandy came up. He had seen her when she dropped by the restaurant over Christmas vacation. She told him that she had had a terrific time during our picnic and she wondered (to  my friend) why I never wrote or called as promised. It was at that moment I realized what a JERK I had been.

Decades later I imagine her getting married right after graduating college and having 2.5 children as our generation was having at the  time. I HOPE she was happy then and today. I wish I could atone for my stupidity, but it’s too late. So here are the words to my  song I wrote for Sandy. I hope you like. (SMILE)

How Much?
by Job Conger

Girl so beautiful, full of ideas
Thoughts from the heart and head bubble and fizz
From a head full  of overflowing conjugality
A head bright with wonderment’s inquisitivity
Wanting to know, inside your brain,
What is needed for making a rain
drop fall. How is it made?
How much of a spade can we afford to call a spade?

Thoughts  from the intellect blossom and bloom
Thoughts from the bent elect; prophecy doom.
Thinking is wonderful if done by those inclined
Threading through the complicated chasms of the mind
Thoroughly in search of an intelligent conclusion
Looking for a reason for amoralistic fusion
in life. Don’t be afraid.
How much of a spade can we afford to call a spade?

Men and women go after a dream
As demanded by some kind of scheme.
Most try the  usual way
Love doesn’t matter because love doesn’t pay
Gone is the talk of “Please don’t forsake me.”
Now it’s the talk of “Come on and make me
While I have the makin’s to be made.”
How much of a spade can we afford to call a spade?

There is an answer for  people who care,
For people with beauty for people to share,
For people who somehow connect with a god,
For people who want to love more than a bod,
For people in need of a new revelation
And think they can find it in conversation
In twos before dreams fade.
How much of a spade can we afford to call a spade?
How much  of a spade can we afford to call a spade?

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

The Gauntlet of Goodbye
by Job Conger

Occasionally,  I leave my office
to run an errand or get some lunch
and to make it out to the parking lot
I must pass the folks shooting their breeze
at the lobby counter
and to be sociable
(they’re all nice people)
I usually say
“Have a nice day”
and they respond
(to be sociable;
I am a nice person)
“You too.”
Today on the way out of the lobby
with laptop in hand,
heading for the repair shop,
I said “Back in a while.”
and they responded
“You too.”

written February 27, 2016

As I continue to develop the aviation museum at the airport, the allure of writing and reciting poetry continues to fade. If I thought I could meet and share the company of a bright, intelligent woman, I would recite poetry and sing my songs three times a week at some of the open mic nights that have sprouted this year. (That’s why I learned how to play guitar, for goodness’ sake.)  There are MANY good-looking and bright  women around,  but when a man is my age he discovers that most of them are younger, and in my case, all of them are too intelligent  to desire to  get to know me. I don’t have time to waste ( anymore) with people who consider me  a harmless but at best, tolerated intruder into their realms of cordoned camaraderie. With my museum I essentially “stare at my navel” for up to 12 hours a day, deriving solitary satisfaction from engaging a project that will serve as a gesture to strangers who likely won’t even know how to pronounce my name after I’ve become dust.  STILL I AM A POET. I have a poet’s eye, a poet’s ear, and for those who care to hear, a poet’s guitar and a poet’s voice. And when a gimmick hits me on the head, suggesting I should poetize it, I respond happily as I did with the “slice of real life” shared above. If I am lucky, I will spend more time with poetry and song as the  weather warms this year. I  wouldn’t mind staring at  someone else’s navel either!

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

new poem – When

by Job Conger

When people who you once knew as friends
are keeping their distance,
suggesting to you with their silence
that they regard you as a brother of pond scum;
who leeched into their lives
like lead poison from a water pipe,
who seem to regard you as a stranger
with a knack for pissing your thoughts
onto their clean clothes from church,
who you imagine talking about you just out of ear shot
the way they might talk about a three-legged  elephant
they saw at the municipal zoo.
Hold fast to your dreams!
Build your empire (if not your world) as you envision it
and in so doing, endeavor to bring
some sense of salvation and satisfaction
to yourself,
and mostly, just keep your effing mouth shut.
After all,
they might be right.

— written Monday, February 15, 2016 about 4:10 pm
Sometimes I believe that when I have anything important to say, I should say it in a poem. I’d probably write more poems if I did.  As things are now, I find it easier to follow my advice and just keep my effing thoughts to myself. This was an insight I also shared at Facebook yesterday afternoon, slightly revised here. The people whose friendships I cherish know who they are, so I’m not concerned about offending anyone with this poem.

Live long . . . . . . and proper.



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