Archive for September, 2011

Starting in October, I’m posting mostly pictures at the AeroKnow Museum blog — http://aeroknow.wordpress..com — and  posting human interest vignettes here at Honey & Quinine. WHY? Because enthusiasts “in the know” either visit the blog or they don’t and pictures say more than my rambling. Most important there are more readers who are not aviation “fanatics” who are also potential supporters of AKM. I need to play the numbers here, friends, Romulans and countrymen, and hope that the human interest perspective will  generate more support than “preaching to the choir” has generated. It’s worth a shot . . . . so to speak . . . .

The large building where AKM is located has a comfortable pilots’ lounge across from our downstairs office. Pilots waiting for passengers often relax here while waiting for passengers and fuel service.

where eagles perch

In the early “daze” of moving the collection to our new location, I produced a 3-ring binder of aviation history to leave on the table in the lounge in the hope that visiting crew would look through it at their leisure and visit and support the museum if the light were on in the office from which this picture was taken.

AeroKnow Museum's guide to Springfield aviation history.inside the guide

All was going well with the book until last summer when it disappeared from the table, from the lounge. I looked all over the place, asked the FBO staff, none had seen it, and I concluded a former supporter had probably purloined the publication, probably the same one who turned the AKM business card upside down on the FBO’s bulletin board during a pancake breakfast fly-in. I began planning to produce a second compendium, but before I could get around to it (If you knew what needs to be done out here, you’d understand and might even volunteer to help, especially if we’ve never met.) the binder with pictures and a nice note and business card from the commander of the US Coast Guard station in Elizabethtown, New Jersey arrived.  The gentleman’s handwritten note apologized for the temporary disappearance. He said at first glance it looked like a Coast Guard document which he saw during a meeting held at the offices shared with AeroKnow. He said he and others had enjoyed looking at the aviation history, commended its creator for sharing it in the lounge, and extended “good luck” to the enterprise.

Almost two months later, there was a second encounter with the US Coast Guard, and I was there when it happened.

A welcome visitor from the East, an Aerospatiale MH-65D Dolphin.

Some of the crew came into the AKM office as I was working on a project, and after welcoming them to SPI (Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport, Springfield, Illinois) showed them  the museum.  I also asked if I could photograph their most interesting  helicopter, and they graciously gave permission.

Dolphin and a few of the crew.

When I explained what had occurred following a recent visit to the airport with the borrowed aviation book and the letter and card which had accompanied the return, the crew were highly amused. Laughter ensued. They all knew the unit commander and consider him a terrific skipper. The crew commander (not in the photo below) kindly gave permission for me to take a picture with three of the crew holding the aviation history book, and the skipper’s letter and card.  I promised to send pictures to one of the crew members who posed and to their leader.

Dolphin crew with cherished correspondence from their valorous and dedicated leader.

I then went to the flight line to take more pictures of the MH-65D as they departed in light rain. They were delivering the Dolphin from the east coast to its new home base in Oregon. The trip would take five more days to complete, and they were pleased with the mission. I thanked them for their service and wished them a swift, safe journey.

I love this gig! Come hang at the AeroKnow Museum. Meet some nifty people, help a worthy enterprise.

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


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The Pharmacy Spoken Word Night, September 22, 2011

I was looking forward as much to hangin’ with the gang after as I was the night leading up to it. That said, I also know that since I want to be a poet, and I am able on a good night to share with listeners what I’ve written as it should be spoken, and I want to be recognized as a pretty good poet, the logical thing to do is to go out and BE.

It wasn’t going to be a walk in the park. I had been wanting to spend more time with my aviation museum. One night a week is about all I can bear to be away in a week, and Thursday night would be the second night this week, following a fine Poetry and Prose at Robbie’s Night, a third Wednesday tradition, followed by a new routine of 4th Thursdays at The Pharmacy artists; co-op at Pasfield at South Grand . . . a oneTWO-punch from a coincidence on the calendar. But I wasn’t going to say “no,” for the same reason a fellow in his right mind doesn’t say “no” to a new girlfriend when she’s hinting around for a little affection. There will be time enough to say “no” in a few years, maybe, after your first kid, and you can swallow a little neglect now and then, confident you’re sharing the same footpath to forever together. So, I wasn’t going to say “no” to poetry Thursday night. For two nights a month, I’d be an idiot to walk away from what on a good night would be regarded as a cherished and appreciated opportunity.

I thought I was riding a saddle-broke pony around the trail from the paddock and back. About three or four poets in, what I expected would be what has been traditional in my circle of bards has been five to ten minutes at a time behind the microphone was turning into 10 to 15 minutes at a time. Not three or four poems but six or eight from each participant. My pony was growing horns and getting fat. By the time I was introduced, I felt I had been in the saddle not for a romp in the park, but a slog through a swamp to Tombstone, Arizona and back. I had heard a Vachel Lindsay poem read sincerely but with more departures from the printed word than I had previously believed humanly possible when the words are on pieces of paper, and the papers are in front of your eyes. 

as in like . . . “Mary had a pickle lamb. Its fleece was wild as snope.”

I was beginning to resent this lethargic languidly lurching beast I had mounted.

When I was well introduced by the charming Jennifer and well-received by the audience as I rose to the nicely lit “stage” I felt wrecklessly loose with my life; in poetic terms, damn near suicidal re whatever I was going to share. The longer the presenters took, the more time I had to plan my presentation, though I must admit, I thoroughly enjoyed what I heard from most: Joshua, reading for the first time, A.D., absolutely galvanizing, provocative, penetrating, Michael Dustin, Travis, most of the Springfield Poets and Writers group that had shared at Robbie’s the night before. Everyone who KNEW how to use a microphone, used it well. Others. . . . well suffice to say that it could have been a floor lamp and helped as much or more with amplifying words shared across a table in a library. I hasten to add, my ears seem to be going south on me. I probably don’t hear as well as I used to. I SAID I PROBABLY DON’T HEAR AS WELL AS I USED TO HEAR

As I said, darn near poetry-selection-suicidal about what I was going to say. It would have been worse if I had not met and chatted with Meagan, a creative writing instructor at University of Illinois Springfield during the intermission. By that time, I had decided I’d open with my “Send In the Cows,” recite”Invitation” a poem written at college in the fall of 68, hadn’t tried to memorize or even read aloud from a page in 20 years, I changed my mind about the Vachel poem and decided to recite his “The Kallyope Yell” which I had recited at a downtown event a few Saturdays before and hadn’t glanced at since. Silly me, partly confidence and part “que sera sera.” I also knew I would read my two newest poems, written this week: “Comb In the Airport Parking Lot” which I read for the first time at Robbie’s the night before, and “The Open Gallery Stream of Consciousness I Sailed Until I Saw Lenore,” which I had written September 14 when I visited The Pharmacy with my pen and notebook, based on an event that happened as I was writing it. I published it here at Honey & Quinine a few posts ago. Everything but Kallyope Yell went okay. I surprised myself with “Invitation:” couldn’t imagine I’d get through it with just a few stumbles.

Once, a few residences ago, I shared the house with a kitty; I mean a real kitty; I’m not child-proofing a euphemism for an adult cat, though I’ve shared the house with a few of those as well. One day I affectionately and playfully picked up the kitty and it panicked, probably surprised, and began scratching my hand and arm as though it intended to sever my arm just below the elbow. Can you imagine MY surprise?

If you can, you can understand my surprise when in silent thought on a different wave length as I was nearing the end of Kallyope, drew a blank on transition to the final section. I knew the end, but I could not visualize, coud not remember how to GET to the concluding 10 lines! At at the pace the words were coming out my mouth, consider for a nano-second saying something transitional in the form of an alibi, that I had drawn a blank and THEN saying the last 10  lines. Then I decided that would be too “Miss America tryout” of me. As when there was no point in talking to my kitty that fateful day, and there was no point in blubbering away at The Pharmacy. I simply had to let that sucker GO! And I did. Eight or nine words of laughing alibi to the audience that applauded more than my botched words were worth, I resumed my nacharul poise and finished my protracted set. Any other place where I wasn’t a featured presenter, I’d have cut “Invitation” and “Comb” but I was a peeved hummin’ bean and gave them as much extended me as the others had given of their protracted, and many well-crafted for the page, mostly-outbursts.

And by the time I was stable in my chair with the audience — which had been TERRIFIC, by the way — I was hot and tired and hungry and I needed a drink, something no 30-year-old should ever admit. But I’m no 30-year-old-maybe-you-noticed. I sweated through the last of it, appreciated Travis Taylor’s angry vocal hurl of handwritten catharsis and after milling a record short three minutes in the aftermath, surreptitiously — but not very surreptitiously, I’m sure — lightened the refreshments by four pieces of nut bread and a sweet and gooey roll sandwiched between a few napkins and exited out the rear side door and walked home a block and a half. Beautiful and cool outside.
Five minute later, I smothered bread and roll with Imperial Margarine and watched the rest of Charlie Rose quaffing Carlo Rossi Burgundy as though I had a four-gallon case of it in the kitchen (I don’t dang it) , and ended the evening in bed, asleep before midnight. On the way to bed I somehow posted on Facebook saying I felt I had been bucked off a big ol’ bull, but I was okay, and I didn’t blame the bull. Also said “IF I return next month.” There is no doubt; I WILL return gladly and with great expectations.

Thanks to The Pharmacy, Andrew Woolbright, Jennifer Snopko, sound and light system provider/engineer/jazz man extraordinaire Frank Trompeter and the presenters and the audience for a most memorable evening.

Live long . . . . . . and proper

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comb in the airport parking lot

Comb in the Airport Parking Lot
by Job Conger

There is a comb in the airport parking lot:
black plastic, a little bit flexible I’m sure
no handle,
not a short comb
a right-back-pocket-of-your-jeans comb.
It’s a long, keep-it-in-your-
inside-left-pocket-of-your-sport coat comb,
teeth close together on one half
and about maybe three millimeters further apart
on the other half, but nothing fancy.
Its black is not so black,
dark grayish, really.
Drivers don’t see it.
You almost have to be
out of your car even notice it.
The comb shows wear,
not from grooming hair
but from tires running over it,
the well-known bane of the existence
of every comb that calls a parking lot
A comb, was probably on the front seat,
slid off and out
when a sleek, poised,
well-cologned 38 year old systems analyst,
a skyfarer,
swung out the driver side of his Lexus
and absent-mindedly deposited it
into the space between the parking lot’s yellow lines
that haven’t seen fresh paint since Kennedy was president;
a parking space close to the office where passengers go
to meet their charter pilots before
departing Springfield for business or pleasure
in Dayton or DC or Boise.
He’ll probably never miss it,
probably forget he even had it.

Such trivialities
find appropriate destinies
in airport parking lots,
until they are discovered by solefarers,
carried lightly
between thumb and index finger
to the waste basket by the front door
and given a proper Christian burial.

But I shall not sympathize,
shall not sully thumb and finger with it,
shall not touch it,
and I suppose in a month or so
a strong wind will blow it away,
beyond my concern.

I shall empathize.
There are times when I feel
like a comb in the airport parking lot.

written September 21, 2011 at 10:30 am

Every day I come and go from my AeroKnow Museum at Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport, north of Abraham Lincoln Springfield, Illinois, a short 10 minutes from my home on Abraham Lincoln Vine Street, I see the comb; have for the past several weeks.

It occupied my mind.

I photographed it two weeks ago. As the Poetry at Robbie’s Night approached (Robbie’s Restaurant on Adams Street between Fifth and Sixth Street every third Wednesday, sponsored by Springfield Poets & Writers) approached, it seemed a natural subject for a new poem. I wrote the poem at work starting Monday and finished it Wednesday. I did a lot of paring with this poem. Key to the process with many poems I’ve written is to write all you have to say about the subject and then, with a critical eye, peel away  everything that gets in the way of what I NEED to say to make the poem succeed.

I have seen people who talk five minutes before reading a two-minute poem and then talk another three minutes stepping away from the microphone at poetry readings. Any poem that needs a five-minute introduction is not a poem; it is a means to jabber behind a microphone. You have to have a poem to get to the microphone so you write your poem and describe the entrails before revealing the body. This is silly. Talking about the poem is terrific, explaining it is terrific. But the poem is the statue; the rest is the pedestal on which it rests. The poem is not the pedestal.

The comb is still in the airport parking lot.

Live long . . . . . and proper.

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Flimsy Whimsy
by Job Conger

If you think ev’ry poem
you write must rhyme
,please consider
a different paradigm, sir
written at 6:45 am, September 21, 2011

The poem shared is not Copyright. If you like it, copy it and pass it off as your own. The world will be a better place for your sharing.

Live long . . . . . and proper

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The Open Gallery Stream of Consciousness I Sailed Until I Saw Lenore
by Job Conger

Sitting on a couch at The Pharmacy,
open night at the gallery,
surveying a wide open corner
of painted works in progress,
color-spangled panorama.
I’m an observeer without
brush or camera
armed with a wire apiral bound
around lined paper and a pen
to account for the movement of moments —
the siren sound from the open front door
one flash of red light splashes against a distant wall —
very soon, again, the patter
of patter
on a rain-besotted, chilly,
put-on-a-light-jacket early evening
of the fresh new fall.
The commerce
of conversation
going somewhere
doing something
Dustin with his guitar
and friend Mike drift in
through the side door,
but the music-patter-jazz
in the background
isn’t too bad for now.
I’m sketching with a pen,
not writing pictures,
but pixels
without form
without direction,
not seeking direction,
but understanding
how quantity,
from the right perspective,
takes on form,
through the marvelous
of coincidence
if not focused passion
of reaching for a
perceived reason
to be.
The goal: non-existent.
The guide gushes a speech-song
melodic to visitors here
for their first time,
eager to share,
a youth expounding
engaging, smiling
rainbow conviviality
laughter in the chill,
firecracker sympatico 
asking no ground;
sharing ground.
The informality of it all.
The brim of my hat
worn to this place
almost hides my eyes —
the windows to my heart —
from the visitors.
Then . . . . cataclysmic revelation:
a woman I thought I would
never see again
and I see her now,
She sees me
never flinching
in her polite smile
for the tour guide
and I disconnect from the stream
and sit
head down

written at The Pharmacy arts gallery, South Grand at Pasfield
sometime in early evening

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Old State Capitol Building, Springfield, Illinois, September 10, 2011

Anyone who memorizes poetry to recite, instead of reading it well from a piece of paper, like a tight rope walker who works without a net, has no excuse for flubbing a line in public sharing. Reading a poem well from a page is far preferrable to reciting and leaving out a line or — worse — leaving character or mood of delivery when recovering from a flub that should not have happened. Getting ready to recite during Art In History Day at the Old State Capitol in Springfield, Illinois September 10, I prepared also to stay in FIRST PERSON MODE, as though I were Vachel Lindsay; the way Hal Holbrook “was” Twain and James Whitmore “was” Truman. For the first time as a reciter of Vachel I would dress for the role.

The only poem that really concerned me was Vachel’s “The Kallyope Yell.” It’s been about three years since I’ve recited it at all, and my challenge was nailing a series of sounds, a series that builds to a climax at the end of the poem. Here is the first
“I am the kalliyope, kallyope, kalliyope.
Hoot toot, hoot toot, hoot toot, hoot toot
Willy willy willy wah HOO!

the second
“I am the kallyope, kallyope, kallyope
Hoot toot, hoot toot, hoot toot, hoot toot,
Willy willy willy wah HOO!
Sizz, fizz.”

the third
“I am the kallyope, kallyope, kallyope,
Hoot, toot, hoot, toot,
Whoop whoop whoop whoop
Willy willy willy wah HOO!”

and the fourth and final
“I am the kallyope, kallyope, kallyope
Tooting hope, tooting hope, tooting hope, tooting hope
Willy willy willy wah HOO!
Hoot, toot, hoot, toot, hoot, toot, hoot, toot,
Whoop whoop, whoop whoop,
Whoop whoop, whoop whoop,
Willy willy willy wah HOOl
Sizz, fizz.”

Anyone who has ever heard middle school students read aloud from a book in class (as I did for eight years as a substitute teacher, knows that punctuation has followed livery stables, spinning wheels, passenger pigeons. . . . and moderate Republican leaders . . . . . into extinction. Vachel’s poems — and many other poets including some by authors who remain alive today, use punctuation as a guide to readers. Punctuation is a beautiful thing, especially to writers whose message is more important than the haughty ahtsy-fahtsy tool that leaves it out. Vachel understood punctuation, but seldom have I heard a reader or reciter share a Vachel poem as though they even were aware of it. Delivering in a way that follows punctuation is as essential as maintaining original text, or text encountered in later revisions/editions by the author. And nailing that aspect of Vachel’s wonderful poem as a major goal for my Saturday recital.

THAT goal was achieved. I began at 2:13 with “The Dream of All the Springfield Writers,” followed with “The Broncho That Would not Be Broken,” “The Mouse that Gnawed the Oak Tree Down,” “The Kallyope Yell,” “On the Building of Springfield” and concluded with “What the Sexton Said.”

Job Conger reciting Vachel Lindsay, Old State Capitol Building, Springfield

One thing I was ready for: reciting no more than 20 minutes. I brought a small, battery-powered timer with large numbers which I glanced at occasionally during my presentation.  Holding to the proscribed time allowed me to show my respect for the event organizers and for the person who invited me to recite. That went well. Though late out of the starting gate, I spoke for the allocated number.

Two things I wasn’t prepared for — and I should have been ready for one of them, having performed at Lincoln Home Visitor Center a number of times — were 1. No one gave me an introduction. Tom Irwin and Teresa,

who had played and sung for an hour (and very well, as well) told those in the restored Illinois State Senate Chambers that I would be following him. There was a “town crier” who announced my scheduled performance as Tom and Teresa finished.

Unexpected Number 2: I had intended to say every word “as Vachel Lindsay” but I had to explain myself for a few minutes firest. It was like saying “Hello everyone, today I’m going to be an oak tree. Okay, now I’m an oak tree.” I found it hard to stay in character as audience members arose and left the Chambers and others wandered in. And attention distracted by that kind of fumbling around, in and out of character embarrassed me.

Reciting poetry while embarrassed compromises my success.

It didn’t compromise things much. If I could have had a “do over,” I would have repeated “The Kallyope Yell.” My major goal — getting the sounds out correctly — was accomplished, but I had a significant lapse in pace as I moved from part one to two, pretended (in character) to deliberately be putting on the brakes while closing eyes and adjusting stance to suggest a “pensive, soulful retarding” — which at that point in the poem made as much sense as a an octopus speaking Portuguese — and resumed the pace in four muddy lines.  I had tripped on the tight rope without a net below, but I succeeded before losing contact in pulling myself back upright and continuing — shaken but not stirred — to the destination, the poem’s final “sizz, fizz.”

All in all I was happy to have been there. I believe people heard Vachel as they have never heard him before, many in the audience learned more about him than they knew coming in, and I served my art and the event with what I did there September 10.

A poet can’t ask for better than that! 🙂

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

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A friend for years, a fine poet in his own “write” wrote me yesterday asking if the David Bishop noted in the State Journal-Register obituaries September 7 was the same one he remembered as being a major player, a major asset to a group of Springfield, Illinois poets about 10 year ago.  My friend Joe included a link to the S J-R obit, and I’ll wager anyone reading this post can find it was well at www.sj-r.com.

David Bishop and I have not crossed paths in about 10 years. We met in the early 90s when he was working with Melissa Sullivan of Petersburg, Illinois, producing a poetry and essay/short story anthology Sounds of the Sangamon that was the best publication of its kind I had seen . . . . . update: have seen. It included the works of many fine writers from central Illinois, and the following year’s production included some of the Springfield set, including me. Bob Bartel was president of Poets & Writers Literary Forum (of Springfield) at the time.

Dave Bishop and I became friends fast. He was a farmer from Atlanta, Illinois and used to fly airplanes for a living, particularly Colonial Skimmers, later produced as Lake Buccaneers. He wrote exceedingly well of the nature around his farm and the village of Atlanta. His photographs taken in that area were as revealing as his prose and exquisitely crafted poems. One of his first books, The Red Buffalo, a folktale of pioneer life in central Illinois was a prose tome about the land. I purchased it and every other book he published during the years I called him friend.

When I was invited to appear on the taping of a locally produced TV show about poetry hosted by Peg Knoepfle, I was also invited to invite a second poet. Peg would tape two 1/2 hour programs at the University of Illinois Springfield Access 4 studios. She promised copies to both of us after the shows aired.

After the tapings, Peg, her husband John, David and I had dinner at Gabatoni’s by the tracks in Springfield. It was a festive occasion: the show had gone well, and I’d be celebrating my birthday the next day. Peg promised to send us tapes of the show, and though mine arrived in due course, the convivial host told me what she sent to David came back as undeliverable.

When David and I met again, I gave him my tapes, which he said he would copy and return. Despite a few attempts to bring about return of those tapes in following months, it did not happen, and we have not communicated since, to the chagrin and disappointment of yours truly and his sister Jennifer Bishop-Jenkins who remains a cherished friend to this day. As I write this post, Jennifer is in South Korea, speaking to a humanitarian conference about universal banishment of the death penalty. That — as we say in rural Illinois — “is a whole nuther story!” I applaud her effort!

My friend Joe noted the David Bishop who died recently in Taylorville was 70 years old. The age didn’t ring right with me, and after further looking back on my friend David Bishop, realized it was highly unlikely Atlanta David would ever have become a Taylorville David.

Besides, the fellow with the obit of a few short lines was David E. Bishop. My friend was David A. Bishop.

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



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